Bodybuilding vs aesthetics Training: 6 Important elements.

bodybuilding vs aesthetics


We all have our own version of perfect physique, some of us want to be on stage and compete with the world’s best bodybuilders, others just want to have an aesthetic physical to attract women and to enhance the quality of life. This article is not about finding what kind of physique is superior, instead, it’s about knowing the right approach to achieve the desired body goals.

Just like there is a difference in the training pattern of a 400m runner and a 5K runner, there is a difference in training protocol to be a bodybuilder or an aesthetic physique. Most of the lifters at the gym aren’t even aware of the fact that their results totally depend on two factors, a) their training approach, b) nutrition.

Did you ever saw a lean guy and a bulky guy training together and following the same training protocol at the gym? I have seen many, I have encountered guys trying to get that aesthetic physique but following a bodybuilder’s training protocol. Do you know what is the similarity in all these dudes? They all fail to achieve their desired goals because of choosing the wrong approach.  

Ahead, we are going to discuss guidelines on how to train and eat to achieve either an aesthetic physique or a bodybuilder physique.

What do we mean by bodybuilding

Every human who is progressing towards a healthier body is a bodybuilder, a retired professor who is doing 30-min daily jog to improve his cardiovascular health is also a bodybuilder, a boxer who is training to maintain high-level conditioning is also a bodybuilder. There is no bodybuilding test to certify if someone is a bodybuilder or not. 

In this article, bodybuilders refer to the Professional competitors who are preparing to share the stage with the best of bodybuilders. 

To be precise, Bodybuilding is a foundation of the stronger and chiseled physique, no matter, whether you want to have an aesthetic physique or a bodybuilder’s physique, you all start with the same basics. 

Aesthetics and bodybuilding are no different, Aesthetics is just a part of bodybuilding that is followed to achieve a lean but muscular body. 

But where you want to take your bodybuilding game depends on your preferences. Whether you want to be a pro bodybuilder or whether you are training to improve the quality of life depends on your personal preferences. 

In this article, we will be talking about the Pro-bodybuilding vs bodybuilding for aesthetics.  

What’s about Aesthetics?

One thing you need to take into consideration, to be a pro bodybuilder or to achieve an aesthetic physique, you will be required to follow different approaches in your training program and the diet you follow. Even aesthetic physique can be categorized into three categories.

Why it’s important to understand different types of aesthetic physiques? Its to help you create the right blueprint to achieve those goals. 

Types of Aesthetics

The aesthetic physique can be categorized into 3-levels, depending on the muscle mass and body proportion.

LEVEL 1: Beach ready aesthetic physique: 

Something that most of the guys are trying to have, beach-ready aesthetic physique consists of the following feature: 

  • Slim waist
  • Visible abs
  • Moderate muscle mass
  • Nicely defines shoulders and arms.

This kind of physique can be achieved by being regular at gym and paying more emphasis on the systematic diet to shred down that extra layer of fat

LEVEL 2: Greek god body:

Take your beach-ready aesthetic body to the next levels to make it look like a greek god. 

  • Strong core
  • Cannonball shoulders
  • Wide back
  • Muscular chest
  • Low body fat

Strong work ethic and consistency is required, you will require to consume 1-1.4 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

LEVEL 3: Physique competitors

This is the type of physique you see in the guys stepping on stage in the Men’s Physique or other natural fitness or bodybuilding competing categories.

Call these an extreme case of the aesthetic physique, these physique athletes are shredded to the core with a very narrow waist and extremely jacked upper body. This physique requires years of dedication and consistency. 

Bodybuilding vs aesthetics Training

One thing to note here, this article is more about the difference in the basic approach, I will try to publish a detailed article that will cover detailed blueprints to achieve both types of bodies. 

1# Workout approach


It’s not wrong to say, Bodybuilding is all about symmetrical development the monstrous amount of muscle mass. A bodybuilder needs to develop a fuller look with low body fat and visible muscle striation. 

