At 192 lbs and 11-12% body fat, I am nearly in superhero condition! I have moulded my physique to the exact specifications I desire. Even at a higher body fat, my physique exudes a masculine like dominance with sex appeal still intact. This of course, comes down to muscular proportion, balance and symmetry, something that is lost in the modern day bodybuilding culture. I didn’t achieve this look by accident, I have tailored my lifting regime exactly to my body and how it responds to training, creating an aesthetically pleasing physique with harmony. This requires you to maintain an objective outlook with your canvas. You might have the genetic capacity to develop huge arms, but if your shoulders aren’t going to keep up, you need to address that. If you don’t, you’ll end up looking sloppy.
Bringing Myself to Superhero Status
To bring my body from it’s current condition to superhero status, a few things need to be done. First and foremost, I need to drop 5-6 lbs of fat so I’m sitting at a chiseled 8-9% body fat. This will do a few cool things that will change my physique completely. Firstly, this will bring my waist down an inch, which will create a more impressive v taper and make my upper body appear bigger in comparison. Secondly, this will bring in more definition and separation throughout my body. My abs will become more visible and defined, my shoulders will have more separation, my muscles will appear harder and more toned and my face will become angular.
The one other obstacle I’m facing is that my arms are getting overpowered by my chest, shoulders and back. I will need to start hammering my biceps and triceps with more volume to get a bit of sarcoplasmic growth so my arms can hold their own. After accomplishing this my physique should go from impressive to down right fucking breathtaking. I now wish to share with you a few key tips and tactics to take your physique into superhero status!
How to get to Superhero Condition
1. Get Strong as Hell
Building strength in the 5-8 rep range will have the most profound effect on overall muscle size. You can get quick gains from high volume pump work, but there is a tight limit to how much muscle you can squeeze out without becoming stronger. For example, how many people do you know incline dumbbell pressing 100+ lbs dumbbells who are lacking muscle? My guess, is practically none! For this reason, 80% of your training should be dedicated to getting stronger. It’s important to focus on only a few movements to build strength on otherwise you’ll just be spinning your wheels. My emphasis has been on the incline bench press, standing shoulder press, weighted chin ups, barbell curls and close grip bench. My lifts are as follows:
Incline Bench – 255 x 6
Standing Press – 185 x 6
Neutral Chins – 110 lbs x 6
Barbell Curls – 135 lbs x 6
Close Grip Bench – 260 lbs x 8
Training for muscle size this way forces you to maximize the effectiveness and effeciency of your training. More is not better, you’ll get the best gains with only three sessions per week and you’ll be able to maintain your gains easily off two workouts per week. When you start doing too much volume and too much nonsense your lifts will stop improving. Not to mention, training predominately with low volume and heavy lifting gives you the ability to make rapid increases in muscle size for 4-6 weeks if you add in pump work. This is a great strategy to use to get the shrink wrap effect.
2. Add volume work to stubborn muscle groups
Everyone has different genetics and thus will respond differently to the same workout program. Some people will add muscle very easily to their arms but struggle to build up their chest. Others will easily develop big pecs but will have a hard time getting their shoulders to grow. Using myself as an example, I add size without much trouble to my chest, back and legs. My shoulders and arms tend to lag behind. As a result, I do very limited direct leg work. For my chest and back I train for strength and do very low volume. For chest I do 2 sets of incline bench and 2 sets of close grip bench or dips. For back I do 2 sets of weighted chins and 2 sets of renegade rows. Even with minimal volume, my chest and back grow as long as the weights are increasing.
As for shoulders, I like to supplement heavy RPT style lifting with fatigue oriented pump work. This allows me to hit hypertrophy from two different angles, building the muscle tissue and increasing the fluid in the muscle. As a result, my shoulders have started to become very prominent and rounded. The next step is to start doing this with my arms to bring them up to speed. There are a few different ways to incorporate this type of volume work to stubborn muscle groups. I will cover them below
1. Standard Pyramid Training
Select a weight you can do for 12 reps. Perform 4 total sets of 12, 10, 8 and 6 reps. Rest only 30-60 seconds between sets. You can even perform an additional 2 sets of 6 reps if you have a little left in the tank. The focus of this type of training is maximum fatigue. With only 30-60 seconds of rest you create cumulative fatigue, which is why you are performing fewer reps each set.
On my shoulders right now, I’m doing one arm cable lateral raises. I’ll do 12 reps on my left then 12 on my right, then 10 on my left and 10 on my right, I’ll go back and forth down to 8 and finally 6 reps. When I’m doing my left arm my right arm is resting and vice versa. This is a very time efficient method and my shoulders burn like crazy. The tricky thing is that as the reps get lower the rest periods naturally shorten making for a killer workout.
The progression for this type of training will be to shorten the rest periods. Once you work your way down to only 30 seconds of rest between sets you can increase the weight to the next increment and start back up at 45-60 seconds rest between sets.
2. Rest Pause Training
The other volume training I like is rest pause. I recommend using a weight you can do for 12-20 reps. Once you can’t do another rep you want to rack the weight. You will perform another 4-5 sets of 4-5 reps with only 10-15 seconds rest between sets. Why this works: With exercises that you can perform for 9+ reps, you are only getting maximal muscle fiber recruitment for the last few reps. By resting only 10-15 seconds between sets, you force your body to use full muscle fiber recruitment for all the remaining sets of 4-5 reps. This is a killer strategy for building muscle size.
For arms I like to use the cables for ease of use, cable curls or triceps push downs with the rope attachement. I’ll use a weight I can do for 12-15 reps. After, I’ll bang out multiple sets of 4-5 reps with only 10-15 seconds of rest in-between. My gym has these magnetic 2.5 lbs plates so each workout I’ll add one of those to the weight stack.
You will need to determine what your stubborn or lagging muscle groups are so you can incorporate this into your training. By exclusively using this fatigue/pump work with your lagging muscle groups, you can keep your physique balanced and proportionate. For most men, the shoulders can never get too big. Natural lifters tend to have a hard time adding lots of size to their shoulders. So I definitely recommend most guys supplement heavy shoulder pressing with high volume laterals. You will need to determine what other one or two muscle groups are getting overshadowed. Maybe it’s your back, maybe it’s your chest or maybe it’s your arms.
3. Maintain a Taut Waist
This is huge and will make all the difference in the world! A slim, tapered waist will make your physique look incredibly more developed and muscular. This is one of the hollywood tricks many actors use to appear bigger than they actually are. Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Kellan Lutz have all kept their wast lines very slim and taut. In doing so, this creates the illusion of a bigger more imposing upper body. Ideally you want your waist to be around 45% of your height. Measure your waist in the morning, relaxed, at navel level. If your waist is above 45% of your height then you will create the most profound physical change by focusing on dropping body fat and slimming up your waist. If you need to lean up try my shredding program or beach ripped article series. I also recommend incorporating planks, kneeling abs wheel rollouts and renegade rows to strengthen your transverse abdominals. Strengthening your TVA will tighten up your waist keeping your stomach pulled in more, instead of hanging out.
Final Comments and Take Aways
It’s very common for people to follow generalized routines without addressing their own individual strength and weaknesses. Many of the workouts found here on the site tend to address common issues including; over developed legs, poor upper chest and lateral deltoid development…. However, this may or may not apply to you! In my Kinobody Muscle Building Course I teach you how to adjust the workout routine to keep your physique balanced and aesthetically pleasing. This is something that should be reserved for people who have been strength training for 2 or more years. It takes time for your body to express it’s natural genetic code.