Training for Aesthetics? Or to be a Fitness Model or Greek God Physique? All terminologies that are made to describe perfect and symmetrical body shape. No matter what you call it, getting that perfect aesthetic physique is a real big challenge and you won’t achieve it until you don’t have the right plan.
In recent years, aesthetic physique got soo much attention that the organizers of Mr. Olympia started a new category of bodybuilding and named it as Men’s Physique competition. The first competition Mr. Olympia Men’s Physique was held in 2014.
Let’s be honest here, most of the guys start their fitness journey to look better and to attract women. Most of the lifters still have a full-time day job and training like a bodybuilder doesn’t seem legit to them.
Aesthetic looks were not in a mainstream mindset prior to the arrival of social media, before that, lifters were either trying to gain strength or develop maximum muscle mass. Social media can be held responsible for changing the individual’s outlook towards bodybuilding, instead of packing maximum muscle mass guys are now trying to develop symmetry with perfect V-tapper look and low body fat.
In this article, we are going to cover each and every factor that will help you train for aesthetics, but it won’t come to you overnight and the process might take years of consistent work.
Aesthetics vs Bodybuilding?
The current generation of Pro-bodybuilders has taken bodybuilding to totally different levels, and training for the aesthetic physique does seem like a legit natural bodybuilding option.
I have seen guys trying for an aesthetic physique but following a bodybuilding approach. As a beginner, the road to have an aesthetic body or get into bodybuilding looks similar but their approaches to bodybuilding changes after the lifter reach a certain benchmark of strength and hypertrophy.
While the Pro-bodybuilding is all about getting as big as possible with maximum muscle mass, the aesthetic physique is more about achieving and maintaining clear muscle definition, visible striations, lean waistline, and perfect symmetry.
Aesthetics is not about having as much muscle as possible but more about gaining muscle at the right place, which makes you look aesthetic. You might have less muscle mass than someone else but you will look bigger and better because of perfect symmetry.
Now let’s discuss the practical roadmap to achieve your dream aesthetic physique.
Tips to train for aesthetics
Although aesthetic physique looks like an achievable task, it’s not that easy. An average lifter will require to pack at least 20-25 pounds of lean muscle mass while staying under 10% of body fat to get close to that Greek god aesthetic look.
Something common that you notice in all aesthetic physiques, they maintain a very low-fat percentage, broad upper body, smaller waist, and decent muscle mass in the lower body. Here are the top tips to train for Aesthetics:
- Avoid dirty bulk, it will mess up your waist size.
- Compound lifts should still be a top priority.
- Skip food that gives you bloating
- Train for perfect V-Tapper
- More Unilateral lifts for symmetry
- Include calisthenics
- Train your abs on regular basis
Training for aesthetics is still a part of bodybuilding but it required a little different approach. Let’s get to the important factors that will help you train for aesthetics
Eat for low body fat and lean bulk:
Training for aesthetics? You are not allowed to do the dirty bulk.
There is a difference between dirty bulk and a lean bulk, while dirty bulk is all about eating more than maintenance calories Without caring about the quality of food, lean bulk is more about paying more emphasis on consuming highly nutritious clean food while staying in a caloric surplus.
Even the legendary bodybuilder and three-time Mr. Olympia, Frank Zane who is still loved for his aesthetic physique is known to dodge the bulking period, he believed that constantly going on bulking and cutting diet badly affects the width of the waist.
So if you are an ectomorph, then going on a bulk seems like an essential routine to pack on some muscle mass, but that bulking period should be strictly followed (without involving crappy fast food) to restrict your waistline from growing.
Other factors that you need to pay emphasis to is the Carb cycling and Protein intake.
Carb cycling plays a big role in staying lean. Our recommendations for a 200-pound male at around 15-18% body fat.
- High day: 450 grams of carbs
- Medium days: 300 grams of carbs
- Low day: 100 grams of carbs
The amount of protein you eat for aesthetics is different from the amount of protein you consume for pro-bodybuilding preps. While the Pro-bodybuilders recommend consuming 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, training for aesthetics requires you to maintain the consumption of 0.75-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
I till try to cover a separate article on eating for aesthetic physique.
DON’T skip compound lifts
Either you want to be a pro-bodybuilder or powerlifter or training for aesthetics, compound movements are still the best choice.
In order to achieve a lean aesthetic physique, I have seen newbie lifters to concentrate only on the isolation movements. If you are also doing the same then you are never going to reach your target physique. It’s time to reject those trainers who make you concentrate only on compound movements just because you want to get the aesthetic looks.
Compound lifts will not make you a muscle monster overnight, but they will help in improving the overall body strength and muscle density.
Additionally, heavy compound lifts activate more muscle fibers than any other isolation movement which assists in the development of all the stabilizer muscle tissues that would probably be left untrained.
Best strategy with compound lifts: Instead of going super heavy with 2-3 reps, target 8-12 reps. Moderate rep ranges will surely help you achieve your target body.
Follow a low-bloat diet
Bloating is one of the most common reasons why the majority of guys can’t get that aesthetic core, bloating can make you look puffy and swollen. It’s not something that is uncommon, about 15-30% of people experience bloating on a regular basis.
Although there are some generic reasons for bloating but choosing the wrong food is one of the most common causes. How to fix bloating?
- Reducing the consumption of high-sodium food items can help in reducing water retention and will provide better definition of your muscle fibers.
