Isolating Compound Movements

Posted: January 24, 2014 in fitness, Muscle Building
Tags: , ,

In some circles, isolation is considered a bad thing. This is usually because isolation exercises are considered less effective than compound movements. And with good reason; by their very definition compound movements involve more secondary muscles and tend to have a greater hormonal effect.

But let me throw this out there: in order to build a muscle you have to work that muscle hard.

So it stands to reason that when performing a movement (even a compound one) you should strive to isolate the muscle you want to work a much as possible by minimizing the involvement of the secondary muscles. This means you will have to decrease the weight because you will not have as many muscles pushing or pulling the weight. but leads to the desired growth.

I’ll use Bench Press as an example. There are several muscles that can assist on this: back, shoulders, triceps and even hips. It is not likely to remove all of these completely (nor possible), but here are a couple of ideas that can help you to use your chest more than the others:

  • DON’T arch your back. That is a technique power lifters use which will incorporate more of your back into the movement. Instead keep your lower back tight to the bench (flex your abs)
  • keep your shoulders back. Rolling them forward will cause you to use more triceps.
  • really focussing your mind on keeping your chest flexed for the whole movement will force your body to use more chest
  • when using a bar, squeeze inward on the negative portion. One of my trainers had me pull outward on the negative, but I found that made my back work more than my chest.
  • There you have it. If building muscle is your goal I highly suggest isolating compound movements.

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    1. […] Exercise selection is the next step because you want to ensure the movements you are doing will stimulate the muscles effectively. The “big three” (bench press, squats and deadlifts) are a good starting point, as well as some complimenting isolation movements. […]

    2. […] Make sure when doing chest work you are using proper form. I see a lot of women performing bench presses wrong, or at least not optimally for chest growth. There are some good chest training tips here: Isolating Compound Movements […]

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