When someone says “Greek God”, what image comes to mind? Who do you think looks more like a Greek God – Thor or Hulk?
For most people, the term conjures up an image of an aesthetically built physique with a chiseled chest, broad shoulders and back, big bulging biceps and a narrow, fashion-model waist. And of course, let’s not forget the quads and calves which should look as if they were made of the hardest rock!
This aesthetic ideal harks back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome when master sculptors would put hammer and chisel together to breathe life into stone. Of course, their job was made a tad easier by the fact that they didn’t have to imagine those physiques – their subjects really did look exactly like that. Toiling in the fields and lifting heavy objects on their backs may not have been the best career choices in 1000 BCE but they sure as hell helped them get jacked!
The Greek God made a comeback in the first half of the 20th Century in the form of bodybuilders such as Eugene Sandow, Jack LaLanne and Steve Reeves (aka Hercules) who brought back the muscle-bound look and paved the way for future muscle athletes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane who, in turn, won bodybuilding titles and inspired thousands of young boys (and girls) all over the globe to pick up barbells. A ripped physique has now become a mandatory requirement for anyone who wants to become a star in Tinseltown and even our Bollywood heroes have started flaunting their six packs, further fuelling the desire for the perfect body.
From Zero to Hero to God
If you’re one of those guys who want to look like these Gods of the Silver Screen and thinks that a few minor tweaks to their diet and workout can get the results that will set pulses racing on their Instagram accounts, then think again: getting the Greek God look is tough and requires sacrifice.
Our lifestyles have become so unhealthy that they will need to be completely overhauled before we are anywhere close to achieving the ideal physique. Quite simply, even though many of us aspire to look like an Adonis, our poor eating habits and zero to none activity levels are more likely to turn us into Dumbo The Flying Elephant – though the extra weight will probably prevent us from moving too fast.
But that’s not even the half of it. While the way our body looks is largely determined by what we eat and how we train – factors that are well within our control – the third factor viz. genetics, isn’t. This only means that someone who is chasing an ideal physique but who hasn’t exactly won the genetic lottery would have to try that much harder and may even need to risk being underwhelmed with the end result.
Now, I don’t mean to discourage you but the fact is that every person is different. There are some people who are able to get those peaked biceps and well-defined abdominals without really spending too much time training them. On the other hand, there are those poor souls who train these body parts day in and day out but still don’t see the expected results!
That’s a hard pill to swallow but that’s just like – it’s unfair and doesn’t care about your feelings.
But all is not lost: even with all these limitations, there is still a lot you can do with the cards that life has dealt you. With hard-work, consistency and a strong will to change, it is possible to build yourself a brand new, sexy physique that could be the talk of the town.
Let’s now understand the basic building blocks of building a smokin’ hot body.
What Builds A Killer Body?
- KNOW YOUR BODY: Before embarking on your 6-pack ab transformation, it’s important for you to really get acquainted with your body. After all, how can you change unless you know how your body?
Everybody is different. Identify the weak as well as strong areas of your body. Some people have a weak core but strong arms. Others might find that they have excellent lower body strength. Figuring out your natural strengths and weaknesses is the first step to starting a transformation journey.
- KNOW WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW: When it comes to getting that aesthetic shape, body fat percent is a key deciding factor. If you crave a ripped physique, you’ll need to probably get down to a single-digit fat percentage.
Find out your current fat percentage. There are a number of ways of doing this but to keep things simple, just go to your nearest gym and get a Body Composition Analysis (BCA) done. This will give you an idea of your current state and how far you have left to go. Again, each person’s starting point will be different so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Some are strongly built with good bone density while there are others who are naturally lean or skinny. The aim is to become the best version of yourself.
- BE REALISTIC ABOUT HOW LONG IT TAKES (and it does take time): Don’t be fooled by Instagram transformations where someone claims to have gone on a diet and lost tonnes of weight in no time. Crash Diets must be avoided like the plague!
As a Nutrition & Fitness Expert who has mentored a number of people, I would suggest that each individual should make an attempt to dedicate anywhere from 3 to 6 months towards their transformation. The main aim should be building strength and working upon changing his/her body composition.
- STUDY NUTRITION & THE ROLE OF FOOD: Nutrition is not rocket science but it still is a science which means one needs to read, understand and assimilate a large body of knowledge. Don’t blindly follow faddish diets. At the same time, there’s no need to needlessly give oneself ulcers worrying about food. Understand the basic tenets of Quantified Nutrition and you’re good to go. Choose a diet that contains adequate protein and fits into your lifestyle.
- START LIFTING: An average person can quite easily lose some fats by simply staying in a deficit along with some regular exercises and activities. But if you want a great body, there is no alternative to lifting weights. Weight Training needs to be the mainstay of your workout regime if you want abs of steel and big guns. The research to back up the importance of Weight Training is pretty solid.
Remember: Even Arnold wasn’t born with that body. Like him, you too will need to really work at building your body into a work of art.
So continue doing your Pilates and Cardio if you think you can’t live without them. But don’t expect to build your Greek God body without pumping iron.
- TRAIN HARD AND TRAIN RIGHT: Talking about Arnold, how do you think he builds that massive chest and huge arms? Let’s say you want strong and big pecs. Our muscles won’t grow if the satellite cells surrounding the muscle fibers do not donate their nuclei to the muscles (i.e. help produce more genetic material to signal the muscle cells to grow). A great way to do this is to train your chest muscles by doing Bench Presses and Decline Presses to make sure you engage the overall muscle group completely.
Similarly, you can’t simply make those abs pop by simply eliminating carbs and doing 1000 crunches daily. You need to train them with the right intensity and volume regularly, just like you treat any other muscle group.
Different people need to train their bodies differently – this we already know. But the one thing that unites us all is that fact that not everyone has been blessed with perfect genetics. That’s why you need to design a workout program that works for YOUR unique physiology.
There are some lucky individuals with naturally wide lats which helps them attain that perfect shape. However, the same people might have stiff glutes and lower back, making it difficult for them to train Squats with a complete range of motion, thus hindering the growth of the muscles involved. Such people would have to work upon the mobility of hips/glutes and include more sessions of Hyperextension, Glute Bridges and Hip Thrust. On the contrary, there might be some lifters who have no problems doing Squats and Deadlifts but they might still be struggling to whip their quads and hams into shape.
It’s important to understand these differences and know what works for you.
Aim to do a mixture of Compound and Isolation exercises with the right volume so that you don’t have any lagging body parts and you build overall muscle strength and growth.
Apply various training paradigms such as Periodization to further improve overall training output and thus build a better physique.
So, here’s the mantra for getting that Greek God body: “YOU DO YOU”. Understand your body, see what works for you as an individual and follow that program in letter and spirit to get the best results for your body. Everybody is unique. Don’t compare yourself to others. There is no one-size-fits-all solution but if you pay attention to your nutrition and train all the body parts properly and consistently, there is no reason why you can’t get the body of your dreams.
Author: Shanu Shashank