There are many exercises for working the biceps, triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings. The exercises you choose depends on your fitness level, goals, injuries, preferences and available equipment. Exercises vary from power and strength-building movements to those designed more for shaping and toning. Some people like doing more exercises and sets per body part than others. These preferences can change with experience and age. The key is keeping the exercise routine in line with your training goals.
The biceps is a small arm muscle that can be built up through consistent effort and exercise. This muscle consists of two separate heads, an inner and an outer head. The goal with biceps training is to build the larger inner head and peak while paying some attention to the outer head. The primary power exercise for biceps is the standing bicep curl. It should be performed with legs and arms shoulder-with apart. Slowly pull the weight up toward the chest, then ease it back down. Perform four sets of eight to 10 repetitions. Follow the barbell curls with either hammer curls, standing curls or seated alternate curls. Standing dumbbell curls allow for a fuller motion, but the seated variety insures stricter form. Select one of these dumbbell alternate curls on biceps days.
To bring out that muscle peak at the top of the biceps, preacher or concentration curls should come next. Preacher curls are done with dumbbells or a camber bar on a bench, with elbows resting on a pad. Another variation is to stand and do them on an incline bench. Concentration curls can be performed with dumbbells or barbells while sitting or standing. Preacher curls can be hard on the elbow so those with elbow injuries should avoid them.
To work the outer biceps head, do barbell curls with a narrower grip on the barbell. Try doing two regular grip barbell curls and two with a narrow grip. Another way to hit the outer biceps head is to use a camber bar on a cable machine. Grip the outside edges and perform a couple sets of curls. Biceps workouts can be varied. Some people like to do one heavy workout and one light one per week. Performing exercises with the cable machine can be one way of achieving this. Simply use a long bar on the cable machine in lieu of barbell curls or one-arm curls instead of dumbbell curls. Vary the workouts to keep shocking the biceps. Stay with the basic three exercises or a maximum of 12 sets.
Building massive and defined triceps takes work. The triceps has three heads--long, medial and lateral. There are exercises designed for each area of the triceps. Start with a lower triceps exercise such as dips, seated dips or close-grip bench press, then move on to work the three heads. Switch the exercises around during each triceps workout to shock the triceps. Never do more than three or four sets of one lower triceps exercise, as these exercises can be hard on the elbows. A good standard triceps workout consists of four exercises (four sets each and eight to 10 repetitions). Standing or seated triceps extensions, lying extensions, push-downs and dips.
Quadriceps and Hamstrings
Besides the glutes, the quadriceps are the next largest muscle group in the body. And there is no exercise that works both better than squats. Squats should be the hallmark exercise of any leg routine. You can perform squats with free weights or a Smith machine. A good quadriceps workout should also include leg presses, hack squats and leg extensions. Leg extensions are used for shaping and definition. Perform 12 to16 sets of exercises for your quads per workout.
Alternate workouts include substituting lunges for leg presses. Lunges work the entire leg as well as the glutes. The key is to vary the workouts while keeping squats in the routine. Most people can build large quadriceps working them once per week. Anything more can be hard on the knees. There a two muscle heads to the hamstrings. Both are typically worked equally with most exercises. Leg curls are the best exercise for building mass in the hamstrings. These can be done while lying or standing. Many gyms have standing leg curl machines. Stiff-legged deadlifts also can be performed instead of leg curls. Try to vary hamstring workouts. Most people can get good results with five to eight sets of hamstrings exercises. Anything more can cause injuries or strains at the back of the knee.