Isolating Muscles In A Workout

Isolating Muscles In A Workout: Can It Be Done?

This morning a young man signed up at my gym and proceeded to do every one of his lifts incorrectly. He is the type of guy who spends a lot of time admiring himself in the gym’s mirrors and prides himself on the amount of weight he’s lifting. He muttered something in between sets about isolating muscles during his workout and then spontaneously announced to me and my client I was training, that isolating muscles is the quickest way to grow muscles. Thanking him for his fitness tip to me, an Austin personal trainer for the past 23 years and a gym owner for well over a decade now, I decided to let him in on a little secret once we had a moment in private so as not to embarrass him. There is no such thing as isolating muscles in a workout.

When we train with weights, Pilates, cardiovascularly, etc, etc, we are never truly isolating muscles. Even in our greatest and boldest attempts, no matter the poundages, nor the techniques employed, you’re never truly isolating muscles in a workout. I remember a big box gym personal trainer who was asking me for a job telling me how he had all of his clients isolate their muscles no matter what the movement, as it promotes hypertrophy. No matter how hard he sold this idea, or how much he believed what he was telling me, it’s not physically possible. It just simply isn’t.

If you are working on pectorals in the gym and you are doing any exercise you can imagine for that particular muscle group, you are always working both the triceps, the rear deltoids, the infraspinatus, the teres major and minor, etc, etc. You aren’t simply working the pectorals. This can quickly be written off as common sense when you think about it. What is grasping the barbell or dumbbells you’re using? Is it your pectorals reaching out their little hands and pressing the weight? No. Obviously, your grabbing hold of the apparatus with your hands which employs your extensors, as well as a host of other forearm muscles, as well as placing a heavy emphasis on the triceps. Every time you press anything, even your bare hands away from you or up in the air, you’re using your triceps. So much for isolating muscles in a workout.

All is not lost, however, if you’re trying for isolation. While you may not achieve 100% isolation of any single muscle, you can certainly accentuate a certain muscle by altering any number of the exercises’ parameters such as your grip, stance, overall body positioning, etc. For example, while you will not isolate your rhomboids while doing a cable row, or any row for that matter, you can increase the workload of them by using certain techniques. In this case, it would be a matter of sitting bolt upright with your rear end behind you, gripping the handle of your choosing at a higher point, placing the balls of your feet, as opposed to the soles, on the footrest, keeping your shoulders from shrugging, and focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together when you pull the handle towards your abdominal area. Yes, you are using your biceps, your core muscles, your rear deltoids, your lats, etc, but conversely, you’re also getting a lot more focus on the rhomboids as opposed to the assisting muscles which in this case is the biceps, rear delts, etc. Isolating muscles in a workout isn’t a realistic possibility, but getting more bang for your buck in your desired areas of focus certainly is.

Andy is a top notch trainer for fitness novices to seasoned body builders. He has a breadth of knowledge matched only by very few in the fitness industry today.

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My name is Andy Bruchey and I founded Complete Fitness Design over 20 years ago. I specialize in weight loss/gain, including the addition of quality, lean muscle mass, corrective flexibility, post injury rehabilitation, nutrition and sports specific training.
Isolating Muscles In A Workout
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Isolating Muscles In A Workout
The question of is it possible to be isolating muscles in a workout is the subject of this week's blog from Complete Fitness Design's Andy Bruchey.
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Andy Bruchey- Complete Fitness Design
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About Andy

My name is Andy Bruchey and I am a longtime Austin personal trainer having founded Complete Fitness Design over 20 years ago. I specialize in weight loss/gain, including the addition of quality, lean muscle mass, corrective flexibility, post injury rehabilitation, nutrition, and sports specific training for professionals. Contact me today to see how I can help you!
3100 W Slaughter Ln Austin , Texas 78748 512-484-2270