The image of the ideal male physique has been continued to be distorted by the bulk craze. Is more always better?
When you look at a guy with an 18inch arms, chest popping out (in some cases looking like breasts), do you look with admiration and respect, or in amusement?
Now, think of Brad Pitt’s type physique in Troy. What comes to your mind? What’s about his physique that is pleasing and attractive? Two words: Proportion and Symmetry.
In Part-1, I have emphasised, that proportions and symmetry are more important than just building more mass. The moment you start to build more mass (basically go outside of your sexy weight range), you start to grow out of proportion and deter yourself from the pleasing aspect of a physique. If you haven’t read Part-1, I recommend that you do so.
In order to build a classic Greek ideal you need to ditch the old saying of “No pain, no gain” and replace it with “No Brain, No Gain” Lets straight head into the 5 principles that will help you build your ideal physique.
Principle No #1: Focus more on the posterior chain than the anterior chain.
Posterior chain muscles include your entire back, deep core muscle (multifidus), buttocks (glutes), hamstrings and calves.
If you are someone who has been following conventional wisdom and following workouts out of a muscle mag, then chances are high you are focussing more on your anterior chain i.e. your mirror muscle—Chest and arms. This leads to muscle imbalances.
The problem is further compounded when you train on machines rather than using free weights.
For example, when doing squats on a smith machine, your quadriceps (anterior chain muscle) are doing most of the work, whereas while doing a free squat, you are activating muscle of your posterior chain which includes your deep core stabilisers like multifidus, transverse abdomens. Similarly, there is a lot going on in your posterior chain when you are performing standing military press versus simply resting your whole body doing seated shoulder press on a set trajectory!
Do note that almost three-fourths of your musculature is located in your back, glutes, and your legs, and avoiding them is a great way to be injured.
Exercise selection: Train only using free weights, and include a lot of compound lifts like standing shoulder presses, bend over barbells, barbell back squats, deadlifts, good mornings, standing and seated calve raise. Using dumbbells and barbells will ensure that you deep core stabilisers are worked to the T. This will give your posterior chain a great workout at the same time give you that herculean look. Just look at all the Hollywood movies. Which body parts really stand out in their physique? Back and legs, or chest and arms?
Principle No #2: Avoid doing shrugs, and side bends.
This is important. Check out the picture below. The one on the left is a great example of a classic physique that we are after. Notice he doesn’t have much trap development, because of bigger the traps, the narrower your shoulders appear. Instead of a square-shouldered look, a person with over-developed traps looks round-shouldered (the picture on the right)
Other things that you want to avoid doing are the side bends or the obliques. I see scores of people doing side bends using dumbbells. Guys, this movement will not burn fat from your abdominal area, instead will build muscles giving you a wide waist, and thereby deterring you from that broad-shouldered appearance.
Having said that, differences in waist size is largely based on your genetics.
Principle No #3: Don’t avoid your legs, especially your calves.
Training legs for most gym trainees is still an afterthought! If your arms measure way more than your calve and neck, then I strongly recommend you to stop training (or at the least minimize) your arms and put more emphasis on calves and neck.
Include the following movements in your workout routine to achieve a balanced looking physique:
Deadlifts and Squats: These movements should be the linchpin of any workout routine. They are functional in nature, and not only they build your thighs, but they also boost overall muscle growth.
Standing (& Seated) Calve Raise: Calve muscle are very stubborn in nature. And you need to overload them with really heavy weights and train them at least 2 (or 3) times a week with high volume. I would recommend a total of 10 sets per week with rep range between 15 to 20. The tempo should be slow and controlled, and squeeze them at the top and bottom for maximum effect!
Note: I have hardly trained my arms in the past year or so and have not dropped size. Did you know that your biceps are engaged when you do your back, and triceps get a good workout when you do shoulder and chest movements?
Principle No #4: Lift heavy at least 5-6 months a year.
Overall, if you are looking to build a sculpted Greek god type physique, you need to focus on lifting seriously heavyweights in the rep range of 3-10 most of the time. Why? Besides the obvious benefit of becoming strong, improving your bone density and joint health, you are increasing the myogenic and neurogenic tone of your muscles.
In the words of John Romaniello Founder of Roman Fitness Systems:
“Neurogenic tone refers to the level of tension in a muscle during a working or flexed state. That is, how “hard” a muscle is when it’s in action–whether that means at the gym, or just flexing.
Myogenic tone, on the other hand, is the residual tension in a resting muscle. What this really means is how hard, full, and dense your muscles are when you’re just hanging out. Rather than some artificial pump, an increase in myogenic tone is a permanent increase in the appearance of your muscles.”
I urge you to perform an honest judgement about your physique and figure out the lagging body parts and give them a priority instead of simply going to the gym and blasting your chest and arms (when probably they are already your strong points).
For example: If you already are good at flat benching, and have a huge chest, doing more of it, will only deviate you from looking your best. You must have seen many bodybuilders, with their pectoral muscles popping out. What we are after instead is a flat-squared chest. So in order to do so, replace your flat or decline presses with incline presses. This will allow you to build a squared chest look that looks the best!
A Fabulous (Ideal) body basically stands on three pillars:
Real: Being real is about having a low body fat, but not excessively ripped. Aim for body fat percentage of less than 15% and then decide what is the percentage you will look the best? 12, 10 or at the very least 8 percent? This is very individualistic and may differ.
Related posts: Is being ripped worth it?
Healthy: An ideal physique should look healthy and natural. The ideal physique is not just to look good on the outside, but its also about internal health. Whats the point of looking good, if you don’t feel good?
Inspirational: Big muscle, may amuse people, but if you want to inspire others to take action, follow you, you need to build a fabulous body and not just build mass. Every muscle should be built in accordance with the principles discussed in these posts.
Idea is to build a physique that is pleasing and that is loved by all and not just by the bodybuilding judges!
Did you know I have created FBX (Fabulous Body Training System) that uses every training principle I have discussed in this posts that ensure you build the ideal male physique? You can subscribe FREE to my newsletter and download more than 15 FBX workouts and get started today!