Isolation, or single-joint, exercises like curls, lateral raises, and flys have gotten a bad rap of late. Functional training purists are quick to deem them non-functional, relegating them to bodybuilding protocols only.
While the focus of training should always be on big multi-joint movements, isolation training is often the best strategy for strengthening synergists, regressing multi-joint exercises, and activating “sleepy” muscles.
For this reason, most everyone’s training will benefit from the inclusion of a few select isolation movements. In analogy to food, after you’ve eaten your meat and potatoes (compound lifts), you should feel free to indulge in a bit of dessert (isolation lifts).
Of course, if you’re going to eat dessert, you want to make sure it’s worth it. Like adding chocolate syrup to vanilla ice cream, a slight tweak to the way in which an exercise is traditionally performed can confer a drastically greater benefit. Below are six such tweaks.