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Dumbbell curls target your biceps.
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Whether you perform separate exercise routines for different muscle groups, or you prefer total-body workouts, you still need to understand which exercises cover the various parts of your body. Putting together a list of several exercises for all of your key arm, leg and abdominal muscles lets you vary your workouts from day to day.
Target the biceps in the front of each upper arm by performing curls with dumbbells -- while you're standing, sitting or using a preacher bench -- or use a barbell or a straight bar attached to a low cable machine. Focus on the triceps in back of your upper arms with dumbbell extensions and kickbacks, or do triceps pushdowns with a straight bar attached to a high cable. Hit the front of each shoulder with front raises or military presses, then focus on the middle and rear shoulder muscles by doing lateral raises and rear deltoid rows. (ref 1)
Wrist curl exercises target your main forearm muscles, the flexors and extensors. With your forearms resting on your thighs, curl dumbbells up and down with your palms up to work your wrist flexors or with your palms down to target your extensors. Do the same exercises with both arms simultaneously by curling a barbell. (ref 1)
The main abdominal muscles include the rectus abdominus in front of your abdomen and the obliques at the sides. Do the bicycle maneuver -- basically a crunch with a torso twist added in -- to hit your rectus abdominus and the obliques. Captain's chair exercises and reverse crunches provide a strong obliques workout. Beginning exercisers can start with the standard crunch on the floor, or add intensity by using a decline bench or lying on top of a stability ball. (ref 2)
Focus on the quadriceps, a four-muscle group in front of each thigh, with lunges and squats. Perform both activities as body-weight exercises, with a barbell across the back of your shoulders or while you're holding a pair of dumbbells. You can also use a leg press machine to hit your quads. Target the hamstrings in back of each thigh by doing hamstring curls on a machine. Alternatively, do good-mornings by bending forward with a barbell across the back of your shoulders, or lift a barbell off the floor to perform straight-leg deadlifts. If you have lower back problems, do the body-weight versions of squats, lunges and good-mornings. (ref 3)
Strengthen the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calves by doing calf raises. Do the body-weight version by standing on a raised platform and lifting your heels; increase the intensity by holding dumbbells or balancing a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Perform calf presses on a leg press machine, with the balls of your feet on the bottom of the resistance plate, or use a donkey calf raise machine. Seated calf raises target the smaller soleus muscles. (ref 4)
Whether you're targeting your arms, legs or abs, begin your routine with five to 10 minutes of cardio exercise, such as riding a stationary bike. You may wish to further loosen your muscles with dynamic stretches. Do horizontal and vertical arm swings for your arms, standing trunk rotations for your abs, walking with high knees to target the quads and walking lunges for the hamstrings and calves. (refs 5-6) Perform an eight-to-12-repetition set of each arm, leg or abdominal exercise. If you're using adequate weight, the final one or two reps in each set should be challenging; add more weight if you can do all of your reps easily. (ref 7)