Introduction to Muscle and Fitness Workouts
Introduction to Muscle and Fitness Workouts
When you first decide to head to the gym, you may be pursuing one or all of these objectives: lose weight, get strong, and become healthy. You start reading about nutrition, trying out some diets, performing numerous exercises that promise to give you strength, make you big and lean, and all at the same time. You follow those programs, and they deliver results, at least at the beginning.
However, to feel well and continue making remarkable progress, you need to understand your body, be familiar with nutrition essentials, and know workout basics. All these insights will help you match each exercise to its corresponding muscle or muscle group and formulate your own nutrition regimen.
People often think that training fundamentals are for newbies only, and they are making a mighty big mistake. Squats or lunges are called ‘basics,’ not because they are tedious. Such activities are very effective and underlie multiple other exercises. As soon as you master the rudiments, you’ll be able to design your training programs, know what muscle groups you should work together, and consequently meet goals faster.
Your Guide to Major Muscle Groups and Best Exercises for Each
Knowing how different muscle and fitness workouts impact each body area, you can make informed training decisions and concentrate more on those regions that you want to improve first of all. Moreover, focused exercise programs help you build proper symmetry. Let’s get started.
There are 11 major muscle groups, and we share our best practices for each.
- The trapezius is a large set of muscles that occupies most of your upper back and the back of your neck. It’s a superficial muscle group that you can feel, and when it’s well-developed, it adds to the correct posture and plays a crucial role in your heavy lifts. People often either add it to the back muscle group or just ignore it, though this set of muscles is critical and is engaged in stabilizing and moving the shoulder blades, turning your head and neck as well as shrugging. Traps work hard during Deadlifts and Power Shrugs. Still, if you want to complement your training with trapezius exercises for bodybuilding, you may also add:
a. Single-Arm Angled Shrugs;
b. Wide-Grip Upright Rows;
c. Dumbbell Trap-Blaster Complex. 2. Shoulder muscles include the Anterior, Lateral, and Posterior Deltoids. They’re engaged in supporting the nearby sets of muscles like lats, biceps, triceps, and pecs. It’s critical to dedicate enough time to all three muscle heads equally; otherwise, if one is underdeveloped, it’ll stick out from mile away. Among the most effective exercises for wider shoulders are:
a. Overhead Press;
b. High Incline Bench Press;
c. Single-Arm Overhead Press;
d. Handstand Push-Ups;
e. Push Press. 3. Triceps are a big muscle group located in the back of your upper arm that makes up around 70 percent of muscles in the area. As the name suggests, it’s a three-headed set of muscles, namely the long, lateral, and medial heads. The problem is that this muscle group can become saggy over time, so women usually want to make it more firm. In this case, variations of dumbbell floor press and push-ups will work best. Meanwhile, men are mainly looking for the best gym exercises for bigger triceps, and we encourage you to try:
a. Overhead Press; b. Dips;
c. Barbell Bench Press. 4. Biceps are among the most popular muscle groups, though they account for only 30 percent of muscles in your arm. They are a two-headed muscle group — long and short heads — located between your elbow and shoulder. One of the best exercises for bigger biceps is Dumbbell Curls, but this muscle group is also highly involved during Chin-Ups and Pull-Ups. 5. Forearms are utilized in numerous weightlifting exercises, so they aren’t the primary objective, but being well-developed, they can significantly improve the overall appearance. The central muscle groups are Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus, Brachioradialis, Abductor Pollicis Longus, and Flexor Carpi Radialis. As we’ve already mentioned, training with heavy weight develops this set of muscles well. Still, if you’re looking for specialized exercises for bigger forearms, then these are:
a. Pinwheel Curls;
b. Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curls;
c. Hammer Curls;
d. Dumbbell Bicep Curls. 6. The chest is often referred to as ‘pecs’ because it consists of two large muscle groups, namely ‘pectoralis minor’ and ‘pectoralis major.’ This set of muscles not only controls arms’ movement but is also involved in breathing. Chest fibers aren’t arranged consistently in one direction, which makes it harder for both men and women to reach the desired goals. Among the most recommended chest building exercises are:
b. Barbell Bench Press;
d. Dumbbell Pullovers.
The combination of dips and weighted push-ups can be called the best chest exercises for men since they help to develop a fantastic chest.
