How to Train for a Great Body

If you want to get a great body, there are a few things that you need to know. Specifically, I am going to discuss how to alter the proportions of your physique as proportions are what make a body nice to look at.

The proportions of the male and the female body are quite different and for that reason there are some differences in the way man and women need to train. Also, while weight management for men and women are pretty much the same, the role of strength training for men and for women is completely different.

In men the goal of strength training should be to alter the proportions in order to make the shoulder region more powerful looking. In women, strength training will only make the body – torso and limbs – firmer and the posture better. Women do not need to change their body shape. A healthy girl at 16 has all the body development she will ever need.

The Goal Of Strength Training For Men

If you are a man, you would look great if you had broad shoulders and a smaller waist. The way to accomplish this is to get strong enough in order to develop the muscles of the upper body and to keep the body weight down in order to keep the waist small.

Ancient Greek and Roman Statues

Check Out the small waist and broad shoulders. Ironically the first physical culture enthusiasts at the turn of the 20th century were inspired by these statues even though the the physiques of the modern bodybuilders are way too massive to pass off as art. Eugene Sandow, one of the pioneers of bodybuilding actually measured the proportions of the Greek and Roman statues and strove to develop a physique resembling them.

Getting Stronger – Here’s How To Do It

  • Train consistently. Getting stronger takes time. If you stop or just train from time to time, you are not likely to succeed. The body is very adaptive both to stress and to the lack of it. If you are not training, you will not progress.
  • Train with a correct form. You need to challenge your body systematically. It is like a machine with levers and in order to train correctly and produce the necessary force, these levers have to be in the right alignment.
  • Alternate between strength and size workouts.Switching the two workout styles ensures continuous progress. One of my favorite workouts that uses this a approach and is laser focused at a visually appealing body is Visual Impact

Weight Management

This brings me to the next important concept. In order for the proportions to be at their best, the body weight needs to be close to the natural body weight for your particular body type and height. As an example, athletes, both male and female, who compete in events that have weight classes, display the most aesthetically pleasing physiques.

Boxers And Wrestlers Look Sleek And Athletic

They need to be light and thus they . Competitors from the absolute categories do not need to have their weight controlled and while they may be powerful and successful in their sport, their heavier body weight might mean that their hips and waists are too big as compared to their shoulders.

eugene sandow body proportions
[Eugene Sandow does resemble a statue in a way. This kind of muscular development is a result of significant increases in strength.

Weight management comes down to how much energy you burn and how much energy you take in. If you find a way to burn more or eat less, you will be able to stay at a lower body weight and have your proportions in check. This is what being in shape is ultimately about.

I personally follow the Eat Stop Eat diet plan – the simplest weight control plan I’ve encountered. For the past 2 years it has allowed me to maintain my body weight as I desire, without giving up ANY of my favorite foods.

Photo by jmaximo

19 thoughts on “How to Train for a Great Body”

  1. Yavor,

    This is a brilliant post buddy. I have tried to get the same message across for a long time, but you worded this in a better way than I ever have.

    I really like it that you point out “keep the bodyweight down in order to keep the waist small”.

    Even when men are at a low body fat percentage, when they put on a lot of mass the hips and waist grow to make their physique not as aesthetically appealing. The worst look is the protruding “steroid gut”…guys with ripped six pack abs that almost appear pregnant. I’m sure you have seen what I’m talking about.

    Have a great one!

  2. Rusty, thanks for the input. Strength training is great and it can do wonders for your body. One thing that is bad about it however is that people forget what got them into strength training in the first place. For many people it is to look better. When we focus on getting stronger and bigger, we forget to keep that waist line in check. A strong dude that carries a lot of fat looks worse than a small lean guy (who may not even train at all).

  3. Very true. A lean proportional body looks much better than bulky muscle weight, tough, at least for me, it takes way more discipline and effort to achieve one than simply putting on muscle mass. I have been focusing on strength training lately. Circuit training to be more specific. Do you recommend any exercises to back up this type of training?

  4. Yegin,
    I’d say – first check how much you eat. Get your food right and eat only when you need to eat. Slimming down with exercise alone is just harder.

    As far as circuit training goes, here is a home circuit I gave to a few girls that I train so they can do it at home when they are unable to go to a gym.

    The circuit is repeated 2-5 times, depending on your conditioning. Do each movement 10-20 times and go to the next one.

    1. One leg supine hip extension
    Lay on your back and have your one leg up on a chair or bed. Raise your butt up by extending at the hips (squeezing your butt up)

    2. Bench dips
    Place your hands on the edge of a chair or bench with your back facing it. You can have your feet on the floor or on another bench or chair. Go down till your upper arms are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. If you experience shoulder discomfort, you can eliminate this exercise.

    3. Stationary side lunges
    Lunge sideways. Go down by sticking your butt out and back. Make sure knees and toes always point in the same direction.

