muscle groups


Are you spending hours at the gym, but still not seeing progress?

Before you give up on working out, check out my article telling you about a common fitness mistake you might be making.

I have been in a rut lately. Work has been exhausting and my social and family life have been strained to say the least.

Nothing was going right.

Soon enough, I wasn’t even sleeping well, my energy was never about 10%, and I put on weight from moody snack binges.

But I couldn’t stay that way for much longer.

So, I started going back to the gym intent on getting a leaner, stronger physique.

I was under the impression that I could just throw cardio and all the various weight machines into one workout.

I know–rookie mistake.

Still, I was baffled by the lack of progress. The truth was that my workout routine was all over the place and vague at best.

But after some research, that changed. I soon learned that knowing what muscles to workout together determined how effective a workout routine actually is.

What Is Wrong with Working All the Muscles on The Same Day?

Woman performing shoulder press

Now, to be fair, there is nothing wrong with working all your muscles.

A full-body routine is actually a pretty good way to engage several muscle groups in a single exercise.

This makes full-body workouts ideal for people with less time to dedicate to working out.

With a full-body workout, you don’t have to work out as often throughout the week.

They are also perfect for beginners as they tend to be simple programs that can lead to weight loss and major strength improvement given time.

Moreover, they help you establish a strong base for more advanced muscle routines.

However, full-body workout or compound movements require a lot more energy. Working all your muscles on the same day can exhaust your muscles and require more rest time.

Working all your muscles might not help you progress towards your fitness goals at an efficient pace.

For example, you will not be able to grow larger muscles because your body could easily be overworked in a total body session.

Moreover, if you work out all your muscles in one session, you are likely overlooking your weak spots.

A total body program often offers big, comprehensive moves, but that does not mean they cover every detail of every muscle.

This is where working out specific muscle groups in different sessions becomes useful.

Striving for a well-rounded fitness routine means that each muscle, big or small, deserves an equal amount of your attention.

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What Are the Main Muscle Groups?

I once thought analyzing muscle groups was a bit overkill in terms of a workout routine.

Another rookie mistake on my part.

By organizing your muscles into units, you can better organize your training plans.

Moreover, it prevents you from making the mistake of focusing too much on a certain muscle, like your biceps or your shoulders.

I mean, let’s be real. No one wants to have disproportionate muscles.

All that said, here are the six muscle groups you should pay attention to when you are working out:

  • Chest
  • Back
  • Arms
  • Shoulders
  • Legs
  • Calves

When you look at these six muscle groups individually, it almost seems unreasonable to try and fit focused exercises for each in the span of a week, factoring in rest time and the like.

Remember, no one movement or exercise is just one muscle, so you have to look at the muscles like a unit.

Recommended Workout Combination Chart & Books On Muscle Groups

Recommended books and workout combination charts for muscle building…

Which Muscle Groups Are Best to Work Out on The Same Day?

woman with muscle with arms folded

Deciding how to group muscle groups to train together is confusing at best.

Everyone has their own variations for what works for them and what they are trying to achieve.

For example, some say you should train biceps with chest. Meanwhile, others will tell you to train triceps with your chest.

It can easily become overwhelming to figure out what is right for you. Trust me, I drove myself crazy going back and forth between so many combinations

But here is the plot twist: there is no perfect muscle group combination.

What we really have are some basic principles and foundations that allow us to make our ideal combinations.

On that note, here are the three standard muscle combination that people start with and build off of:

  • Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
  • Back and Biceps
  • Hamstrings, Calves and Glutes

Why Working These Muscle Groups Together Works Best?

Now, picking which muscles to workout together is not as simple as picking the muscles that are just near each other.

In reality, it is actually about grouping the muscles together according to their type of movement.

Yes, this definitely seems like more thinking on your part, but trust me, it pays off.

Grouping the muscles according to their purpose or movement is the best way to tackle weak spots and evenly develop your strength and range of motion.

Chest, Shoulders & Triceps

dumbbell press

These three muscle groups are together because they work together to push resistance away from the body.

Within this combination, you work the major muscles of the chest, shoulders, and pectorals as well as the smaller muscles in the triceps.

Some exercises you can try for this group include shoulder and chest presses, dips, overhead press and bench presses.

This exercise targets the multiple muscles of your shoulder, increasing mobility and strength, while also improving the strength in your chest and triceps.

Back & Biceps

one arm bicep curl

Your back and biceps are paired together as pull muscles, meaning they pull resistance towards your body.

They work together because the biceps are directly connected to the rhomboid and latissimus muscles of your back.

To work these muscles, you would use barbells and cable pulleys because your back moves your shoulders while your biceps help maneuver your elbows.

