Isolation Exercises for Strength Gains

“Oh he’s a bro-builder who only cares about bicep size.”

“He is a freakin bodybuilder… “

“This dude is a meathead…”

“I thought this guy ran a metabolic training facility?”

“This is functional?”

I know, I know, those are your initial thoughts, but hear me out for a second.

How many of your personal training clients (think general population) can’t perform a chin-up, grip a 200 or 300 pound deadlift or perform a push-up?

Our population is de-conditioned and WEAK!

Would a small volume of direct arm work aid in increasing grip strength, while continuing to improve pulling and pushing strength?

…Oh you bet my friend.

We know that improving a chin-up requires performing a chin-up and most of the time with some added assisted. For us, this comes in the form of resistance training bands from the one and only Dave Schmitz.

What else can we do to improve this chin-up? Deadlift? Push-up?

Of note: these movements are performed after we’ve tackled chin-ups or deadlifts or on days chin-ups are not performed.

Isolation Pulling – Some You Have Done and Some You Avoid

1. Dumbbell Single Arm Row – powerlifters do it to improve lat strength, why not the regular ole’ gym goer?

2. DB Hammer Curl – yes, the bicep curl but performed in a neutral grip to not only increase a client’s bicep strength but also increase grip strength. We place these at the end of a training session.

3. Band Hammer Curl – using our favorite Resistance Training Bands again, we have our clients step into them and perform rest pause sets of 50 or 100. It allows them to “feel” the muscle and places an emphasis on the eccentric portion of the movement, something we know many clients ignore on a chin-up.

Isolation Pushing – Some You Have Done and Some You Avoid

1.   French Press – oh the good ole’ “skull-crusher” (I know I’m totally acting like a meathead today) and a great isolation movement utilizes by the strongest lifters in the world to improve pressing abilities.

2.   Band Pushdown – love me some pushdowns, as do my clients. It allows clients to “feel” the triceps and focus on the eccentric, just like the band hammer curl. It translates very well to the pushup, as clients need to learn to build tension in the triceps on the eccentric of the movement.

3. TRX Prone Tricep Extension – not only a killer anti extension core movement but an awesome tricep isolation movement. Use this to create more bang for your clients buck and get them improving their pushing strength.

These movements are great for building strength in those muscles that will only improve our clients pushing and pulling abilities.

If for nothing else, they’ll love the “feel” of it all.

Go ahead…tell me they won’t.


Work Hard, Train Hard, Get Better,


Tyler English