Muscles and Exercise


1. Quadriceps
2. Hamstrings
3. Calves
4. Chest
5. Back
6. Shoulders
7. Triceps
8. Biceps
9. Forearms
10. Trapezius
11. Abs

 1. Quadriceps

The thigh is formed of 4 large muscles hence the term “quads” or quadriceps. These are easy to work effectively using a range of exercises, the most popular ones being:-

  • Squats
  • Overhead Squats
  • Clean and jerk
  • Lunges
  • Barbell hack squats

Runners tend to have relatively weak quads and building them up will improve performance. Working on your quads can also help reduce knee pain.

2. Hamstrings

The hamstrings are a huge muscle group on the back of your thighs, the antagonist to the quadriceps.

They are the biceps of the lower body yet many people never work them.

Enormously useful when running, and should be trained regularly.

They are used during squats, but you should give them more attention with:-

  • Romanian deadlifts
  • Stiff legged deadlifts

3. Calves

The calves are the one major muscle group that most people fail to train. The calves are a very stubborn muscle group and can be very tough to build without hard work.

The key to building calves is to work each major muscle group in the calf area: the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and the tibialis anterior.

Calf raises are the best way to train them such as:-

  • Standing
  • Seated
  • Donkey calf raises
  • Block calf raises

 4. Chest

The chest is one the muscle group most often trained as it is very important to both men and women. However training the chest more often than other body parts will cause injury, pain and a rounded posture. Bench press repeated again and again will not improve your chest. Instead try varying your routine and ensure you train each major body part equally.

There are a variety of exercises including:-

  • Pressups
  • Pec flyes

5. Back

The back is one of the largest muscle groups and needs to be trained as much as the chest. Pulling exercises generally involve the back, and pushing exercises generally train the chest.

To work the lower back, deadlifts are great and increase thickness. They also strengthen your back to prevent injuries when lifting, and train your body to squat down and lift using your legs rather than by bending over, causing injury.

To widen your back chose pullups and chin ups.

Bent over rows work on increasing width and thickness in your back.

6. Shoulders

The shoulders consist of front deltoids, side deltoids, and rear deltoids that make up the shoulder muscle.

The overhead press is the best overall exercise for the shoulders. It works all 3 heads of the shoulder muscle well when the exercise is done with proper form and technique.

Although sometimes ignored, it is important to build strong shoulders to avoid injury and pain and learn how to lift with proper form and technique.

7. Triceps

The triceps make up about 2/3 of the upper arm as opposed to the bicep biceps which only makes up about 1/3 of the upper arm. However most men especially work on the bicep alone in an effort to build bigger arms.

Women tend to work on the triceps as it’s the part often called ”bingo wings” and can be worked by a variety of exercises.

  • Rope/bar Pushdowns
  • Dips
  • Extensions

Compound exercises are much more effective than isolation exercises as they allow you to lift heavier.

Don’t be afraid to use heavy weights, you will get results much quicker.

8. Biceps

The biceps help with back exercises such as chin ups, rows and pull ups.

Compound exercises are the best for developing the biceps such as the close grip pull up with palms facing towards your body. Alternate dumbbell curls also allows you to lift the heaviest weights of all the curl variations.

The biceps get worked very hard during back exercises like rows, chin ups, and pull ups.

9. Forearms

Even though many exercises involving holding, lifting or gripping weights work on the forearms, there are still a few exercises to increase size and strength including:-

  • Hammer curls
  • Wrist curls
  • Pinwheel curls

Improving your forearm strength will enable you to lift more weights and positively affect the rest of your training.

10. Trapezius

The trapezius or ‘traps’ for short is the large muscle in your upper back. It makes a triangle shape with the point in the middle of your upper back.

The deadlifts work the traps very effectively, as do upright rows. Another important exercise for the traps is the power shrug.

11. Abs

Most people dream of getting a perfect 6 pack but unless your body fat is super low, below 9%, the 6 pack wont show.

As long as you train the rest of your body hard with free weights and functional core exercises, you don’t need to invest too much time doing ab exercises.

One myth is that doing ab exercises burns fat, spot reduction is not possible. The best way to get your abs to show is to reduce bodyfat slowly by training hard and keep the lean muscle by fuelling your workouts.

Doing 100 sit ups or crunches a day will just accentuate a bad posture. One should never work one muscle more than the rest as this will result in postural deviations.

As long as your routine includes compound weight lifting exercises like squats, deadlifts, overhead press, rows, and pull ups, your core strength will increase and your abs will stay strong.

A good cardio fat burning workout or metabolic circuit will help get that elusive 6 pack!

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About Nadia Tejani

Nadia Tejani lives in Surrey and works as a Personal Trainer specialising in weight management and obesity. She is also a Sports Massage Therapist and fitness model. Nadia runs marathons and does Olympic weightlifting and she has been competing nationally in Natural Figure (Bodybuilding) competitions since 2008. Nadia has a degree in Pharmacology and is qualified in Nutrition. She sticks to a strict clean vegetarian diet and practise what she preaches! Nadia has 3 dogs, a tiny horse and 2 pygmy goats.
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