How to Target Muscles With Specific Exercises

Ever tried to remember which exercises are best for building certain muscles? I still have to check out some of the finer points at times. Once you start doing this in detail it can get a little tricky because there are many small muscles, and even the target muscles have helper muscles (synergists) and stabilizer muscles that get involved as well.

In this article, I’ll concentrate on the most important target muscles of the major body sections and the best weight training exercises to target them. Because there are literally hundreds of exercises, I’ve chosen a mixture of the most common and the most useful across a range of free weights, machines and bodyweight exercises.

If you’re a bodybuilder and you need to make your muscle targets a little more specific, then check out Hugo Rivera’s Bodybuilding site for further information.

Weight Training Exercises for Leg Muscles

man doing weighted leg exercises

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Keep the back straight and knees tracking over the feet and not swaying in or bowed out in leg-bending exercises.

Weight Training Exercises for Arm Muscles

When doing arm exercises, try not to use the momentum of a swaying chest or abdomen to move the weights. Instead, focus on the targeted muscles.

Weight Training Exercises for Back Muscles

Keep the back straight, head still and squeeze the shoulder blades together when doing back exercises.

Weight Training Exercises for Shoulder Muscles

Don't overextend the shoulder joint because it is one of the most complex—and perhaps one of the most fragile—joints in the body. Don't use heavy repetitions for front and side raises. When doing the upright row, use a wide grip, and don't raise the weight too high as this may cause impingement of the joint.

Weight Training Exercises for Buttock Muscles

Remember to squeeze your glutes together when doing butt exercises.

Weight Training Exercises for the Abdominal Muscles

No need to draw your abs in so that you "hollow out" the midsection. All you need to do is brace the abs firmly in preparation for abdominal exercises.

Weight Training Exercises for the Chest Muscles

If you find you get sore shoulders doing the flat bench press, do the incline bench press instead.

The above is a reasonable selection for all muscle groups to start with even though many variations and innovative techniques exist.

If you need to brush up on weight training principles and practices, try this beginner's guide.

By Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers is a personal trainer with experience in a wide range of sports, including track, triathlon, marathon, hockey, tennis, and baseball.