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Pairing Muscle Groups for Workouts: Understanding Muscle Groups (Part 1)

Pairing Muscle Groups with Workouts

Picking out an exercise routine can be confusing. With all the muscle groups in our body, this task can feel overwhelming, and sometimes, even frustrating. While searching the internet would lead you to a multitude of workout routines, there aren’t many resources that could help you choose muscle groups that you can work together. Sometimes, it’s not just a matter of working hard but also working smart. Grouping your workouts will not only help you make the most out of your time in the gym but would also help you achieve amazing results faster.

In this 2-part article, we will help you understand how each muscle group works and how you can pair them together to create an effective 6-day workout routine. We would be laying out the foundations and fundamental ideas that you have to familiarize to further improve and manage your workouts.

While we would be sharing suggested workouts that supposedly target specific muscle groups, it is important to remember that muscles from all over our body work together whenever we create a movement. These specific movements that we will tackle, however, focus its weight and pressure to certain areas of the body, making it more effective on particular zones.

Pairing Muscle Groups with Workouts
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

What is a “Muscle Group”?

Before we can understand how we can pair muscles together, it is important to first know what muscle groups are.

As the name suggests, muscle groups can simply be explained as it is. These are muscles are close to each other and perform together to create certain movements. Although we have 600 muscles throughout our body, they are only 6 major groups: chest, back, arms and shoulders, abdomen, legs and buttocks, and quadriceps.

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Why is it important to know the muscle groups?

Aside from being able to create a targeted and effective approach to working out, knowing your muscle group is also beneficial when it comes to improving your posture and overall form. Being familiar with these muscles, their placements, as well as their function would help you observe your movements better, giving you more opportunities to correct how you approach what you do. This awareness will also help you prevent injuries and muscle imbalances.

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The Major Muscle Groups


The chest muscle is one of the most prominent muscle groups in the body. Its main muscle is the pectoralis major. This is most commonly known as the “pecs”. Strengthening the pectoral muscle will give you a stronger and more impressive upper body.

A developed ‘pecs’ is most evident in males, as breasts usually hide this muscle for females. This muscle group is used in controlling arm movements. One of its main function is to bring the upper arm across the body.


Our back is composed of multiple muscles that rise from the buttocks and stretch up to our neck and shoulders. It is one of the biggest and most complex muscular structure in the body. Essentially, there are 5 main muscles that make up the group. They are the following:

  • Latissimus Dorsi

Latissimus Dorsi, commonly known as the “lat” or “wings”, is one of the widest muscles in the body. It is a thin, triangular muscle that stretches to the sides behind the arm. The lat is used in pulling movements. It also helps the arms in doing different activities like when you take something down from a shelf above your head. This is most commonly worked out through pull ups, chin ups, and is heavily involved in multiple swimming movements.

  • Rhomboid

The Rhomboid is comprised of two muscles — the Rhomboid Major and the Rhomboid Minor. It is located in the upper back and is underneath the trap muscles. They are not visible from the outside but they are important when it comes to strengthening your overall back. They assist the scapulae and compliments other muscles to create movements.

  • Trapezius

Most commonly known as “traps”, this muscle is located between the shoulders and the neck. It has three divisions — the upper, the middle, and the lower traps. The traps aid in shrugging and neck movements. It also acts as a support when you lift over your head.

  • Teres Muscle

This muscle is underneath your lats. It works together with this muscle, thus, referred to as the “lats little helper”. While this muscle is small, it plays vital roles as support for the lats and the rotator cuffs.

  • Erector Spinae

Erector Spinae, also known as spinal erectors, are muscles that straighten and rotate the back. As the name suggests, it helps the spinal cord to extend and they are key when it comes to posture and form. These are mostly used when you are bending forward and sideways.


This muscle group has 3 major muscles. These are sprawled from your arms to your shoulders.

  • Biceps

This muscle is located on the front part of the upper arm and has two heads (long head and short head). It is responsible for elbow flexion, forearm supination, and shoulder flexion. Key exercises include bicep curls and chin-ups.

  • Triceps

This muscle is located in the back of your upper arm, just across your biceps. This muscle stabilizes your shoulder joints and assists on straightening your elbow joints. Movements such as writing, pushing, and pulling involve the use of this muscle.

  • Deltoids

 The deltoid muscle is divided into three parts: anterior (front), lateral (middle), and posterior (rear). Each part plays a role in different shoulder movements:

  • Anterior Deltoid: Responsible for shoulder flexion and internal rotation (e.g., front raises).
  • Lateral Deltoid: Responsible for shoulder abduction (e.g., lateral raises).
  • Posterior Deltoid: Responsible for shoulder extension and external rotation (e.g., reverse flyes).


These muscles control wrist and hand movements. The forearm is divided into flexor and extensor groups.

  • Flexor Group: Located on the anterior side, these muscles are responsible for flexing the wrist and fingers (e.g., wrist curls).
  • Extensor Group: Located on the posterior side, these muscles are responsible for extending the wrist and fingers (e.g., reverse wrist curls).


The abdomen might be one of the preferred muscle groups that many want to focus on. While having a toned abdomen might be aesthetically pleasing, strengthening this part of the body actually aids better breathing as well as help you prevent diseases. This muscle group also controls your twisting and bending motions, as well as posture. These muscles are:

  • Rectus Abdominis: Known as the “abs,” these muscles run vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the abdomen. They are crucial for flexing the lumbar spine (e.g., crunches).
  • External Obliques: Positioned on the outer part of the abdomen, involved in contralateral rotation (e.g., bicycle crunches).
  • Internal Obliques: Located beneath the external obliques, involved in ipsilateral rotation (e.g., Russian twists).
  • Transversus Abdominis: The deepest abdominal muscle, running horizontally across the abdomen. It is vital for core stability and helps compress the abdominal contents.
  • Serratus Anterior: These muscles are located on the side of the chest, assisting in the protraction and upward rotation of the scapula. They are crucial for shoulder stability and are targeted in exercises like push-ups and serratus punches.
  • Psoas Major: Connecting the lower spine to the femur, the psoas major aids in hip flexion and stabilizes the lower back.
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There are two major muscles of legs and buttocks — the Hamstrings and the Gluteals.

  • Hamstrings

This huge muscle group is located in the upper back of your thigh and it helps you on bending your knees and movements that require you to propel your body forward like walking and running.

  • Gluteals

Most commonly known as the “glutes”, these muscles are in your buttocks and is actually the largest muscles in your body. They control the movement of the legs and maintain your body’s balance.


Known as the “quads,” these muscles are located at the front of the thigh and include:

  • Rectus Femoris: Aids in hip flexion and knee extension. This muscle is unique as it crosses both the hip and knee joints.
  • Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius, Vastus Medialis: These muscles are responsible for extending the knee. The vastus medialis also helps stabilize the patella.
  • Gastrocnemius and Soleus: Known as the calf muscles, they are located at the back of the lower leg. The gastrocnemius has two heads (medial and lateral) and crosses both the knee and ankle joints, aiding in plantar flexion and knee flexion. The soleus lies beneath the gastrocnemius and also assists in plantar flexion (e.g., calf raises).

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the type of muscles in your body, it’s now time to create your perfect workout. In our next article, we will be discussing how you can pair muscle groups together to create a more effective workout.


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