Why you need isolation moves to add muscle

If hypertrophy is your primary training objective then isolation exercises can have a huge impact on how much size you will add, because the greater the extent you can isolate a muscle, the better your chances of making it grow, says John Meadows

John Meadows is a national champion bodybuilder and works with many of the best physique athletes in the world. He is based in Columbus, Ohio.

Iron Insights

There’s no ideal ratio
The ideal percentage between doing compound and isolation work depends entirely on what works for you. Not every move works as well for every body. Deadlifts never built my back, so I had to focus instead on the isolation moves that did.

Isolation isn’t easy
When most people think of isolation work they picture Arnold doing concentration curls: I think of a leg extension where you do drop sets until your quads are burning, you start cursing and jump out of the machine.

Unlock the intensity
Isolation work allows you reach a higher level of intensity to hit the muscle fibres as much as is possible. From a hypertrophy standpoint, the better you can isolate a muscle, the bigger it can get.

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