This is part 4 of the Men's Health Series and hopefully by now you have read the previous three articles so you have a good idea of the way you should be attacking your physical well-being and ultimately improving your appearance. If you have not, check them out: Men's Health Series Part 1, 2, & 3). There is nothing more attractive to a woman physically than being fit and healthy. You don't have to be a bodybuilder but you can have amazing teeth, beautiful eyes and really thick hair and if you are over-weight than chances are you are not being seen in the eyes of most women as attractive. On the other hand, a ripped guy with an unattractive face (aka ugly) can still be perceived as attractive in the eyes of lots and lots of women. This is a good thing! Our fitness and physique is in our control meaning any guy can improve their appearance to the point of being perceived as attractive!
The body is an amazing machine and can adapt to just about anything with enough repetition and commitment. It is important to remember that being fit and being a bodybuilder are two different things and in fact, if given the choice most women would prefer their man fit and broad-shouldered as opposed to muscle-bound. This article is to aid you in developing the ideal body type, otherwise known as the Grecian body type.
So without any more waisted time, here is how to get a muscular physique to improve your appearance.
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Step 1 - Make a List of Foods
I ran NCAA DI track & field, in fact I sprinted, so I know that nothing can alter your performance, mood, and body like food can. The proper food can not only make you feel great but it can help your skin and hair as well as aid in faster recovery and ultimately help you gain muscle as fast as possible. The first thing you need to do is realize which foods you should be ingesting and which ones you should be saving for a cheat day (and please only one or two cheat days per month starting off to get clean).
To make it as easy as possible and not to get too scientific, try to consume 200-500 calories more than you burn over the course of the day if you wish to gain muscle and get bigger. Aim to consume 300-600 fewer calories than you burn per day if you wish to lose weight and still gain muscle. The unfortunate thing about losing weight and gaining muscle is that scientifically it is impossible to do at the same thing. Especially after your first few months of working out. However, there are a few secrets I will touch on to help you beat science and still get shredded and improve your health all at the same time. Go on to bodybuilding.com and use the calculators on the site. They will aid you when it comes to staying focused on how many calories you should be consuming.
Eating clean is difficult at first, but using healthy recipe books will aid you when it comes to finding out what to eat every day, a very underrated thing when it comes to "eating healthy burn out" which happens very early on if all you are eating is oatmeal, whey protein, and tuna.
Here is a list of food you should stop buying and eating everyday if you wish to get muscles like Ryan Reynolds and attract women:
- White Bread/Buns
- White Rice
- Frozen Pizzas
- Frozen Wings/Bagel Bites/etc. (anything in the freezer section that is not fruit or vegetables)
- Soda (Both diet and regular. The syrup in soda coats your organs and causes big problems as well as makes you lethargic)
- Health Bars (these usually are not that healthy, especially with 17g of sugar in each one. They may be advertised as healthy, but they will make you fat, plus they don't even taste good)
- Sugary Cereal
- Beer and alcohol (keep to one or two times per week maximum)
These are all very simple and easy things to cut out of our daily lives and your muscles will thank you.
Here is a list of a few foods you should buy:
- Chicken Breast
- 93% Lean Red Meat
- Olive Oil
- Sweet Potatoes
- Peanut Butter
- Honey (just a bit in the morning)
- Whole Grain pasta/breads
- Whey Protein
- Skim Milk
Fats have become a very misunderstood topic. In fact, sugar is more likely to cause your body to get fat than eating fat. With that being said, you do want to avoid saturated fats as much as possible and make sure to consume less than 90g of total fat everyday. Getting most of your fats from olive oil, meat and avocados is the best way to get your fat fix while remaining healthy and on pace to improve your appearance.
Now that you have a good idea of foods you should be eating and foods you should be omitting to get a more muscular physique, it is time for step 2.
