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Eight Exercises to Strengthen All the Major Muscle Groups

author image Michelle Dawn
Michelle Dawn has written professionally since 2005, covering a variety of topics over that time, the majority of that work focused on health and well-being. A Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Yoga Instructor, she enjoys teaching others how to live their healthiest, happiest life.
Eight Exercises to Strengthen All the Major Muscle Groups
A young woman is doing lunges on a bosu ball. Photo Credit kurga/iStock/Getty Images

Strength-training exercises offer some impressive benefits, namely that they not only help you build muscle, but also burn fat. They also increase your metabolism long after your workout. You don't need a lot of different exercises to get the results you seek. To strengthen all of the major muscle groups in your body, it is important to choose the appropriate exercises.

Upper Body

The major muscle groups in the upper body are the deltoid muscles in the shoulders, the biceps and triceps in the arms, the pectoral muscles in the chest, and the back muscles. The cable chest dip works the muscles in the chest and back. The barbell front raise is an isolated exercise that targets the deltoids. The dumbbell triceps extension and dumbbell curls are effective exercises for working the upper arms.

Lower Body

The lower body is primarily made up of the quadriceps and hamstrings in the thighs, the gastrocnemius and smaller soleus muscles in the calves, as well as the gluteus muscles in the hips and buttocks. To give your lower body an effective strength-building workout, include the squat, lunge, and standing calf raises in your workout. These exercises are all compound exercises that work multiple major muscle groups in the lower body at the same time. Health Magazine recommends compound exercises because they create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time.

Abs and Core

The abdomen is made up of four major muscle groups: rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the transverse abdominis, which is the deepest abdominal layer of muscle. The crunch is one of the most effective exercises to effectively work your abs and core, according to Muscle & Fitness. Although the crunch seems like a basic exercise, it provides results, and there are enough variations of the exercise -- basic crunch, bicycle crunch, incline crunch, dumbbell push crunch, lying crunch on stability ball -- to target all of the abdominal muscles.

Setup and Stretching Count

Always maintain proper form during an exercise to reap the benefits of the exercise and help avoid injury to your muscles and joints. During the execution of an exercise, hold for a single count before returning to your starting position. It's also vital to include stretching as a part of your workout routine. Dynamic stretches are best performed before your workout, while static stretches are most effective post-workout, according to Shape Magazine.

Safety First

Performing strength-building exercises to gain muscle increases the risk of injury. To prevent injury during your workout, always start with lighter weights and increase the amount of weight only if you can manage it. The weight should be enough to create resistance without making you strain by overtaxing your joints. The American Council on Exercise recommends that you increase the weight by no more than 10 percent to safely build resistance over time.

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