    4. Plank
    Position yourself in a pushup position but instead of on your hands, rest on your forearms. Squeeze your butt and push it forward. Flex your abs so that the distance between your sternum (chest) and hips is shortened just a little bit. This way the tension can be focused on the abs instead of on your lower back. Hold the position for 30 – 60 seconds.

    5. Bodyweight squats
    Your feet should be shoulder width apart or a little wider. Squat down by sticking your butt out. Keep your chest up and push your knees out to the sides so that they are in line with your toes.

    6. Pushups
    Squeeze your butt and abs. Place your hands shoulder width apart and make sure your elbows go back and not completely to the sides. To make pushups easier they can be done on your knees or standing and pushing up against a wall).

    7. Stationary lunges
    Step forward and then descend directly downwards so that your knees do not go in front of your toes.

    8. Side plank
    Rest sideways on your forearm and make sure to squeeze the obliques – does muscles on the side of your waist. Hold the position for 30 – 60 seconds.

    That’s it! Rest 1 minute and repeat 1-4 times.

    Actually I should take some pictures and do a detailed post on the circuit…


    p.s. You’ve got a cool site! I will keep an eye on your posts!

  5. Hey Yavor

    Nice to see you have your own blog now, very good post this one, i always Loved training for aesthetics and strength, and anciente Greece has always been an inspiration, and of course some natural bodybuilders from the past, like the best one of all times Steve Reeves. The only problem with greek measures as seen on some sites, is that the legs are too small compared to upper body, but if you look at the statues that’s not true, the statues are very balanced. One of the most important advice i give to trainees wanting to look good is to avoid back squats and deadlifts, but the mainstream bodybuilding and even natural strength training are very based on those two exercises. The get big thing still rules around and that’s a shame, Vince Gironda use to say that a lot of very good physiques had been ruined by the use of those two exercises, and he was right, no doubt they’re excellent for mass and strength, but if you want to look good, don’t use them, and also avoid shrugs and cleans, they will overdevelop your traps giving the ilusion of very narrow shoulders.

  6. Helder,

    Thanks for the input. Depending on their body structure, some people can deadlitft and squat without ruining their proportions. Others can’t. If you train for relative strength – increasing how much you can squat and deadlift without gaining significant weight, you will benefit from these exercises. If you just eat big and lift big, chances you will be strong but fat and with overdeveloped hips and butt.



  7. Hopefully guys like you and Rusty are the pioneers of a revolution in the way people think about fitness and working out!


  8. Awesome article and I especially like your comment to Rusty, “Strength training is great and it can do wonders for your body. One thing that is bad about it however is that people forget what got them into strength training in the first place. For many people it is to look better.”

    I believe that the drive to look better can only motivate you for a certain period, then the vanity motivation begins to dry up.

    I have been motivated by my continual research and study of developing a lean and strong body, and it has lead to many great insights from strength training coaches and not one from any bodybuilder.

    What I have found is a greater motivator than vanity, and the end result will always keep your waist in check while continuing to develop greater levels of strength. That motivator is performance and viewing exercise as training to increase performance and develop greater and greater degrees of athleticism. I think gymnasts, sprinters, combat athletes and navy seals are the best role models for pursuing greater degrees of athleticism and the natural result will be a lean body.

  9. Chad,

    great insights. I am in many ways like you. I wasn’t athletic as a kid, started playing basketball in high school and later got interested in bodybuilding and later strength training and sport science in general. That’s why I read/watch so much on the topic. That’s why the blog exists. And that’s why I also get paid to whoop people into shape lol as a personal trainer.

    That being said howver, my point is – all this knowledge is great, but being in kickass shape is greater.

    Cheers buddy,


  10. Hi Yavor,

    I was introduced to your website thnaks to Rusty from FBB.
    It’s a great article you wrote here. Ancient greek statues really inspire me in my quest to achieve a particular shape. Let me explain you quickly, I’m 18 years old and all my childhood I was fat despite all the sport I did. Then I tried lots of diets and I recently founded the Paleo diet and Intermittent fasting (Martin Berkhan’s method). I tried those methods but I wasn’t enough disciplined when I did it. I now want to really get serious but a problem remains I don’t have a particular workout routine. My goal is to achieve a body that is similar to a male model, but not those skinny ones, more something like that: ; ; . You got it lol. This guy really make me think of those so proportioned greek statues but maybe smaller. And it is where I want to be. So, it will be so nice if you can give me a workout plan or samples of workout that will help me achieve this type of shape: lean, strong but not bulky at all!
    I began to study to difficult tests that will be in one year and half (almost 2 years) so I don’t have lots of time to train like 5-6 workout and splits… 2 to 3 workouts will be the more I can do I think. Also, when I’ll reach my goal I think it will take way less work to maintain it (in term of workout, not diet of course).

    Thank you in advance!

  11. Jordan,

    1. first things first. You need to rally get serious about cutting the calories and losing the fat first.

    2. is this the same guy on all pics? Anyway, here are my thoughts. You need upper body strength, a lot of it. And you need to be really lean.

