The Muscle Cheat Sheet: Work Every Major Muscle Group [CC’s ShapeU]

I don’t know about any of you, but being back at school is putting a serious dent in my free time. Yeah, I’ve seen my friends, like, every day…and true, I could have probably spent some of that time relaxing or doing something productive instead of socializing. But it’s the first week back, who does that? Regardless, I can’t help but already feel slightly overwhelmed when it comes to reading course syllabi and listening to professors lecture on the first day of class – seriously man, come on! No matter how early it is in the semester, a small element of stress and that feeling of “I really shouldn’t just lay in bed from 1:05 pm until dinner, right?” is ever-present.

And yet, even with time to lounge around, it still feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. So to deal with some of that pesky laziness, lack of time and undue stress, how about we make getting an amazing workout a little bit easier!

Everyone knows I’m all about making simple workouts to fit even the busiest of schedules, but this time around I’d like to take it a step further. A lot of times, one of our biggest issues when it comes to working out is not knowing what exercise works which muscle or body part. There’s probably a few of you out there who would love to lift and tone your butt and thighs, but just aren’t exactly sure how to do it! Well, how awesome would it be if you had a cheat sheet? That’s right, a little secret guide to all the muscle groups you can work and all the exercises that can work them. And how awesome would it be if your fave CC fitness columnist hooked you up? Okay, so I’m the only fitness columnist, I still win by default! I’ll answer that: super awesome!

Before you check out the cheat sheet, here’s a little tid-bit of information you might find useful: When we plan a workout and consider the muscles we are interested in exercising, it’s important to realize that most moves we incorporate into a routine involve more than one muscle.  While there are moves that put a specific focus on, let’s say the quads (a group of muscles in the legs), or the biceps (muscles in the arms), there are always other muscles at work, so keep that in mind.  It’s also important to note that every routine should focus on opposing muscle groups: for example, if you focus on the muscles of your upper back, you should also focus on your chest muscles. This helps with muscle balance, and ensures not one aspect of your body is stronger or weaker than the other. To make this a little more simple, we can group the muscles into three categories: upper body, lower body and core. Also note that a lot of the areas of the body consist of more than one muscle, for example, I mentioned the quads as a group of muscles, but we’ll stick to the basics on this one!

This isn’t a complete guide, but more a simplified version to help you navigate through some toning options and make it easier to single out what exercises you want to do! With this reference sheet, you can design your own toning workout that focuses on the key parts of your body you’re most interested in working on, or maybe just the exercises you have time for if you’re running late to class, or planning to take a nap on the couch. And as a special treat, here’s a cool, interactive website that gives you a few more options than what I have up here (and it’s from Canada, eh?)! It’s easy to use, and has a few more exercises for each muscle…since we’re just starting off with classes, I thought I’d save your brain cells for your higher learning, or until you need it to watch Girls.

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