What fitness models and online “coaches” don’t tell you
Thanks to this, I wasted years — and only in the past year or two have I been able to revolutionize my physique.
While you won’t be able to look like a textbook muscular anatomy model naturally, through the right exercises and patience, you can build an eye-pleasing physique.
Forget women finding you more attractive or other men gawking in awe, looking good naked boosts your own confidence.
If you think training to look good is vain or narcissistic, this article isn’t for you.
The 7 Key Aesthetic Muscle Groups
The biggest thing the fitness industry hides from you is — an aesthetic physique isn’t about exercises as much as it’s about specific muscle groups.
Of the 7 aesthetic muscles, most train only 3 — upper pecs, lats, and abs. And sparingly, the side delts.
Illustration created by the author
By ignoring the rest, you’re drastically cutting yourself short.
Your glutes, forearms, and neck literally contribute the most to your physique — they’re the difference between a normal and a powerful physique.
And big glutes aren’t just for the ladies — surveys have found that most women rank a nice posterior as the most attractive body part!
But it isn’t too late. In fact, since you haven’t been training these body parts, you will experience massive results in a short while — thanks to noobie gains.
Onto the Exercises
Knowing the aesthetic muscle groups alone isn’t helpful — as there are hundreds of different exercises for each of them.
But I’ll save you the hard work — by sharing my top ones — backed both by my experience and the science.
These build your lats — the primary contributor to the ‘V’ look. And no, lat pull-downs don’t even hold a candle to weighted pullups.
This is because of the loading capability and the recruitment of the stabilizer muscles. Pullups hammer your core as well.
Make this one of your primary back movements and perform 2 to 4 sets of 4 to 8 reps twice a week — progressively overload by increasing the weight or reps.
Most train their front delts aggressively by forgetting that it’s the side delts that build the V-taper.
Compared to traditional lateral raises, Egyptian cable ones involve a longer range of motion and a constant load curve — which increases time under tension. Plus, the strict form eliminates ego-lifting and traps involvement.
Perform 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 15 reps twice a week. Pause at the top and slow down the lowering portion of the rep.
You’ll be surprised by how freakishly strong you can get at these in a short while — thanks to the large number of androgen receptors in the neck.
Perform 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 30 reps 2–3 times per week. Go down completely, curl using your neck (not your abs), and pause at the top.
Nothing builds freaky forearms as much as this does. By rotating both clockwise and anticlockwise, you can hit both the forearm extensors and flexors — leading to a complete look.
Perform 2 to 4 sets of 12 to 20 reps 2 to 3 times per week. Instead of loading up the weight, really try to squeeze the roller and burn those forearms.
Arnold loved incline barbell chest presses and had arguably the best-looking chest ever. Coincidence?
Heck no. The incline barbell press hammers your upper chest and, through its capacity for loading, stimulates growth — the likes of which flies or machines can’t provide.
Alternate this with the flat bench as your primary movement. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 12 reps twice a week — control each rep and lower the bar till it touches your chest.
After my recent back squat specialization program, my glutes have blown up in both size and strength.
The squat is the king of lower body exercises — any other exercise should be a supplement, not a replacement for this.
Perform 3 to 5 heavy sets of 4 to 8 reps twice a week — and progress by increasing the weight or reps.
Perform 2 to 3 sets of 4 to 12 reps 2 to 3 times per week — try to drive your knees up and into your tummy rather than just up. This is because spinal flexion is the primary function of your abs.
While the aforementioned exercises contribute the most to an aesthetic physique, don’t perform only them.
For a well-balanced symmetric physique, you need to train your entire body.
So train every body part but prioritize the aesthetic ones.
But there’s a caveat. As the saying goes, “You can’t chisel a pebble”, first build a firm base of muscle and strength.
Only then focus on the “aesthetic” touch.