Working out is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind. But what's even more important is how you work out. You must focus on working for different muscle groups on different days to get the most out of your workouts. This will help you avoid injury and ensure that each muscle group gets the attention it needs to grow.
There are many ways to split up your workouts, but one of the most effective ways is to focus on three main muscle groups daily. This approach is especially helpful if you're new to working out, as it will allow you to build up your strength and endurance gradually.
However, most gym goers make a blunder of exercising two primary muscle groups in the same session. There are several disadvantages to exercising two major muscle groups in the same workout session. The most obvious disadvantage is the risk of injuries. When you work out, your muscles need time to recover and grow. If you don't give them this time, you'll be more likely to pull a muscle or strain something.
Another disadvantage of this approach is that it's difficult to focus on each muscle group when trying to exercise two simultaneously. Lastly, working out two major muscle groups in the same session can result in one group getting more attention. This can lead to imbalances in your body and prevent you from seeing the desired results.
This article will discuss the best workouts for different muscle groups and present a 3-day split sample workout routine for working out the best muscle combination.
Related Article: 12 Ways to Switch Up Your Muscle-Building Routine
The Muscle Groups
Let's start by recalling the actual muscle groups before discussing which muscles to target in the same session. Most fitness experts break down the muscle groups into the following categories:
Some people also include a seventh category, which is cardio. But for the sake of this article, we'll focus on the first six.
The best way to ensure you're targeting all the muscle groups is to vary your exercises. For example, if you're working on your chest one day, you might do a bench press. The next time you work on your chest, you could do a pec fly. This will ensure that all the muscles in your chest are getting attention and growing evenly.
The same goes for the other muscle groups. This is especially important for beginners, as they might not know all the different muscle groups and how to target them.
Moreover, these muscle groups may be subdivided further. For example, arms can be divided into biceps, triceps, and forearms when planning the upper body workout. Similarly, you can divide leg muscles into calves, hamstrings, quads, or glutes for lower-body workouts.
Related Article: 3 Muscle Building Tips That You Probably Didn’t Know
Exercises for Different Muscle Groups
So now that we've covered the different muscle groups, let's look at some exercises that will help you work each one. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will give you an idea of the different exercises you can do to target each muscle group.
However, just because these routines target a specific muscle doesn't imply you'll be working only that muscle. Exercises like the barbell bench press, also known as compound exercises, will target various muscle groups simultaneously.
The following exercises can help you target your chest:
- Lie flat on a mat with your palms placed just outside shoulder width.
- Raise yourself off the ground until your arms are fully extended.
- Lower yourself back down until your chest is an inch above the ground, then press back up.
- Lie on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
- Grab the barbell with your hands just outside shoulder width and arch your back.
- Remove the barbell from the rack and hold it over your chest with extended arms.
- Lower the barbell to your mid-chest and then press it back up.
- Attach a D-handle to each pulley of a cable station and set the weight to light.
- Grab the handles and stand in the middle of the cable station with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your elbows and bring your hands together before your chest.
- From here, slowly extend your arms back to the starting position.
You can perform the following exercises to work out your back muscles:
- Grab the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and safely hold on to the bar for an extended period.
- Pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar.
- Lift your feet and bend your knees. You will be in a hanging position with the core engaged, back contracted, and elbows slightly bent.
- Focusing the movement in your back, pull yourself up towards the bar.
- Your arms are anchored here; they should not be doing the work. Let your back pull you up.
- Slowly lower yourself to the starting position. Do not let yourself drop down.
Dumbbell Bent-Over Row
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hip, so your upper body is almost parallel to the floor.
- Keep your core tight and your back straight as you row the weights up to your chest. Lower and repeat.
Seated Cable Rows
- Sit down at a cable rowing machine and adjust the seat so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees.
- Grab the handle with your palms facing down and lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
- From here, row the handle back toward your chest, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement and lower the handle back to the starting position.
For training your legs, you can perform these exercises:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your toes pointed slightly outward.
- Stick your butt back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees to return to the starting position.
- Stand with your legs wider than your shoulders and hold a dumbbell with both hands in line with your thighs.
- Stick your backside out, bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat until the dumbbell touches the floor.
- Drive back upwards and repeat.
- Sit on a leg press machine and place your feet shoulder-width apart on the footplate.
- Unlock the safety lever and lower the weight until your knees are 90 degrees.
- Press the weight back up and repeat.
The following exercises can help you work out your shoulder muscles:
- Stand with your body upright, and core muscles braced, looking straight ahead.
- Hold the bar on your upper chest, gripping it with hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Press the bar directly overhead.
- Don't tilt your hips forward during the move.
- Grab a barbell and hold it at shoulder height with palms facing forward.
- Set your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees to initiate the move.
- Push up your legs to explosively press the barbell above your head.
- Return under control to the starting position.
- In a seated position, kick dumbbells up to a traditional starting position.
- Rotate your hands until your palms are facing toward you.
- Press the dumbbells and rotate your palms to face forward.
- Continue lifting until your biceps are by or behind your ears.
- Pause and reverse the move slowly and repeat.