You are not allowed to leave any muscle undeveloped. Bodybuilding is way harder than achieving an aesthetic physique. 


The aesthetic physique requires to you load maximum muscle mass at the right places. Instead of chasing that fuller look, you need to concentrate more on that V-tapper look that includes Broad shoulders, wide lats, and narrow waist. 

Training for aesthetics is not a reason to skip your legs session, you still need to have a solid lower body but you certainly don’t need to develop those tree-trunk legs. 

2# Volume and rep ranges


Being a bodybuilder requires you to try various approaches to maximize the muscle protein synthesis, it involves various “muscle confusion” techniques to constantly stimulate muscles growth.  

While in the bulking phase, bodybuilders prefer heavy weights and low reps to stimulate max growth. And while in the cutting phase, they opt for a higher rep range to preserve muscle mass while enjoying a great pump. 

Bodybuilders often go heavy and high volume to achieve muscle density and bulk. 


If you are chasing the aesthetic physique then you need to stop training for the bulk. 

Training for aesthetics requires keeping with rep ranges between 8-12, while including training protocols that can help you help you gain lean muscle mass. 

To my students, I suggest them lot of drop sets, supersets, negative sets, pyramid training, short rest period. These types of training patterns help in stimulating muscle hypertrophy while keeping them lean. 

3# Rest period and training pattern


2-3 minutes of rest period is proven to be optimum to achieve maximum hypertrophy. 

Training sessions of bodybuilders lasts longer than physique athletes because of the involvement of longer rest periods and a larger variety of exercises. 


When you want to pack lean muscle mass, 30-50 seconds rest is the best option to keep your heart rate up while workout. 

A short rest period might negatively affect your lifting capacity but developing an aesthetic physique does not require maximum muscle mass.  

4# Meal frequencies and macros


Its the most difficult part of bodybuilding, you are required to eat 6-8 clean meals on a daily basis to fulfill the macro requirements. Most of the bodybuilders eat up to 1.5-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight which quite difficult.

If you are really serious about bodybuilding then you better hire an experienced nutritionist who can help you achieve your desired goals.


Basic knowledge about the carb cycling and ketogenic diet can help you achieve that lean aesthetic look. Consuming about 1-gram of protein per pound of body weight is sufficient to achieve your desired body.

Its not really necessary to eat 5-6 meals a day, you can achieve a decent aesthetic looks with just 3-4 meals a day.

5# Cardio and non-exercise activities


Most of the time, bodybuilders are either on the bulking phase or on the cutting phase, still, they incorporate cardio on a regular basis. Bodybuilders incorporate cardio sessions to keep their heart-healthy. 

Bodybuilders largely prefer LISS (low-intensity steady state) cardio to keep their heart healthy and burn down fat


HIIT cardio sessions play a very crucial role in training for aesthetics. HIIT cardio not only helps in superior heart conditioning but also melt down stubborn belly fat. 

Additionally, HIIT also boosts up the body’s natural testosterone production that helps in maintaining muscle mass.  

6# Machine or free weight


Being into bodybuilding, you are not only training for strength and hypertrophy but you need to develop better strength and balance. 

Free weights are for those who prioritize the bodybuilding over anything.   

Free weights not only help in developing strength but also assist in the development of stabilizer muscles that play an important role in the body’s lifting ability.


Compound movements are excellent ways to not only develop strength but to improve the metabolic rate as well. 

Since most of the training routine involves drop sets, supersets, etc, its recommended to perform most of the exercise on machines. 

Machines are made to isolate particular muscle groups in a better way. 

Additionally, most of the guys who are looking to develop aesthetic physique have full-time jobs and like to keep the training part simple and easily achievable. 

Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always. 

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By Harsh Chauhan

Hi there, I'm Harsh, personal trainer and chief editor at I started this blog with the intention to tap on every question that has been unanswered for many years. With an experience of more than a decade, my goal is to transform the lives of millions of our readers by offering authentic fitness knowledge.

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