As trainers, we often hear that the biggest complaint in beginning a workout program is “I’m not sure where to start.” Or “How do I know what muscle groups to train together?” Good news, there really isn’t a wrong way to train muscles groups (with good form of course), but we can help you choose a program that is right for you and give you reasons as to why certain muscle groups are often worked together.
Some muscle combinations that are often trained together are:
1.Chest, shoulders, and triceps
2. Back and Biceps
3. Hamstrings, calves, and glutes
Chest and triceps are a great combination because both of these muscles are the “push” muscles, meaning they activate when you need to push something away from your body. For example, during a chest press, your tricep is the secondary mover in that exercise. Working on your triceps when working on the chest gives your triceps a double workout. The three main ways to engage these muscle groups are by doing chest presses, shoulder presses, and tricep extensions.
Back and biceps are another great combination to work together. Back and biceps are “pull” muscles meaning they are active when you need to pull something closer to your body. If you train your biceps on a day you are working on your back, your biceps are getting an even greater workout compared to if you skip out on biceps that day. You can engage these muscles by doing bicep curls and dumbbell rows.
If you want to know more about the difference between push and pull muscles, visit the blog on the website listed below:
Another great routine involves all the leg muscles. Hamstrings and glutes are the muscles that are in the back of your legs. They often work together to move your body up and down. Some exercises isolate each muscle, but certain exercises work all of the muscle groups simultaneously with one great compound movement. You can work these muscles together by doing exercises like hamstring roll-ins, squats, and barbell glute bridges.
Contrary to popular belief, your “core” is NOT just your ab muscles! “Many of the muscles are hidden beneath the exterior musculature people typically train. The deeper muscles include the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor, and many other deeper muscles.” – Breakingmuscle.com. A strong core is essential for stability and balance, as well as reducing the risk of injury. Instead of doing endless crunches, try doing functional exercises like planks, russian twists, and toe reaches. Make your workout more difficult by adding weight to your routine or by doing more sets and reps.
Remember that every exercise movement you do you should keep those core muscles engaged. Even when you are lying down doing chest press, those ab muscles should be flexed! This ensures that you are getting a great ab workout even when you are not focusing on them and it also assures that you are giving yourself a stable base, especially when using higher weight. If you are doing lighter weights and aiming for muscle endurance, full body is fine to do as well. But if you are lifting heavy, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to recover between sets and even between days.
It is not a good idea to lift the same muscle groups two consecutive days in a row if you are lifting heavy. Rest is just as important as exercise because muscle growth actually occurs during your rest period when the muscle fibers that are broken down have a chance to rebuild. Give yourself at least one rest day per week or active recovery days in between strength training. Active recovery means low-intensity workout the day following a heavy or difficult workout such as jogging or swimming.
And don’t forget to add cardio to your workout sessions. Just be sure not to use cardio as your only source of exercise. There are so many reasons why lifting weights are more beneficial to a workout than just cardio alone. You can always read all about those reasons in our other blog titled “Why Cardio isn’t Always the Answer to Fat Loss.”
Just remember, these are guidelines and there is no “one size fits all model.” Just working out is good for the body so don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the “am I training the right muscles together” thoughts. Do what you think is best for you. If you are ever unsure if your workout program is sufficient enough, reach out and schedule a free session with one of our awesome trainers today!