An important part of improving your physique is understanding the different muscle groups of your body and then learning specific exercises meant for each one of these muscles. It is vital that a workout program focuses on each group of muscles so you can build overall symmetry which will provide you with a balanced physique. We have included this interactive muscle map below to give you a visual guide to choose which parts of the body you would like to focus on. Simply click on a muscle group and you will be able to review different exercises with detailed photos and instructions for each one.
Click on a Body Part for Specific Exercises!
Remember to focus on building a balanced body with symmetry. The lower body needs as much exercise as the upper body, so training each muscle group evenly will guarantee a balanced look. By not dedicating enough training to certain muscle groups, this is the reason why some people who focus on their upper body only (chest, abs, arms), have smaller legs supporting their well-built upper bodies. This imbalance between the upper and lower body is commonly referred to as “chicken legs” and it’s something you want to avoid if your goal is to build an impressive symmetrical physique. Although leg muscles usually take more work to build-up, the results are usually significant. Here are some of the key muscle groups featured on the muscle map:
Quadriceps consist of the four muscles located on the front of the thighs. You can train quads using lunges, leg extensions and various squats, such as normal squats and front squats. Studies show that squats enhance muscular size, strength and the anabolic secretion of the powerful hormones testosterone and growth hormone. You can target the quadriceps by using isolation exercises such as leg extensions. If you have a weak back and can’t do regular barbell squats then you can reduce lower back stress by using the leg press machine.
Found at the back of thighs, the hamstrings are a very important muscle group that is often ignored when training legs. Although targeted as a secondary muscle group when performing squats, training the hamstrings directly will help build up the legs evenly in addition to preventing injuries (hamstring pulls). Still-legged deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts and lying leg curls are all perfect exercises for training this group of muscles.
The calf muscles are composed of the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and the tibialis anterior muscles. The key to building bigger calves is focusing on these muscles independently. The seated calf machine, standing barbell calf raise and calf press on the leg press machine are all great exercises for building up the calf muscles. All of these exercises focus on the larger, outer muscles for improved size and definition of the calves. Another great exercise to use is a plyometric movement called the box jump. The box jump is a type of resistance training drill that is explosive and powerful which helps to enhance muscle strength and size in the quads, hamstrings and calves.
The chest is a major muscle group of the upper body. The barbell bench press, flat dumbbell press and weighted dips are all perfect exercises for building up the chest muscles. The barbell bench press is the king of all chest exercises and a perfect muscle builder that defines, thickens and strengthens the chest muscles. For more muscle definition in the chest, focus on doing high repetitions with flat dumbbell flyes and cable crossovers which focus on the pectoral muscles with isolation movements.
The back muscles are composed of the upper, middle and lower sections of the back. Execution of proper deadlift technique and strict form during this important exercise helps to thicken the back muscles and build overall body strength and size. Cable rows, straight bar lat pulldowns and pull-ups are also excellent movements to help increase size and strength in the back muscles. Barbell and dumbbell shrugs enhance muscle growth and strength in the triangle-shaped trapezius muscles of the upper back.
The Bird Dog exercise stabilizes the spine through enhanced coordination and balance which targets the muscles found in the lower back (thoracolumbar). The Superman exercise targets the lower back for improved muscular strength which helps to reduce and prevent pain in this sensitive area. The lat pulldown exercise focuses on the middle back muscles (latissimus dorsi). The seated cable row focuses on both the upper and middle back muscles and is an excellent mass builder.
The shoulder muscles are composed of the front, side and rear deltoids. Using proper form and technique on the overhead barbell press targets the deltoids very well for improved strength and size. Unlike the sitting variation of the barbell press, the standing variation calls for a stable and well-balanced lower back which helps to strengthen this area as well. Just like the barbell and dumbbell presses, the dumbbell front raise exercise focuses on the anterior deltoid. The bent-over deltoid raise focuses on the rear area of the shoulders which is an important muscle group for enhanced shoulder density and strength.
Whereas the biceps account for approximately only 30% of the muscles in the upper arm, the triceps make up approximately 70% of this area. Close grip and reverse grip bench presses and dips are perfect for adding size to the triceps. Dips target the triceps so it’s important to keep your elbows close to your sides. Doing so allows you to really hit the triceps and take the focus off the chest muscles. The lying triceps extension (skull crushers) stimulates the entire area of the triceps. Training Tip: using a lightly curved bar might feel more comfortable on your elbows and wrists when performing this exercise. Also, the overhead dumbbell extension provides a great stretch to the triceps!
Barbell curls are a big mass building movement for the biceps. The seated concentration curls focus more on defining this muscle group and should be performed at the end of an arm workout. Bodyweight exercises like chin ups (under-hand grip) and pull ups (over-hand grip), target the biceps very well and can be performed without the use of expensive gym equipment.
The strength of your forearms and overall grip greatly affects other important mass building exercises like deadlifts and bench press. Wrist curls, using either a dumbbell or a barbell, are perfect for training the forearms. Grip strength is enhanced using the wrist straps while doing specific back exercises, but your goal should be to perform these without the aid of any assistance. Doing towel pull-ups really help to develop improved grip strength for well-developed muscles in the forearms.
Abdominal strength is enhanced through a combination of several other exercises that target the abs as a secondary muscle group, such as doing rows, overhead presses, deadlifts, squats and pull ups, among others. The Russian twist, wood chop, planks, mountain climbers and medicine ball exercises are excellent for strengthening the core muscles. In order to get a six pack of shredded abs, regular cardio workouts and a clean diet are critical elements for attaining and maintaining a ripped look to your midsection!
Gluteus Maximus (Butt)
Barbell and dumbbell lunges are probably the best exercises for working your butt muscles. Deadlifts and squats are also very effective exercises for targeting the glutes. The stiff-legged deadlift exercise helps to tighten the gluteus maximus for a firm look. Cardio exercises like sprinting, running hills and doing stairs are all amazing exercises for toning up your booty!