    3. You exams are a priority obviously. However, your diet plan should be too. Eating less doesn’t take extra time.

    4. You need foundational strength, like the Beginner Strength Training workout. At the same time, I’ll stress again, your first priority is getting serious about losing the weight first.

    Then, after you reach the numbers in the workout, and after mastering the technique of the basic movements, you will begin alternating workouts for strength and size very 4-6 weeks…

  12. Thanks Yavor!

    For sure I’ll to be as serious as I can with my diet.
    But I have a question…the plan you gave me will not give build bulk since it is based on 10 reps sets at the begining and also every 4-6 weeks? It’s not too much work for size since when I’ll get where I want to be in term of muscular mass I’ll just want to maintain and not gain mass. The thing is I want a very proportioned body for my size, which is 1m75, not to much muscles but also not it in the wrong places so looking more like a male model. Also, it will be great if I can achieve this look with bodyweight training (and alternating with weights) since it’s better if aiming good proportion, not? What’s your thoughts? So it will be really nice if you can share a workout routine that is more adjusted to my goal. I prefer to be honest and tell you that being the next powerlifter world champion or squating 300 lbs is not my priority lol. But maybe getting ito modeling, why not…but before I need to achieve the shape of a male model!

    Thanks for reading and answering me!


  13. Jordan, the program I gave you has nothing to do with powerlifitng.

    The photo you gave me shows that the guy has quite developed upper body. This is a lot of upper body strength. If you insist, you can do the workout I gave you only for your upper body.

    Re: bodyweight exercises – the only way to develop such shoulders is to reach 40+ dips or 15+ handstand pushups.

    Really – focus on losing the weight first and building up your basic strength. Once you reach this, focus on BW exercises if you like. Getting to 20 chinups and 15 handstand pushups will give you this body, provided you also diet the fat off.

    p.s. the plan I gave you will not make you bulky! In fact, if you do it and diet at the same time, you will look smaller and smaller in clothes until you reach normal body fat levels. Don’t worry.

  14. A lot of good topics are coming up here.

    @ Helder,

    In my opinion, back squats and deadlifts are crucial to fitness levels and there are no other exercises that even come close to them. The deadlift works the posterior chain as well as the whole back side of the body (hamstrings included). The back squat plays a crucial role in building the abdominal wall and because it works as a compound movement, it is the easiest exercise to add weight to the bar on. As a result of adding weight to the bar faster, the whole body adapts at a quicker rate. From my experience,I lost my visual abs around 20 but remained fairly lean elsewhere. Squats and a good diet changed that at 25.

    At the same time I guess it depends on what you’re goals are. I was introduced to weight training when I was 15 because of football so I’ve always stuck to the basics. The only workouts I do regularly these days are squats, dl’s, bench presses and pullups.

  15. Yavor,
    How do you determine your natutal bodyweight(or the best bodyweight) for your bodytype and height so that your proportions look good? Typically guys with 10+ muscle mass tend to have BMI thats considered “overweight” even though they are clearly not.

    Also Am i making the right choice to get extra lean(even though i’m already pretty lean) and then putting on the muscle? Once i put on the muscle though will i have to do “lean out” again a second time?

  16. Mike, as I wrote in the article – keep the bodyweight down so that the waist is small.

    If you can be heavier and maintain a small waist, that means the extra weight is muscle only. Plus the proportions are improved. so thats good.

    So let the waist be your guide, not the scale.

    That said, muscle guys that are overweight on the BMI scale are *actually* overweight (12-15+ % bodyfat. So the BMi is good even for muscle guys.

    Staying extra lean is a challenge and you are likely to have to do it again after a period of not dieting.

  17. Hmmm….You show Eugen Sandow that lifted weights that we are never going to reach. Look at Edward Aston….lifted heavy as f*** at a body weight of 77kg….AND THAT IS A PERFECT PHYSIQUE. Even Sandow was only about 86kg i believe. Many roid munchers today would scoff at this..but who looks better?

    1) AIM FOR ABOUT 2,000cal’s day…when you factor in drinks are calories you realize that isn’t a lot.

    2) Aim for about 100-150g of protein a day…this couple with the above means some thinking about what you are eating. i.e that 1,800 cal pizza blows your numbers out of the water.

    I seriously wouldn’t worry about packing on too much muscle or lifting too heavy weights….if you stick to the 2,000+/- cal’s and obviously no roids, hormones, etc…the very best you’ll do is tone your existing muscles.

  18. While you are losing weight you don’t need to eat much at all because the body is metabolizing its own fat stores for energy. Avoid processed carbs. You can only process so many grams of protein a day. After that it’s just metabolized as waste, so build up the protein slowly as long as you see progress, but at some point it’s not worth the extra calories. 1500-1800 cals a day is probably all you need (two meals). If you are not losing weight you will have to cut back further. Also, lots of cardio, being careful to avoid injury.

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