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Working Out the Right Muscle Groups

Apr 30, 2018

Lifting weights is helpful for working out particular muscle groups individually. There are lots of ways to target muscle groups. Some individuals prefer to do one exercise per group to total a full-body workout in one session. Others like to separate upper body and lower body on separate days, so that the whole body can be worked in two days. Others prefer to designate a day for the “pull” muscle groups, another for “push,” and a third for legs. Beyond that, each day can be used for one or two different groups in order to exert maximum effort and allow for as much recovery time as possible.

Typically, forty eight hours after a group is worked, it becomes the sorest it will get. After the forty eight hours, muscles generally start to feel less sore. Lifting weights makes tears in muscles that allow for growth. Recovery entails the body rebuilding muscle to fill the tears, which results in increased strength. There are lots of different ways to train that involve different numbers of repetitions with varying degrees of weight. Regardless of the training plan, muscle groups are generally referred to as follows.

Most Commonly Exercised Muscle Groups

Chest and Triceps

Chest and triceps are considered the “push” muscles. They are involved in exercises like push-ups, tricep extensions, tricep dips, and bench pressing. Some people elect to work these muscle groups on the same day, whereas others elect to have a chest day and work biceps and triceps together. Most often, people warm up with no weight or low-weight exercises. Combining a set number of push-ups with a set number of tricep dips promotes blood flow to both muscle groups so that they will not be damaged when more weight is involved or added. When extending arms to squeeze triceps, stop just before elbows lock in order to protect joints.

Back and Biceps

Back and biceps are considered the “pull” muscles. They are involved in exercises like different kinds of bicep curls, pull-ups, dumbbell rows, lateral rows, lateral pull-downs, and dumbbell flys. Some people like to work these groups together while others prefer to designate an entire back day while triceps and biceps are worked together. Someone warming up for “back and bis” day might consider using low-weight dumbbells to do one hundred curls, and doing as many pull ups as possible without weight. Pull-up assist machines can add resistance so that less weight is being pulled up, resulting in being able to do more repetitions at a shot.


Shoulders are generally worked separately of any of the other arm groups. Different parts of the shoulder are involved in exercises like shoulder presses, upright rows, plate raises, and lateral raises. To warm up for a shoulder set, someone might use low-weight dumbbells or no weight to do one hundred shoulder presses, depending on level of strength. Machines are often available in gyms to help with many of the same exercises if there is concern about working with challenging amounts of weight and not having a spot.


Generally there is always at least one leg day during a week, sometimes two. If there are two, one might be used for quadricep-focused exercises like different kinds of squats, while the other might be hamstring focused, involving exercises like different kinds of deadlifts. Adductors and abductors, on the insides and outsides of legs, respectively, can be worked with machines or resistance bands. Lunges, squats, deadlifts, calf raises, and band work are all ways to engage different muscles in legs. Step-ups using a weight bench or a light run may be used as a warm up for leg day. Alternatively, no or low weight squats can also serve as a warm up.

Important Facts to Know

  • Training the same muscle group repeatedly increases risks of injury.
  • Schedules should be customized based on what a person feels comfortable with
  • There are both push and pull muscles. It’s best to work them on separate days
  • You don’t need to go to the gym to work out muscle groups. It can often be done at home.
  • Large amount of weight is not necessarily important.

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