15 Easiest and Hardest Muscles to Build: (And How to Do It!)

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Tonya McIntosh

Tonya McIntosh—The main person behind TGFFitness as its Founder and Chief Editor. Get to know more about Tonya


When it comes to building muscles, some are naturally easier to build than others. Depending on your genetics and body type, you may find that you have an easier time developing certain muscles than others.

So what are the easiest and hardest muscles to build?

However, the nuances of muscle development among individuals also depend on factors like genetics, sleeping habits, knowledge of anatomy, etc.

Read on for a comprehensive take on the matter and intelligent insights on how you can up your muscle-building game!

How Do Muscles Grow?

Your muscle tissues’ growth primarily happens through a process called muscle hypertrophy. The process occurs when you continuously apply strain or pressure to your muscles, exerting them towards increasing levels of weight or resistance.

The extent of muscle hypertrophy in your body depends on many elements that range from lifestyle and diet to genetics and sleep cycles.

However, you can hasten the process by intentionally performing actions that encourage it. The best way to accomplish this goal is by putting your body through a variety of resistance actions and weighted movements. To put it in simpler terms, by working out.

With enough resistance, your muscles begin to develop small and minuscule tears. Your body then proceeds to ‘repair’ these tears with the protein you ingest via food and nutrition.

It will redevelop the tissue to withstand or tolerate the resistance that tore them in the first place. So, the restored muscles look and feel better.

Your body performs this restoration mostly when you’re asleep and recovering. So, sleep and nutrition are as crucial to the process as working out.

Let’s understand what other factors come into play while developing powerful muscles.

What Factors Affect Muscle Growth?

Even the hardest muscles to build can develop with the right conditions and lifestyle.

On the other hand, the easiest muscles to build will fight change if you don’t combine the correct elements in your pursuit of a fitter body.

Please take note of the top factors that determine how well they grow.

Body Type

The growth rate of your muscles naturally depends on your body type. For instance, someone with a mesomorphic body type may develop muscle groups relatively faster.

On the other hand, an ectomorph may retain a slim frame longer even though you appear to be eating as much as the next person.


The nature, consistency, and intensity of your exercise routine greatly determine how much your muscles can grow.

The fastest and most visible results often come from compound exercises. Examples of these exercises include workouts that combine exercises that improve your calf muscles, lower leg muscles, upper legs, and entire lower body.

You may also build your workout regimen around building a specific muscle group through upper-body exercises. So, these sessions may focus on your lower abs, upper abs, upper arm, etc.

The key here is to push for regular exercise and continuous increase of resistance (or weights). Also, it would help if you created a regimen you can stick to long-term.


Natural hormones in your body play an influential role in muscle building too. The human growth hormone is a typical example. But testosterone and insulin also determine muscle growth.

These hormones affect the way your body processes nutrients, breakdown proteins, and handles tissue growth.


Your current age is another vital factor to consider as you consider which muscles to build.

For instance, gym-goers in their 20s will find building even the most challenging muscle groups easier.

On the other hand, people past their 50s may find it easier to focus on overall fitness rather than performing dedicated exercises for specific muscle groups.


You’ll also have to track your diet and food intake regardless of whether your goal is slimming down or bulking up.

Any desirable muscle gain occurs through the right amount of protein in your body. And you’ll have to ensure a caloric deficit for healthy routes to losing weight.

Besides solid food, proper hydration is another essential part of muscle-building nutrition.

Sleep and Recovery

Most adults require an average of roughly 7-8 sleeping hours. However, your ideal duration may depend on your lifestyle, age, and exercise routines.

Your body performs some vital tissue repairs when you are resting or asleep. So, providing adequate time for this crucial bodily function is indispensable in building muscles.

Easiest Muscles to Build

Some muscles in the body are located in areas that are easy to build and work with. These muscles develop faster from workouts because they enjoy the brunt of most exercises and training.

Here are the muscles that grow the fastest and tips on which exercises will get it done efficiently.


Your quads are the four primary muscular tissues around your thigh bone. They’re among the main body parts that allow you to stand correctly and move your hips and knees.

They’re easy to build because any lower body exercise involves working them out. Any upper body exercise that requires you to stand straight or bend your knees can also engage your quads.


Traps are the muscle flaps in your lower neck and upper back that help in shoulder movement, lifting arms, and serve to protect your spine.

Most compound exercises involving your arms influence your traps too.

Exercises ranging from bench presses and deadlifts to shoulder presses and rows develop your trapezius.

Latissimus Dorsi

The lats are your lower back muscles that span down into a tapered shape when appropriately developed.

Most weight-training workouts usually qualify as lat exercises. Their easy development also happens because of calisthenics and other zero-equipment exercises that all build the lats.


