Calisthenics Isolation Exercises: Great Single Muscle Exercises

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Compound movements are the best way to build up your body because you’re involving two joints to exercise multiple muscles. Unfortunately, particular muscles need attention. Specific muscles need attention because compound exercises don’t always exercise every part of the anatomy, but isolation exercises can. This article will list the top eleven isolation calisthenics exercises to target all the weak points of the human body. Let’s get started on this unusual way of exercising the body with your body weight and with some simple tools. Tools that will help elevate the exercises.

What is isolation?

Isolation exercises are exercising a specific muscle without involving two joints. Isolation means using only one joint to affect one muscle. Two joints involve multiple muscles working together to move like a pull-up. That’s a compound exercise. Now, as I said in the intro, calisthenics isolation exercises are unusual to do. Some might think isolation from your body weight is insufficient. But you can effectively exercise your body with isolation if you follow basic bodybuilding principles. The principles are to increase the number of repetitions done during each set. Then rest for a short time and repeat until you can’t do it anymore. That’s progressive overload. You’ll want to practice proper form and good angles to make significant progress with isolation exercises. Here’s my list of the best calisthenics isolation exercises.

Look at an article on static stretching before engaging in any physical activity. This article shows you stretches to prevent you from underperforming and avoid tightness in the muscles.

Neck Extension

The neck joint is very similar to the ball and socket joints of the shoulders and hips. You can rotate, extend, and flex. Unique to our neck movement is bending it to the side when we raise our shoulder to touch the ear. But can you isolate the neck with just the weight of your head to strengthen the neck? No, you can’t. The neck has been supporting the weight of your head since you were a kid. So that means the neck muscles will need extra weight to help strengthen them. The tool I recommend you to have is a head harness. The head harness has a chain to allow you to attach weighted plates so you can perform neck extension. The exercise is about flexing and extending the neck back to contract your neck muscles.

The neck muscles involved are the Splenius capitis and cervicis. They are the inner layer of muscles underneath the trapezius muscle. The trapezius muscle’s attachment begins at the occipital bone’s baseline. The muscle fibers of the trapezius on the neck indicate to move in the direction by extension. Why exercise the neck muscles? Because the exercise will help you to release tension, tightness, and stiffness. Doing the exercise feels great, and I get good sleep and better neck posture. Athletes like football players and boxers must exercise their neck muscles to avoid injuries.

Bicep Curls

The bodyweight bicep curl is exercised with a solid apparatus like the dip bars. The reason is you need something sturdy because of the way you’re going to angle your body. You’re going to extend your arms out and protract your scapula. Why protract the scapula? Because the scapula will stay locked, this is to prevent you from doing pullups. If you retract the scapula and flex your elbows, you’re doing a compound exercise. Your no longer doing an isolation exercise. Now, if you keep your scapula locked in a protracted position, you can focus entirely on the biceps. You lean back at about a 40 to 30 degree angle, depending on the height of the parallel bar. Once you raise the torso, your forearms will almost touch the chest. Doing it in this manner will build tremendous tension in the biceps.

Tricep Extensions

The bodyweight tricep extension can be executed in 2 ways. You can perform it on a parallel bar, or a lower sturdy object. The first version is doing the dip and you can perform the movement with the parallel bars. Keep your body straight at a 90 degree angle as you lower and raise the body. If you lean the torso forward at a 60 degree angle, you’ll perform vertical pushups. In the second version, find a sturdy object to lower the torso and extend out the feet. Once you’ve done this, lower and raise your torso. These are the best versions of the bodyweight tricep extension you could do to isolate them. Keep in mind that doing high reps will increase the chances of developing strong triceps.

Hip Flexion

Since the action is called hip flexion, the entire leg will rise while keeping the knee extended simultaneously. An example of a movement while performing hip flexion is kicking. That could be kicking a ball or kicking an opponent in the groin. The point here is to raise your leg aligned with your hip. When you do that, multiple muscles work together. Those muscles include the iliacus, psoas major, rectus femoris, and sartorius. The quads are where you feel the most tension because the knee is extended. This causes the quad to contract, while gravity is pulling the weight of the leg down.

I like to use resistance band tube handles because they are versatile. It includes an ankle strap to perform hip isolation movements. You can do hip flexion with just the weight of your legs, but it needs more tension. Resistance bands allow you to feel more tension under various pounds of pressure. There are various color coded bands accustomed to the amount your hip flexors can handle. Another way I like to implement tension into my workout is isometrics. Just lift your leg and hold for several seconds to feel the tension build up in the hip region.

Hip Extension

Doing isolation with your glutes allows you to perform hip extension. I like doing this exercise with resistance band tube handles because I can focus on following the direction of the muscle fiber. You’ll see the direction of the muscle fibers for every body part. The gluteus maximus begins from the posterior gluteal line of the inner upper ilium. Then the fibers go down, attaching laterally on the femur instead of straight down. For this reason, you must extend your leg slightly in the direction of the fibers. Doing this will contract the gluteus maximus.

