Name: Alex Carneiro
Occupation: IFBB Olympia Pro; Optimum-sponsored athlete; Kinesiologist; Nutritionist; Coach; Pro Fitness Cover Model
Size, shape, proportion, conditioning, symmetry, and balance: combine all of these into one human body and you get amazing aesthetics. Forty years ago, guys like Serge Nubret, Frank Zane, Sergio Oliva, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the kings of aesthetics. They built strong, powerful bodies that looked incredible from every angle. They all had a tiny waist, an insane V-taper, and slabs of quads that made their knees look tiny. These guys were so great that their legacy is just as inspiring and powerful today as it was in the '70s.
These days, with so much emphasis on muscle size, strength, and power, many of us have forgotten how to train for anything other than performance. And while performance is important, physique goals such as building an Adonis-like physique can be just as vital.
First of all, your aesthetics won't come if you don't eat right. Because you're constantly damaging your muscles, you need to repair them with lots of protein. Eat at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day and you'll see that growth.
But if you're one of the thousands of people who crave the body of a Greek god over anything else, you need to train especially for aesthetics. Get it right, and one day you could find yourself on stage with a trophy in your hands. Here's your guide to building a body Michelangelo could have carved!
Key 1 Dial in Your Sets and Reps
If you always perform the same weight and reps during your workouts, your body will have no reason to change for the better. It needs a reason to improve. To make my body change, I like to decrease the weight and increase the reps as I move through a set. So far, it's served me well.
Start by performing two warm-up sets to prevent any injuries. After your warm-up, start with a set of 6-8 reps at about 70-80 percent of your max effort. As you progress through the sets of each exercise, you'll decrease the weight and increase the repetitions. The first heavy sets will shock your muscles and increase your strength, while the lighter sets with higher reps will help you build bigger muscles. It's the perfect combination.
Sample Set-and-Rep Structure
- Warm-Up: 2 sets
- Set 1: 6-8 reps
- Set 2: 8-10 reps
- Set 3: 8-10 reps
- Set 4: 10-12 reps
Although the weight is getting lighter, it doesn't mean it should be easy. On the final set, your last couple of reps should be really difficult.
Key 2 Train Unilaterally For Proportion and Symmetry
A proportional body has everything in harmony: For example, your legs shouldn't look like toothpicks compared to your gigantic upper body. Symmetry, on the other hand, refers to the right balance among your muscle groups. Your biceps should be in the right ratio to your triceps, and your left and right quads should be equally large and conditioned.
Both proportion and symmetry need to exist in unity in order for the body to look its best. One of the best ways to achieve proportion and symmetry is to add unilateral exercises into your daily training routine. Lifting with one arm or leg at a time will ensure that you're equally strong and proportional on both sides of your body.
Here are the lifts you'll want to include in a proportion- and symmetry-building arms workout. Remember to increase the reps and decrease the weight for each set.
Key 3 Get Conditioned Enough to Look Defined
Truly aesthetic bodies don't have much extra body fat. Without a low-enough body fat percentage, you won't be able to see trim lines or muscle definition. Although it can be difficult to build muscle without losing your cuts, it's not impossible.
To stay conditioned, keep your rest intervals short. For larger muscle groups like legs, rest no longer than 50 seconds. For smaller muscle groups like biceps and triceps, rest no longer than 30-40 seconds. Limiting your rest will make an enormous difference in your cardiovascular fitness. Your increased heart rate will also help you burn more fat.
Even if you are in your off-season, cardio is a crucial component. Do at least 4 sessions of cardio between 20-40 minutes each week to keep your body fat low and your cardiovascular health in check.
Key 4 Accentuate Your V-Taper
Although balance, symmetry, and conditioning are absolutely essential to a godlike body, nothing makes people stop and stare like an amazing V-taper. Wide shoulders with a small waist are the epitome of bodybuilder aesthetics.
If you're lean already, your waist size may be as tight as it can become. Unless you live in a corset, it's difficult to make your rib cage any smaller than it already is. However, a wide back and broad shoulders will make your waist appear smaller. And that's what these workouts are meant to help you do—get mile wide.
Use the set and rep protocol that we talked about earlier. Remember to decrease the weight and increase the repetitions on each set.
Key 5 Sculpt a Six-Pack
Don't worry; I didn't forget about your six-pack. For an aesthetic physique, great abs are a must. They're a sign that you have the perfect balance of size, shape, symmetry, and conditioning. Train your abs three times per week with this quick routine at the end of your workouts: