Which Gets You Stronger - Isolation or Full Body Training?
When it comes to strength training, there are a lot of different options and suggestions out there. For example;
HOW BEST TO TRAIN TO BUILD STRENGTH FOR OPTIMUM … blah blah blah
You’ve seen the YouTube videos and social media posts, but its actually a lot more simple than that. All you need to say to yourself is ‘I want to get strong the right way. What’s going to be best?’ Well to build strength you have a couple of different options depending on what your working towards. But I’m going to take functional fitness and calisthenics as my jump off point. That being said you can choose from either Isolation or Full Body training.
First of all, these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, you should use both in a mixed routine, and let me explain why. Isolation training can be used to help work on your weaknesses. Always start by analysing your weaknesses and training those first. You need to walk before you can run. Build full body knowledge and motor control first, before moving on to work that is more advanced. You can use a full body training style to find out what those weaknesses are, but work through them and develop them. Then we can move onto the more advanced functional and full body movements. Then following that, we can add resistance to those, find our weaknesses therein, and rinse and repeat. The body needs to be working harmoniously, and yes, to get to that point even, can be very tricky to start with but using the mix of training between full body and isolation work, you’ll get there in the most efficient and safe way possible.
We don’t want to excessively use Isolation training because then we are tipping the scales the other way from our weaknesses, and neglecting the rest of the body. Balance is key here. Calisthenics and functional fitness in general use a lot of compound multi-joint movements, through all the planes of motion. This makes each training session more time efficient but also much more intensive. Therefore we need full body strength, and you guessed it, that comes from identifying those areas we need to work on and improving them through Isolation. Or if we have specific goals which need more strength around specific muscle groups, joints or ranges, then we need to build up in those to create strength and depth.
Lets take a Pull Up as an example. As a compound movement working through a lot of the posterior chain musculature, it involves a lot of strength. We need to feel what the Pull Up feels like first. We can do that using isolation training and resistance band assistance to practice holds and negatives on the bar. We can also use resistance bands to perform pull ups on the floor. We need to have strong Scapulae, so Scapula Shrugs are a fantastic exercise to help us there. Negatives with extra weight or for increased time lowering down will be of huge benefit, as the body can carry five times more weight negatively that it can force on the way up through a movement. We can apply this same logic and movement pattern to a rope climb for example, using that same musculature but under different stimulus.
Once you start to tie everything together the possibilities become endless. And the experiment of training becomes the fun part. Adding to the famous adage; enjoy the journey and not just the destination. Because all training really is, is one long journey. And it’s an incredible one to be one, you can move within different disciplines and discover things you didn’t even know you wanted to try!
In summary then, we want to look to a mixed training model using both isolation and full body training to build strength throughout the whole body. Find the weaknesses starting with light load full body work, analyse that and then train weaknesses using isolation training.
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