Isolation Infatuation


I know I have hammered this point over the past week, but I can’t seem to get past it. I just can’t understand the infatuation with isolating individual muscles. It just seems that the experts move around the body to find new muscles to focus on. Think movements, think muscle synergies. That is what works, that is what gets results. I think part of the problem is it requires people to really think. It is easy to isolate and train muscles. Strap them into a machine and let them go. You feel the burn, but there is no challenge cognitively or neurally. It is work, but training is more than work.

Yesterday I took Paul Scott, a writer for Outside magazine through some of the basic movements in my training system. His comment was “ I don’t really feel the burn.” My answer was “good, because you will know where you worked tomorrow.” We are doing another workout today and he will feel the residual effect of yesterdays movements. The stress then repeated will force adaptation and eventually the training will prove effective when the cumulative effect is realized.

For you therapists out there, I know you have been hammered with the need to isolate early, but I urge you to reconsider. When you are limited in the number of visits by insurance, the only way you have a chance to get the patient better is to work muscle synergies. It is possible to progress without isolating, but it takes more thought and creativity. Think outside the box, coach or therapist our jobs are to get people better and do no harm. It can be done.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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