Isolate to Dominate: How Isolation Exercises Make Your Muscles Pop

When you first started going to the gym, you probably spent a lot of time doing the basics. Now that you’re a veteran of the weight room, you really want to make those muscles you’ve been working on pop. These isolation exercises are sure to do the trick.

Why do you go to the gym?
I’m sure your knee-jerk response to that question might be humble, something along the lines of, “Well, I just want to be healthy.” There’s probably some truth in that reply, but deep down you know what you really want:  Big arms. Cut abs. Firm shoulders and a big chest.  You want your muscles to look like you’ve been putting in some serious work.  You want all that time spent under the barbell to pay off in the form of a physique you can be proud of.

The bench press, the squat, and the deadlift are all great compound movements to build a strong body. But in order to shape each muscle to the specific size and cut that you have in mind, you’re going to need to bring a little extra to the table. The compound movements set a strong foundation, but to get your physique to the next level, you should incorporate some isolation exercises.

Isolation exercises allow you to focus on a very specific muscle with each rep, giving it the extra attention it needs to grow and expand. By complementing your compound exercises with these isolation movements, your body and muscles will be more well rounded…literally.  As you work on certain muscle groups, work the following isolation exercises into the mix and you’ll begin to feel the difference that your extra focus delivers.

Leg Extensions
On leg day the compound movements get plenty of love, but don’t forget about this gem. Although squats will certainly get your quads burning, leg extensions can stoke the flames of that fire due to their ability to focus all of their energy on the cut of your quad.  Along with their tremendous focus on the quad muscles, the leg extension machine offers the gift of variety as well. You’ll usually find most people just mindlessly swinging their legs up and down, but if you’re intentional about your work on this machine, some minor adjustments can create some serious changes in your physique. You could point your toes inward to target the outer edge of your leg muscle. You could also opt for single leg extensions to give all of your energy to just one leg at a time. This simple machine can level up your fitness in a big way.

Reverse Pec-Dec Fly
When it’s time to work the shoulders, you probably direct your attention to the parts of your shoulder that you can see when you’re checking yourself out in the mirror. You do a lot of shrugs to get your traps built up or you hit some presses to grow the caps of your shoulders that frame your body, but what you don’t realize is that there is a backside to your shoulder. The reverse pec-dec fly exercise is one of the best ways to give some attention to that area of your upper body. This exercise will hit your rear delts, making your shoulders look solid from behind.  Don’t ignore what you can’t see. The rear delts are an important muscle to exercise and this isolation move will give them the attention they’ve been waiting for.

Dumbbell Chest Fly
What guy doesn’t want to build up their chest? In a rush to build up the strongest chest we can, we tend to skip over some of the smaller exercises that don’t require grunting under a barbell.  The chest fly is a classic move that allows you to truly focus on the contraction of your chest muscles. It’s not about putting up a ton of weight and impressing your friends with a new PR; it’s merely about using great form to get an amazing squeeze at the top of the movement. If done with precision, this isolation exercise can be the difference between a firm chest and one that fills out your shirt. Use light weights and take it slow. The more methodical you are with this move, the better results you’ll get.

Compound movements can only get you so far. These isolation exercises can be incredible difference makers in the way your physique comes together. By incorporating them before or after you spend some time on the bench or in the squat rack, you will see an incredible difference in the pump of your muscles.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.