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Step 2 - Create Goals
With any great thing, a plan will help you get there a lot more efficiently. Setting up a workout plan is not that difficult. Don't worry too much about what sort of workouts everybody else is doing. What we will be focusing on is gaining muscle in all the right areas. There is a specific formula that Steve Reeves, the actor and fitness fanatic, invented to create what he called the ideal dimensions of the male physique. Each measurement was specific to the man's neck, wrist and pelvis size to create the greatest physique for any man, no matter their height. You can Google those ideal measurements if you like, but an easier way to start is to understand one simple thing: create a V-shaped taper. That is the most important thing to remember when having a goal session. Many guys focus so much on developing their arms, they forget that huge deltoids can create the illusion of being a larger man than they are. A V-shaped taper is achieved when the shoulders are developed, the lats and middle back are wide and strong, and the waist is thin.
Map out realistic goals for 2 months from now and one year from now. Creating goals for two different time periods is very important when it comes to achieving the ideal measurements because without short-term success, most guys' brains tell them to give up because they have not achieved their goals.
You are one step closer to getting ripped and healthy. On to step 3.
Steve Reeves Perfected the Grecian Body Style
Creating a "Before & After" Log is Important
Step 3 - Create a Plan & a Mind/Muscle Connection
Step 3 in How to Improve Your Appearance - Men's Health Series Part 4 (Muscles & Tanning) is to create a plan. Most guys when they join a gym, show up a few days per week, workout a couple of muscles, jump on the treadmill or bike for twenty minutes then leave. Most guys have no idea what body parts they worked, how many calories they burned or how little dent they actually made in their fitness goal. After several weeks of the same routine, many of these same guys start to become discouraged and wonder why all their effort is not paying off. The long and the short of it is, other than them probably not eating properly, they are not staying consistent enough to transform their fat into muscle.
I don't necessarily condone becoming a bodybuilder. In fact, they are an athlete I really admire due to their level of preparation and planning they put into each day. If you watch a bodybuilder workout, you can see that there is more to getting large muscles and ultra-ripped abs then simply picking up heavy weights and flinging them around. Bodybuilders are connected from their mind to their muscle on every single rep of every single set of every single workout session. Take note from this. You must know that to get more muscular, you have to humble yourself. Nobody cares how much you can bench, especially women. If you want to lift simply to get strong, then this plan is not for you. But if you want to develop each and every muscle on your body to their perfect dimensions (or as near perfect as possible) while also increasing strength, then this plan is going to help you get there.
Note there is no perfect formula. The key is to isolate the muscle, lift as heavy as possible while still being able to contract it the way on each rep and squeeze the muscle at the top. Most guys load up the bench press with as much weight as possible, then pump out 4 or 5 presses and think they are helping themselves. The chest muscles, on a set like that, most likely are being helped by the deltoids a hell of a lot, taking away the muscle-building effect of the bench press. You must create a mind/muscle connection to get the most out of your workout. You must also not take large breaks in between your sets. 60-90 seconds is in the ballpark of time you want to be spending between reps. Too little and your muscle becomes pre-maturely fatigued. Too much time and you lose the benefit of the last rep. If you are just getting started lifting, then I recommend you prepare your body by doing P90x. If you feel you are prepared and disciplined enough to create a program on your own, then keep these things in mind:
1) Try working out each body part twice per week for the first 3 months
then drop to once per week for the larger parts like back, chest and legs.
2) Working out in the morning boosts your metabolism for the whole day.
3) Create a program and tweak it every month to create variety. Muscles get used to the same routine and stop growing.
4) Incrementally increase weight every other workout session by small amounts like 2.5 lbs to keep your muscles growing.
Here is a sample workout plan:
- 5 tri-sets of 10 reps each (1 set is after you do each exercise in order) of Standing Barbell Curls, Machine Curls, & Incline DB Curls
- 5 supersets (1 set is after you do each exercise in order) of Close-Grip Bench Press & Tricep Pushdowns
- 2 supersets of Alternating DB Curls & EZ-Bar Skull-crushers
- 5 sets of Incline Bench Press
- 5 sets of Flat Bench Press
- 3 sets of incline DB flyes
- 5 sets of lat pulldowns
- 3 sets of middle-back rows
- 3 sets of deadlift
- 4 sets of Barbell Presses
- 5 supersets of DB Front Raises & DB Lateral Raises
- 3 sets of seated DB Arnold Press
- 3 supersets of bent-over cable lateral raises & Cable lateral raises
Step 4 - Post-workout Meal
After you thrash your muscles and before you hop on the treadmill, it is vital to feed your muscles a combination of whey protein and sugar so they can start to recover. 50% maltodextrin and 50% dextrose is the combination that many bodybuilders use, at about 35g each plus 40g of whey protein. After a workout is the only time you should ever consume this much sugar. The sugar helps elevate your blood sugar for a better absorption of the nutrients to your muscles.