Hip Abduction

The direction you see the muscle fibers going indicates you need to lift your leg away from the midline. The action to perform is hip abduction. Again, multiple muscles contract to perform this movement, but only a single joint moves. That means it’s isolation. If two joints contribute to the action, it’s a compound. To perform this exercise right, you must hold on to something if you have balance issues. Then lift one leg away from the midline. You’ll feel that contraction occurring on the side of the hip. The muscles exercised are the gluteus medius, minimus, and tensor fascia lata.

Hip Adduction

The adductors consist of several muscles, but only one joint move, which makes it an isolation exercise. Bringing your legs to the midline isn’t an exercise unless you have some resistance. Doing it alone with the weight of your legs isn’t going to contract those inner thigh muscles while standing. The only way to rely on the weight of the leg is to lie on the floor. Abduct one leg to the left or right and then raise the leg slowly toward the center.

Resistance bands can provide the resistance you need to exercise the inner thigh muscles while standing or laying on the floor. You adduct your leg past the midline to get a better contraction throughout the inner thigh. Muscles exercised are the sartorius, gracilis, and adductor magnus.

Frog press

The exercise involves laying on your back and facing the ceiling. You rotate your legs laterally while the palms of the feet touch each other. To execute, perform hip extension as you raise the hip region. This targets the inner muscles of the gluteus maximus.

Hamstring Curls

The hamstrings are unique-looking muscles similar to the biceps because of their appearance and action. They look similar in shape but consist of four heads. The step in how they perform isolation is by flexing one joint, that’s, the knee joint of the leg. The hamstring’s role is to flex the knee and perform hip extension. Knee flexion is the only exercise that works the hamstrings, specifically on the bottom half of the muscle. Many say deadlifts are the best hamstring exercise, but it’s not. Most of the muscle contraction contributes to the glutes more than the hamstrings. When you deadlift, the hamstrings and glutes get a fantastic stretch at the beginning before contracting. But when you reach the top during the contraction, the hip thrust mainly contracts the glutes.

To exercise the hamstrings with your body weight, lay on the floor facing the ceiling. Then do a hip extension and extend your knees while the heels of your feet are on the floor. The final step is to flex your knees while maintaining your hip extended. You’ll feel your hamstrings contract because you are essentially creating tension. Another way to perform the exercise by making it more challenging is by using the exercise ball. You perform the same technique, except your feet are on an unstable object. The exercise is more challenging because your feet are lifted above the ball. This allows more tension, much better than the feet on the floor.

Nordic Curls

The uniqueness of this exercise is fundamental for exercising the hamstrings. This is one of the most challenging calisthenics isolation exercises to exercise the hamstrings. The actions occurring during this movement are eccentric, isometric, and concentric. Place a soft rug or towel on your knees to perform the Nordic curl. This is to prevent agony on a hard surface. Place your feet on a firm anchor, and keep your hips extended and back straight. Once ready, start leaning forward slowly and hold your body weight at a forty-five-degree angle. When you can’t sustain your body weight, put both hands in front of you so you won’t fall facedown. After that, the goal is to perform a reverse hamstring curl. The execution in performing the curl is so hard to do, but not impossible.

The next goal is to perform a reverse hamstring curl. This is done by lifting the body from a 20-degree angle facing the floor. You must activate the entire hamstrings to lift the torso and flex the knee facing the floor. This isn’t easy to do. It takes a while to have the ability to contract the entire hamstring at a 20-degree angle. There are ways to get assistance to raise the torso and strengthen the hamstrings by doing a reverse curl. You can use an exercise ball to help bring the torso up and curl the muscles. Another way is to use a door anchor and loop resistance bands to alleviate some weight.

Calf Raises

Plantar flexion is one of the best calisthenics isolation exercises to get you started on defining your calves. All you have to do is raise the heel of your feet, performing a move called plantar flexion. As time passes, you’ll notice that the exercise gets easier because doing fifty repetitions isn’t enough. Your calves are used to your body weight because they carry you around as you walk or run. To get the most out of this essential exercise, you must raise one leg slightly to distribute weight. When you shift your weight to the other leg, begin exercising your calve until you can’t do anymore. This is a better version of exercising your calves with your body weight. Another would be to do a plantar flexion jump to increase the power of your calves.


Isolation is vital for exercising specific muscles that compound exercises can’t exercise. My complete demonstration in this article about the best isolation exercises in calisthenics is full. All of these isolation exercises allow me to target all of the weak points in my body. Do these exercises to have an entire workout plan go well in your exercise routine.

Please comment below. If you have any doubts or questions, please be specific about the questions you have that you want me to answer. I’ll answer them as soon as possible. Thanks.

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