- Many people are lactose and gluten intolerant, restricting the consumption of dairy products may help in reducing bloating.
- Veggies like kale, spinach, asparagus, and cucumber are known to reduce bloating.
- Supplementing with digestive enzymes and probiotics can certainly help in reducing inflammation and bloating.
- Eating high-potassium fruits like bananas, avocados, kiwis, and oranges, can help in reducing water retention.
- Are you relying too much on no calories carbonated beverages? Carbonated beverages may add air in your GI tract which might make you feel bloated.
Train for v-tapper
One thing that grabs maximum attention is that wide shoulders, big lats, and narrow waist.
In order to develop wide shoulders, one big mistake I see a lot of guys doing at the gym is they put too much emphasis on the frontal part of delts. Instead of starting your shoulders routine with the shoulder press and front raise, start your shoulders workout with the side delts or rear delts to achieve that strong cannonball shoulder look.
Lat development plays a very significant role in achieving that aesthetic looks; It creates an illusion that makes you look bigger. Train your back at least 2 times a week to develop a strong v-tapper look.
A unilateral movement is a movement that’s produced by one limb (single leg squats, single-hand shoulder press, or one arm rowing).
Unilateral movements not only keep your body more symmetrical but also avoids muscle imbalance and possible injuries.
When training for aesthetics you can’t afford to have asymmetrical shape. One side of our body is always stronger than another side, some have stronger right portions, others have more strength in the left portion. If all of your movements use both hands or body legs, there is a bigger possibility of developing muscle imbalance.
Unilateral lifts allow both sides to train at the same resistance. I am not asking to train only unilateral movements, but I am asking to include at least 1-2 unilateral movements per workout session to understand the strengths and weaknesses.
Pro tip: Start your unilateral sets with the weaker portion first, it will help you maintain similar rep ranges on both sides. example: If I have a stronger right side then I will start the exercise with the left portion. If I can do 8 reps with my left side then I will follow the same rep-range from the right side.
Calisthenics (for greek good physique)
Many people refer to the aesthetic looks to the Greek god physique due to its finest proportion a human body can achieve naturally.
At the time of greek gods and spartan warriors, there ain’t any gyms available, so how do they create perfectly chiseled bodies? With their heart-wrenching training practices combined with bodyweight exercises, right?
Calisthenics is something that the majority of the lifters forget to implement in the training routine.
Calisthenics training relies on the high volume bodyweight training that not only helps in the development of incredible body strength but also helps to achieve a symmetrical body. Devoting 2 days/week to practice calisthenics can totally change the level of fitness.
Have you seen any trained calisthenics athletes with the poor shape? I don’t know any.
Train your abs
Abs are made in kitchen – NOT true
Abs are revealed in the kitchen but are made at the gym.
Just like any other body part, you need to work on those core muscles to get them bigger and more visible.
I am tired of hearing, “you don’t really need to train your abs”, still, most of the pro bodybuilders are training their abs on a very regular basis, reason? To make them more visible.
Another thing that most of the lifters skip, they forget to train their transverse abdominals, which is an inner part of your core but plays a very significant role in keeping your abs tucked in tight. Practicing vacuum poses and plank will surely help you get the narrow waistline.
Shrink down your waist size by targeting that Visceral fat.
Type of training
Your training pattern determines the kind of physique you are about to develop.
Bodybuilders are inclined towards the development of maximum muscle mass which requires them to lift heavy with every set. The process of aesthetic physique Development is not the same.
Pay more emphasis on supersets, drop sets, giant sets, high volume training with a short rest period. These types of training methods are not designed to achieve maximum strength but developed to cut down excess fat while packing muscles.
HIIT training delivers two big benefits, a) it helps in keeping the body fat percentage very low b) it improves the body’s ability to generate explosive power.
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) involves a quick burst of power movements that assist in training Type-II fast-twitch muscle fibers that are essential to achieve that aesthetic looks.
HIIT training also helps in torching tons of calories while boosting the testosterone levels that directly helps lean muscle building.
Training for aesthetics does not demand to develop tree trunk legs which means you can develop most of your lower body mass with these high-intensity explosive workouts like sprint training, box jumps, etc.
Sometimes, guys knock me down with their innocence and ignorance.
In my career, I have encountered multiple lifters were avoiding the progressive resistance just because they don’t want to build huge muscle size.
Constant progression in resistance is the key to success in bodybuilding, if you want to progress in your muscle-building goals, you will be required to challenge your muscles with higher weights.
Sleep and recovery
No matter what kind of physique you are looking to develop, resting period is one of the most important component of it.
Proper rest allows superior recovery after a training session, it also allows you to lift better in the next training session.
Improper rest also helps responsible for the higher cortisol levels, it’s a hormone that drops the testosterone levels and triggers the accumulation of body fat. Additionally, Improper rest periods also increases the chances of muscle overuse and serious injuries that could keep you out of the gym for months.
Try getting a restful sleep for 7-9 hours. Supplementing with Tribulus (1000 mg) and ZMA can help in improving sleep quality.
Last but not least. Aesthetic physiques are not developed overnight, you will be required to stay consistent with your nutrition and training.
In order to gain those lean 15-20 pounds of extra muscle mass, your body might demand more than a year of consistent work.
Be patient, stay focused, and take your rest more seriously.
Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always.