The three levels of aesthetic physiques and how to achieve the one you want
I don’t know why you started lifting weights, but I did because I wanted to have a physique that would turn some heads on the street.
Most of the guys who start lifting weights do so with the purpose of looking better and just having a nicer or more impressive physique. Of course the byproduct of that is living a healthier life. Getting the type of physique you want is not just about training hard it’s also about eating healthier and having a healthier lifestyle in general.
When you ask people what their goal is in terms of how they want to look you will get different answers. Some just want to have a six pack, some want to have bigger arms; some want to look toned up and some may want to have an all round muscular physique.
There are literally tens or even more “visions” that people have for their own bodies once they start working out, but all of these “visions” can be broken down into just 3 main types of aesthetics physiques.
In fact these 3 types of physiques are more like different level of the same type of aesthetics after all, since they have the same things in common:
- Relatively slim waist
- Low body fat percentage
- Visible abs
- Round shoulders
- Wide back
- Thick chest
- Big arms
- Nicely defined leg muscles
- Good separation between the muscles
- Some vascularity
Most guys are not after the big bodybuilder type of physique and in fact it is very unlikely you will get that much muscle if you are all natural, have average genetics and also have a healthy social and family life.
Let me quickly outline the 3 physique types I use the categories the level of aesthetics and tell you how you can achieve each one of them.
This is the type of physique you see in most light/middle-weight boxers or fighters. Most of the times the strong point or body part of these guys are the abs.
Even though the amount of muscle mass is not super impressive, the low body fat percentage and the strong core makes the six pack very visible from all angles or lighting conditions. The abs are definitely the strong point in this type of physique.
In clothes these guys looks very slim and not too impressive. In fact and most of the times you wouldn’t be able to tell if they workout or not. That’s why I am not a big fan of the fighter level body type.
This type of physique is achievable by most beginners within the first 12-18 months of weight training. If this is the type of body you want to achieve, your main goal is to get to and maintain a body fat percentage of 8-9 % after you’ve built some muscle size.
Once you get to the level of muscle size you are happy with (which should be achievable in 1 – 1.5 years of proper training and eating), just train regularly to maintain your current form, without focusing that much on getting stronger or building much muscle (getting heavier).
Use the same weights, same rep ranges and set your calories at maintenance level.
This is the 1st level in the hierarchy of muscle size and the easiest (yet not easy) of the 3 physique types to achieve. You should be able to get the fighter physique type once you’ve put on about 15-20 pounds of muscles, assuming you stated out from scratch (minimum muscle mass).
You should train all body parts equally and in terms of strength you should be able to hit the incline bench using your body weight, squat your body weight and pull up 25-30% more of your body weight.
Once you reach this strength level all you need to do is maintain.
Some people will probably tell you not to train legs at all if you plan on stopping your fitness journey at this level, but I wouldn’t do that. Maybe you don’t need to focus that much on your lower body, but hit legs at least once a week.
Check out your body in the mirror and make small adjustments to your training regiment if you feel that certain body parts are lagging behind. I recommend you to check out this article if you have imbalances between your muscles.
This is the type of physique you see in most lifeguards.
In the hierarchy of muscle size this is level 2, after the fighter physique. The beach body type of physique is approximately 2-3 years later and 10-15 pounds heavier that the fighter physique.
‘Beach-body’ guys have a nice amount of muscle mass, a little bit higher body fat percentage (10-12%) and look great both in clothes or naked.
I think Christian Guzman and David Laid are perfect examples that fit into this category (at the level of their photos below). By the way, if you don’t follow these guys already please do so: David’s Channel and Christian’s Channel.
The main advantage over the fighter physique is that you can maintain a higher body fat percentage while still being able to have a six pack and nice separation between the muscles, all thanks to the increased muscles size.
Because the rate of gaining muscle mass decreases significantly once you build more size, getting from the fighter level to this level will be a much slower and difficult process.
You will need to get significantly stronger, train harder and eat more. Don’t be afraid to eat more and to put on a little bit of fat. At this level there is no way you can build new muscle without gaining some fat.
In the process of achieving the beach-body physique type you will have to do at least a couple of bulk and cut sessions. Just make sure to set your calories and macros right for a lean bulk and then cut the fat while keeping an eye on muscle size and strength.
Training, nutrition and sleep needs to be spot on.
Men’s physique (Advanced)
This is the type of physique you see in the guys stepping on stage in the Men’s Physique or other natural fitness or bodybuilding competing categories.
At this level you are quite close to your maximum natural genetic potential in terms of muscle growth.
Most guys that I know have trained properly for 5 to 10 years before achieving the men’s physique body type. The gym has to be your second home; you have to be super disciplined and have very good knowledge of both training and nutrition.
At this level you should probably have built another 10-15 pounds of muscle mass and trained for another 3-5 years after you’ve reached the ‘beach-body’ level. Bodybuilding is your lifestyle and you must be dedicated to it in order to get to this type of physique.
The best examples that pop into my head right now are Matt Ogus and Chris Jones.
You will stand out from a crowd and probably people will approach you to complement you or to ask for advice. You are a walking superhero for the average looking people.
At this point your strength should be quite impressive. Bench pressing twice your body weight for a couple of reps is not something uncommon.
How to get the physique you want
Getting the type of physique you are after is not a matter of knowledge or genetics. Don’t fool yourself. You know what you need to do. Just like you know that you need to learn X and Y to pass an exam, just like you know that you need to make X sales in order to get the performance bonus at work.
Getting the type of physique you want is all about hard work and discipline. Willpower and habits play a very important role in achieving a goal and fitness is exactly the same.
Will power and adapting your habits, your lifestyle, is the main driver.
Yeah, you need to know your way around calories, macros, dieting, sets, reps, workout routines, but those are just the details which you probably know already more or less.
Don’t focus obsessively on finding out the perfect workout regimen or perfect macro split. Instead put your effort in training hard and sticking to your diet. And remember, there are no shortcuts towards any of the 3 type of aesthetic physiques.