I've found that trainers or other experienced body builders are great to work out with because they can help with form and method. One of the biggest issues I have is muscle isolation, meaning that while trying to workout a certain muscle group, I actually work out another.

Example: Tricep dips, I end up extending out too far and end up working my shoulders instead of my triceps. I realized this after watching training videos. But I never felt like it was working my shoulders so I never thought about it.

My question is, how can a person who is training alone help to realize when they are not isolating the target muscle group and prevent doing so?

Watching videos is a great way to get the form right but since no one is there watching me, what can I do to make sure my form is correct and that I'm isolating the target muscle group?

  • From the context of your question I take it that youre a begginer or intermediate. It is recommended to do compound movements and whole body workouts. Isolation and split routines are generally best suited for very advanced bodybuilders, chiseling their silhouettes. If youre just trying to get in shape, bench presses, overhead presses, rows, squats, deadlifts, pullups - thats the way to go :) And Kates answer is correct - if you cant have someone experienced watch you exercising, film it and post the video on the sites she mentioned.
    – K.L.
    Mar 6, 2013 at 9:41
  • Perhaps changing the title of the question would be in order, to something similar to "How to ensure proper form when training alone"
    – K.L.
    Mar 6, 2013 at 9:42

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure focusing on isolation is correct, especially in the example you provided.

In the example you gave (tricep dips), the shoulder does play an important role, and so do the pecs. They're often used as a closed-chain alternative to the bench press, and closed chain exercises are chosen because they don't isolate a muscle group, but force antagonistic muscle pairs and supporting muscles to work simultaneously.

You should simply focus on proper form for whatever exercise you are doing. That may or may not result in isolation. You will generally only be able to isolate a single muscle through the use of a machine (leg extensions isolate the quads, for example).

Regarding proper form, you can record a video of yourself and share it with an online community (this website, t-nation, starting strength, etc.) for feedback. You should also be including very light sets at the start of an exercise (empty bar, or bodyweight) so that you can practice and lock in the form you want to keep throughout the workout.

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