If you have an untoned body shape or an imbalanced set of muscles, isolation exercises are the way to go for. An isolation exercise targets a single group of muscles at one time. By stimulating a single group of muscles, it helps in the evening the shape of the body. This type of resistance exercise is essential to meet your fitness goals.
Meaning of an isolation exercise
An isolation exercise simply means those exercises that work on one muscle at a time rather than focusing on multiple muscles. These mainly focus on a particular group of muscles or joints. These are included in advanced training routines after one has achieved good overall strength.
Isolation exercises that can be performed
Below are given the various isolation exercises suited for different parts of the body:
- Standing barbell curl for biceps
Standing barbell curl is one of the best isolation exercises that can be done for the betterment of the biceps. It is a common movement that is done by gymnasts and athletes.
This exercise involves a loaded barbell which is grabbed by an underhand grip. Having a firm hold, you have to curl the barbell towards your face while keeping the upper arm similar to the torso (upper body). Now drop the weight down with a controlled motion.
- Leg curl for hamstrings
A hamstring is an important group of muscles located on the backside of the legs. Exercising leg curls helps in stimulating those muscles. There are several variations to this exercise but the most classic one is done with weighted pads.
The weighted pads are placed right below the calf muscles and then bent inwards to the legs. This can be done in both seated and lying positions.
- Bulgarian split squat for quads
Quads are also referred to as quadriceps, and are found on the front part of the thigh. These are well stimulated by split squats as it aims the multiple muscle groups. The difficulty level is raised when performed with a loaded barbell and smith machine.
This exercise is performed by putting one foot on a horizontal bench settled behind you. And then squatting down with the leg on the ground. To advance this exercise, you can also hold a dumbbell in both hands.
- Dips for the triceps
Along with the triceps, dips also focus on the upper chest area. This bodyweight triceps exercise is performed with parallel bars or facing a dip station.
Start by grabbing the bars with the hand that is facing one another. By pushing your triceps, raise your body. Then lower yourself in a controlled motion. While doing this you will feel a great stretch in the bottom.
Do this repeatedly while making sure the muscles are contracting on the top. For beginners, you can also use someone as your counterweight.
- Rope crunch for abs
Abs are responsible for stabilizing the core and the proper movements of the torso. Rope crunches ensure full isolation and involve a cable weight stack to create resistance.
For this exercise, set a cable pulley at a medium height with rope attachments. Kneel your body with the face away from the weight stack. Then, having a firm grasp of the ropes in each hand, start by crunching down. While crunching down, make sure of full contraction at the bottom and deep expansion at the top.
- Superman for lower back
Lower back exercises are important as they support the proper functioning of the spine. Superman can be done at home as it requires no equipment.
lay down facing the ground. Start by raising both the hand and legs at the same time. Hover in this position for a few seconds and then return.
This gives a great stretch to the lower body as well as tones the abdomen.
- Wrist rollers for the forearms
This is a classic exercise and easy to do at home. Wrist rollers involve a wooden dowel or a metal bar. The dowel or the bar is attached with a rope and a small weight is added at the other end.
Start by grabbing the bar or dowel with an overhand hold and then extend the arms out in the front. Now spin the bars to reel in the rope and focus on the forearm muscles simultaneously. Continue by reversing the motion while letting the rope free until it drops on the floor.
- Cable pull-through for glutes
Cable pull-through does not require any equipment. This exercise gives the same benefits as a hip thrust does.
Start by fixing a rope attachment to a lower cable. Stand with your back facing the weight stack. Grab the rope in your hands and place them between the legs. Rest your hands on the thighs and push the weight while you pay attention to the tightening of the glutes.
- Stair calf raise for calves
The calves are located at the back of the lower leg. These groups of muscles are responsible for activities such as jumping or running. The stair calf raises only involve access to the stairs.
This exercise is performed by extending the feet on the ankle joint and then letting the ankle go underneath the surface of the step which will involve a moderate amount of contraction.
Benefits of isolation exercises
Given below are the values that isolation exercises benefit you with:
- Doing isolation exercises helps you to have better control on different muscle groups.
- It equalizes strength in both arms thus, reduces the risks of getting injured.
- It strengthens the weaker section of the muscles during exercises that involve weights.
- As it focuses on one area one time, it affects only that particular area keeping the rest secure.
- It helps in improving the muscle imbalance in the body.
- Isolation exercises are also recommended as physical therapy and rehabilitation. That is, after going through an injury or accident, joint surgery, etc.
The bottom line
It is always necessary for beginners to practice under the eye of a gym instructor when working with equipment. If you have an underlying health condition, it is better to consult an expert before going through any isolation exercise. Lastly, always keep the difficulty level of the program according to your needs and experience level.