When building muscle is your main focus, it's resistance exercises you need to base your workout around. Adding adequate cardio activity through the week is important, too, but targeted strength-training is one of the most effective forms of exercise for building strong, defined muscle. Create an effective daily workout you can stick to, and don't forget to include enough exercises to work all of the major muscle groups in your body, to prevent strength imbalances, postural difficulties and other health issues, warns the American Council on Exercise.
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Arms and Shoulders
The deltoid muscle is the triangular-shaped muscle that makes up most of the shoulder, with the biceps and triceps in the upper arms as the major muscle groups in the arms. Work your shoulders with dumbbell Arnold presses and barbell shrugs. Strengthen your biceps with barbell curls and underhanded chin-ups, your triceps with dumbbell kickbacks and lying triceps extensions.
Work Your Core
Building your core muscles won't only help you tone your abs, it will also improve your overall balance and coordination. The primary core muscles are the rectus abdominis muscles at front, the obliques at the sides, and the transverse abdominis muscles which wrap around the sides. Crunches, situps, side bends, push crunches and planks are the most effective muscle-building exercises.
Chest and Back
The pectoralis major and minor muscles are the two sets of muscles that make up the chest, while the primary muscles in the back are the trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles. To build strength in your chest and back, try chest dips, cable incline rows, cable close grip pulldowns, and barbell shrugs in your workout.
Legs and Butt
The gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles make up the buttocks, while the quadstrings, hamstrings and calves are the major muscle groups in the legs. To work these muscles, include dumbbell squats, barbell forward and rear lunges, dumbbell stepups and leg presses as part of your total strength-training workout.
The Specifics of Your Workout
As a beginner to fitness, start off with a single set of 12 reps, working your way up to three sets of 12 to 15 reps per exercise as you build strength. Do your daily workout two to three days a week, gradually working your way up to five or even six times a week. Plan your strength-training workout on non-consecutive days when possible. This gives your muscles the much-needed time between workouts to repair and recover, maximizing your muscle gains and reducing the risk of injury.
Mix It Up
It's always important to maintain a certain level of variety with your workouts. Change your workout every couple of weeks to prevent your body from plateauing instead of making further progress. Alter the number of sets and reps, the order of the exercises, or add new exercises to regularly incorporate variety into your strength-training routine.