Creating a Targeted Fitness Routine

If you’re new to fitness, it’s tempting to walk into a gym and pick your exercises at random, not stopping to understand which exercises affect which muscle groups. For example, someone who wants slim, sexy arms might struggle to tone flabby triceps if they only walk on a treadmill or do bicep curls. Along with sticking to a healthy diet, knowing which exercises work which muscles is extremely helpful when you’re wanting to target specific areas of your body.

Trying to understand and memorize exercises for each muscle group can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put this guide together for you: now, you can find the muscles you’re looking to target, and we’ll point you to specific exercises for those muscles! We’re going to divide the muscles into broader categories first, like upper body and lower body, but you might notice that some exercises overlap between muscle groups. That’s because, more often than not, you use more than one muscle group in your body to complete an exercise. For example, push-ups target your chest AND your triceps. For that reason, it might be helpful to create a routine for yourself that focuses on a couple of muscle groups at a time. But we’ll get to that later!

Shoulders: Anterior Delts, Lateral Delts, Posterior Delts
  • Arnold Dumbbell Presses - anterior delts
  • Front Raises - anterior delts
  • Lateral Raises - anterior delts, lateral delts, posterior delts
  • Rear Deltoid Fly (Reverse Fly) - posterior delts
  • Shoulder Presses (standing or sitting) - anterior delts
  • Stationary Rowing - posterior delts
Chest: Pectoralis Major
  • Cable Crossovers - pectoralis major
  • Chest Fly - pectoralis major
  • Chest Press - pectoralis major
  • Parallel Bar Dips - pectoralis major
  • Push-ups - pectoralis major
Arms: Biceps, Forearms, Triceps
  • Bicep Curls - biceps
  • Cable Pushdowns - triceps
  • Close Grip Presses - triceps
  • Downward Dog Position - triceps
  • Push-ups - triceps
  • Stationary Rowing - biceps
  • Tricep Dips - triceps
  • Tricep Extensions - triceps
  • Tricep Kickbacks - triceps
  • Wrist Curls - forearms
Back: Erector Spinae, Infraspinatus, Latissimus Dorsi, Teres, Trapezius
  • Bridge Position - erector spinae
  • Chin-ups - latissimus dorsi
  • Cobra Position - erector spinae, trapezius
  • Deadlifts - erector spinae
  • Downward Dog Position - trapezius
  • Hyperextension - erector spinae
  • Pulldowns - latissimus dorsi
  • Shrugs - trapezius
  • Stationary Rowing - erector spinae, latissimus dorsi
  • Superman Extensions - erector spinae
Abs: Abdominals, Obliques, Serratus Anterior
  • Crunches - abdominals
  • Front Kicks (while lying down) - abdominals
  • Leg Raises - abdominals
  • Leg Tucks - abdominals
  • Oblique Crunches - obliques
  • Planks - abdominals, obliques
  • Side Planks - obliques
  • Stationary Rowing - abdominals
  • Twists - obliques
BONUS/Cardio: Heart Muscles
  • Bicycling - heart
  • Elliptical Training - heart
  • Running - heart
  • Stair Climber - heart
  • Stationary Rowing - heart
  • Swimming - heart
  • Walking - heart
Hips: Hip Adductors, Hip Flexors, Tensor Fasciae Latae
  • Inner Thighs Machine - hip adductors
  • Lunges - hip flexors
  • Outer Thighs Machine - hip flexors, fasciae latae
  • Side Lunges - hip adductors, tensor fasciae latae
  • Side-Lying Hip Abductions - hip adductors
  • Skater Squats - hip flexors
Butt: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius
  • Bicycling - gluteus maximus
  • Bridge Position - gluteus maximus
  • Deadlifts - gluteus maximus
  • Downward Dog Position - gluteus maximus
  • Elliptical Training - gluteus maximus
  • Leg Presses - gluteus maximus
  • Running - gluteus maximus
  • Side Lunges - gluteus maximus
  • Side-Lying Hip Abductions - gluteus medius
  • Side Planks - gluteus maximus
  • Squats - gluteus maximus
  • Stair Climber - gluteus maximus
  • Stationary Rowing - gluteus maximus
  • Superman Extensions - gluteus maximus
  • Walking - gluteus maximus
Legs: Calves, Hamstrings, Quads, Sartorius, Tibialis Anterior
  • Bicycling - hamstrings, quads
  • Calf Raises - calves
  • Deadlifts - hamstrings, quads
  • Downward Dog Position - hamstrings
  • Elliptical Training - hamstrings, quads
  • Hamstring Curls - hamstrings
  • Inner Thighs Machine - sartorius
  • Leg Presses: hamstrings, quads
  • Lunges - hamstrings, quads
  • Reverse Calf Raises - tibialis anterior
  • Running - calves, hamstrings, quads
  • Side Lunges - hamstrings, quads
  • Squats - quads
  • Stair Climber - calves, hamstrings, quads
  • Stationary Rowing - hamstrings, quads
  • Walking - calves, hamstrings, quads

As you can see, there are tons of ways to work out almost every single muscle in your body, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the exercises that are out there. But your next question should be, “Should I focus on one muscle group at a time? Or should I combine two or three in one workout session?”

The truth is, there’s no right or wrong way to decide which muscles to work on which days. The most important thing you can do is allow your body enough time to recover between your workouts. For example, if you’ve done some heavy lifting, it’s probably best to give yourself at least two days before jumping back into another lifting session for those muscles you’ve already worked. As far as which specific groups pair well together, though, the process is more subjective than you might think. The best thing to do is to use trial and error to see what works best for you individually--but if you’d like a place to start before experimenting, here are some plans you can try.

Three Day Split As suggested in the name, the “Three Day Split” involves working your entire body over the course of three days. One way you could do this is to follow this example:
  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
  • Day 2: Back, Biceps, Abs
  • Day 3: Hamstrings, Quads, Calves, Glutes
You can spread the days out a few different ways. If you prefer routine, and if you would like to keep a specific day of the week for a specific group of muscles, you could try a schedule like this:
  • Monday: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
  • Tuesday: Light Cardio
  • Wednesday: Back, Biceps, Abs
  • Thursday: Light Cardio
  • Friday: Hamstrings, Quads, Calves, Glutes
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest
Four Day Split This is pretty much the same idea as the “Three Day Split,” but spread over four days instead of three. To keep the load pretty even, you could do two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off. For example:
  • Day 1: Chest, Triceps
  • Day 2: Back, Biceps
  • Day 3: Legs, Abs
  • Day 4: Shoulders
And the example schedule would be:
  • Monday: Chest, Triceps
  • Tuesday: Back, Biceps
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Legs, Abs
  • Friday: Shoulders
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest
Five Day Split You know the drill by now. This method is five days on, with no rest in between, and two days off:
  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Back
  • Day 3: Shoulders
  • Day 4: Legs, Abs
  • Day 5: Arms
So your schedule would look like:
  • Monday: Chest
  • Tuesday: Back
  • Wednesday: Shoulders
  • Thursday: Legs, Abs
  • Friday: Arms
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest
Experiment to see which method fits your personal preferences and daily schedule best. You can also come up with your own schedule to suit your lifestyle! However you choose to do it, get moving! We can’t wait to hear about your incredible results.