Muscle Groups

An effective strength-building program will exercise all of the major muscle groups in your body. Below are diagrams of these muscle groups and suggested exercises that target each one.




The chest muscles (pectoralis major) are located across the top part of our rib cage and are used in pushing motions . Push-ups are a great way to build chest muscles and can be done just about anywhere with no equipment. Weight-lifters perform bench press exercises to build these muscles, as well.


The muscles of the back (lattisimus dorsi or “lats”) are used in movements where we perform pulling motions such as opening a door. Pull-ups are a very good back exercise and can be done with a simple pull-up bar. Most gyms have lat pull-down machines and other equipment that also target the back muscles.


The abdominal muscles ("abs") are located below the chest in the lower part of the mid-section. They are comprised of the transverse abdominal, rectus femoris, external oblique, internal oblique and psoas major muscles. These muscles are critical core muscles of our body. They allow us to twist our 'trunks' and they also support good posture and balance the movement of our back muscles. Doing regular sets of crunches can increase agility and even help reduce back pain.

Upper Leg Muscles

The hamstrings are located on the back of the upper leg and include three separate muscle groups (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus). Hamstrings pull the lower leg up when you bend your knees and are one of the primary muscles used in running. The quadriceps are located on the front of the upper leg and include four separate muscles (rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, and the vastus lateralis). Leg lifts (both bent and straight methods) are good quadriceps exercises. Strong “quads” can also take some strain off the knee and reduce or minimize some types of knee pain.

Lower Leg Muscles

The calf muscles are two separate muscle groups (gastrocnemius and soleus). They are used when we stand on our “tippy toes” or the push-off motion often utilized in sprinting. Calf raises, both with & without weights, are a great way to strengthen your calf muscles.


The shoulder muscles (deltoids or “delts”) move the upper arm and can be strengthened with pull-ups and seated bench press exercises.

The bicep muscles are located on the front part of the upper arm and are probably one of the society’s more overemphasized muscle groups (i.e. vanity exceeds practical use). Curling and chin-ups are effective exercises to build the bicep muscles.

The tricep muscles (triceps brachii) are located on the back of the upper arm. Body dips are a good tricep exercise and can be done between two chairs or on gym body-dip bars. The motion of pushing the body’s weight up targets the tricep muscle group.

Strengthening and toning the body’s major muscle groups will not only make us fitter, but it will allow us to perform life’s daily activities easier.

All of the above muscle charts were provided courtesy of



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