Major Muscle Groups

Major Muscle Group Location Functional Role Exercise to Strengthen Sample Stretch Notes
Abdominal Stomach Sitting up, postural alignment Crunches, leg raises, twisting crunches You typically don't stretch your abs. For most people, the abs are not strong enough, so you need to work on strengthening them rather than stretching them The rectus abdominus is the muscle that is visible. The transversus abdominus muscle, which stabilizes your back is underneath.
Biceps Front of upper arm Lifting, pulling Bicep Curls Sit on floor. Place hands behind you with fingers pointing away from your body. Walk your hips away from your hands. Anytime you move your hand toward your shoulder, you are using your biceps.
Deltoids Top of shoulder Overhead lifting Push ups, bench press, side & rear arm raises "Scratch your Back" - Put both hands over your head. Bend one elbow and place hand on back. With other hand, push elbow to stretch triceps, deltoids, lats The deltoids are composed of three parts, anterior, posterior & medial. Anytime you "flap" your arms, your deltoids are working.
Erector Spinae Low back Postural alignment back extensions

"Cat Stretch" - Kneel on all fours, round back like a cat. Sit on chair with feet shoulder distance apart. Bend over and place shoulders between your knees

The erector spinae is sometimes called the "low back" muscle, although it runs up your entire back.
Gastrocnemius & Soleus Back of lower leg Push off for walking, standing on tiptoes Standing calf raises, seated calf raises

Lunges with a straight back leg for gastrocnemius.

Lunges with bent knees for soleus.

The gastrocnemius give your legs a rounded shape. The soleus is underneath the gastrocnemius.
Gluteus Buttocks Climbing stairs, walking, standing up Squat, leg press Sit on chair, cross other leg over thigh of bent leg, lean forwards. Made up of several muscles. The largest muscle in the body is the gluteus maximus.
Hamstrings Thigh - back Walking Squats, lunges, leg extensions, leg curls While standing, place heel of leg to be stretched on a chair. Keep your leg as straight as possible, your hips square and your back flat. Bend at the waist toward your leg. The hamstrings are made up of three muscles. Don't squat below 90 degrees, otherwise you could damage your knees.
Latissimus Dorsi & Rhomboids

Back - Lats are the large triangular muscle in the midback.

Rhomboids are between the shoulder blades

Postural alignment, pulling open a door

Lats - pull ups, chin ups, lat pull downs

Rhomboids - chinups & bent arm rows

"Scratch your Back" - Put both hands over your head. Bend one elbow and place hand on back. With other hand,

To stretch rhomboids, "hug yourself" Cross your hands in front of you, place both hands on your shoulder blades.

Developed lats give your back a "V" shape, making your waist appear smaller.
Obliques Side of body Rotation and side flexion of body Twisting crunches, rotary torso Lie on your back with your arms extended out ("T" shape) Bend both knees. Rotate your hips and put your bent legs on the floor on your side. Strong internal and external oblique muscles ward off back pain.
Pectoralis Front of upper chest Push up from lying position, push open a door push-up, pull-up, bench press While standing, hold both arms out at shoulder height, palms forward. Pull arms back. The pectoralis muscles pull the shoulder and arm forward.
Quadriceps Thigh - front Climbing stairs, walking, standing up Squats, lunges, leg presses While lying on side, grasp ankle, push hips forward The quads are made up of four muscles.
Trapezius Large muscle in upper and mid-back. Moves head sideways, upright rows, shoulder shrugs Upper trap stretch. Sit in a chair, put your left hand behind you. Tilt your head so your right ear moves toward your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side. Your upper trapezius connects your head to your shoulders. When you feel "knots in your neck", it's your trapezius.
Triceps Back of upper arm Pushing Push ups, tricep extensions, dips "Scratch your Back" - Put both hands over your head. Bend one elbow and place hand on back. With other hand, push elbow to stretch triceps, deltoids, lats Anytime you extend your lower arm, you are using your triceps.

 

"Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew.
They're what make you stretch and go beyond the norm."
Cicely Tyson