Athlean-X founder Jeff Cavaliere usually talks about training for strength—but acknowledges that for a lot of guys, their workouts tend to be more geared around looking good. And that’s OK! In a recent video, Cavaliere and Jesse Laico break down the six key muscle groups that you should be targeting for a physique that looks great both in and out of clothes, and recommend three specific exercises for each.
Laico starts by suggesting a heavy loaded compound movement like the deadlift. “It really gives me that isometric contraction on my traps,” he says. For more momentum and less of a static contraction, he recommends power shrugs: “It allows me to lighten the weight up a little bit, and it’s a more dynamic movement.” Cavaliere then recommends trap pulldowns, performed with a narrow grip on a pulldown machine, leaning forward and pulling straight down
The overhead press is a good compound move to work the shoulders, says Laico. He also favors theside lateral raise, as “it hits the side delts and makes me look bigger in my sleeves,” and a Cavaliere staple, the face pull, rounds out that delt development by hitting the rear delts.
Laico recommends curls, either using a dumbbell or barbell. “I actually like the alternating dumbbell curl, because you can focus on one arm at a time,” says Cavaliere. They are both proponents of the waiter curl for a bigger, better bicep pump. And thirdly, Laico suggests lying dumbbell tricep extensions. “It hits the long head of the triceps, which is great, because that makes up the most meat of the triceps, and obviously your triceps make up two thirds of your arm, so to really fill out your sleeves you really want to hit those triceps,” he says.
“Again, compound movements are my favorite to start with,” says Laico, recommending the bench press. Then Cavaliere speaks about the benefits of the low-to-high crossover: “I love adduction based movements for chest, and if you go from low to high, you’re following the fiber direction of the upper chest a little bit more, which will be a good compliment to the bench press.”
The third chest-builder recommended is the dip. “If you’re able to weight them, I’d say weight them to take advantage of the overload here,” says Cavaliere. “If you’re not and you’re still doing bodyweight, take them to failure.”
For the core and waistline, Laico and Cavaliere sing the praises of the dumbbell power up, the hanging leg raise, and the gymnast ab tuck twist.
Perhaps predictably, the first move recommended here is the barbell squat, followed by the barbell hip thrust. “I actually love this exercise,” says Laico, “because it not only engages my glutes but it gets my hamstrings as well.”
Cavaliere ends the video by explaining how the glute hamstring raise can be a great booty-builder. “It’s training the glutes and the hamstrings to work together, so you have to engage the glutes first, then allow the hamstrings to contribute,” he says. “It’s a great exercise for athletics, for preventing hamstring injuries because you’re prioritizing glute activation that supports hamstring activation and development.”
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