When you decide to make a step towards a more proportional body, you need to know what you’re doing. It’s not just about lifting heavy weights, mastering the exercise machines or eating the right food – it’s all of those and more. If you want to have an aesthetically pleasing shape, you will need to work on your conditioning, symmetry, balance, proportion and of course, size of different parts of your body.
Just look at people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane or Sergio Oliva – they were considered to have the ultimate aesthetics and over the years their legacy remained.
Their secret, however, was clear – they looked powerful and had great strength, and you could take a picture of them from any angle and it would hold the same characteristics. Their build wasn’t simple or easy to do at all. They had a narrow waist as well as a great V-taper, but they had a lot of meat in their quads, enough to make their knees seem like that of a normal person’s.
It’s been a long time since the 70s, but these guys taught us lessons like nobody else and we’re inspired by them every day.
Nowadays, people put too much pressure on themselves to build huge muscles on their bones, muscles sufficiently strong to outperform most normal people with strength and power, unseen before in human history. That being said, we focus way too much on performance and way too little on aesthetics – looking like a statue from ancient Greece has never been more underappreciated and it’s time to change that.
The first thing you need to know about an aesthetically pleasing body is that it won’t simply appear out of nowhere. You have to eat the right things at the right time to get it, and you’ll need to train hard as well.
By training, you’re creating little micro-tears in your muscle tissue, tears that will have to be repaired with protein you consume as part of your diet. For best results, you will need at least 1 gram of protein for every pound that you weigh, daily. Do this right and you can expect amazing results. However, when you’ve ignored everything to get the body of Apollo, you will also need to train for looks, instead of training for function. The people that do this are the ones you see up on the stage, holding trophies while looking like they’re able to rip them apart with ease. Here’s how to accomplish this goal.
Use the right weights when you train
If you keep using the same weight, your body will grow tired of it, meaning it will become stagnant and will see no reason to improve. To stop this from happening, you will need to take some weight off and increase the number of reps you perform with it. First of all, you should do two to three warm-up sets, just to make sure you don’t get hurt. After that, do 6-8 reps at 70-80 percent of your power.
This means that if you can lift 200 lbs six to eight times, only do 70-80% of that weight for the same amount of reps (6-8). As you go through the sets, take weight off and increase the number of reps. What happens here is your muscles will be stressed a lot during the first few heavier sets, but as soon as you hit the lighter sets you will build a lot of muscle with those numerous, lighter reps. So, you will need to do the following sets:
Two to three warm-up sets with 6-8 reps each.
A normal set at 70-80 percent of your power, for 6-8 reps.
Two sets of 8-10 reps with lowered weight.
One set of 10-12 reps with lowered weight.
Even though you will be lifting less weight at the end, it will definitely not be easy. The two last reps of the final set should be as difficult as doing them at full power. The pump should be huge as well. This way you are also pumping more blood into the worked muscle, stretching the fascia (a strong membrane around the muscles) and make place for the muscle to grow.
Train for symmetry and proportion at the same time
If you want your body to have harmonious proportions, your legs should have a size corresponding to the rest of your body – they shouldn’t look like sticks compared to your pectorals and shoulders. Also, your muscle groups should be as symmetrical as possible, meaning that your biceps and triceps should have the right aspect ratio, as should your left and right quadriceps, with the addition that they should be of the same size and condition.
If you do not have proportional and symmetrical muscles, your body will always be one step behind your goal. A good method to achieve this is by integrating unilateral exercises in your workout schedule. This means that you’ll be lifting with one of your arms or legs at a time – you’ll be training your weaker limb until it reaches the proportions of the other one. When they do, you can continue to train both of them simultaneously. Here are some lifts that you will want to integrate, but remember – the number of reps rises each set, and the amount of weight you’re actually lifting goes down.
Smith Machine Close-grip Bench Presses for four sets of 6,8,10 and 12 reps each.
EZ-bar skullcrusher for four sets of 6,8,10 and 12 reps each.
Standing low-pulley one-arm triceps extensions for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Tricep dumbbell kickbacks for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
EZ-bar curls for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Alternate hammer curls for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Alternate incline dumbbell curls for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Spider curls for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Make sure that you are well conditioned in order to put accent on your definition
A good looking aesthetic body doesn’t carry a lot of fat. Your body fat percentage should be low so your muscle definition can be seen. Don’t get discouraged – even though this is difficult to achieve, it’s not impossible by any chance.
One thing that can help you burn more calories (besides a good diet) and help conditioning is training with short rest periods. When you’re training your legs or other major muscle groups, make sure that your rest periods don’t last over 50 seconds, but if you’re training minor muscle groups such as the biceps and triceps, they shouldn’t last more than half a minute to 40 seconds.
Your rest is just as important as your lifting and it has a great impact on your cardiovascular fitness. When your heart pounds faster, you burn more body fat – it’s that simple. If you haven’t trained for a while or you haven’t been dedicated to your routine as you should have been, cardio is still a vital part of your fitness and you should be doing a bare minimum of four cardio sessions for 20 to 40 minutes weekly. This will help you keep your body fat down and your heart health up.
Develop your V-taper
Balance, conditioning and symmetry are all fine, but your V-taper is what will attract peoples’ stares. All of the major bodybuilders have wide shoulders and thin waists, this is the basis of any aesthetically developed body. Lean people will have a harder time to tighten up their waists, but if you have a wide back as well as well-developed shoulders, your back will contrast with your waist and it will make your waist appear thinner.
Eventually, these workouts are supposed to help you to get exactly there – not to melt your waist, but to broaden your shoulders and back. Remember to lower the weight every set, but increase your reps. Here is an exercise list that will help you develop a great V-taper.
Standing military presses for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Side lateral raises for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Front plate raises for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Seated bent-over rear deltoid raises for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Smith machine shrugs for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Dumbbell shrugs for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Pullups for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Wide-grip lateral pulldowns for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Seated cable rows for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Bent over barbell rows for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Get your abs in check
If you want to have your body look anywhere near aesthetically pleasing, you need defined abs. They will demonstrate your perfect coordination of size, symmetry, conditioning and shape. You will need to train your abs three times per week, but don’t despair – the routine is quick and simple and it needs to be trained right before you finish your workout.
Decline oblique crunches for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Knee or hip raises on parallel bars for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Standing cable wood chops for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
Ab crunches on the machine for four sets of 6, 8, 10 and 12 reps each.
There you go. Just four exercises that will help you reach legendary levels of abdominal development. Use them wisely and in coordination with the other exercises and points made here, with enough dedication you will have an aesthetically pleasing body in no time. Remember – training’s important, but your diet will be VERY important too.