Are you thinking, am I training the right way? Has it been a month since you started going to the gym but haven’t seen any progress yet? Do you even know what your basic muscles are and what their basic functions are? To get maximum gains you must know the basic anatomy and movements of your muscles.
Before just going to the gym and blindly following what your trainer says you must be familiar with how your muscle groups work to get the best results.
Well, I’m not saying you should completely ignore your trainer and start working out on your own. Trainers have a lot of experience and learnings but you should also be aware of what you’re doing and should not hesitate if you think something’s not right.
I’ve written another article in which you’ll find detailed information regarding workouts. To know how you can make your own workout schedule you can check that article out.
So, tighten your seat belt ladies and gentlemen, you’re going to see some impressive gains this time!
- Chest muscles
- Shoulder muscles
- Back muscles
- Arms- triceps and biceps
- Leg muscles
- Ab muscles
Chest fibres or the pecs connect the front part of your body to the shoulder and upper arms.
The main function of the pecs is to move the arms across your body. Keep a hand on your chest and move your second hand. Do you feel your pecs working?
Wait, why am I telling you all these things? Because it’s very necessary for us to understand how our muscles function so that we can get all the tension onto our muscles only and not our ligaments or joints.
Your chest has three parts:-
- Upper chest
- Middle chest
- Lower chest
Keep your arms parallel to each other and perpendicular to your collarbone. We’ll refer to this position as the starting position for reference. Whenever your arms are in this position while performing your exercise your middle chest gets activated mainly.
Normal pushups – middle chest
Flat bench press – middle chest
When you move your hands above the starting position while keeping them parallel to each other your upper chest gets activated.
Incline bench press – upper chest
Decline pushups – upper chest
When you move your hands below the starting position while keeping them parallel to each other your lower chest gets activated.
Decline bench press – lower chest
Incline push ups – lower chest
Now, that you know about your chest and its functions let us see some exercises to develop your chest.
Best exercises for chest workout
- Bench press (flat, incline, decline)
- Dumbbell press (flat, incline, decline)
- Cable crossover
- Dumbbell flys
- Pec deck fly
Your shoulder delt is a big group just like your chest! It has three delts:-
- Front delt
- Middle delt
- Rear delt
The shoulders help your hands move in almost all possible directions and they connect your hands to your chest and back.
Now to build and properly isolate these muscle groups you need to understand exactly which types of movement involve that particular head.
Now, stand in an attention position with your hands resting on both sides.
Move your hands slowly towards the front up until they are perpendicular to your collarbone. This movement involves your front delt. Now stand again in the attention position.
Move your hands slowly towards the sideways so that they are in line with your collarbone and make a 90° angle. Such movement involves your middle delt.
Now stand in the position where your front delt was involved with your hands perpendicular to your collarbone. Slowly start moving your elbows behind your head without rotating your shoulder blades. Such movement involves your rear delt.
You might have got a better understanding of how we could isolate all three heads by using the proper movements!
Best exercises for shoulder workout
- Front raises
- Lateral raises
- Military press
- Dumbbell press
- Upright rows
- Face pulls
- Reverse pec deck fly
- Bent over reverse fly
- Arnold presses
The back portion of your body consists of various small and big muscles. They are:-
- Teres major
- Rotator cuffs (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor)
- Lower back
As you can see we’ve got a lot of muscles running back there! That’s why I personally like to train my traps with shoulders and as a beginner, you should do it too.
The bigger muscles of our back are lats, lower back and the teres major whereas the smaller groups are rotator cuffs and the rhomboids.
Your back is a very big and important group and most of the beginners struggle in building a nice and strong back. That’s why you need to understand exactly how your back functions so that you can build a really strong foundation!
Working out your back is a bit difficult because you are not able to see your back when you are working out so it becomes difficult to build a mind-muscle connection.
A little trick that has helped me overcome this problem, began outside of the gym. So, what I used to do is download some pictures of bodybuilders with a huge back from the internet and used to visualise that I have these huge muscles and then workout.
Throughout my workout, I used to have that picture in my head and it helped me build a great mind-muscle connection.
Lats and rhomboids
Function: Moving the scapula in several directions and holding it in place.
Scapula: It is a very important bone and a number of muscles are connected to it. The scapula can also be referred to as the shoulder blade.
Any movement involving your hands to go from the right top and left bottom and vice-versa making a cross puts tension on your rotator cuffs.
Note: Putting on tension on a muscle builds it whereas putting tension on your bones and ligaments could result in injuries.
Whenever you bend, your lower back is the main muscle group pursuing the movement.
