Keep your body lean and toned with these holistic exercises for building muscles.
In this article:
- Muscle Groups, Strength Training, and Benefits
- Strength Exercises for Building Muscles
Compound Exercises for Muscle Gain
Muscle Groups, Strength Training, and Benefits
Strength training, also referred to as weight training, is physical activity done to improve or build muscular fitness. In strength training, you work a specific muscle or muscle group with free-weights, weight machines, or your body weight.
There are three types of muscles present in the human body: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal. The muscles you train at the gym are part of the skeletal muscles. These are:
Some exercises target a specific muscle group, whereas compound exercises work for multiple muscle groups at a time. Compound exercises help burn more calories, improve flexibility and muscle coordination, increase strength, elevate heart rate, and of course, gain more muscle mass.
In this article, we will talk about exercises that improve multiple muscle groups so you can use your time more efficiently while building muscles.
Strength Exercises for Building Muscles
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests strength training at least twice per week for optimal health. Here are simple exercises for building muscles you can perform to target several muscle groups:
Target muscles: lower body, including quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and feet.
- Position yourself in front of a barbell and stand with your feet parallel to your shoulder-width. Keep your toes slightly pointed out.
- Lower your body into a squat position.
- Grip the bar with your palm facing your legs slightly wider than your shoulder width.
- Look at a spot approximately a meter or two in front of you to lengthen your spine.
- Slowly go down until your hip crease is lower than your knee.
- Keep your weight on your heels as you drive back up.
Target muscles: Upper body, including the chest, shoulders, core, lower back, and triceps.
The barbell bench press is another exercise you can add to your calendar on your upper body workout day.
- To start, lie flat on your back on a bench.
- Grip the bar with your hands apart slightly wider than your shoulder width.
- Lift the bar slightly and bring it down to your chest as you breathe in.
- Grip the bar harder and breathe out as you push up.
Target muscles: forearms, lats, glutes, hamstrings, core, and back.
- Stand with the middle of your feet slightly pointed out under the barbell. The distance between your legs should be parallel to your shoulders.
- Bend over and hold on to the barbell with a shoulder-width grip.
- Bend your knees until the shin almost touches the bar.
- Pick the bar up off the ground with a neutral spine. Contract your glutes and abdomen as you press your heels to the floor.
- Take a deep breath, hold, and stand up with the weight.
Squats/ Half Squats
Target muscles: lower body muscles such as the quadriceps, glutes, and calves.
How to do squats:
- Start standing with your feet parallel to your shoulders with your toes slightly pointed out.
- Keep your abs tensed.
- Bend knees to lower down as if sitting on an invisible chair. Keep your lower back neutral.
- Stand up with your weight on your heels. Try to engage your abdominal and lower body muscles to prevent knee strain.
If you have problems with your knees, starting with half squats could be an option.
Half squats work the quad muscles, glutes, and the core while putting less strain on the knees. Half squats are also a good starting position for weight lifting.
To do this exercise:
- Stand in your squat position, with your feet parallel to your shoulders.
- Look straight ahead and place your hands on your hips for balance.
- Slowly squat down about halfway through a full squat position.
- Pause for a few seconds, then push your heels to stand up, avoiding putting pressure on your knees.
- Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Target Muscles: whole body, specifically the back, abdominals, shoulders, chest, quads, and glutes.
- On a yoga mat, position your elbows just below your shoulders with your forearms resting on the ground. You can either flatten your hands or keep them in the fist.
- Pull up your belly button up to a neutral spine.
- Squeeze your abs and glutes to support your body weight.
- Keep your knees straight and relax your head to avoid neck strain.
There is no standard duration to do a plank. Ideally, you can stay in position for a time challenging enough for you. You may also increase the time gradually.
The skeletal muscles are essential for mobility, posture, and stability, among other functions. These exercises for building muscles help increase muscle mass and joint flexibility. Together with a high protein diet and rest days in between workouts, you can build muscles and keep your body strong, healthy, and lean.
How would you incorporate muscle training in your workouts? Let us know in the comments section below!