- The back is a big muscle group, and it can be conveniently classified into the top, middle, and lower areas. The main sets of muscles are Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, and Erector Spinae. Latissimus Dorsi is also called ‘lats,’ and when it’s well-developed, it looks like wings that make your waist visually smaller. Rhomboids and Erector Spinae groups add to back thickness and provide you with good posture. If you need back exercises for bodybuilding, then you should definitely try One-Arm Dumbbell Rows. To build whole-body toughness and enlarge muscular tissues, we highly recommend back exercises with bands, including:
b. Lat Pulldowns;
c. Barbell Rows. 8. The abs are definitely the most popular set of muscles on the list, and what’s important, it doesn’t require a lot of specific training. If you perform compound exercises, eat healthy, and lift weights correctly, the abs also get stronger, and you’ll soon get your six pack. Abdominals include External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Rectus Abdominis, and Transversus Abdominis muscle groups. Meanwhile, Rectus Abdominis is the most popular since it’s the one that is responsible for the six-pack look. These days plank exercises for abs are mainstream, and they’re performed both in a gym and at home. Additionally, there are many new abs exercises like:
a. Weighted Cable Crunches;
b. Ab Wheel;
c. Weighted Planks. 9. Quadriceps lies in the front of your thighs and comprises four separate muscle groups: Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius, Vastus Medialis, and Rectus Femoris. Unfortunately, too often, people dedicate more time to the upperparts and ignore the lower body, which results in thin legs holding up a brawny torso. To avoid that, quads should be trained as often as any other set of muscles. Among the best quadriceps exercises are:
a. High Bar Squat; b. Bulgarian Split Squat; c. Front Squat; d. Pistol Squat; e. Narrow Stance Leg Press; f. Leg Extension; g. Barbell Step-ups.
10. Hamstrings are namely Semitendinosus, Biceps Femoris, and Semimembranosus located on the back of your thigh. These muscles are engaged in running, jumping, walking up the stairs, and many other activities. Isolated exercises for tight hamstrings are mainly used for bodybuilding and rehabilitation. Still, we need to emphasize that a confining job can directly affect the
function of this muscle group and lead to injuries. So we recommend not to ignore that and perform the following exercises to tighten hamstrings preventive:
a. Stiff-Legged Deadlift; b. Romanian deadlift; c. Low Bar Squat; d. Good Mornings; e. Cable Pull-Throughs.
11. Calves are among the most neglected muscle groups, and they’re rather tough in developing. Because genetics play a large role in calf development, the only way to build them is to work each set of muscles in the calf region separately: the Soleus, the Gastrocnemius, and the Tibialis Anterior. Among the most effective exercises for bigger calves are:
a. Squat-to-Calf-Raises; b. Reverse Calf Raises; c. Leg Press Calf Raises; d. Standing Calf Raises; e. Seated Calf Raises.
Summing up all the recommendations and lists of exercises by muscle group, we can define the top seven weightlifting exercises that should be included in every training schedule to develop a healthy body, and they are:
- Overhead Press:
What Muscle Groups to Workout Together to Be As Fit As a Fiddle
Selecting the best muscle group combinations to workout together on the same day can be confusing. Moreover, most people have their own variations that work for them, and unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that this approach will help you achieve the desired results. However, we recommend our users to start with the following compound sets:
- Shoulders, chest, and triceps;
- Abs, back, and biceps;
- Calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
Later you can design your own workout routine based on your preferences and goals, but still, try to keep it balanced. Most importantly, track your progress to be able to think long-term. You can either use
a comprehensive BetterHuman app with fitness and food tracking functionality or at least a daily planner to put that into perspective.
How often should you workout each muscle group mainly depends on your capabilities and on how quickly you recover after training. On average, it can take up to 96 hours for your muscles to get over, so exercising each muscle group every five or seven days may be the right balance if you workout to gain muscles.
However, it’s critical to remember training behavior basics and schedule at least one off-day after training three major combinations mentioned above. Otherwise, you’re exposed to ‘overtraining’ that leads to performance impairment, sleep disorder, arterial hypertension, a decrease in immunity, and other problems. Moreover, keep in mind that fatigued muscles are more prone to severe injuries.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know what muscle groups should be worked out together and how often you should train them, we can talk about basic rules that will make your workouts more pleasant and effective:
- Working out, don’t forget to make 30-second pauses between sets;
- Planning how many exercises per muscle group you should perform, don’t push yourself too hard. From our experience, five different exercises per body area are the maximum that shouldn’t be surpassed.
The Better Human team combines domain knowledge and personal experience to help you win the objectives faster. We provide you with all the necessary tools that empower you to train smarter, but not harder. Start your free trial today.