Exercises That Target Specific Areas


Compound and isolation exercises target specific areas of the body. Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups, and isolation exercises involve the movement of only one group. Compound exercises include squats, shoulder presses and rowing. Biceps curls and triceps extensions are isolation exercises. A combination of both isolation and compound movements will target all the areas of your body.

Upper Body

The upper body includes the chest, back and shoulder muscles. The pectoralis major is the large muscle that runs from your armpit down to the center of your chest. Exercises such as the push-up, fly, incline fly and C sweep strengthen the pectoralis major. The trapezius muscles are in your back. These muscles form a triangular shape on either side of the upper back. A one-armed row, bent-over row, pull-over, shrug and hyperextension target the back. Shoulders, or deltoid muscles, are strengthened through the bent-over rear deltoid exercise.


The biceps and triceps are arm muscles. The biceps are the muscles at the front of your upper arm that run from the base of your shoulder muscles to your elbows. A bent-over row, hammer curl, upside-down curl, karate curl and ball press work the biceps muscles. The triceps are the muscles on the back of the upper arm that runs from just under the shoulder muscles down to the elbows. Target the triceps using dumbbells with a kickback, triceps raise and overhead triceps lift.

Lower Body

Lower body exercises target the glutes, thighs and calves. The gluteus maximus and gluteus medius are the muscles that shape your behind. Side raises, squats, lunges and butt kicks strengthen the glutes. Thigh muscles consist of hip abductors, tensor fascia latae, quadriceps and hamstrings. The Hollywood Arrow, hamstring curl, Zorro lunge and side raise target the thigh muscles. Your calf muscles let you extend your foot or point your toes downward, says Steve Zim in “The 30-Minute Celebrity Makeover Miracle.” Strengthen your calves with sumo squats or calf raises.


The rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques make up your abdominal muscles. The rectus abdominus runs from the pubic bone to various points along the rib cage. The oblique muscles run diagonally down toward your lower abdomen from the base of your rib cage. Exercises that target abdominal muscles include the basic crunch, sit-up, bicycle crunch, leg lift, corkscrew, hip raise and plank.