Diet and Exercise Resources: Muscle Groups
Any effective exercise regimen, especially one that incorporates weightlifting, should include exercises that target all the major muscle groups. Not only does this help ensure all-around fitness, but it allows you to rest one or more muscle groups while other groups are being utilized. These intermittent periods of rest are vital for muscle regeneration and growth. Here’s a basic primer on the major muscle groups and some exercises that target them.
- What should I know before beginning my exercise program?
- Before starting an exercise program
- Starting an exercise program
- Exercise: The key to the good life
Quadriceps – These are the muscles that are in the front of the thigh. The name of the muscle group refers to the fact that there are four major muscles in this group. The quadriceps act as knee extensors and are used in walking, jogging, sprinting, bending, and squatting. Common exercises that target the quadriceps are the leg press, leg extension, lunge, and squat lift.
Hamstrings – These are the muscles that are in the back of the thigh. There are three major muscles in the hamstring group. They help to flex the knees and hips and in general work in opposition to the quadriceps. The hamstrings are utilized in many activities like walking, jogging, sprinting, and jumping.
Calves – The calves are the muscles in the back of the lower leg. There are two major muscles that make up the calves. The calves are used in joining the leg to the ankle and in stabilizing the ankle during walking, running, and jumping.
Glutes – The gluteal muscles, also known as the glutes, are the muscles found in the human buttocks. They interact with the hips and the trunk of the body in extension and rotation. They’re one of the strongest muscle groups in the body.
Pectorals – The pectorals make up most of the chest muscles in the body. They’re used in motions of the shoulder, arms, and lungs. Common exercises that target the pectorals include the bench press, flys, and push-ups.
Upper Back and shoulders
Deltoids – The deltoids are the muscles that make up the rounded top of the shoulder. They’re used in coordinating and balancing the arms when they move in a plane in front of the body. They also prevent the upper arm from dislocating from the shoulder when holding heavy loads.
Lats – The latissimus dorsi, also known as the lats, are the broad muscles of the back. They’re involved in the extension and rotation of the back and shoulders. Common exercises that target this muscle group include the pull-up, rows, and deadlifts.
- Exercises that develop the latissimus dorsi
- Lat exercises with dumbbells
- Lat exercises for bodybuilding and weightlifting
Biceps – The biceps are two muscles on the front of the upper arm. They are used to flex the arm and elbow, especially when lifting with the arms. Common exercises for the biceps are arm curls, pull-ups, and bench press.
Triceps – The triceps are the muscles on the back of the upper arm. Their main function is helping in the extension of the elbow when fully straightening the arm. Common exercises to strengthen these muscles are the dip, the pushup, and triceps extensions.
Mid-Section and Core
Abdominals – The abdominals are the muscles on the front of the stomach. Their main function is supporting and stabilizing the core and trunk of the body and in assisting the diaphragm in breathing. Common exercises to work the abdominals are sit ups, crunches, and knee lifts.
Obliques – The obliques are technically abdominal muscles, but they are the ones located on the left and right sides of the stomach. They are used for stabilizing and supporting the trunk of the body when twisting or rotating the body.
Lower Back – The muscles of the lower back, the erector spinae, aid the abdominals in overall support and stabilization of the body’s trunk and core. Building strength in the lower back can help prevent against lower back pain.