Your back is a pulling muscle. For examples, when a shopkeeper pulls down the shutter of his shop his back is activated.
Best exercises for back workout:
- Lat pulldown (wide grip, close grip)
- Seated rowing
- One arm rowing
- Bent over rowing
- W raises
You can bring variations to these exercises by choosing wider or closer grips and they help hit all the muscles in our back.
Arms – bicep and tricep
Finally, we are here to the favourite part of most of you all. Arms! A lot of people put too much focus on their biceps and triceps more than some bigger muscles like the back and chest.
Let’s discuss biceps first!
As the name suggests bi-cep, by means two and cep means head. The two heads are:-
- The long head
- The short head
Try touching your shoulder with your palm and then go back. Well, that’s pretty much the movement that involves your biceps. Told you it’s not a big muscle group!
You can clearly see the separation between both heads when you flex your biceps, but this is only possible if you have a body percentage of less than 12%.
Biceps is also a pulling muscle and it acts as a supporting muscle to your back.
Best exercises for biceps
- Bicep curls
- Hammer curls
- Preacher curls
- Barbell curls
- Incline bench bicep curls
- Concentration curls
Triceps have three heads:-
- Lateral head
- Medial head
- Long head
The triceps are a pushing muscle and they are incorporated whenever any pushing movement is involved.
Your triceps muscle form a U-shape kind of structure. Now divide this U into two parts. One part in the front and the other at the backside towards the chest.
The front part is the lateral head and the back part can be further divided into two, the shorter part i.e. the medial head at the lower end and the longer part i.e. the long head.
The long head connects the shoulders to the elbow.
The function of the triceps is to push things. For example, when you throw a ball your triceps are the main muscles involved.
Like biceps, your triceps is also a small muscle group, but together your biceps and triceps for a big muscle. That’s why it is recommended to train your biceps and triceps together.
Best exercises for triceps
- Pulley pushdown
- Skull crushers
- Close grip bench press
- Rope tricep pushdown
- Overhead triceps extension (dumbbell, cable)
- Diamond push-ups
- Kick back
- One arm tricep extension
The most underrated muscle group of our body is legs. People often ignore legs and skip their leg days. For them building an upper body is more important and they need not train their legs.
But is that true? No, it isn’t, in fact, it is the opposite! It’s very important for you to train your legs. Training legs gives you a natural testosterone boost. In order to get a well-built structure, you have to build strong and muscular legs.
Your legs have three parts:-
- Vastus medialis
- The largest part -Vastus lateralis
- Vastus intermedius
- Rectus femoris
- Bicep femoris
When we squat quadriceps is the main muscle group involved. Meanwhile, when you bend with your knees fixed your hamstring is the main muscle group involved.
When you jump on your toes your calves are the main muscle group involved. Glutes act as supporting muscles and help all the other groups in their functioning.
Best exercises for legs
- Leg press
- Hip thrusts
- Leg curls
- Leg extensions
- Calf raises
- Stiff leg deadlift
Did you know you have abs? In fact, each one of us has abs! But due to a high-fat percentage, they get hidden inside those layers of fat.
Reducing your fat percentage will make your abs visible. You certainly need not workout your abs separately, working out other muscle groups like chest, back and legs as a beginner. Most of these exercises already involve your core and help build a strong core.
As a beginner, you don’t need to put so much effort, unlike other muscle groups.
I gave you an overview of the various muscles that need to be trained in order to get the muscular physique you want!
It is important for you to understand your muscle anatomy and their functions so that you can have the maximum benefit and also you do not injure them.
No, muscles will not grow without rest. In fact you will lose muscle if you do not take proper rest.
Having a proper sleep of no less than 7 hours is mandatory along with a good nutritious diet.
Protein is the building block of your muscle tissues and every tissue in our body is made of cells.
Proteins and cells form up our cells. That means every cell has protein in it. So, no you cannot build muscle without consuming ample amount of protein.
When you exercise you break your muscle fibres. Now to grow your muscles you need to rebuild them even stronger and bigger.
If the repair is more than the damage your muscles will grow. Having a proper diet with all the necessary nutritions and getting proper rest will grow your muscles.
A simple answer to this is we need muscles to survive!
We need muscles to carry out day to day tasks without which we may not survive.
However in addition to this you can even build muscle to look good, feel stronger, combat diseases and many other good things.
Yes, supplements are there just to make things a little easy for you. Supplements are meant to support your diet.
If by any chance you are not able to fulfil your macro requirements you can add supplements to your diet to fulfil the things that got left out.
You can check out my blog on supplements to know whether you need supplements or not!