Another, just as vital meal is the one an hour after your workout. This meal should contain lots of complex carbs. In fact, breakfast and your post-workout meal should form most of your carbs for the day. For a typical 180lb man, 800 calories, 20g of fat, 100g of carbs and 60g of protein is about what you should aim for. This is a lot of food. But you will learn to love this time of the day and it will become somewhat of a reward for busting your ass at the gym. As your body tries to repair the muscle tissues from the workout and ultimately build them back up larger, adequate protein in the form of meat as well as lots of complex-carbs like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta is very important.
Step 5 - Get Adequate Sleep
When it comes to sculpting muscles and improving your appearance, none is more important that sleep. There are lots of rules out there about how much sleep you should get each night to lead the most productive day possible. As a rule of thumb, get at least 7 hours to be sure. Your muscles recover the most while your body is sleeping because your body can dedicate 100% of its effort to recovery. Many men find that falling asleep after a workout can be challenging so I have listed a few products that have helped myself out over the years to get those hours of shut-eye that are crucial.
The best thing about these products is that on top of allowing you to get your required sleep each night, they make you access longer periods of REM sleep which as we all know, allows us to feel energized right when we wake up.
On to step 6.
Step 6 - Stay Motivated
When it comes to building muscle and getting a ripped physique, you must show a huge amount of discipline. We are all motivated by something. Some of us want to improve our appearance to attract more women, some of us want to improve our health, while others want to spice up things in a relationship. No matter the reason, these three things can keep us from slacking off:
1) Create a playlist - Music can change your workout pace drastically. Create a playlist of motivating music to stay tuned into your workout and not the guy next to you. I splurged on a pair of Bowers & Wilkins ear buds about a year ago and haven't ever regretted it.
2) Post Goals - Make a list of things you want to carry out and place it somewhere you look every day. A mirror or door is the perfect place.
3) Screen saver/Post pics - If you are motivated to improve your appearance to attract women, download a screen saver of a model or post pics to stay motivated. We can achieve anything the mind can conceive.
Now it is time for the last step of the Men's Health Series Part 4 (Muscles & Tanning).
Step 7 - Get a Tan
First off, please don't mistake getting tan for looking like a bro in south Florida or the Jersey Shore. A tan can give a nice healthy look and will pull your muscles and body together, however there is a difference between being tan and looking like you tan. Aim to look natural and you will be pleased with your efforts. Many men report that being tan not only makes them feel more attractive but women seen to show more interest in them once they are. Before competition, bodybuilders spray tan to allow maximum visibility of their muscles. Again, less is usually more when it comes to getting tan (except for bodybuilders on competition day) so here are a few sure-fire ways to get tan.
1) Tanning bed - If you can help it, don't use these. Your face will age very quickly in a tanning bed and wrinkles will start to pop up from areas of your face you know shouldn't be wrinkling yet. Overall though, if you must get tan quick, hopping in a tanning bed isn't a terrible way to do so.
2) Tanning Spray - This is a great way to get tan before a date or photo shoot, however spray tans generally cost about $50 or more and they fade within a week. They may not be the most economical way to get tan, but they are a lot safer than using UV-rays.
3) Self-tanner - Becoming more and more popular, self-tanners will tan your skin without submitting it to the harsh rays of UV light. Doctors hate when people use beds and the sun to tan as it wreaks havoc on the skin and aging process. I have listed a few of the best tanning lotions on the market for you to consider.
Like always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding anything I have posted, about nutrition, workout regimens or improving your appearance please do not hesitate to contact me. If you have not yet read How to Improve Your Appearance - Men's Health Series parts 1, 2 or 3 please do so. Stay tuned for Men's Health Series Part 5 (Nail Care).