If you care about your appearance, which you probably do since you’re on this site, then you’ll know that building your body is just as important as your wardrobe.
No matter what your goals are, you’ll need to be performing strength training and some form of cardio as part of a well-rounded fitness routine.
Beyond the aesthetics, there are many health benefits of physical exercise, such as improved metabolism, endurance, increased mental clarity, focus, and lower risk of disease.
As stylish men, we work on improving our look by picking out the right clothes, haircut, and accessories to create an aesthetic which highlights our physique and personality. However, the opposite is also true. By improving your physique, you elevate your look in your clothing and accessories.
For us men, the ideal physique is one with broad shoulders, a narrow waist, and strong legs. It’s an aesthetically pleasing proportion where you look fit and in shape, rather than boxy or like an inverted triangle.
In order to build such a physique, you’ll need to work on building strength and muscle in all of those key areas. This means the upper chest, back, shoulders, arms.
But let’s not also ignore the lower body. Although you may need to have good upper body muscle development and strength, many men tend to ignore their legs.
Having a strong pair of legs allows us to decrease our lower back pain, improve athletic performance, and avoid the diaper butt look. We need to train the entire body.
6 Fundamental Key Movement Patterns
There are 6 fundamental key movement patterns which you need to focus on in order to have a well-rounded physique:
Here are the best exercises for each movement pattern:
The push exercises help build your chest, front and lateral part of the shoulders, and triceps. The best pushing exercises that you can do are the pushup, bench press, incline bench press, and shoulder press.
Pulling exercises, on the other hand, work the opposite of the push muscles. This means all of the muscles surrounding back, lats, rear part of the shoulders, and biceps.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to have at least a 2:1 pulling to pushing ratio. This is due to our sedentary lifestyle where we sit too much with a forward head posture.
Many of us work desk jobs where we’re sitting all day and as a result, we have a slouched and weak looking posture.
By strengthening all of the postural muscles, we are able to pull our shoulders back, stand tall, and look more confident.
The best pulling exercises are chin-ups, pulldowns, rows, reverse flys, and bicep curls.
The hinge movement pattern helps us develop our glutes and hamstrings. Most of us are very quad dominant and have an imbalance. If you’re doing mostly quad dominant movements and yet neglecting your glutes and hamstrings, it can lead to knee pain and poor movement patterns.
Got lower back pain? Chances are your glutes aren’t strong enough to keep your pelvis aligned and you’re compensating with your lower back.
The best hinge exercises are all of the deadlift variations and back extensions. My favorite deadlift variations are the Romanian deadlift, sumo deadlift, trap bar deadlift, and pull-throughs.
Squatting is one of the foundational movement patterns we all need to master. It’s the ability to stand down and up with your own body. Our foundation begins at our feet, and you need to have a solid base.
You can perform the squat using a dumbbell or barbell depending on your flexibility, leverages, and fitness level.
Carrying is a fundamental movement in which we use every day. The ability to carry any object is something us men should be able to do. Carrying exercises strengthen our core, traps, grip, and lats. The best exercise are the farmer’s walk, suitcase carry, and overhead carry.
Our bodies are meant to move in all planes rather than just straight forward and back. Using exercises to strengthen our rotational pattern helps us train our core, hips and shoulders.
If you’re an athlete or participate in any sport, then rotational core strength is needed.
Woodchops, landmine rotations, and medicine ball twists are great exercises to train this pattern.
What about Cardio?
Although we need to build strength and muscle, we also have to work on our cardiovascular health and endurance.
There are many different ways to work on this aspect of our fitness, and you don’t have to be subscribed to just one style in order to improve your cardio. For example, you don’t have to run if you don’t want to.
The best cardio activities are: walking, running, rowing, biking, and any sport you want to play.
There are two styles of cardio training: steady state and intervals. Both of them have their uses, and are applied in ways depending on your goals and current training program.
For steady state, it is simply performing your cardio exercise of choice for a long period at an intensity which you can sustain for. Usually steady state cardio lasts anywhere from 15-60 minutes.
Regarding interval training, it is periods of intense bursts of movement, followed by a steady lower intensity rate before going again. Some common interval time examples are 15s on 45s off, 20s on, 40s off, 20s on, 10s off.
Most interval training lasts anywhere from 15-20 minutes due to the intensity. Pick your favorite activity and try out the interval setting.
The best times to do cardio is after your strength training workouts, or on off days.
Putting It All Together
Your fitness routine is going to be dependent on your current fitness level and the amount of training sessions you can do per week.
If you’re a beginner, then full body workouts would be more effective for you in order to gain coordination, build strength quickly in the basic movement patterns, and to establish a solid routine. If you’re more intermediate or advanced, then you can have a bit more customization.
Here is how to put map out training three times a week:
Day 1: Full Body Workout
Day 2: Full Body Workout
Day 3: Full Body Workout
An example full body workout for beginners would look something like this:
A. Barbell Squat – 3×6 reps
B. Chinup – 3xFailure
C. Dumbbell Bench Press – 3×8-10 reps
D. Cable Row – 3×10-12 reps
E. Barbell Curl – 3×8-10 reps
F. Triceps Extensions – 3×12-15 reps
Day 1: Push
Day 2: Pull
Day 3: Legs
Here’s an example of a pull day:
A. Dumbbell Row – 3×10 reps each arm
B. Chinup – 3×8-10 reps
C. Cable Row – 3×10-12 reps
D. Lat Pulldowns – 3×8-10 reps
E. Reverse Fly – 3×15 reps
F. Dumbbell Hammer Curl – 3×12-15 reps
Can train four times a week? Here’s a good way to split up:
Day 1: Upper
Day 2: Lower
Day 3: Upper
Day 4: Lower
Here’s an example of an upper and lower body workout:
A. Incline Barbell Bench Press – 3×6-8 reps
B. Lat Pulldown – 3×10 reps
C. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3×8 reps
D. Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 3×15 reps
E. Dumbbell Curl – 3×12 reps
F. Rope Triceps Extensions – 3×15-20 reps
A. Barbell Deadlift – 3×5 reps
B. Dumbbell Walking Lunge – 3×10 reps each leg
C. Machine Leg Curl – 3×8-10 reps
D. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift – 3×12 reps
E. Machine Calf Raise – 3×15-20 reps
Work It Out
Being a man of style requires a good solid wardrobe, and also a body to back that up with. Regardless of whatever your fitness goals are, you need to be doing strength training and cardio to build your body, continue looking good in your clothes, and to maintain good health.
For more information about style-related matters, please join us in our online community!
Tim Liu, CSCS
Precision Nutrition Certified Coach