To work out your abs, perform these exercises:
- Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and pull your abs to your spine.
- Lean back a few inches while keeping your back straight.
- Hold your hand at your chest, twist your torso to the right, then to the left to complete one rep.
- While lying face down on the ground, slowly raise yourself into a forearm plank position.
- Ensure your elbows are aligned underneath your shoulders and that your hands are balled up in fists.
- Your forearms should be parallel to one another.
- Hold for 10 to 20 seconds per set.
- Lie down on your back with your legs extended in front of you.
- Place your hands either under your glutes or with your palms down.
- Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle with the floor and exhale.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
The following exercises can help you target your arm muscles:
Incline Bicep Curl
- Sit on an incline bench and hold a dumbbell at arm's length in each hand.
- Use your biceps to curl the dumbbell until it reaches your shoulder.
- Then, lower them back down to your side and repeat.
- Start by lying on the floor with your body straight. Then, form a diamond shape with your hands.
- Gradually bring your body down until your chest is only a few inches from the floor.
- Push yourself back to the beginning position, squeezing your triceps and chest simultaneously.
Underhand Seated Row
- Grab the barbell with a shoulder-width, underhand grip, then bend your knees.
- Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight.
- Then, use your back muscle to bring the bar toward your belly button.
- Return the bar to the starting position and repeat.
Best Muscle Group to Work Out Together
Now that you know which muscles to target, here is a sample 3-day split workout routine that focuses on different muscle groups.
To maintain your workout routine, follow this 3-day split principle and take a minimum of one day off after you've completed the three. Each day, we'll put a few workouts to the test. The workout includes popular bodybuilding exercises that will help you increase muscle mass fast. The compound exercises in the 3-day split program will help you work out several muscles simultaneously.
Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
- Incline Chest Press, 3 sets of 12 reps
- Decline Chest Press, 3 sets of 12 reps
- Dumbbell Flat Bench Fly, 3 sets of 12 reps
- Dumbbell Lateral Raises, 3 sets of 12 reps
- Face Pulls, 3 sets of 12 reps
Back, Bicep, and Abs
- Seated row, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Bicep curl, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Deadlift, 3 sets of 12 reps
- Triceps extension, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Lat pulldown, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Crunch, 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Sit up, 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Crossbody dumbbell hammer curl, 3 sets of 12 reps
- EZ bar skull crusher, 3 sets of 12 reps
Leg Muscles – Hamstrings, Quads, and Calves
- Leg extension, 3 sets of 12 reps
- Dumbbell split squat, 3 sets of 12 reps
- Calf raises 3 sets of max reps
- Barbell back squat, 3 sets of 12 reps
- Romanian deadlift, 3 sets of 12 reps
Remember to focus on quality over quantity and always use proper form. By targeting specific muscle groups on different days, you can effectively work towards building muscle mass and strength. And, by adding in some cardio exercises on your non-lifting days, you can help improve your overall fitness level.
1. What is the best combination of muscle groups to work out together?
It is generally best to work out opposing muscle groups together (e.g., chest and back, biceps and triceps). This helps prevent imbalances in your strength and can help you to stay functional overall.
2. How do you combine muscle groups when working out?
When it comes to working out, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Different people have different goals and, as a result, will target different muscle groups. Some general guidelines can help you figure out how to combine muscle groups when working out.
To build overall muscle mass, you should focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once and are most effective in stimulating growth. Examples of compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, lunges, and presses.
If you're trying to build strength in a particular area (e.g., your chest or arms), you'll want to focus on isolation exercises targeting those specific muscle groups. These exercises are typically not as effective in stimulating overall growth, but they can help you build strength in a particular area. Examples of isolation exercises include bicep curls and triceps extensions.
To lose fat, you should focus on cardiovascular exercise and HIIT (high-intensity interval training). These activities will help you burn calories and fat and preserve muscle mass.
Ultimately, the best approach is to vary your workouts and target different muscle groups on different days. This will help ensure that you progress toward your goals and avoid boredom. Experiment and find what works best for you!
3. Are chest and biceps a good combo?
Many people find that chest and biceps are a very effective combo for building overall upper body strength and definition.
Exercises like the bench press and dumbbell curls target the chest and biceps muscles, leading to more effectively developed muscles in both areas. In addition, some people simply find that they enjoy working out their chest and biceps together - so if you're one of those people, then, by all means, go for it!
4. How many exercises should I do per muscle group?
The general rule of thumb is to do 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise, but this varies depending on your goal. If you're just starting, focusing on form is most important. Once you have the hang of the exercise and can do it with good form, you can start worrying about increasing the weight or reps.
For building muscle mass, you'll want to increase the weight every time you work out (provided that you can still do the exercise with good form). And for endurance training, you'll want to increase the reps. Ultimately, it depends on your fitness goals as to how many exercises you should do per muscle group.
The Bottom Line
Working out different muscle groups together can help you build muscle mass and strength effectively. Following a 3-day split routine, you can target specific muscle groups on different days, allowing each group to recover between workouts. And, by adding in some cardio exercises on your non-lifting days, you can help improve your overall fitness level.