I am usually not a big fan of isolation exercises in general, but they absolutely have a place in some strength programs. If all you are doing is curls and kickbacks, you aren’t going to see a lot of gains in terms of muscle development and overall fitness. Adding in the occasional isolation movement is really beneficial when are you looking to improve on your overall strength or you want to build up a weaker area of your body.
In the case of the overall strength improvement, if you are extremely weak in one area that provides assistance to your bigger movements such as push-ups or overhead presses, your strength can only improve so much. Once you build that weaker area up, you can increase your strength and your muscle development.
This goes hand-in-hand with building up that weaker muscle area. If you simply want to get stronger in that lagging area, that’s great. It will also help your overall strength, which is a nice little bonus.
AVOIDING TYPICAL ISOLATION MOVES
In today’s article, I want to highlight a great triceps exercise that will help you to accomplish both of the goals discussed above. The triceps are a muscle that most women want to work to help avoid the pesky “batwing” action. You can definitely fix that problem through proper diet and some heavy strength training plus a bit of isolation work, which I will talk about today.
I typically avoid a number of the typical isolation exercises like the overhead triceps extension as well as kickbacks for a few reasons:
• The return on your investment is not as high as it should be.
• The exercises are too isolated. You would have to do several other movements just to engage all areas of the triceps. (For someone who is training for bodybuilding or figure competitions, this comes in handy. But, for the general fitness population, I don’t find it necessary.)
• Some women tend to have elbow or shoulder pain when put into these positions with a dumbbell.
I also like to use movements that will supplement your bigger lifts and allow you to build up overall strength and train lagging areas at the same time. The Valslide Tricep Extension will do just that.
THE VALSLIDE TRICEPS EXTENSION
I have been using this exercise in my own personal weight training sessions, because I do need to build up my triceps. They are the weaker link as I progress through weighted push-ups and heavy overhead pressing.
The Valslide Extension is the best exercise I have found to isolate the triceps while still providing a nice bang for your buck, as it also recruits your core and shoulders a bit. If you don’t have access to Valslides, I highly recommend picking up a pair of at www.valslide.com. They are a handy gym tool and are also great for traveling.
– Start with one Valslide on the palm of each hand.
– Begin in a kneeling push-up position. You can progress to your toes as you get stronger.
– Slide the Valslides out slightly in front of you and drop your elbows to the floor.
– Let your elbows touch lightly and then drive up to the starting position. Make sure to keep your elbows in and abs tight.
– Repeat for 4-10 repetitions, 3-4 sets.
Below are two video demonstrations for you. One is from the kneeling position, which is a great place to start. Once you get stronger, you can start from your toes. You will see in the video that I have to use my abs a lot more than I should in the toe start position. The third level is to add a weight vest or elevate your feet to increase the difficulty.
Be sure to leave a comment below once you try out this exercise. Enjoy!