Usefullness of isolation exercises when building mass or strength???

I know the key to gaining strength and mass is heavy compound movements, bent over row, squat, deadlift, bench press varients, etc…But how crucial is the role of isolation exercises?

Is one better off solely concentrating on heavy compound movements and therefore training with shorter workouts and possibly more frequency per muscle/movement pattern, or is it better to throw in isolation exercises like bicep curls, leg extensions, leg curls, skull crushers etc, when trying to gain muscle mass as the primary goal?

does the answer change drastically, slightly or at all if the goal changes from mass building to strength building?

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Great reads thanks alot!

I can’t see any reason at any stage of training the athlete to incorporate an undue amount of isolation exercises. You will NOT build appreciable strength and/or hypertrophy from lateral raises, bicep curls, tricep extensions, leg curls, leg extensions, etc.

The training objective should be make significant progress in the squat and/or deadlift, bench press, military press, chins, etc. and eventually the power clean after you have mastered the deadlift. The argument can be made to include some supplemental/accessory exercises for the sole intent of bringing up “weak points” in the above mentioned “focus” lifts. If the objective is to squat as much weight as possible, at some point you may want to include back extensions, RDLs, good mornings, reverse hypers, etc. to help strengthen the erectors and/or posterior chain to enable you to squat more weight. Even in this context, if your sport necessitates the production of as much force as possible during the “time deficit zone” (0.3-0.4 seconds), at a certain point increasing maximal strength will be of little importance as you won’t be able to produce this maximum force quickly enough to be of any benefit during your sport.

The above mentioned supplemental exercises may be considered “single joint” (specifically the hip) but don’t fall into the same contextual category as leg curls, leg extensions, etc. As I drone on, the leg curl may be an exception to the point I’m attempting to make in this thread.

You will however improve your RFD with strength training so even within this zone the strength training you’ve done will help you react more quickly.

I see that you said “at a certain point”. Clearly, there is a point beyond which your training time/energy is better directed elsewhere. Where that point is is a subject for another thread.

Or to address problem areas, or prehab to prevent them.

Not necessarily. Certainly this is true for the beginer and intermediate trainee. However, once a certain level of maximum strength is achieved, developing additional maximal strength ability is of little if any importance (“explosive strength deficit”, Siff and Verkhoshansky, Supertraining). Again, at a certain point the trainee must spend more time training to specifically improve RFD with the appropriate methodics (oly lifts, plyos, etc.)

Hang on there. I think that’s a bit of a jump to justify a particular means of training when RFD is influenced by the amount and duration of ANY method. For specificity, you need look no further than the event itself.

Charlie agreed. If we are talking specifically about the optimal means with which to improve RFD, I did not mean to say that, for instance, oly lifts are superior to the practice of sprint training in improving RFD for that particular discipline. Are we on the same page here or am I missing something?

My point here is simply to state that improving squat performance from say a 400 lb. 1RM to a 500 lb. 1RM will not necessarily improve RFD or the ability of the sprinter to deliver more mass specific force to the ground. I think you would agree that at some point Ben, Mark, etc. were “strong enough” and further increases in maximal strength would not improve sprint performance. Obviously a sprinter with little lifting experience need not be worried about this phenomena but certainly the advanced lifter and his/her coach need to take this into consideration.

Well it’s a bit tough to say how exactly things work. You increase the height of the curve and RFD goes up till you reach a point where the entire curve is stretched to the right.
This is a well understood phenominon as far as EMS is concerned. Same timing of contractions has a different optimal number of sessions for max RFD (10-15) and Max Strength (25approx).

So would you alternate those qualities of strength training? Or does the speed development take care of the RFD and Max strength take care of recruitment?

Max Strength can favourably effect RFD if it is limited in overall exposure/duration/volume. Becuase of the limited time away from speed work in any program I’d set up, I have limited interest in getting far from Max RFD.

How would team sports differ to sprint training in regards to exposure/duration/volume to max strength?

I’m not sure that it does differ much from sprinting though I’d suspect the max strength phase will be kept fairly short as in the 100m as opposed to the 400m where it might be spread out a bit further, even if the % gain objective is similar.

If the Max strength phase is 7 weeks long (for team sport athlete), what would you alternate it with? (hypertrophy / power (RFD). If you chose power would you not have to lower the volume of your speed work? If you sprint is their a need to do power vs. MxS?

I did some work with Iginla on the Tendo unit this past summer, we did pulls with an average load and power reached a certain level. We then did a small MxS phase with 85+ % of max and then returned back to the previous average load. When he attempted to duplicate/improve the velocity of his previous out-puts he could not. It made me think a little more about RFD and the effect of MxS on it? What do you think Charlie?

I always went straight from Max Str to Maintenance.

What was your “average load” as a % of 1 RM? You indicate training for max strength at 85% of 1 RM. #1) the loading is low for training max strength,#2) how many reps and sets at 85%?

Excuse me ,
the Rest-pause with 6-4-2-1 repetitions recruit in the first set the FT but from the second,… sets also the ST?

And with a Drop-set?

Where I can find articles and books on training on fibers the red/ white?

I can not give you exact %'s because we did not test due to short time to train.

I can however give you weight. We did clean pulls from the hang position using tendo unit.

Power phase (3x5 @80 kg = max watt=2042)
MxS phase(1x4@90kg=1808/1x2@120kg=1811/1x1@130kg=1682)
Main. phase (3x5 @80 kg = max watt=1920)