The Now What Fitness Series lays out the foundation of fitness in a concise and simplified manner, making for a collection of books that help the reader truly comprehend how to improve one's health and well-being from A to Z. I've broken fitness down into comprehensive concepts, giving anybody who truly wants to change their health and their lives in profound ways, the step-by-step tools and knowledge to do so.
Following are some very basic isolation exercise demonstrations, including start and finish pictures and instructions on how to perform them correctly. Remember: Isolation exercises are single-joint exercises that work primarily one muscle, i.e., curls, extensions, raises, flys, reverse flys, etc. The exercises shown below are:
These are just a few of the literally hundreds of isolation exercises and variations thereof. The ones shown below are not meant to be performed together as a routine, but are merely examples of isolation exercises.
With these isolation exercise demonstrations and instructions, you will better understand the difference between isolation and compound exercises and why you need to perform both kinds.
It is my hope that with this better understanding you can plan a strength training program utilizing these basic strength training exercises more appropriately, and, thus, more effectively and safely.
You should read the guidelines of strength training and check with your doctor before beginning your resistance program.
Notice how there is only one joint movement involved in the execution of each exercise.
For instance with flys: The arms stay locked in a slightly bent position thereby stabilizing the elbow joint and initiating single joint movement at the shoulders.
For curls and extensions: The only movement is at the elbow or knee joint whilst the other joints stay locked in a stabilizing position throughout the exercise.
Because you are only utilizing single-joint movement, you are
better able to isolate a particular muscle group such as quadriceps in a leg
extension, hamstrings in leg curls, biceps in biceps curls and triceps in
Now, do you see why these are called isolation exercises?
DB Fly - This
can be done flat, incline, or decline and works primarily the chest. Here I am
demonstrating an incline DB fly. Click here to see video demo.
on your back on an incline bench; hold a dumbbell in each hand above your
shoulders with your elbows locked in a slightly bent position as shown. Movement: Inhale
as you move the dumbbells away from each other and lower them towards the
floor. Exhale as you slowly return the dumbbells to the starting position.
Repeat as required.Tips: As you lower the dumbbells keep a slight
bend locked into the elbows. Picture making a circle with the arms at the top
of the move and opening the circle as you lower the dumbbells, keeping the
wrists straight and keeping the elbows flared throughout.
Pec Deck or Pec Fly Machine - This
is the machine version of the DB fly and works primarily the chest.
the pads (using pin above head) at a distance that allows for a good stretch
across the chest, being careful not to strain, without the weight stack
touching between reps. Sit with good posture and your feet flat on the floor or
against the foot stand, whichever is more comfortable for you. Allow your head
and neck to rest upon the bench for support. Wrap your arms around the pads at
about chest height with your palms facing the floor. Movement:Exhale
as you slowly squeeze pads together, pausing and squeezing for a second as the
pads touch. Inhale as you slowly return to the start position and repeat for
the desired amount of reps.
Prone DB Raise - This works primarily the posterior delts (rear shoulders) and can be done on the reverse pec deck machine or prone with DB’s as shown. Click here to see a video demo.
Position: Adjust bench in
incline position as shown. Lie prone on bench holding dumbbells in a palms
facing each other position. Movement: Keeping elbows in a
slightly bent position, retract shoulder blades as you raise the dumbbells to
about shoulder height. Pause and squeeze shoulder blades together and return to
starting position. Repeat for desired amount of reps. Tip: Perform
these as you would perform a standing side lateral dumbbell raise, except you
are lying face down.
DB Side Raises - This works the deltoids (shoulders) and can be done with DB’s or cables; there are also many brands of side raise exercise machines, i.e., Nautilus, Hammer Strength, etc. Click here to see video demo.
with feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Grasp dumbbells with palms
facing each other and arms hanging to side. Keep a slight bend locked into the
elbows throughout the move. Movement: Raise the dumbbells to
shoulder height, trying to keep everything parallel to the floor at the top of
the move. Slowly return to the start position and repeat for desired amount of
reps. Tips: Avoid urge to bend or straighten elbows during the
lift. Keep a slight bend locked in the elbow as if arm is in a cast and
envision a flapping-wings motion. At the top of the move, slightly turn
dumbbell so that pinky finger is slightly higher than the thumb.
DB Biceps Curls - This can be done with DBs, barbells, cable, machine, etc., in a wide variety of ways. It targets the biceps (front of the upper arm). Click here to see video demo.
Position: Sit on an
upright bench with arms straight and dumbbells hanging to your side, palms
facing forward.Movement: Bend the elbows raising the weight as high
as you can without moving the upper arm forward, keeping elbows in direct
alignment underneath your shoulders throughout the move. Return to the start
position and repeat for desired amount of reps. Tips: Exhale
as you raise the weight up. Avoid the urge to curl your wrists or to move the
upper arms forward at the top of the move.
correctly) - This is done standing at a high cable machine and can use a wide
variety of handles, i.e., rope, V-bar, straight bar, etc. and it targets the
triceps (back of the upper arm). Click here to see video demo.
with feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent and locked in front of high
cable using a V-bar. With arms bent at a 90 degree angle, grasp bar on back of
palm with thumbs up and over the top of the bar using a loose grip, as shown in
picture. Movement: Press bar down until elbows are at a soft
lock. Pause and squeeze triceps and return to the start position and repeat for
desired amount of reps. Tips: Keep upper arms back and in
close to the body with elbows in direct alignment beneath the shoulders
throughout the move.
Extensions - This is the seated
leg extensions machine. It works primarily the quadriceps (the front of the
upper leg). There is controversy that it is hard on the knees and is not very
functional. It is still very widely used.
the back rest in a position that puts your knees in alignment with the axis or
red dot on the machine and set the lower leg pad at just above the top of the
shoe on the lower ankle. Your knees should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Movement: Exhale
as you slowly straighten your legs to a soft lock position. Pause and squeeze
the quadriceps. Inhale and slowly return to the start position. Repeat for the
desired amount of reps.
Leg curls - This is a seated leg curl machine. It works primarily the hamstrings (the back of the upper leg).
Position: Adjust the back
rest so that the knees align with the axis or red dot and the pad rests on the
back of the lower leg or calf. Movement: Exhale as you slowly
press the pad down by bending the knees and pretend you are going to try and
touch your butt with the pad. Slowly return to the start for desired amount of
I have only scratched the surface of the myriad choices of exercises, be
they isolation or compound.
It should also be noted that it is possible to perform all of the above or some version of them with resistance bands. With so many exercise choices, you should never be bored with your workout.
Click here to see some examples of Compound Exercises.