Friday, October 21, 2011

Weight Training For A Strong Lean Body by Robert D. Franklin

One question that is posed all the time, which shows how many people miss the big picture regarding the benefits of strength training, is something like:

“What exercise can I perform to isolate my [abs, quads, biceps, triceps, etc]”

It doesn’t matter which muscle, but the question always seems to be how to ‘isolate’ it. My response is usually – “Why would you want to isolate it?”

The first thing that should be taught is that the body does not work well in muscle isolation. It works better in movements along a kinetic chain; that is, large portions of the body assist other portions of the body in completing a complex movement. In fact, there really is no such thing as true muscle isolation. There is almost always a nearby muscle group that will assist in some way with whatever movement you are doing. However, this article compares attempting to ‘isolate’ body parts via single-joint exercises to the much more effective strategy of performing multi-joint complex movements.

When you attempt to ‘isolate’ muscles by performing single-joint exercises, you are actually creating prone to injury. You are really creating a body that is a compilation of body parts, instead of a powerful, functional unit that works together.

You can continue trying to "isolate" body part exercises and end up up hobbling around in a body bandaged up with joint problems, tendonitis, and excess body fat. But, if you would rather have a lean, muscular, injury-free body that works as a complete powerful unit to perform complex movements, shift your focus away from muscle isolation.

Focusing on how well your body functions will give you the side effect of a body that looks even better with excellent results. Take a look at the physiques of any NFL running backs, wide receivers, or world class sprinters. These guys almost NEVER train for muscle isolation yet are absolutely ripped! Who wouldn't want a physique like Maurice Green or Terrell Owens?

Another benefit to moving away from the ‘muscle isolation’ mindset in weight training to a more ‘complex movement’ mindset is that you will find it much easier to lose body fat. The reason is that by focusing more on multi-joint complex movements as opposed to single-joint muscle isolation lifts, you not only burn a lot more calories during each workout, but you also increase your metabolic rate, and stimulate production of more fat burning and muscle building hormones.

Multi-joint exercises should comprise the majority of your weight training workouts, but there can be some benefits with just minor inclusions of single-joint exercises for variety. I choose to build my training programs with about 90-95% multi-joint exercises and about 5-10% single-joint exercises at most.

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