List of Isolation Exercises

Although the world of weightlifting would have you believe isolation exercises have no place in any legit workout, I beg to differ.

Hear me out.

Isolation exercises should have a place in every workout program, and here’s why:

  1. Isolation exercises help you fix muscle imbalances. For example, squats (compound exercise) primarily build your quads, but they also build your hamstrings. Doing only squats, your quads will grow much stronger than your hamstrings, and this can lead to injury. Adding an isolation exercise, like hamstring curls, can help you focus on building your hamstring to be in balance with your quads.
  2. Isolation exercises help you to target specific muscles while resting others. For example, if you wanted a chest workout but worked your triceps and shoulders recently, you wouldn’t want to bench press. Instead, you could do an isolation exercise like chest flyes to focus mostly on your pecs.
  3. Isolation exercises can help you recover from injuries. For example, if you injured your hamstrings, you could do an isolation exercise like leg extensions to focus on your quads without further hurting your hamstring injury.

Below you’ll find a complete list of isolation exercises.

I’ve organized the exercises by muscle group to help you build your own workouts.

Each exercise is linked to a YouTube video or how-to article so you can learn the proper form.

Bonus: Download a free PDF checklist that includes all 50 isolation exercises organized by muscle group.

Includes 50 compound exercises not included in this post.

List of Isolation Exercises

The best isolation exercises

      Chest Isolation Exercises

  1. Dumbbell Flyes
  2. Decline Dumbbell Flyes
  3. Incline Dumbbell Flyes
  4. Cable Crossovers
  5. Bodyweight Flyes
  6. Butterfly Machine
  7. Cable Iron Cross
  8. Flat Bench Cable Flyes
  9. Incline Cable Flyes
  10. Decline Cable Flyes
  11. Single-Arm Cable Crossover
  12. Low Cable Crossover
  13. Single-Arm Dumbell Bench Press
  14. Cable Chest Press
  15. Incline Cable Chest Press
  16. Decline Cable Chest Press

    Shoulders Isolation Exercises

  17. Barbell Shrug
  18. Dumbbell Shrug
  19. Reverse Flyes Machine
  20. Reverse Flyes
  21. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  22. Dumbbell Front Raise
  23. One-Arm Front Cable Raise
  24. One-Arm Lateral Cable Raise
  25. Car Drivers

    Back Isolation Exercises

  26. Cable Straight-Arm Pulldown
  27. Seated Back Extension
  28. Dumbbell Row

    Biceps Isolation Exercises

  29. Concentration Curls
  30. Incline Dumbbell Curls
  31. Hammer Curls
  32. Incline Hammer Curls
  33. Barbell Curl
  34. EZ-Bar Curl
  35. Preacher Curls
  36. Machine Bicep Curls
  37. Cable Curls
  38. Overhead Cable Curls

    Triceps Isolation Exercises

  39. Tricep Pushdown
  40. Tricep Kickback
  41. Dumbbell Skullcrushers
  42. Barbell Skullcrushers
  43. Cable Overhead Tricep Extension
  44. Machine Triceps Extension
  45. Machine Dips

    Legs Isolation Exercises

  46. Hamstring Curls
  47. Lying Leg Curls
  48. Leg Extensions
  49. Calf Raises
  50. One-Legged Cable Kickback

Isolation Exercises vs. Compound Exercises

Isolation Leg Exercises

Exercises are categorized as either isolation (involving a single muscle group) or compound (involving more than one muscle group).

You can see the difference when you compare two exercises—like the squat and the calf raise. When you do a calf raise, you only engage your calves. But when you squat, you engage your core, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and other small muscles.

This is why many argue that compound weight-lifting exercises are more efficient. It only takes 5-7 compound exercises to stimulate all the major muscles, and you have to do 15-20 isolation exercises to engage the same muscles.

But that doesn’t mean isolation exercises are inferior! They just have a different place in your workouts: they’re great for recovery, target toning, and correcting muscle imbalances. Isolation exercises should be a part of every workout and are wonderful complements to compound weight lifting exercises.

Top Isolation Exercises for Glutes

isolation exercises for glutes

Isolation exercises for glutes have been trending lately. Athletes, especially competitive bodybuilders, often need to tone their butt but don’t necessarily want to build their hamstrings or quads further.

Lifter know what it takes to get big: you do a healthy mix of compound and isolation exercises, but for some reason, they don’t apply the same logic to their glutes. When it comes to glute training, isolation exercises have an important place in creating a balanced lower body.

So I went ahead and made a list of glute-specific isolation exercises to make things simple for you:

Isolation Exercises for Glutes:

  1. Barbell Glute Bridge
  2. One-Legged Glute Bridge
  3. Anterior Leaning Lunges
  4. Single-Leg RDLs
  5. Glute Kickback
  6. One-Legged Cable Kickbacks

Regardless your goal, it’s important to include isolation exercises for glutes to balance out your bigger muscles. Whenever you’re doing squats, deadlifts, and leg press exercises, the emphasis is never on your glutes, so your glutes will always be behind if you don’t give them specific attention.

It’s not vanity…it’s just survival.


Start incorporating these isolation exercises into your workout routine to enhance your survival fitness.

Focus mostly on compound exercises, but make sure to find balance with these isolation exercises.

If you need help mastering a specific exercise, then comment below and let me know. I can write a post, make a video, or help you one-on-one to learn the form.

Now go out and secure your survival – get lifting!

Survival of the fittest.

back isolation exercises
isolation exercises for chest
isolation exercises for glutes
isolation exercises list
tricep isolation exercises

Bonus: Download a free PDF checklist that includes all 50 isolation exercises organized by muscle group.

Includes 50 compound exercises not included in this post.

If you have any other exercises you’d like added to this list of isolation exercises, then let me know in the comments below!