There are as many workout routines as there are muscles in the human body. Depending on which gym you go to and where you get your information, you could have an entirely different gameplan than the next person. However, this doesn’t mean every routine is equally healthy and productive. People are afraid of the gym and the idea of not knowing what they’re doing or unintentionally harming themselves in some way.
One big way people separate their exercises is looking at specific body parts such as the chest, shoulders, biceps, etc... This is not an ideal approach, as our muscles and movements are not separated that way! If you do a chest workout one day, and then do shoulders the next day, you’re actually putting a lot more strain on the shoulders than you might expect, since they’re connected muscle groups.
“One of the biggest mistakes gym-goers make is exercising two major muscle groups in one workout,“ says PT Gavin Walsh. For example, trying to work both the legs and chest takes too much energy and is actually harmful to the nervous system. “After going all out training the first muscle group, you won’t be able to lift with the same level of intensity while working the second,“ says Walsh.
So what is a better idea? A basic 3-day split. There are three main categories of muscles to consider when organizing your schedule:
This group also includes the pectorals, and aside from the triceps, these are all larger muscles. Pushing exercises such as Barbell Bench Press (covers the chest), Dumbbell Shoulder Press (for the shoulders) and French Press (mostly for triceps) combine into a focused, powerful workout. Other exercises include Dips (Chest), the Overhead Press (Front/Side/Rear deltoids) and the Reverse Bench Press (Triceps).
The exercises for these muscles revolve around – you guessed it - pulling resistance towards the body. Typical examples use barbells or pulleys. The back moves the shoulders, while biceps help moves the elbows. Deadlifts are also an option, as they help increase back strength. Learn about what muscles do deadlifts work here. Some exercises include Low Pulley, Seated Dumbbell Curls, and Overhead Bicep Curls. The latter two are primarily for the biceps.
Pretty straightforward, the third day should be dedicated to leg exercises. Muscles like the hamstrings and semitendinosus are in charge of knee movement, so Squats let you work them all efficiently. You can isolate quads with a concentrated exercise in the form of Leg Extensions, and do the same for calves with Calf Extensions.
If you’re unsure about how exactly your chosen exercise works, consult your coach. How you breathe during each exercise is important, and may not be obvious to everyone, so make sure you have all the information you need. Same with how various exercise tools are used. They may be listed here, including Wrist Wraps, Power Rack, Weight Lifting Belts, etc.
Take a break after each day of exercise. A common way to spread workout days is Monday-Wednesday-Friday, which also lets each muscle category rest for a whole week before the next training. Overworking yourself has both physical and psychological consequences, some of which range from dehydration and a weakened immune system to anger, depression and a lack of concentration.
During each of the three days, work on larger muscles first. If you start with smaller muscles, they will be too exhausted to help with compound exercises, and you will see a drop in performance. Again, consult your coach if you’re unsure in which order to do the exercises. This is the same principle that explains why push-focused days and pull-focused days exist. You want to work on all connected muscles together, and avoid overworking any of them.
Organizing yourself like this simplifies your routine, as you intuitively know which muscles to work on each day. It also means you’ll increase your performance without spending more hours training than you normally do, since you deal with all muscles from a relevant category in one day, instead of spreading those exercises over multiple days.
Some coaches also claim that this kind of style works even for a 6-day split, provided you can keep up with the intense regimen. This means you hit each muscle group twice per week, and they still have time to recover. Obviously, this isn’t recommended for beginners. Another approach combines leg exercises into push and pull days, meaning you can do a 4-day split, giving yourself enough time to recover. This has an added benefit of burning body fat from more than one region at a time and releasing more muscle-building hormones.
It’s essential to gather knowledge on how our body works. Exercising can be a risky thing if done without a proper plan, so finding a good routine is key. Considering how our body works, splitting things up like this may just be the best approach out there, especially if you’re trying to work through a plateau.
There you go, the proper answer to the question which muscles do work together. We hope we clarified things for you and gave you enough insight to the topic.
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Have fun training and building muscle!
I am Mike R.Bowen, founder of Fitness On The Weekend dot Com and my aim is to help busy people find time for fitness. We will give you actionable advice on how you can keep fit and healthy even on those busy days!
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