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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. 

Isolation Exercise Demonstrations

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 triceps extensions. 

Now, do you see why these are called isolation exercises?

Isolation Exercise Demonstrations

DB FlyThis 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.

Starting Position: Lie 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. 

Back to the top.

Pec Deck or Pec Fly MachineThis is the machine version of the DB fly and works primarily the chest. 

Starting Position: Adjust 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.

Back to the top.

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.

Starting 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. 

Back to the top.

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. 

Starting Position: Stand 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. 

Back to the top.

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.

Starting 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.

Back to the top.

Triceps Press-Downs (done 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.

Starting Position: Stand 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.

Back to the top.

Leg 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. 

Starting Position: Set 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. 

Back to the top.

Leg curls - This is a seated leg curl machine. It works primarily the hamstrings (the back of the upper leg). 

Starting 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 reps.

Back to the top.

So Many Isolation Exercises...So Little Space

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.

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