The Benefit of Isolation Movements
A lot of people have jumped with both feet into the functional fitness / Crossfit. And for the most part, I wholeheartedly agree. The body is a system and should be trained as such. But we don’t live ideal lives in an ideal world. You drive a car, sit at a desk, use a smartphone and whole lot of other activities that have nothing to do with avoiding bear attacks. Avoiding bear attacks is the gold standard for functional movement, write that down. Living in this un-ideal means you are probably compromising your proper mechanics for the a good part of the day. This means you can’t expect perfect performance from your body when it comes to training. Sorry to break it to you, but there it is. You need to work on correcting deficiencies within individual muscle groups in order to improve the body system as a whole.
Correcting muscular deficiencies is why accessory training exists. In fact, strength training as a whole exists only to further your sports performance. So don’t get wrapped around the axle about functional movement vs isolation movements. It’s all about improving athletic performance and living a high quality, healthy life.
Isolation Movements Can:
- correct muscular imbalance between agonist and antagonist muscle groups (think biceps and triceps)
- correct muscular imbalance between muscle pairs (think left hamstring and right hamstring)
- strengthen the weak link in a chain of muscle groups required for athletic performance (think weak rhomboids in an overhead squat)
- “wake up” muscles that aren’t firing in a particular movement (think glutes in the back squat)
A Great Example: The Glutes
I’ve worked with several athletes that have had problems with their glutes in the squat. Either one side is more dominant in strength due to years of imbalanced training (sports related) or the glutes aren’t “firing” properly and leave the lower back to pick up the slack. So the solution here isn’t to do more squats. Doing more squats will at best result in a plateau in performance or at worst lead to injury. Add glute bridges, elevated hip thrusts and single leg squats to your programming to improve glute strength and performance.
Isolation work as a subsection of your accessory work is a great way to improve your overall strength and athletic performance.
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