Hamstrings, Calves & Glutes

man doing squats

Moving down the body, we finally get to the leg combination.

The calves, glutes and hamstrings are all located on the back of your leg to help your hip and knee movements.

More specifically, your hamstrings are what flex your knee joints and extend your hips during squats.

Your calves are in charge of pointing your toes and lifting your heels up and your glutes offer support to your hamstrings.

These muscle groups are effective because the tackle the full ranges of movement while also zeroing on focused areas of your body.

Moreover, they account for the smaller, more stubborn muscles that many of us probably overlook when we work out.

The key, however, is to work out each muscle group in a split program, which we will dive into next.

How Do You Design Your Workout Routine?

woman at dumbbell rack

Designing your own workout routine can be daunting. It sometimes feels like it is more appropriate for professional trainers or people with intense goals.

However, I can tell you that designing your own workout routine is not only fairly easy to do, but also extremely helpful and, I daresay, a necessity.

Working out without a plan is like trying to diet without a meal plan. You cannot keep track of something that you have not planned or measured ahead of time.

So, let’s see these muscle groups in action. We will look at a three-day split workout example that has proved useful to beginners and trainers alike.

Day 1:

On Day 1, work on training the chest, shoulders, and triceps muscle groups.

Some exercises you can do include barbell bench presses, shoulder presses, cable flys and lateral raises.

After exercising this particular muscle group, you can wait a week to train them again. We will explain as to why later on.

Day 2:

On Day 2, you can move on to back and biceps exercises. Exercises like a reverse grip and upright rowing can train your biceps and back muscles.

You can even do these workouts at home with the assistance of a resistance band.

Day 3:

It is leg day! Sorry, I had to do it once.

Day 3 is time for your leg presses, calf extensions, and leg curls.

Like we mentioned above, you do not have to stick to this order.

Some people switch and back and biceps for chest, shoulders and triceps. Other pair chest and biceps together.

So, you are encouraged to experiment. Find the process that works best for you.

What Are Some Training Basics You Need to Know?

woman holding bar on shoulders

Now that you know a rough outline or schedule to follow, we can talk about smaller details that will make those training sessions more effective.

To build more intensity in your workout, follow these practices. They are very effective, and you should follow them for better result.

Short Resting Periods:

Try to keep your resting periods between sets from 15 to 30 seconds.

You Don’t Need A Lot of Exercises Per Bodypart:

4 to 5 exercises per body part are more than enough to get a high-intensity workout. Any more than that you may risk overworking your muscles.

Weight Progression During Reps:

When you set up your strength goals, make sure you increase the weight on each exercise. It will add more resistance and help you progress towards your goal.

Walk Before You Run:

  • Although the sets look straight forward and easy to do, you shouldn’t go at its full speed ahead. This is how I ended up having to stay away from the gym for two days because of how sore I was.
  • Start off at a moderate pace and master the basics first. You’re going to feel like you can do more immediately, but it is better to underestimate your strength.

Rest, Rest, Rest:

  • The three-day split workout is a small workout schedule, but you have to spread out over a week. Preferably, break up the three days with rest days.
  • You will find that resting and pausing in between sessions and exercises is more beneficial than you think.

Why Do You Need to Rest?

If you want to see progress, you have to work out every day, right? Turns out, training every day is a terrible way to build muscles.

Resting Builds Muscles

You see, muscles actually develop and heal during the rest periods between sessions.

It is when you are resting that your body repairs the temporary damage done to muscles during training and allows new muscle tissue to grow.


Like anything else, doing several workouts in a row is exhausting and can make you lose interest or motivation.

Fitness is part mental and if you don’t feel interested in your workout, you won’t get optimum results.

Moreover, when you rest between sessions, you can come back with a great level of energy.

This means you can workout at a much higher intensity than before.


When you overwork your muscles, your technique and the effectiveness of your workout can suffer. If you are tired, you might rush through an exercise, which could result in injury or just slow your progress.


When I returned to the gym, I clearly forgot that working out is no magic pill.

However, once I discovered the best muscles to work out together, I knew it was about working smarter, not harder.

And while the tried and true combinations are the ones we listed above, there are a wide variety of muscle groups you can train on the same day.

However, novice and seasoned professionals alike, will find that it all boils down to some simple principles and setting up a solid foundation of technique to accelerate your progress.

I know I did.

Now, I am not only achieving my fitness goals, I am also feeling more confident about going to the gym.

Seeing everyone doing their own workout plans is an inspiration for me to work harder.

If you are just starting out or if you were in a rut like me, I hope these workout plans and ideas were helpful to you!

If you have comments or questions, please feel free to share them!