Unbeatable Physique

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The 2013 Olympia featured the debut of the men’s Physique division, which pits fit-looking athletes possessed of decent muscularity and outstanding conditioning against each other. Excessive muscle actually works against athletes in this division — contestants have more “attainable” physiques, and the divide between gym rat and competitor is less pronounced. The first-ever Olympia Men’s Physique Showdown champ is Mark Anthony Wingson, a 5-foot-11-inch, 175-pound dynamo who looked like he just stepped off our cover. Looking to look like Wingson? Start here.

1. TRAIN FOR WIDE DELTS

The best physique athletes boast full, wide delts that give the illusion of a smaller waist. To get those delts, accentuate the middle head with moves like lateral raises. Try a ladder: Perform dumbbell lateral raises to failure all the way up the dumbbell rack to a weight that induces failure at 10 reps, before going all the way back down, this time without rest, hitting failure at each weight. 

2. NARROW THAT WAIST

A slim, tapered waistline is what makes those board shorts stand out. Proper diet is the foundation, but you can train your waist into submission by focusing on your obliques. Lateral flexion moves such as the oblique crunch or standing side bends are effective, but movements that include twists (broomstick twist, med-ball twist) and those that resist flexion (side plank) are powerful additions.

3. BOOST YOUR ATHLETICISM

Physique athletes have muscle that looks more “go” than “show.” To get that lean, well-muscled athletic look, make sure that your training program includes dynamic activities like sprints, jumps, cycling, swimming or kickboxing. Moonlighting with your favorite recreational sport more regularly couldn’t hurt either. Hoops, anyone?

4. PRACTICE LEAN LIVING

Obviously, when low body fat is a factor, you need to watch what you’re eating. You still have to ensure that your energy intake (read: calories) supports your level of activity, but in general, stick with a diet that’s rich in lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. A protein-carb-fat ratio of 40:40:20 is a great place to start — adjustments can be made as necessary to encourage fat loss.

5. GET PROPER SUPPLEMENTATION

Caffeine is a crucial supplement for aspiring Physique competitors because it supports fat loss, delays time to fatigue and blunts pain — meaning that you can train your way to a great physique faster. While most protein should come from whole-food sources, a reliable protein powder blend will keep your body fueled with muscle-building amino acids throughout the day. Creatine, perhaps the world’s most widely studied supplement, can help you move more weight and sprint faster for longer and a no-brainer addition to your supplement regimen. <