If you’re a guy who regularly works out and makes sure to eat as healthy as possible, there’s no doubt that developing alpha-male strength, power and endurance is one of your top priorities in life, and good for you!
But if you’re completely honest to yourself, you might find out that the biggest reason for your fitness efforts is not enjoying the reputation of a tough guy among your peers or getting healthier – actually, you just want to build the ultimate good-looking body. Let’s face it: the number one goal for most gym rats is sculpting the perfect male body, and slaving in the gym is mostly about finding ways to emphasize your genetic advantages and diminish or hide your flaws.
In other words, you want a body that turns heads and causes car accidents. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
We all know how the perfect male body should look like – recognizing it is an instinctive response, a product of evolution that has helped women find the ideal mate to reproduce and indicated the potential leader of the group for other men. The most desired attributes include a chiseled V-cut in the lower abs, bulging horseshoe-shaped triceps, a dramatic V-taper torso with a wide and well-carved upper back and a thin waist.
The reality is that only a few of us succeed at building these, while the others constantly struggle with being out of proportion and eventually settle for a lot less than greatness. Typically, the reason for this is blind training and inconsistency.
So before we begin with the training plan, go on and ask yourself this: Am I willing to put in the hard work required to build the most sought-after male physique attributes or will a mere shrunk gut do just fine at making me feel great about myself?
If your answer reflects a decision to build a perfect, Adonis-like body as soon as possible, check out this complete guide on the ideal way to train and eat for the accomplishment of this hefty yet achievable goal. The following tips were created with the help of some of the nation’s most successful coaches, nutritionists and strongmen, so they’re guaranteed to work and enable you to sculpt your dream physique in the shortest time possible, as long as you abide by them. Dig in!
GOAL #1: The V-shaped torso
It’s a fact that guys who naturally have broader shoulders and a slimmer waist will always appear stronger, fitter and more attractive to women. Although favorable genetics are important, they shouldn’t have the last word. Despite your possible genetic shortcomings, it is possible to improve your body shape and get a lot closer to the ideal V-taper with the right kind of training and fat-loss dieting.
First of all, you need to simultaneously follow a training routine that will help you add some serious mass to your back and shoulders and a diet plan that will help you decrease gut fat and reclaim a slim and strong waist. Remember how “abs are made in the kitchen”? Well, that applies to your entire core complex. No matter how hard you work in the gym, if you don’t eat the right way, your midsection will stay covered by a thick layer of fat and hurt your appearance.
Calculate what your overall calorie intake needs to be in order to lose fat, and get yourself on a very strict, clean diet. In general, guys who have a lot of leaning out to do should aim at consuming 8-10 calories per pound of body weight per day, while those who are already fairly lean are allowed 12-15 calories per pound of body weight per day. However, those numbers still depend on your level of physical activity, age, height, and similar factors.
For best results, most nutrition experts recommend a high-protein carb-cycling dieting program. In other words, one of the simplest ways to accelerate fat loss is by upping your overall lean protein consumption and cycling your carbs by eating more carbs on training days and less of them on non-training days. The best sources of high quality protein include chicken, fish, steak, turkey, ground beef, eggs and protein powders – whichever you choose, aim for roughly 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
As for the carbs, make sure they make 35-45% of your diet and opt for yams, potatoes, white rice, bread and fruits, all of which are great for fueling your hard-working muscles. The remaining part of your daily calorie intake should be made up of high-fiber vegetables and sources of healthy fats such as avocados, coconut and olive oils and nuts.
GOAL #2: The wide, massive chest
We can all agree that large and strong chest is one of the main attributes of a muscular and chiseled physique. However, contrary to popular belief, bench pressing multiple times a week won’t give you pecs of steel. Instead, focus on training your chest muscles once per week with a versatile combination of exercises that target different parts of the chest area.
Start with the decline dumbbell press, which is one of the most effective pec-building exercises because of the short range of motion that prevents the delts and triceps from taking over. Pick heavier weights and go for five sets of 10-12 reps. Move on to flyes, making sure to use bands or chains in order to ensure a better contraction and decrease the stress placed on the shoulders. Aim at four sets of 15-20 reps. Finish off with the ultimate tool for increasing chest mass: DIPS. Perform a total of 50 dips divided in as few sets as possible, maintaining proper form and technique at all times.
Once you get comfortable with this routine, you can up the challenge and stimulate even more growth by also doing 40 reps (in as few sets as possible) of suspension trainer flyes, which take advantage of full body tension and activate your pecs from an angle that’s hardly ever used during a standard chest routine. Use a body angle of 45 degrees and make sure to maintain a strong plank position throughout each rep.
GOAL #3: The superhero arms
Building humongous bulky arms is great, as long as the next step is carving detail and definition to achieve a truly impressive look. For the triceps, which make up the bulk of the upper arms, this means carving out a detailed triceps horseshoe by effectively targeting all three heads – the long, lateral and medial – of the muscle in a balanced way. Symmetry is an important aspect of aesthetics, so you have to make sure that no muscle is left behind.
To concentrate on the long head, perform the EZ-curl bar French press, which is done on a bench with an EZ-curl bar and a pronated grip. Begin by holding the bar directly overhead with fully extended arms, then lower it down by bending your elbows and go as far as you can, but make sure to keep your neck, back and upper arms straight.
Triceps dips on a dip bar are the best choice for hitting the medial head of the triceps. Keep your body straight up and perpendicular to the ground, arms nearly locked above the bars and your feet underneath you. Slowly lower yourself downward until your forearm and upper arm make a 90-degree angle, then push your torso back up using your triceps.
