Know the right combination of muscles to train to ensure your bodybuilding gains are met and really work to get the most out of every workout.
Instead of wandering around the gym with no plan in mind, it is important for you to know what works best to maximize the full potential of your growth with your muscle groups. While ripping a quick set of bicep curls, hopping on the bench for a few decent reps, and hitting a body weight squat circuit might make you feel good, you won’t be actually benefiting your overall performance or individual muscle groups or any major muscle group, as well as smaller muscle groups, to make sure to see growth in your training.
To start seeing the success of muscle building depends on training the right muscles, at the right time, and with other muscle groups that aid in such growth. Pairing muscle groups that compliment each other will activate more muscle fibers and allow for more muscle in your workouts for maximum muscle group training for all muscle groups and sheer volume.
Work Those Stabilizer Muscles Out For Support
It is important to note that very few exercises truly target just one muscle, whereas many target different muscle groups. Although a major muscle may be the intended target, smaller ones surrounding it also benefits and provide support and act as stabilizers for the larger muscles. By combining certain muscle groups together that complement each other, you increase muscle mass, bone health, and begin that path to your desired physique. Working on the wrong muscle group together won’t totally destroy all gains, but you will not fully maximize the potential of your hard work put into the gym from all muscle groups.
The Benefits Of Combining Muscle Groups For Serious Growth & Performance
The bonus of combining certain groups is to work like-minded muscles with complimentary movements. A day off of recovery for that muscle group will allow the muscle to recharge to better target muscle growth. Compound exercises are those that involve more than one group of muscles and can increase efficiency, muscle mass, and weight loss.
However, if you want to start to strengthen muscle groups over the other, exercises performed in the beginning of the workout led to greater gains than those completed at the end (1).
Fatigue plays a role for those muscles worked at the beginning are fresher and more willing to lift more weight for muscle group training and intensity.
These muscle group combinations ensure you see big gains without sacrificing your overall health so as to not waste your time in the gym and be as effective as possible with all muscle groups. A simple change in your existing workout plan can go a long way in terms of benefits and gains for muscle group training with added intensity. Getting enough resistance from enough intensity quickly can ensure safe lifting for weeks and months as you build up enough muscle.
Chest, Shoulders and Triceps For Pushing Motions
The chest and triceps work together in most pushing motions that originate from the shoulders, so combining the three is the best choice. By keeping all three activated in the workout, the possibility for growth is undeniable and unavoidable, especially with great chest exercises, and even in the triceps and shoulders. While the bench will see greater muscle hypertrophy in your chest than the triceps (2), it’s important to recognize that both the triceps and shoulders still benefit from said exercise as opposed to just one muscle group or just one singular major muscle group or body part, as well as other smaller muscle groups incorporated in your training program for the best results to get in a week.
With the shoulders as a bridge to your chest and triceps, increasing mobility and size are key to keeping your upper half strong, stable, and free from injury. Put these three muscle groups together for an effective and efficient workout to train at least once per week to target different muscle needs through weight training so you can spend the time you want on them. Whether it be your shoulders or your chest, you can get at least one good exercise in a week to split your days between the other groups so your body can rest and enjoy the program designed for lifting big weights.
- Incline Chest Press
- Bench Press
- Dumbbell Lateral Raises
- Arnold Press
- Dumbbells Triceps Kickbacks
- Triceps Overhead Extension
Back, Biceps and Abs For Pulling Movements
This muscle group pairing is effective because the biceps assist the back with many exercises. For a lot of back day training, the biceps and arms offer the secondary movement being some sort of pulling motion in many ways. Whether it be a rowing motion, or one of pulling up or down, in the upper or lower arm, the biceps are essential for getting that back to where it should be so you start seeing that wing-like back along with those giant arms so they start working for your benefit.
While its true your biceps also activate the shoulders, which you would have included on a different day of training, it is vital to just maintain your form and know your limits to not over work them or other major muscle groups, especially your back and arms. Working your abs along with the back and biceps offers stability and can assist in injury prevention (3), so adding core exercises to this regiment is simply a must to also help with low back support. Along with those added benefits of balance and grip strength, you can get that more than desired six-pack abs to look and feel great while also promoting good back support for your overall body health along with rest and the best recovery to train at optimal capacity with heavy weights while ensuring efficient time working out.
- Dumbbell Rows
- Lat Pulldowns (with reverse grip)
- Standard Bicep Curl
- Hammer Curl
- Preacher Curls
- Russian Twists
Hamstrings, Quads, Calves and Glutes For Lower Body Power & Explosive Strength
Training these muscle groups may seem obvious, but it is vital to keep working your legs. Your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes work as one to perform these compound motions so it is no surprise this combination works to your maximum benefit with workouts. Your calves, hamstrings and glutes help with hip and knee movements and your glutes offer added support to the hamstrings to flex the knees or extend the hip. Well-trained legs provide you with a strong back and core, but also that balance and stability to improve form in a variety of other exercises, some with just one single leg to work those calves and get them done. While leg day may not be as appealing as hitting a good, solid upper body workout, or whatever comes your way, it is vital to train your legs and keep a strong foundation in and out of the gym for major muscle groups and workouts in order to see proper rest as well from your legs routine for great workouts.
- Bodyweight Squat
- Bulgarian Split Squat
- Barbell Hip Thrust
- Machine Leg Curl
- Step Ups
- Cable Kickbacks
- Standing Calf Raise
- Seated Band Pushes
Wrap It All Up
More often than not we have a good handle on what muscle groups we want to work together. People will commonly work their chest and biceps and save the triceps and shoulders for the back. While you are likely to notice progress, a simple change of switching your back and chest days can boost your performance and strength by providing complimentary muscles groups to perform exercises more effectively. Regardless of what you decide, it’s important to have a plan in place to stay on track and continue to see that muscle growth you want and need while also staying healthy. Use leg days as a recovery tool for your upper half just as much as you are using them for building foundational strength to support and assist balance and stability. Try pairing these muscle group combinations together and love the results that follow for what you want and need to make people want to stare at all your progress.
Check out our Exercise Guide for other exercises and video instructions.
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*Images courtesy of Envato
- Simao, Roberto; Freitas de Salles, Belmiro; Figueiredo, Tiago; Dias, Ingrid; Wiilardson, Jeffrey M. (2012). “Exercise order in resistance training”. (source)
- Ogasawara, Riki; Thiebaud, Robert S.; Loenneke, Jeremy P.; Loftin, Mark; Abe, Takashi (2012). “Time course for arm and chest muscle thickness changes following bench press training”. (source)
- Hsu, Shih-Lin; Oda, Harumi; Shirahata, Saya; Watanabe, Mana; Sasaki, Makoto (2018). “Effects of core strength training on core stability”. (source)