Which Workouts Target Which Muscles

There are 650 muscles in the human body, each with its own role to play in the overall health and well-being of the body. Over the course of your fitness journey, you’ll likely seek to target and tone specific muscles and areas of your body. Understanding which workouts target which muscles will help keep stay on track as you strive to reach your fitness goals.


Many people view toned arm muscles as the best indicator of overall strength. As such, many exercises and pieces of equipment are dedicated to the development of arm and shoulder muscles. These exercises are often quite adaptable, and you can choose the amount of weight you lift depending on your current strength level.

Bicep curls

Biceps are one of the first muscles many people target when they’re strength training, perhaps due to the aesthetic appeal of large, toned biceps. Basic bicep curls are a great first step toward the coveted Popeye-esque upper arms. This exercise is relatively simple and straightforward, and you can steadily increase the weight you use over time as your arm strength improves.

Wrist curls

Forearm strength is equally as important as upper arm strength, but even the most dedicated fitness fanatics can easily overlook it. Holding a barbell or dumbbell and curling just the wrist can help simultaneously improve hand, wrist, and forearm strength.


For many people, perfectly toned six-pack abs are the ultimate prize in fitness. Achieving this goal will take some time and a lot of hard work, but a few tried-and-true exercises can help you strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles. You can do many of these exercises in the comfort of your own home.


Crunches and curl-ups are perhaps the most well-known exercises for strengthening ab muscles. Raise your head and shoulders just slightly for a crunch, or raise all the way up to a sitting position for a full curl-up. Be sure to draw your belly toward the base of your spine and engage your core muscles in order to achieve the best results.


Planks are another great home exercise that can help strengthen and tone both your core ab muscles and arm muscles. Planks are one of the best ab workouts because they target multiple core muscle groups at once, including the abdominals and obliques.


Because you can’t flaunt your back muscles as easily, you may overlook them when you’re crafting an exercise routine. Strong upper and lower back muscles, however, are instrumental to many other exercises, and they can help ensure proper posture, form, and support.

Rowing exercises

There are many different variations of rowing exercises, all of which can help strengthen and tone the muscles in your upper back. Utilizing a rowing machine to perform these exercises will ensure that you maintain proper posture and form throughout the exercise. This will greatly reduce the risk of back pain, muscle strain, or injury, which can result from poor form and technique.


Pull-ups are a relatively straight-forward exercise that can tone all the muscles in your upper body at once. When you do pull-ups, your arms and back support your body’s entire weight against the force of gravity. In addition to strengthening the upper back and shoulder muscles, pull-ups can also help improve your posture and core strength.


Your chest is comprised of some of the largest muscles in your body, and it deserves to be properly developed and strengthened. Toned chest muscles can aid you in a variety of daily activities, such as lifting a load of laundry, while a broad chest and shoulders may help your waist appear slimmer.

Bench presses

At first glance, a bench press may appear unassuming and inconsequential, but it’s actually one of the best pieces of equipment for strengthening chest muscles. This compound exercise works all areas of the pectoral muscles, and you can easily alter it to support a wide range of weight. Always be sure to have a spotter when you’re performing bench press exercises in order to ensure proper form and safety.


Push-ups are a popular chest exercise because they’re relatively easy and can be adapted to fit a variety of fitness levels. Individuals who are just starting their fitness journey may elect to perform modified push-ups, in which the knees are used for support rather than the toes. Fitness fanatics looking for a more challenging workout can try altering the distance between their hands. A wider stance will engage the shoulders, while a closer grip will engage the triceps.


Thanks in part to the Kardashians and other curvy celebrities, the popularity of a toned rear end has surged in recent years. Besides the outward appearance, toned buttocks can be instrumental to your body’s overall health and well-being. Poorly toned buttocks can lead to lower back pain, and they may affect simple tasks such as sitting and standing.

Glute bridges and hip thrusts

At first glance, glute bridges and hip thrusts may appear strikingly similar. Both are great exercises that focus on flexing and squeezing the glute muscles, but there are some slight differences in skill level and technique. For glute bridges, you’ll typically lie on the floor with your shoulders flush against the ground. For hip thrusts, you’ll generally lie on a bench or platform. You can use weights with both of these exercises, but hip thrusts are more commonly performed this way—with glute bridges, you’ll just use your body weight.


Lunges are an easy exercise that target all three of the muscles that make up the buttocks—the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus—as well as multiple muscles in the legs. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, and the uninterrupted movement and repeated flexing of this muscle during lunges can tone the gluteus maximus significantly. Doing walking lunges or performing lunges while holding weights creates an added challenge that will work your glutes even harder.


Your legs are the pillars upon which all the other muscles are built, so you must properly develope and tone them. Leg training can be quite exhausting, and people often overlook it in favor of developing more visible muscles such as biceps and pecs. Taking the time to exercise the major muscle groups in your legs will help your form and technique in a variety of other exercises, sports, and daily activities.

Leg presses

Relatively simple and straightforward, a leg press is an exercise in which you press a weighted platform up and away from your body. Similar to standing squats, a leg press focuses on toning and strengthening the glutes, quadriceps, and upper thigh muscles. Because leg press machines often include an elevated, angled bench, they significantly reduce the amount of strain on the lower and upper back.

Calf raises

With every step you take, your calf muscles flex and engage. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to spend a bit of time strengthening and toning these muscles. Standing or seated calf raises are a great way to strengthen your calf and ankle muscles, effectively reducing the risk of ankle or tendon injury when you’re running, jumping, or even walking.


As you gain a deeper understanding of which workouts target which muscles, you’ll be better able to develop an exercise routine that fits your individual fitness goals. From there, you can begin building a home gym that best suits your fitness regime. For help designing your dream home gym, stop by our fitness showroom in Novi, Michigan.


Which Workouts Target Which Muscles infographic