Working the lateral head is perhaps the most important part of achieving horseshoe-shaped triceps, and the good news is that pretty much any movement that pushes weight down can help you target this muscle. According to most pro-level coaches, straight-bar cable pushdowns are one of the most effective moves when it comes to engaging the triceps’ lateral head, so make sure to add these to your routine as well. You will start with the bar at chest level and elbows tucked and your upper arms pointing to the ground. Keeping your elbows close to the body, push the bar down while maintaining the upper arms stationary.
The next key aspect of well-developed arms are cannonball-shaped biceps. To build these, you need to perform three vital moves twice per week. The first one is the towel pull-up which is done by draping a thick towel over a pull-up bar and performing pull-ups by holding either end with a neutral grip. Make sure to get a total of 50 pull-ups in as few sets as possible. The next exercise is the hammer curl – this powerful move makes biceps grow like no other out there by working the brachialis muscle which lies deep underneath the biceps brachii. Use a weight that allows you to get 10 reps per set with proper form and perform five sets to near-failure. Finally, wrap it up with barbell chain curls. Chains are a great way to add resistance to your barbell curls and allow your biceps to reach full contraction. Perform five sets of 8-10 reps with solid form.
GOAL #4: The huge and thick upper back
Building your back will not only make you look more manly and powerful, but it will improve your posture and stability and ensure an injury-free training. For these goals, on top of your standard back routine, you need to also hit your upper back with full body functional, load-carrying movements such as the ones used in strongman training regimes.
When planning your back routine, focus on tried-and-true back-builders such as wide-grip pull-ups, overhand barbell rows, bent-over two-arm dumbbell rows and wide-grip lat pull-downs. Instead of regular sets, consider performing giant sets that can really push you beyond your limits and bring the superior gains you’re looking for.
On the other hand, to make the most out of your back routine, make sure to include sessions of farmer’s walks at the end of each workout – simply grab the heaviest plates or kettlebells you can carry and walk with them as fast as you can for as long as possible without dropping them. Besides building your back muscles, this will help you develop a rock solid core, strengthen your legs and hips and tremendously improve your grip.
Also, get familiar with the snatch-grip deadlift, which is a deadlift performed with an extra-wide grip that ensures engagement of the lats and rear delts. Remember to keep your back straight and flat at all times during this movement.
GOAL #5: The V-cut in the lower abs
Developing those elusive V-shaped cut lines below your abs is just as hard as you think it is. Fortunately, there are many highly effective ways to do it. For starters, it’s worth noting that the V-cut isn’t a muscle – it’s a group of inguinal ligaments which originate from the hip and run into the pubic region.
The problem is, most of us have a thick layer of fat over these ligaments which prevents them from becoming visible. So just like in the case of revealing your six-pack, uncovering your V-cut demands a great deal of strict dieting and achieving a very low percentage of body fat. This, with the help of exercises that hit the lower abdominal region, more specifically both sides of the obliques and the transversus abdominis, will improve your definition and strength in this area.
The best exercises include the cable woodchop, the seated medicine ball trunk rotation and the kettlebell windmill. According to the recommendations from strength coaches, these exercises are best performed three times per week as a part of a circuit with 12-15 reps on each exercise in three rounds.
GOAL #6: The 3D shoulders
Fully-rounded, striated shoulders are one of the greatest symbols of the ideal, performance-built male physique and it’s almost impossible to achieve a V-taper look without them. To really push your delts and traps to grow, you need to stimulate them with some truly challenging moves that will activate as many muscle fibers as possible and create the optimal anabolic environment.
In addition, you have to make sure to perform exercises that hit the delts from all existing angles and train them both concentrically and isometrically no more than once per week. One simple yet very effective way to overload the delts is by performing rack side raises: start with a relatively light pair of dumbbells and perform three reps of side raises, then move on to the next heavier pair of dumbbells and perform another set of three reps.
Continue going “up the rack” until you can no longer perform three reps with decent form with the selected weight, then reverse the order and work your way back down the rack until you get to the dumbbells you used first. Repeat the entire session as many times as you can. The next move is the dumbbell overhead carry, which is a great isometric exercise that targets your shoulders, abs and upper back. To perform it, lock a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells overhead with arms fully extended, brace your core and slowly walk for at least 50 feet. Perform 3-4 sets with this distance, then slowly increase the distance at each workout.
Lastly, exploit the benefits of constant muscle tension by performing shoulder-blasting dumbbell press 21’s. 21’s are done by executing seven reps at each of the three ranges of motion, i.e. bottom half, top half and full range. Pick a set of light weights and begin by pressing seven reps from your shoulders to the midway of full range, then press another seven reps from midway to full lockout, and finally do seven reps of full-range overhead presses. Aim at 3 sets in total.
GOAL #7: The teardrop-shaped quads
Ever wished you had more size and detail in your thighs? Nobody likes chicken legs, yet so many guys out there are plagued by them, mostly because they avoid training the legs as much as they should.
One of the crucial aspect of impressive upper leg development is creating that amazing-looking teardrop-shaped cut in your lower quad, just above the knee. This muscle is called vastus medialus and it helps stabilize the knee and guard it against injury. When fully developed, it’s one of the indicators of high-level leanness and athleticism. To build this muscle, you have to simply focus on exercises that target the entire quad area. Mix leg extensions into your squat and lunges routine to hit your quads in those parts of the joint range you can’t access with typical leg moves. Also, alternate between different squat versions that work the quads harder, such as the heels-elevated squat, the Bulgarian split squat and the quarter squat.