The triceps are, essentially, the largest arm muscle. They make up over 60% of the tissues that give shape and definition to your arm.

They’re quickly built because even simple exercises with dumbbells and basic weights help their development.

Exercises like the bench press, which targets upper arm muscles, will also enhance your triceps.

Gluteus Maximus

The fleshy part of your behind (what we call the ‘butt’) is also called the glutes. They’re also the largest muscle compared to all other muscular tissue in the body.

Squats and deadlifts each count as a great exercise for your glutes. Any exercise that requires having your knees bent will improve your glutes.


Rhomboids are part of your back muscles that support your shoulder blades and nearby muscular tissue like lats.

Dedicated exercises for the rhomboids are not widely used. But that’s because most compound exercises for the upper body will indirectly help their development. So you don’t have to target them with specific exercises.

Spinal Erectors

Spinal erectors are easy to miss because they lie deep within your back. However, they perform the crucial role of strengthening your back and determining the quality of your posture.

Any workout that requires compound movements will help build your spinal erectors.

For instance, performing a deadlift engages all your back muscles, especially the spinal erectors.

Hardest Muscles to Build

The hardest muscles to build in your body are the ones that lie between other tissue, are somewhat hidden, or do not have enough mass to provide aesthetic value.

However, there are specific exercises that can build these elusive muscles. Also, the right understanding of their nature and location can help you choose the proper regimen for each exercise.

Here’s all you need to know.


When you think of toned abs, a six-pack is usually the first thing that comes to mind.

The fat surrounding your vital organs is among the hardest to shed. Also, building core strength is among the least favorite exercises for most people. So, it’s no surprise why the solid abdominal muscles remain the most challenging exercise goal.

To develop defined abs, perform compound exercises targeting your lower and upper abs.

Exercises like the weighted crunch, leg raise, situps, etc., all work to develop your abdominal muscles.


Obliques are the side tissues that run along either side of your central abdominal muscles.

They remain difficult to target because most upper body exercises don’t do much for their development.

Focus on performing exercises that twist your core and torso. Compound movements that include these exertions will transform weak obliques into strong and hard-looking ab muscles.


The calves are the muscular portion in the back of your lower legs (below the thighs).

About half of your calves consist of slow-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers have a higher tolerance to resistance because we already develop them naturally when standing, walking, running, etc. For comparison, fast-twitch fibers are more actively used and activated tissues.

Common exercises like squats and deadlifts work well for calf development. Alternatively, you can try calf exercises like seated calf raises that specifically target the calf muscles. Specified exercises like seated calf raises will also do wonders for your soleus (calf muscles)


Your forearms allow movements like turning or rotating your wrists and flexing your hands. The strength of your forearms remains crucial when you train body areas in any shape or form.

Grab a decent pair of dumbbells and perform a hammer curl, reverse curl, or an underhand wrist curl to target your forearm muscles.


Your deltoids are those rounded contours of muscles we like to call our ‘shoulders.’ They belong to the rotator cuff muscle group. And they’re among the most visible yet difficult muscles to build.

Dedicated exercises like the dumbbell hammer press will work both your anterior deltoids and medial deltoids. Also, the reverse fly is a great exercise with free weights that help build your delts.


Your biceps consists of two different tissues: the brachialis and the brachialis.

These are muscles beginners struggle with, even though experienced bodybuilders may find it relatively easier. So, people confuse the biceps as the easiest and hardest muscles to build, depending on whom you ask.

Compound exercises that involve pulling and lifting your arms will work considerably well for the biceps. So, curls with lighter weights or traditional pull-ups can help you strengthen this area.


Your pecs occupy the chest area connecting the shoulders, armpits, and abdominal muscles. Your pectoral area can be hard to build because it’s not just one muscle. It’s a combination of four different muscles.

Pectorals can be built, but you must avoid and correct poor form when performing the recommended upper body exercises.

The decline bench press, incline bench press, and dumbbell pullover are all excellent options for building pecs.


The hamstrings are probably one of the strongest muscles in your body based on function. But they’re also among the hardest muscles to build because of their low aesthetic value.

They get to work whenever you exert your knee joint, lift straight legs, or any other lower leg muscles.

Lunges, leg curls, and deadlifts will help you develop your hamstrings the fastest.

What Equipments Should you Consider for the Most Effective Workouts?

Pull-up Bar

The pull-up bar remains one of the most convenient and affordable pieces of equipment targeting more than one muscle group.

Basic pull-ups will work everything from your back muscles to your shoulder tissues. Chest dips can target both your arm muscles and your chest muscles.

Leg raises performed on the bar will allow the development of lower abs and quads too.

