Isolate exercises – good or bad?


Welcome everybody after the break. Today I would like to have a closer look at isolate exercises and their general efficiency and effect on our bodies.

First of all from a physiology point of view Its known for a long time that more effective and friendly for our bodies are so-called global exercises that train more functional movement (lifting, squatting or pushing) so we can say we train our muscles thru training and understanding the movement, for this  reason, muscles work it harmony supporting each other, when in the isolate exercises we need to realize that training only one specific muscle we can put this muscle, tendons, and joints in to unnesesarry or dengerous in some cases tensions, which I try to explain a liitle bit more in this post.

We need to remember to always start for this combine, high energetic exercises like deadlift, squat push and pul, as they require the most of our energy and strength and in the natural way warmup specific muscles, and include this ”additional” isolate exercises after this first ones, either, due to injury or if you a pro and need to tone up or strength specific muscle for specific discipline. (Some time ago I had a pleasure to train with arm wrestlers and they do lots of isolate, high tensions exercises for forearms or wrists which for a novice gym enthusiasts would probably finish with injury).

Very important to mention that during isolate exercises forces working on the joints are more grate, when during global exercises more compress and safe, isolate exercises especially those one preform with use of specific equipment also impose on our joint lots of force and tension due to not natural position and isolation of those muscles and joints.

First good example of that kind of exercise its a biceps curls on the preacher bench which not only cause lots of force but also badly performed make a biceps insertion highly stretch and in many cases overextend elbow joint at the end of the movement.

Another classic isolate exercise which could be highly negative for the knee joint is leg extension on the machine, let’s see why?

  • position ”axle” of the knee is not in the natural position
  • lack of symmetric force when performed one-legged
  • biceps femoris long and short head are switch off in this movement.
  • starting this exercise form 90 degree angle right at the beginning of movement there is the hight tension of knee-cap on to femur bone when the tibia bone starts ”pushing” downwards, and after crossing 45 degree starts pushing upwards into a knee-cap and femur bone.


My opinion

Isolate exercises may be beneficial for those who know how to perform them,  they are used by physiotherapists and athletes of different disciplines as also bodybuilders.

Some isolate training will be beneficial in case of injuries to strengthing the weakest or damaged muscle in the kinetic chain and after achieved results return to the functional, global movements and training.

My advice

Ask your local PT or physio before getting involved in isolate training, there is always somebody there who have the knowledge and understand physics of our bodies and will tell you what is beneficial for you, how to perform, be fit and enjoy training as much it is possible.



Adrian Scibor

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