Sculpting your ideal physique takes a detailed approach toward mostly hypertrophy-centric training and a keen eye for balance and symmetry. You can include many modes of training to achieve strength, function and shape but it's still a bodybuilding mindset that will set you apart from the pack when it comes to changing your look.
Related: Build an Aesthetic Physique by Attacking These 5 Muscle Groups
This all isn't to say that you need to build a physique that's all show and no go. Everyone should strive to achieve the right balance that is if you aren't chasing a singular goal such as power lifting or running an obstacle course, for example.
X-Frame of MindOnce you have a proper program in place for achieving your ideal physique you may need to make a few adjustments along the way; adjustments that will build the ultimate in aesthetics. Enter the X-frame.
You've probably heard of the term in bodybuilding circles as one sought-after by so many gym-goers and competitors alike. It's simply the total and balanced look exploiting perfect proportion.
If you were to draw an X on the body with two crossed lines going from each shoulder to each calf the lines would intersect over the midsection (which is where the eyes are naturally drawn to when looking at the body as a whole). Logically, these points of interest include the deltoids, calves and abdominals.
So, it would behoove you to pay special attention to developing those areas. And coincidentally, for most of us, we need extra work in those areas to begin with. Who doesn't want more developed shoulders, calves and abs?
Factors Influencing the X-FrameNow that we have the "what" we will need to detail out the "how." Blindly attempting to up the training ante on those specific areas won't cut it. You will need a sane, balanced approach to target certain areas without wasting time and energy that can be reserved for other body parts.
This can include:
- Focusing on the medial (middle) and posterior (rear) heads of the deltoids. Since you most-likely get a ton of work and stimulation for your anterior (front) deltoid heads from barbell and dumbbell bench presses and shoulder presses, your two other deltoid heads may need to play catch-up.
- Designing an effective and efficient abdominal training plan that will create a smaller, more muscular midsection. Ditch the weighted ab moves and needless exercises. Choose exercises that are new and challenging and utilize super and giant sets to increase intensity and development.
- Take a serious look at your current calf training routine and ask yourself if you've had any success over the years. If you're like most of us out there without genetics on our side then I would guess the answer will be no. Your calves need intensity, weight and frequency. It's time to take them seriously.
- Be open to intensity techniques. Most trainers will err on the side of caution regarding adding too many intensity techniques to your program. But for the most part it mainly applies to larger body parts that have the potential to easily over train and over exhaust your central nervous system. With smaller body parts the risk is minimal.
- Accept a shift in your thinking regarding prioritizing training. Sure, we all love to train our strengths. It makes us feel strong and dominant but in order to truly achieve a balanced, proportionate physique you will need to put away your ego and focus on the areas that have fallen way behind.
X-Frame List of ExercisesNow, let's list a list of the best exercises to get you that coveted X-frame. Although you could add to the list, these are the main players anyone can perform at any gym no special pieces of gym equipment needed.
Shoulders: Seated and standing dumbbell side lateral raise, single-arm side lateral raise, barbell and dumbbell upright row, seated and standing bent-over dumbbell lateral raise, kettlebell side lateral raise.
Abdominals: Stability ball crunch, incline board sit-up and 3-way sit-up, hanging and lying leg lift, bicycle crunch, pike, leg tuck, plank and 3-way plank, floor crunch, V-up.
Calves: Standing calf raise, seated calf raise, single-leg calf raise, leg press calf raise, jump rope, tibialis toe raise.
The X-Frame Aesthetic Workout ProgramLet's put it all together and see how all these exercises can be put to good use. When it comes to where to place these workouts you can take two main approaches.
One, you could jack-up the amount of volume on each of these body parts on their existing days they are trained. Two, you could perform a low-to-moderate amount of volume for each body part but train it more frequently say, 2 or 3 times per week. Below are examples of both approaches.
High volume routine with your existing program
|High Volume Routine|
|Standing single-arm dumbbell side lateral - Warm up||2||15|
|Standing single-arm dumbbell side lateral - Rest 20-30 seconds between sets||4||10-12|
|Superset: Seated dumbbell side lateral with standing wide-grip barbell upright row - Rest 90 seconds between supersets||5-7||10-15|
|Superset: Standing bent-over dumbbell lateral with seated dumbbell press - Rest 90 seconds between supersets||4||10-12|
|Superset: Hanging leg raise with incline board sit-up - No rest between supersets||3-4||15-20|
|Superset: Stability ball 3-way crunch with lying leg raise - No rest between supersets||3-4||15-20|
|Superset: Leg tuck with 3-way plank - No rest between supersets||3||10, 20-30sec|
|Leg press calf raise with 15-second calf stretch between each set - Warm up||2||15|
|Leg press calf raise with 15-second calf stretch between each set - 45 seconds rest between sets||3-4||8-12|
|Standing calf raise - 30 to 45 seconds rest between sets||3||10-12|
|Superset: Seated calf raise with tibialis toe raise - No rest between sets||3||8-12|
Low-to-moderate volume with higher frequency
|Low to Moderate Volume Routine|
|Superset: Seated or standing dumbbell side lateral with bent-over dumbbell lateral - Warm up||2||12|
|Superset: Seated or standing dumbbell side lateral with bent-over dumbbell lateral - Rest 60 seconds between each superset||4||10-15|
|Superset: Floor crunch with lying leg raise - No rest between supersets||3||10-20|
|Superset: Hanging leg raise with 3-way incline sit-up - No rest between supersets||3||10-20|
|Superset: Standing or leg press calf raise with single leg calf raise - Warm up||2||12|
|Superset: Standing or leg press calf raise with single leg calf raise - 45 to 60 seconds rest between supersets||4-5||10-15|