Adjustable Dumbbell

Adjustable dumbbells are a must-have for any fitness fan who wants variety in their equipment.

Dumbbell weights often require variation regardless of whether you’re doing curls or flys. For instance, you may need to decrease the weights for a dumbbell calf jump and increase them for a regular dumbbell curl.

Barbell and Weight Plates

Anyone looking to build larger muscles needs a good set of weights and a barbell.

Weight training is crucial if you want to train body areas with targeted goals. And the correct barbell will allow you to perform specific exercises focusing on distinct muscles.

A close grip bench press will help your upper arm muscles while focussing on your triceps. Deadlifts will help you target many of the hard muscles to build mentioned here. The Hip thrust performed with weights will enhance both your glutes and quads.

Adjustable Bench

Another space-saving exercise equipment that offers multiple advantages is the adjustable bench.

Your arms, lower abs, calf muscles, and back all require a good bench if performed while inclined.

Also, exercises like hip thrusts and movement with free weights all get a boost when you have a steady, adjustable bench under you.

What Equipments Should you Consider for the Most Effective Workouts?

Easiest Muscles

  • Deadlift
  • Upright row and one-arm row
  • Dumbbell curls
  • Wide grip pull-ups
  • Squats (with and without weights)
  • Bench Press

Hardest Muscles

  • Bench Press
  • Dumbbell calf jump
  • Hip thrusts
  • Squats
  • Leg curls
  • Deadlifts

Can Genetics Affect How Easy or Difficult It Is to Build Muscles?

Yes. Genetics plays a noticeable role in the way muscles grow and develop.

For instance, your genes may endow you with hormonal balances that process proteins more efficiently or burn calories faster. So, the nutrition you get and the way it translates into muscle mass are considerably determined by some genetic traits.

Genes also determine the body type you inherit. So, endomorphs may carry more muscle mass (and fat, too) compared to ectomorphs, who may appear leaner even with the same diet and exercise routines.

However, genes are only one of several other parameters that must be remembered when building muscle. The correct approach should involve everything from diet and sleep to cardio and resistance training.

What Can Help You Build Muscle Mass Faster?

The fastest way to build and develop muscle mass is by combining all the factors that define muscle growth.

Also, there is an appropriate balance of all these factors that work the best. For instance, lack of sleep or lifting too much weight will only cause more damage than good. Also, certain muscles require more protein (via food) which goes beyond simply lifting weights.

So, create a lifestyle that incorporates healthy sleeping habits, nutritious food, timely hydration, and realistic consideration of your body type and age.

The cardio, weights, and resistance exercises become the icing that tops all these ingredients into a muscle-building machine.

Why is it Easier for Some People to Build Muscle?

Genes and biological gender may create a distinct difference in muscle-building, assuming each individual is undergoing similar workout routines and leading the same healthy lifestyle.

Genetic makeup can determine if a person has a higher volume of slow or fast-twitch muscle fibers.

So, athletes with higher fast twitch muscles will appear to develop muscle definition faster and more efficiently.

On the other hand, an average gym-goer with more slow twitch muscle fibers may experience a slower response to any weight training.

What Muscle has the Slowest Growth?

Muscles like your hamstrings, abs, and rhomboids exhibit the slowest growth compared to other tissues.

The primary reason here is that they are less visible, carry less mass, and are located in areas where other muscles benefit more from the workout.

For instance, part of your rhomboid tissue lies along and under the lats and traps. So, most back exercises will reach these dominant layers first before affecting the muscle underneath.

Can Diet Affect How Easy or Difficult it is to Build Muscle?

Yes. Diet is the most influential factor in muscle growth next to active physical exercise.

It’s common knowledge that you need calories and proteins to gain muscle mass. But the wrong balance may delay or even prevent muscle growth.

So, a bodybuilder consuming a lot of protein may experience less progress if the required caloric intake is not met.

When you focus on training body parts for strength and resistance, your body requires more nutrition (think of it as fuel) for normal bodily upkeep.

Muscle mass will not increase if the appropriate amount of nutrition is not ingested into your system.

Final Thoughts

There are many factors that contribute to how easy or difficult it is to build muscle.

Genetics plays a role, as some people are simply born with more muscle mass than others.

Diet and exercise are also important; someone who consumes a lot of protein and works out regularly will have an easier time building muscle than someone who doesn’t.

Age is another factor, as younger people generally build muscle more easily than older people.

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Chief Editor
Tonya McIntosh

Hello there! My name is Tonya McIntosh, and I’m the Founder and Chief Editor of TGFFitness. I’m also a NASM-certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer. With eight years of experience under my belt, I’ve found that one of the most common issues my clients struggle with is remaining consistent.

Finding your main motivator to keep going is easier said than done for Keep Reading.

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