When creating your workout routine, you may ask yourself what muscle groups to workout and what muscle groups to combine into one workout. There are six major muscle groups you have to focus on so it’s important to create a well-structured workout routine for getting the most out of your workouts. Learn now what muscle groups there are, what muscle groups to workout together and much more in this guide.
There is a lot of confusion out there to what muscle groups to workout together. Some people say you should combine chest & triceps as they’re both used when doing bench presses or overhead presses. Others say you should combine chest & biceps as otherwise it could be too much for your triceps.
So, what is right and what is wrong?
The answer is: There is no right or wrong. It all depends on your overall workout routine. As long as you understand and implement the most important principles, you can create the best workout routine for yourself that you can enjoy and stick to.
And that’s what this guide was created for: To tell you step-by-step what muscle groups there are, what muscle groups to workout together and all the principles you have to implement.
What Muscle Groups Are There?
There are seven major muscle groups you have to put into your workout routine:
- Upper Legs
When categorizing these muscle groups into separate units, it helps us to better understand what muscle groups to workout together or separately.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these muscle groups:
Your arms consist of four main muscles:
- Biceps brachii
- Triceps brachii
Your biceps brachii is made out of the short head and the long head. Directly beneath this muscle there is the brachialis muscle. Both muscles are responsible for flexing your arm.
Your triceps brachii has the exact opposite job of the biceps. Instead of flexing your arm, the triceps is responsible for stretching your arms.
The triceps muscle is much bigger than the biceps, even if most of the people think your biceps is the biggest muscle of your arms.
Finally, the last major muscle of your arms are your forearms that consist of several different small muscles. They have to be trained too because if you are working your upper arms heavily, you shouldn’t neglect your lower arms.
Your chest muscles are one of the most visual appealing muscles. That’s why they are one of the most important muscle groups to workout. They consist of two main muscles:
- Pectoralis major
- Pectoralis minor
The main job of your chest muscles is bringing your upper arms across your body.
There are three heads you should all exercise differently: clavicular bundle, sternal bundle, costal bundle and they are also known as the upper, middle or lower chest.
Your legs consist of several different big and small muscles. The main ones are:
One thing to keep in mind:
Technically your calves are also part of your legs but as they require different exercises, we will show them separately here.
Your quads are built of four muscles: vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, rectus femoris. Their main job is flexing your hips and extending your knees and together these are one of the biggest muscle groups to workout in your body.
The hamstrings of your body are built of three muscles: semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris. Their main job is flexing your knees and extending your hips which is the direct opposite of your quad’s job.
Finally, your glutes are built of three muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, gluteus medius. Their main job is stabilizing your body during different movements and daily activities while generating force in exercises like squats and deadlifts.
Your glutes are usually trained automatically while working your quads and hamstrings so there is no additional workout needed.
Your calves – completing your lower body muscles – are made of two different main muscles:
Your gastrocnemius is the large muscles of your calves you will see directly when looking at your legs. The soleus lies underneath the gastrocnemius but has to be trained too.
Their main job is flexing your ankle and help flexing your knees. These muscles require different exercises than your upper legs and that’s why we are splitting them up here.
The next part of our muscle groups to workout is our shoulder muscles. There are three main muscles again that build the whole shoulder muscles:
- Posterior deltoid
- Anterior deltoid
- Lateral deltoid
They are often called “heads” – the front, middle and rear head.
By the way:
Do you want to learn some awesome exercises especially for your rear delts? Go check out our in-depth guide here for stepping up your shoulder workout.
The main job of your shoulder muscles is stabilizing your nearby muscle groups, such as your lats, biceps and pecs as well as rotating your arms. Therefore it’s important to train all three heads because a lot of people tend to neglect the rear delt. But that’s something you want to avoid.
Your back muscles are one of the largest muscle groups to workout in your body – along with your chest and upper legs. They consist of four main muscles:
- Latissimus dorsi
- Erector spinae
All of these muscles work as a unit and they are responsible for connecting your arms to your upper body. Additionally, they keep your spine upright & stabilized and your shoulder blades are stabilized by linking them to your spine.
Last but not least, our abs muscles complete the seven major muscle groups to workout. Your abs mainly consist of the following muscles:
- Rectus abdominis
- Transversus abdominis
- Internal oblique
- External oblique
The main job of our abs is supporting the trunk, holding our organs in place, keeping your body stable & balanced, and protecting our spine. These muscles as a whole are also defined as our “core”. These muscles are mainly trained automatically by training our other muscles groups, but you can add an exercise or two if you want to.
If you want to learn a bit more about our body muscles & anatomy, check this guide here!
What Muscle Groups To Workout Together?
Now, as you’ve learned what major muscle groups there are and what muscle groups to workout during your routine, the next question is how we should combine or split them up?!
There is no “one fits it all” answer to that question. It depends on your personal factors, such as:
- Experience Level: How much volume can you handle? How many rest days do you need? How long are you already working out?
- Training Availability: How many days per week can you hit the gym? How can you combine your workout with your job and everyday life? What other daily tasks do you have to keep in mind?
- Workout Goals: What do you want to achieve? Do you want to increase your overall performance? Do you want to train certain lacking muscle groups? Are you training for competitions or only for yourself?
- Additional Factors: Everybody is different so each one of us has some more personal factors to keep in mind.
These are the main factors we have to think about when creating our workout routine. There is no one-fits-it-all solution and that’s the reason why there are so many different workout splits available.
But Don’t Worry
…this guide will help you along your way.
Your main goal should be creating a workout routine that allows you for each of your muscle groups to workout twice per week.
