Training with weights-incorporating isolation moves

I have talked a lot in the past about compound exercises from bench pressing to squats to deadlifting, today I am going to talk about isolation exercises and their importance in your weight training program. When it comes to resistance training, I have always felt it is important to place compound exercises earlier in your training program when your energy is highest.

isolation exercises work individual muscles at a time, they put emphasis on one specific body part which helps with directing your concentration toward specifically just that one individual muscle group. today I am going to talk about training with weights and incorporating isolation moves.

Isolation exercises

isolation exercises help you to focus and zero in on one specific body part at a time. a perfect example of this would be barbell curls, matter-of-fact majority of bicep training is isolation exercises, from barbell curls to dumbbell curls and a wide variety of angles and grips.

When you get into training other muscle groups like triceps, there is still a wide variety of isolation exercises you can do but you will find a lot more compound exercises can be employed when training triceps compared to biceps.

Isolation vs compound training

compound exercises are important for building muscle because they employ two or three or more muscles working together at the same time which is great for lifting heavier and speeding up your metabolism, but isolation exercises you can direct all your attention on one muscle group at a time.

A perfect example of compound exercises would be the bench press, you are working chest, shoulders, triceps, back and traps all the same time, when you do barbell curls you are working just biceps.

Isolation and compound exercises each hold their importance, compound movements you can go heavy on which enables you to lift heavy and it’s important to go heavy when you are working on building muscle size and strength.

You don’t want to simply do compound exercises alone, it is important to do a variety of compound and isolation exercises together to make up your training program, and it’s also a good practice to design a training program that includes free weights, weight machines and cables to get a good variety of exercises hitting all angles.

Isolation moves for upper body

Next I will make a suggestion of some of the best isolation exercises that work the upper body and what muscle group they work.

For a muscle group like chest is made up of mostly combination moves, but there are a couple of good isolation exercises that are good to incorporate into your chest training program are the dumbbell flyers and cable crossovers.

Back training involves all compound exercises unless if you’re the type of person that likes to include traps in the back training workout, traps could be considered as part of your back training and for traps would be shrugs, whether it be barbell, dumbbell or machine shrugs, they are all different versions of the shrugs and they are all isolation moves.

Shoulder training there are many good isolation exercises that you can design a whole shoulder training program simply around isolation exercises. Side laterals work the medial, side head of the shoulders, front laterals work the front, anterior head of the shoulders and rear laterals work the rear, posterior head of the shoulders.

Triceps, any form of extension exercise whether it be with the barbell, dumbbell, cable or weight machine, any form of extension exercise is an isolation move. Any compound moves for triceps would be narrow grip benches, bar dips and bench dips.

Anything you can think of for biceps is more than likely an isolation exercise with the exception of narrow grip chins with the palms of your hands facing toward you would be a compound exercise.

Forearms would be wrist curls and reverse wrist curls are both isolation exercises. Wrist curls work the belly of the forearms and reverse wrist curls work the back of the forearms.

Isolation moves for lower body

Basically the only isolation exercises for thighs would be the leg extensions and leg curls. Leg extensions work the quads whereas leg curls work the backs of the thighs or hamstrings.

Calves on the other hand receive development from only isolation exercises, any form of calf raises, standing calf raises, seated calf raises and donkey calf raises, they all work the calf muscles and are all isolation exercises.

Abdominal muscles and the lower back are both trained by isolation exercises. Core training is vital for strengthening and toning your midsection and any exercise for this region would be an isolation exercise.

Which works better

Both isolation and compound training are equally important when designing a sound workout program. It is generally a good practice to incorporate compound exercises first in a training session for each individual muscle group because compound exercises work more than one muscle group at a time and they take more energy to perform and you can lift heavier with compound exercises.

You should start your workout with at least one compound exercise before you incorporate isolation exercises. For example if you were training triceps, you could start out with narrow grip benches, these are a great compound exercises because they not only work triceps but also your chest and shoulders and you can go heavy with the narrow grip benches.

After completing the narrow grip benches then you can go onto isolation exercises. An excellent isolation exercise for triceps that I have always included in my training is the skull crushers, these I generally do with the barbell but doing dumbbell skull crushers are a great way to incorporate them as well then I generally finish off with a good finishing move like the triceps push downs.

This triceps workout is just an example of incorporating compound with isolation and this example can be followed with any body part that you are working. This is also to establish that one process, whether it be compound or isolation training is not better or should be outweighed over the other.


Compound exercises work best for strength training and a more intense training program for people who are working on losing weight because with compound training you can use heavier weight which helps the person that is working on developing more strength, heavier weight for fewer reps equals more strength.

Likewise compound exercises help you to burn more calories which means more calories burned for people who are working on losing weight. But when it comes to building muscle size compound and isolation training both work good when paired together.

It’s important to develop an all-around weight training program that targets all areas of the muscle as well as compounding training moves and isolating the muscle groups by incorporating isolation exercises.

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