If you listened to the very first MuscleHack Podcast, you will remember that I said that the whole business of building muscle is about one thing…
Recruiting and stimulating the maximum number of muscle fibers possible.
With this in mind, it can be confidently stated that you simply cannot get this job done if your routine does not include isolation exercises.
This is the downfall of programs like 5×5, which only make use of compound exercises.
In my article critiquing 5×5 routines, I say the following:
- The rep range is not optimal for size gains (5 reps per set)
- It’s a pyramid approach – but reverse pyramid works best
- It doesn’t cause you to work to failure on most sets
- There are no isolation exercises
- Many proponents put forth the “hormone theory” of muscle growth, which has been debunked.
And it’s this last point I want to focus on now…
Overall systemic rises in hormones are NOT responsible for growth in muscles that were not directly worked i.e. “isolated” in an exercise. So, unlike what some people claim on the net, Squats will not make your shoulders any bigger, and Overhead Presses won’t give you huge triceps. And for big biceps you’re going to need to isolate and work them directly with an exercise like barbell curls or cable preacher curls.
That a systemic release in anabolic hormones doesn’t enhance muscle growth was shown in this study  – I covered this study in the 5×5 article.
Now another study  has come to my attention [thanks Petter 😉 ].
These researchers noted…
“…there is no evidence that transient exercise-induced changes in GH have the same effects in individuals with normal GH levels. Exercise paradigms are designed based on the assumption (not necessarily evidenced-based mechanisms) that GH and testosterone facilitate anabolic processes that lead to skeletal muscle protein accretion and hypertrophy. Our recent work disputes this assumption. Instead, our data indicate that exercise-induced hormonal elevations do not enhance intracellular markers of anabolic signaling or the acute postexercise elevation of myofibrillar protein synthesis. Furthermore, data from our training study demonstrate that exercise-induced increases in GH and testosterone availability are not necessary for and do not enhance strength and hypertrophy adaptations.”
Hmmm. So, if it’s not the hormonal release that’s responsible, what is? Well, they agree with what I’ve been saying all along…
“Instead, our data lead us to conclude that local mechanisms that are intrinsic to the skeletal muscle tissue performing the resistive contractions (ie, weightlifting) are predominant in stimulating anabolism.”
“Local” here means muscle growth is stimulated in the muscle being DIRECTLY worked.
Local mechanisms e.g. the amount of damage to individual fibers, Muscle-IGF-1, Mechano Growth Factor (MGF), are responsible for triggering growth and are seen to increase protein synthesis (the process of building new muscle) in the muscle directly worked.
It is knowledge like this that allows me to create “hyper-intense” routines that “fry” all your muscle fibers leading to fast growth like in the new Chest Blast workout.
LOCAL triggering of muscle growth happens i.e. hypertrophy is a local event. This local metabolic stress always correlates positively with hypertrophy of the muscle in question.
Therefore, in order to create this stimulation in as many muscle fibers of the body as possible, you MUST include isolation exercises. They are not optional, my friends.
There is simply no way to maximally recruit all fibers of say the triceps without effective isolation exercises like pushdowns or tricep extensions.
On the other hand, you can’t replicate the effectiveness of a compound like squats for the legs with isolation exercises.
Fact is this: if you are training for hypertrophy, you need both compound and isolation exercises…and don’t let anyone on the web tell you any different.
The correct blend of compound and isolation movements is fully covered in THT training. Not only that, but you’ll know the right number of sets, the correct frequency of training, the proper intensity level,and everything else you need to succeed…totally free. All the hard research work has been done for you. All you need to do…is train.
Download the full and free THT workout below. After inputting your email, you will be taken directly to the download page for instant access to the workout. You don’t need to go to your email to confirm anything.
If you’ve any questions, just ask below. I’m always happy to help.
Train With Intensity!
P.S. Just a quick note – even if the hormone theory was correct, a routine consisting of BOTH compound and isolation exercises would release more of these hormones than a compound-only affair 😉
 Elevations in ostensibly anabolic hormones with resistance exercise enhance neither training- 2 induced muscle hypertrophy nor strength of the elbow flexors. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2010 Jan;108(1):60-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01147.2009. Epub 2009 Nov 12.
 Anabolic processes in human skeletal muscle: restoring the identities of growth hormone and testosterone. Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Oct;38(3):97-104. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.10.1814.
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