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Which muscle groups can people work out together?

Regular strength training can help build muscle and improve health. When performing a strength training program, people may find it helpful to train certain muscle groups together. This can help prevent overtraining and maximize results.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020Trusted Source recommend performing strength training exercises two or more times per week for optimal health. One important factor of strength training is targeting the muscles.

Various exercises may target different muscle groups. Muscles require both exercise and rest to fully function and generate strength.

To help improve these results, there are a number of muscle groups that may be best to work out together, while letting other muscle groups rest. This ensures that the body has isolated exercise and plenty of time between workouts to recover.

Why is it important to work out the right muscle groups together?

The idea of strength training is to isolate and target a specific muscle. For example, when doing a bench press, one of the target muscles is the chest. However, there are also other muscles working in this motion, such as the triceps and the muscles in the shoulders.

Many targeted muscles work together with other muscles to function. Targeting one muscle may not fully engage these other supportive muscles, but they may be in use to some degree.

So, if a workout targets one specific muscle group, the groups that work along with that muscle are also getting some work.

Working certain muscle groups together may also provide more time for proper rest, which is also important.

The American Heart Association (AHA)Trusted Source recommend exercising each muscle group twice per week, while also resting for a minimum of 2 days between workouts.

Anecdotally, this may also help with the mental factor of working out. Specifically, if a person knows that they will only be engaging one muscle group that day, they may be more likely to give it their all, knowing that they can rest that muscle group in the days to come.

Which muscle groups to pair together

There are more than 600 musclesTrusted Source in the body. When it comes to working out, finding ways to group and target major muscles may help make a workout plan simpler.

Some muscle groups make good pairs to work out together. These are generally muscles or muscle groups that work with each other. A person can work these groups one day, then move onto another muscle group the next day.

Regarding strength training, there are generally six muscle groups that people train and exercise.

  • the chest

  • the shoulders

  • the back

  • the arms

  • the abs

  • the legs

Although some people may include the hips, it is not as common to train this muscle group.

The above groups of muscles contain sets of individual muscles, which people may choose to further target. Popular muscles to target include:

  • the hamstrings

  • the glutes

  • the quadriceps

  • the biceps

  • the triceps

  • the delts

  • the lats

  • the traps

Some muscle groups work together to perform certain movements. For example, people may group muscles on whether they perform “push” or “pull” movements. Others may group muscles due to their location in the body, such as the many muscles in the legs or abs.

Some common muscle groupings may include:

The chest, shoulders, and triceps

These are known as the “push” muscles. This is because many exercises that target these muscles involve pushing resistance away from the body.

Many exercises, such as the pushup or bench press, will target these muscles together.

The back and biceps

These are the “pull” muscles. Many workouts targeting these muscles work to pull resistance toward the body.

Various exercises, such as pull-downs, will engage these muscles together.

The legs

This includes the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the glutes, and the calves.

The legs tend to get their own day for targeted practice. Various workouts will target one or more muscles during the exercise, and a good workout will include exercises to train all areas of the leg.

The abs

A few strengthening exercises that target other areas of the body will also work out the abs, though some targeted exercises will also do so.


Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS, Fitness — By Jon Johnson on January 6, 2021

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