Check the two following guides for more info on your exact step-by-step workout creation:
- Learn how many reps, sets and total exercises you should perform each workout. Click here for detailed instructions so you can create your personal best routine.
- Another in-depth guide will show you why in general the 3 day split workout is one of the best workout routines out there. Go here for the full guide.
Now, let’s get back to the question of what muscle groups to workout together.
Even when there is no one single answer for everybody to that question, here are some general guidelines.
- Chest, Shoulders & Triceps:
These are muscle groups you will workout through “push” movements. They all work together to push any kind of resistance away from your body. That’s why you can’t do anything wrong with training them the same day.
- Back & Biceps:
These are muscle groups you will workout through “pull” movements. Both muscle groups work together to pull any kind of resistance to your body. Again, that’s why you can’t do anything wrong with training them the same day.
- Hamstrings, Calves & Glutes:
These muscle groups add up to your lower body or leg muscles. If you perform your leg exercises, you will work all of them at the same time. Some are trained more than others but all of them are used. That’s why it just makes sense to put them all into one workout routine.
Your abdominal muscles are one of your muscle groups to workout whenever you want. They’re completely separated from your overall routine and you can really perform your abs exercises whenever you need to/want to.
You should always focus on 80% compound exercises (training multiple muscles in one exercise) and 20% isolation exercises (training only one muscle in one exercise), and here’s why:
Your body is built to work as a unit. No matter what you are doing – lifting any object, climbing stairs, sitting down, etc. – your body will use many different muscle groups at one to perform these tasks.
There are a total of six different basic movements your body is performing during your daily activity:
- Hip Dominant Movement: Deadlifts, Hamstring Curls, etc.
- Vertical Push Movement: Handstand Push-Up, Overhead Press, etc.
- Horizontal Push Movement: Push-Up, Bench Press, etc.
- Horizontal Pull Movement: Inverted Row, Barbell Row, etc.
- Knee Dominant Movement: Lunge, Squat, etc.
- Vertical Pull Movement: Lat Pulldown, Pull-Ups, etc.
If you focus on the six compound movements shown in the image above, you will train nearly all muscles in your body you will need for your daily activity and for working out your whole body.
This is why compound movements should make 80% of your total workout.
Add some isolation exercises such as biceps curls, leg extension, triceps pull-down, etc. to your workouts and you will have an awesome workout routine for really great results.
How To Structure Your Workout?
Now, as you know what muscle groups to workout together or separately, you might ask yourself how you can build a workout routine that fits to your personal needs and your situation.
In general, there are a few different workout routines we recommend to you but that’s something for extra guides as there is a lot of information needed for creating your perfect workout routine.
But hey, we’ve got you covered again! 😊
Find the best workout routines here and learn step-by-step how to create your own routine!
Additionally, put it into action what you learned here so far by implementing the additional tips in another of our in-depth guides here.
The Best Exercises For Each Muscle Group
As we just learned from above, it’s highly recommended to focus on 80% compound exercises and 20% isolation exercises. Therefore, to learn what exercises for what muscle groups to workout, check the following tables of recommended workouts:
The Best Arms Exercises
|E-Z Bar Curl (Biceps)|
|Dumbbell Curl (Biceps)|
|Hammer Curl (Biceps)|
|Close-Grip Bench Press (Triceps)|
|Lying Triceps Extension (Triceps)|
|Triceps Pushdown (Triceps)|
The Best Chest Exercises
|Flat Barbell Bench Press|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press|
|Incline Barbell Bench Press|
|Flat Dumbbell Bench Press|
The Best Upper Legs Exercises
|Leg Curl (Lying / Seated)|
The Best Calves Exercises
|Seated Calf Raise|
|Donkey Calf Raise|
|Calf Press on the Leg Press|
|Standing Calf Raise|
The Best Shoulders Exercises
|Barbell Rear Delt Row|
|Standing Barbell Military Press|
|Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise|
|Dumbbell Front Raise|
|Rear Delt Raise|
The Best Back Exercises
|Pull-Up / Chin-Up|
|Seated Cable Row|
The Best Abs Exercises
|Captain’s Chair Leg Raise|
|Ab Wheel Rollout|
|Hanging Leg Raise|
Congratulations, you’ve made it this far!
There is so much more to say but we will end this guide here because we don’t want to overwhelm you. Implement everything you learn here, take some time to understand everything so you will be able to structure a perfect routine for all muscle groups to workout.
To get even deeper into this topic, we’ve prepared a few more guides for you:
Do you want to add some exercises to your routine using nothing but your own bodyweight? Check our workout routine here.
Building muscles & gaining strength is very important but don’t neglect strengthening your core. It’s something you don’t see when working out, but you will feel it. A strong core will help you improving your overall workout routine so take a look here now.
Additionally to thinking about what muscle groups to workout, you should also take your time thinking about nutrition. How many calories should you consume? What macro split should you use? Go here for answering these questions and more.
You Are Awesome
Yes, you are awesome because you made it this far and you are serious about your fitness goals. Thank you so much for reading this in-depth guide on what muscle groups to workout together or separately. It’s a lot of content to understand so take your time to fully understand everything.
And don’t forget to share this workout guide to your social media pages and your blog if you enjoyed reading it. 😊
Thank you so much and I have to say it again: You are awesome!
Download Our Infographic
Below you will find this whole article put together into one infographic.
Feel free to download this infographic and use it wherever you want.
But please give credit to me by adding my name as the owner/creator and linking to this post. That’s the only requirement.
Go ahead and download the infographic now:
Download or print as PDF below: