How to Build Muscle : Specific Muscle Exercises

  1. Target your pecs with chest exercises. The bench-press is the most dependable way to gain chest muscle, although there are lots of different exercises for the chest.
    • For the bench-press, start with a weight that you can lift comfortably. If you are a beginner, try lifting the bar along with 5 lbs or 10 lbs on each side. With arms at shoulder-width apart, grab onto the bar and slowly lower the bar until it's about to touch the bottom of your chest; push up explosively until your arms are fully extended upwards. Do 8-10 repetitions (reps) like this for three sets (3 x 8), adding additional weight each set.
    • Lift weights on the incline bench press. The incline is like the bench press, but the bench is slightly elevated at about 40 degrees. Do 3 x 8. It will be harder to lift the bar on an incline, so start out with less weight than you would on the bench-press.
    • Do push-ups. Combine push-ups with other chest exercises, or do them independently. Keep your arms at shoulder-width when you lower yourself down. The closer your hands are to one another, the more you'll work your triceps.
  2. Target your triceps with arm exercises. Dips are probably the most effective way to work your triceps, which is the muscle beneath your biceps. You'll need to have strong triceps to bench-press large amounts of weight.
    • To do dips, place your hands at shoulder-width apart on a bench, with your body and feet stretched out in front of the bench. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down so that your butt nearly touches the floor. Lift back up with your arms to starting position; repeat, doing 3 x 20.
    • Alternately, you can do a chest dip on a dip machine, grabbing hold of two beams, bending your feet back off the ground, and lowering your body until your knees nearly touch the ground. Lift back up with your arms until their are locked.
    • Do skull crushers. Lay down flat on a bench with a bar. Bend your elbows so that the bar is about a couple inches from your forehead. Slowly push the bar up until your arms are fully extended before bringing the weight back down. Keep your elbows close together. Repeat 3 x 8.
    • Do overhead dumbbell press. Take a dumbbell and carefully lift it over your head so that your forearms, gripping the dumbbell, are horizontal behind you. Lift your forearms into vertical position above your head, taking care not to hit your head with the dumbbell. Keep your elbows close together. 3 x 8.
  3. Target your biceps with arm exercises. Dumbbell arm curls are probably the most effective way to improve strength in your biceps. As with all exercises, build muscle by steadily increasing the weight you lift.

    • Do individual arm curls with dumbbells. Sit down on a bench and grab onto a dumbbell on the ground, with your hand in between your thighs. Using your thigh as a fulcrum, lift the dumbbell all the way to the upper chest by curling your arm upward. Switch to the opposite hand and repeat. 3 x 8.
    • Do arm curls on a weighted bar. Standing up, grab ahold of a weighted bar with both hands. Let the arms extend all the way down to the thighs. Using only your arms, lift the weight up to your chest by curling your arms upward. 3 x 8.
    • Do pull-ups. Jump onto or grab ahold of a horizontal bar that is comfortably taller than you. Lift your legs back so that you are hanging from the bar. With your hands shoulder-width apart, and your palms facing toward you, lift your chin up to the bar using only your arms. 2 x 8.
  4. Work your quads and hamstrings with squats. Squats are the go-to exercise for building muscle in your legs. Here are three different kinds of squats that will work different parts of your leg muscles.
    • Do standard squats with a weighted bar. Place enough weight on a 45 lb bar and rack it so that it's a little lower than shoulder-height. Duck under the bar and come up so that the bar fits comfortably between your shoulder blades. Your knees should be slightly bent. Lift the bar up off the rack and move backwards one step. Your legs should be slightly wider than shoulder-length.
      • Slowly bring the weight down by bending your knees. Keep your hips under the bar.
      • Arch your back slightly but keep your torso erect.
      • Bring your butt down as far as you can, keeping the tension on the leg muscles.
      • Exhale deeply and use your legs and hips, not your back, to lift out of the squat. 3 x 10.
    • Do front squats with a weighted bar. Rack a weighted bar at just-below shoulder-level. Come up to the bar from the front, positioning the bar on the front shoulders. Cross your arms over onto the bar and walk it out. Keeping your back straight, bend your legs into a squat, with your hips under the bar. Explode upward and repeat. 3 x 10.
    • Do Belgian squats with a dumbbell. Hold out in front of your chest a dumbbell using both hands. Standing in front of a bench, lift your right leg back so that it's parallel to the floor and resting comfortably on the bench. Bend into a squat using the left leg, so that the right knee almost hits the floor. Explode upward. 3 x 8. Repeat using opposite leg.
  5. Target your abdominal muscles with crunches and core exercises. Your abs define the muscles on your stomach, giving you that chiseled 6-pack look. There are a variety of exercises that work out your abdominals. Here are a couple.

    • Do standard/oblique crunches. Lie down on a mat and position both arms behind your head without locking the hands. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Pushing the small of your back into the ground, slowly roll your shoulders off the ground only a couple of inches (not all the way to your feet). Don't use your momentum to help you up; use slow, regulated movements. Repeat 3 x 20.
      • For oblique crunches, tilt your torso to one side as you lift your shoulders off the ground. Alternate sides after each crunch.
    • Do planks to work the abs and the core. Lie face-down on the floor. Lift yourself up so that your body is still parallel to the floor, with your forearms (flat on the floor) and your toes supporting your weight. Keep your body straight and hold your position for as long as possible.

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