11 Muscles to Work to Make Yourself Look Big (2023)

Great muscular definition is the goal of many non-competitive weightlifters, bodybuilders, and professional, competitive bodybuilders. But you can't just get big by simply bulking up all your muscles in a random fashion. You should take a more scientific approach and make sure to target individual muscles and muscle groups that are responsible for that highly-defined look.


A comprehensive program of diet and exercise is key to getting a muscular look. You have to reduce any body fat that covers your muscles to make them shine through. In addition to a healthy diet, target these areas during your workouts

Pectoral Muscles (Chest)

The "pecs" are the muscles of the chest. These are the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles. The bench press is a good exercise for developing the pecs. Well-defined pecs with low body fat—under 10%—and a small waist are important components of that good-looking upper body.

Lats (Back)

The "lats" are the latissimus dorsi, the somewhat large muscles of the upper back on the outside below the armpit. When well-developed, as they are in some elite swimmers, they tend to bulge outward. Build the lats with lat pulldowns.

Trapezius Muscles (Back)

Your "traps" are the fan-like muscles that spread around back and sides of the neck. In bodybuilders, you can see that they protrude significantly.

You may not wish to build your traps to such epic proportions, but enhancing the traps, along with the shoulder muscles, can provide that meaner, leaner look.

The bent-over row, shrugs, and the farmers carry are all good exercises for the traps.


The "glutes" are the muscles of your butt—gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. Everyone wants a nice, rounded, firm butt like an Olympic sprinter. To get them, you'll need to achieve low body fat levels and develop those muscles with deadlifts, bridges, hip extensions, hip thrusts, and leg presses.


The "quads" are the muscles at the front of the upper leg (thigh). These include the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus intermedius. Bulk out those quads with squats of any type.

Many young, casual weight trainers are obsessed with the upper body, especially the arms For that fantastic, balanced look, you need to work on the upper and lower body, and that means legs.

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The hamstrings are made of or several muscles including the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. Improve the shape of the hamstrings with leg curls, deadlifts, and "good mornings."


The calves include the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles—the gastrocnemius being the large muscle that mostly gives a nice definition to the lower leg. Build up this muscle with any exercise with which you push against weight with the front of the foot, heels raised. Standing heel raises with or without dumbbells is an example.


The biceps muscles (biceps brachii) of the upper arm are important working muscles and also provide a fine sense of width and bulk in conjunction with solid chest and shoulders. Dumbbell or barbellarm curls are popular exercises, but cable curls are also useful for variety and a slightly different engagement of muscle in the whole arm.


The triceps muscles are at the back of the upper arm.

Big triceps make your arms look better, even with adequate biceps muscle.

Don't neglect them. Use pushdowns, overhead extensions, and dips.

Delts (Shoulders)

The "delts" are the big, compound shoulder muscles that include the front, middle and rear deltoids. They go nicely with the chest, arm and back muscles to give that powerful upper-body look. Bulk them out with overhead presses, front raises, upright rows, or an incline press. That's what they're there for.


And for a bonus—of course, the one and only abdominal muscles, which seems to be a firm favorite muscle group of many.

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Trouble is, those rippling, exposed abs are probably not possible for everyone. Genetics determines the best lookers in this department.

Even so, you can get solid-looking abs by working hard on the main muscle, the rectus abdominis, while shedding fat—under 8% body fat for men and 12% for women. Use crunches, rollouts, bicycles, and captain's chair.

1 Source

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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  1. Schoenfeld B. Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy. Human Kinetics; 2016.

By Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers is a personal trainer with experience in a wide range of sports, including track, triathlon, marathon, hockey, tennis, and baseball.

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