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Integration VS Isolation

/ / The Frog Pond
Which Muscle Groups should I work? All of them? One of them?

It seems the fitness industry is full of opinions, experts and programs that are suggesting one modality over another.

Machines or free weights?
Fasted morning cardio or traditional treadmill?
Sets and reps?
Isolation or Integration exercises?
How deep to squat?

The arguments and confusion seem to have no end and it’s very easy to see how a novice fitness enthusiast could easily become confused as to what to do.

I’ve been in the industry for three decades and have seen many passing fads with diets, workouts and supplementation and with all that experience I have come to this conclusion…

Do what works best for you!

People always ask me, “Clark, when is the best time to do cardio morning or night, before or after my workout”? My response is always, “when is best for you”?

If their response is “the morning” , then my response would be, “that’s the best time”! Why create another obstacle for someone who is interested in becoming healthier? We have enough to worry about in life so adding a complicated system that doesn’t fit your lifestyle makes no sense to me what so ever. I’ll let the “experts” argue over the little details that really only apply to someone who is really trying to be precise as it relates to their particular goals.

There are some recommendations I do have in regards to time efficiency and getting the most out of your workouts, especially how it relates to how we function as humans. The title of this article is “Isolation VS Integration” , so let me take a few minutes and elaborate on what I mean.

There are tons of machines built that we see in gyms all across the world…
Biceps curls
Triceps extensions
Lateral Shoulder raises
Ab Crunches

so on and so forth….While these machines are widely used and accepted by most trainers, it’s seldom in life that we are required to do anything functionally that would require total isolation of a single body part.

Our bodies are designed to be integrative in nature…different muscles assist others all in an effort to create balance and disturb strength requirements evenly to be strong and safe.

Think about it for a second… if you are putting away Christmas boxes in the attic storage, you are gonna use your arms, legs, shoulders, triceps, core and so on. When you hold a baby, pick up a heavy object, run, jump or pretty much any human function you are integrating not isolating.

Now, the functionality aspect is one point, let’s look at time. Most objections I hear from people about starting or maintaining a fitness program is, “I don’t have the time”. I get it, most people are limited on time and the easy answer is, “make more time…get up earlier” Well, that doesn’t always work either, so why not just minimize the amount of time you are working out by performing exercises that are integrative in nature as opposed to going from one machine to another isolating individual body parts?

OK, now let’s discuss metabolic efficiency…doing “compound” or integrative exercises will increase caloric expenditure and provide more bang for your buck and get your metabolism working for you instead of against you.

I hope this little dissertation has helped you realize a few things:

  1. You do have the time if you do the right exercises
  2. Efficiency is something we all can benefit from
  3. Not all exercises are created the same
  4. You should always do what’s best for you, not get confused by “experts” suggesting their way or now way.
  5. Your body is amazing and will either get better or worse depending on how you treat it.

In closing, my recommendation would be to find time efficient, compound exercises that will not only save you time, but be more effective in producing fast and lasting results.

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