This is a guest post by Tim Liu of Tim Liu Fitness. I first met Tim two years ago at the Menfluential conference down in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a pleasure catching up with him each year. Tim is always sharing easy to digest, approachable fitness advice, tips and information on his blog and on social media. He’s extremely dedicated to his craft and really knows what he’s talking about. His clients’ results speak for themselves. Hope you enjoy his contribution to the Gentleman Within blog as much as I did.
Take it away, Tim.
How To Work Out Properly
Building a salacious body and looking good naked is a goal many of us had when we first started to work out. Whether it came from watching our favorite athletes or actors on screen, or trying to become more attractive to find a mate, it’s the initial motivation for us to get into a workout routine.
No matter what your goals are, whether it’s health or aesthetics, every guy out there needs to be working out regularly and eating healthy. If you’re a man who takes pride in your appearance, then training is a non-negotiable.
In terms of fashion, we work on improving our style by picking the right clothes, haircut, and accessories to create a look which highlights our physique and personality. But the opposite also rings true. By improving your physique, you elevate your look in your clothes and accessories.
Having a great body also signals that we’re confident, we work hard, and we have the discipline to achieve our goals.
Look at popular men in the media, such as Conor McGregor, Ryan Gosling, Idris Alba, and The Rock. They all certainly train hard and look good with and without their clothes. They ooze presence and charisma, with their physiques amplifying it to 11.
For men, we have something known as the coveted X-Shaped physique. This means broad shoulders, a small waist, and a pair of developed quads and calves. When you build the foundational muscle in those key areas, you’re going to your fill out your clothes in the right places and look next level.
So what exercises do you need to be doing to achieve the X-Shape physique?
Let’s break it down.
Related: If you’re enjoying this article, you might enjoy My 30 Day Fitness Challenge Results too.
1. Upper Body
In order to build broad shoulders, you’ll have to incorporate a combination of overhead pressing and lateral raises from different angles. The overhead pressing will build strength around the entire shoulder musculature while the lateral raises will build the width in the medial and posterior delts.
With overhead pressing, you can begin your workout by performing the barbell shoulder press for lower reps to build strength, or a seated dumbbell press for moderate reps. After you complete the pressing, you can finish off with lateral raises from multiple angles in 12-20+ rep range.
Here is a sample shoulder routine:
- Barbell Overhead Press – 4×5 reps
- Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 3×15-20 reps
- Bent Over Lateral Raise – 3×15-20 reps
- Band Pullaparts – 3×20 reps
What about your chest? While having a pair of developed upper pecs is important to round out the physique, many guys often make the mistake of focusing on the mirror muscles over the ones you can’t see, aka training their chest more than their back.
On top of all of this, we now live a lifestyle where you’re either on the computer or cell phone all day. As a result, you end up having a rounded shoulder and forward neck posture, and it isn’t a good look at all. This leads to an imbalance between the pushing and pulling muscles, which can increase your risk of injury.
The solution to this is to focus on building the muscles of the upper back: rhomboids, mid and low traps, teres, and lats. When you spend a significant amount of time training those muscles, it’ll pull your shoulders back and create a more broad-shouldered look.
When in doubt, aim for a 2:1 pulling to pushing ratio. Example: For every set of bench press you do, perform at least two rows. By following this ratio, you’ll balance out your physique, look great, and decrease your risk of injury.
2. Lower Body
Although you need to build your upper body, you also want to have a strong looking pair of legs to match. Besides over emphasizing the chest, a mistake many guys make is either not training their legs at all, or not putting in effort other than a few sets of leg extensions, leg curls, and some light calf raises.
Along with building your quads and calves, having nice developed glutes will not only fill out your pants, but you’ll decrease your lower back pain, improve your athletic performance, and avoid the dreaded diaper butt look.
The best exercises to build your quads and glutes are the barbell squat, deadlift, lunges, and split squats. If you’re a beginner and not yet comfortable with a barbell for squats, you can start with a dumbbell and build your strength and flexibility up.
In regards to your calves, they are a very stubborn body part to grow. We’re on our feet constantly and our calves support our whole body. They also don’t get challenged enough with proper loading. We also have an Achilles tendon which acts as a rubber band and transfers energy during calf raises, which take the stress away from them.
So in order to truly work your calves during calf raises, train them multiple times per week and have at least a 2-3 second pause at the bottom with each rep. It’ll take away all of the elastic energy from the Achilles tendon and allows you to load your calves to grow.
Here is a sample leg routine:
- Barbell Front Squat – 4×5 reps
- Dumbbell Walking Lunges – 3×12 reps each leg
- Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift – 3×10 reps
- Standing Calf Raise – 4×15-20 reps
Related: If you’re enjoying this article, you might enjoy this piece on Workout Essentials too.
3. Slim Waist
When it comes to having a smaller waist, you’ll need to get your body fat down, with diet being the key driver. I think most people train their abs too much anyway in hopes of getting a six pack or a flat stomach. But just like any other muscle group, your abs will respond to weight training by growing and if your bodyfat is too high, it can make things worse.
To avoid the bulky waist look, I recommend doing less weighted ab work in the form of crunches or twists and instead use exercises to train your core for stability. These are my favorites:
- Side Planks
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Ab Wheel
- Stability Ball Stir-the-Pot
On the diet front, if you’re trying to get a slim waist, start by looking at what you’re currently eating and track your calories and macros. This will give you an idea of just how much food you’re taking in and what adjustments you’ll need to make.
In order to lose fat, you must be eating at a caloric deficit. 10-12 calories per pound of your bodyweight is a great place to start.
For example, if you’re 170 lbs, then your starting point is 1700-2040. Start in the higher end, and make adjustments accordingly. By eating in the caloric deficit consistently and having lean protein with each meal, you’ll be making steady fat loss progress.
If you’re trying to gain weight, it’ll be the opposite. Start by eating 16-18 calories and work your way up.
Related: If you’re enjoying this article on how to workout properly, you might enjoy this Fitness Journey post too.
When building a stylish wardrobe you also can’t neglect building your body as well. If you want to look your best in and out of your clothes, you’ll want to train the right way to achieve your physique goal.
You now have the strategies on how to work out properly. Get strong at the recommended exercises, emphasize the key X-shape body parts, and eat accordingly for your goals. Do this consistently and your body is going to look even better in no time.
Tim Liu is an online fitness and nutrition coach based out in Los Angeles. His mission is to help busy professionals and executives lose fat, build muscle, and gain confidence without having to live in the gym. Tim has over 10 years of experience as a coach and helps his clients achieve their goals in a long term, sustainable way so their results lasts for life.
He has a five day fat loss course which you can access by subscribing to his fitness newsletter.