Depending on your current physique, you’ll need to take different steps to reach your goal.
If you start from a high body fat percentage, your first move will obviously be to cut. If you start from a very skinny physique, your first move will be to gain weight and muscle. Each person needs to take different steps (like I explained in the Path to your Goal Physique)
In this video we’re going to address one of the scenarios: How to go from an Average physique to the Greek God Physique.
Let’s get started.
From Average to Greek God Step by Step
The average physique is a term I use to describe the most common male body: 13-17% body fat with little muscle mass.
Most people start their fitness journey from this point. I started from the Average physique as well.
The first picture shows is how I looked before I started lifting. One and a half years later I reached the Warrior Physique (middle picture) and one year after that I reached the Greek God Physique.
To reach the Greek God Physique you need to reach certain standards of strength while maintaining a slim waist:
Muscle is a by-product of strength. To reach a certain muscle size you need to hit the strength level that corresponds to that size. Then, to have great proportions, great muscle definition and 6 pack abs, you need a low body fat. Waist circumference around the navel corresponds fairly well to body fat. Having a very slim waist guarantees a low body fat. This is why we set that as the goal.
When you reach those standards, you will have the Greek God Physique.
Should you Cut or Bulk First?
The most common issue people have starting from the average physique is that they’re unhappy with both their size and definition. These are the guys that ask the famous question: Should I cut or bulk? They would like to get bigger and leaner at the same time.
Unfortunately, you can’t do that efficiently. Your transformation ideally would go down this way:
- Start with a cutting phase. Lose body fat until your waist reaches about 45% of your height (for example at 6 feet tall you’d want a waist that is 32 inches around the belly button). Depending on how much fat you have to lose, this cut can take anywhere from 3 to 10 weeks.
- When your waist reaches ~45% of your height, move into maintenance for 2-3 weeks.
- After the maintenance phase, start eating more and focus on muscle growth. This lean bulk should be stretched over several months to maximize muscle gains and minimize fat gain.
- Once you’re up to 14-15% body fat (waist is about ~48% of height) it’s time to cut back to the 9-11% range (waist is ~45% of height). Ideally, as you’re gaining size you’ll never go above 15% body fat again. Your cut and bulk cycles will be kept in the range of 8-15% body fat. This way you’ll have good muscle definition all the time (or at least a 4 pack) and your face will stay angular.
- Repeat this process until you’ve built enough size to have the Greek God look when you cut down to 8-11% body fat.
I know a lot of people will argue against starting with a cutting phase as you will end up looking too small. They’re right. In the first few months you will look very small. But it’s worth it is because as a beginner, you will also gain muscle very well while losing body fat. At the end of your cut you will be smaller, but you’ll be ripped. Also, by losing fat first, you can then stay in a calorie surplus for a very long time without getting too fat.
Getting to the Base Level: how to get down to 10% body fat
After your first cut and 2-3 months of lifting you end up at what I call the Base Level.
You are around 10% body fat, you can do 8 body weight chin-ups and you can incline bench press 90% of your body weight for 5 reps. This is the starting point for either the Warrior Physique or the Greek God Physique.
To get there from the average physique, you need to lose 5-10 pounds of fat and gain 5-10 pounds of muscle.
If you’re just getting started you’re probably confused about how to lose belly fat and gain muscle. I understand. I used to think high intensity exercise, low carb diets and cardio were the reason we lose body fat. I also thought confusing your muscles would get me bigger.
The truth is fat loss all comes down to being in a calorie deficit. And muscle growth comes down to getting stronger.
If you track your calorie intake directly and make sure you’re in a deficit you can lose fat playing on your phone instead of doing cardio.
To lose fat quickly without affecting your muscle mass, testosterone, or gym performance, you need to have a deficit that is 20-25% under maintenance. Here’s how you set that:
For fat loss you should eat between 10 and 13 kcal per pound of body weight everyday.
- Those who are very sedentary (only weight training at the gym and just sitting down the rest of the time) should use the lowest end of the interval (10 kcal x bw in lbs)
- Those who are mostly sedentary (only weight training at the gym and daily brief walks) should use the low end of the interval as well (11 kcal x bw in lbs)
- Those moderately active (weight training + walking and sports from time to time) should use the middle range of the interval (12 kcal x bw in lbs)
- Those that are very active (manual labor + weight training and sports) should use the top range of the interval (13 kcal x bw in lbs).
For example someone who works a desk job, doesn’t do cardio or play sports and works out 3 times a week should set their calories at 11 per pound of bodyweight.
Also, to support muscle growth, you must make sure you include around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight in your daily intake. This is important. Getting enough protein in your diet makes a huge difference for muscle growth.
So to lose 5-10 pounds of fat here’s what you need to do:
1.Have a 20-25% calorie deficit
2.Get around 1 grams of protein per pound of BW or 2 grams per kg
3.Fill the rest of the calories with fats and carbs
4. Do this until you get to around 10%
If you stay in a calorie deficit for 4-10 weeks and get around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, you will be able to lose body fat, while also gaining muscle.
Getting to the Base Level: how to build muscle while cutting
When you want to build muscle, the main goal of your workouts should actually be getting stronger.
Most people don’t understand this, but we can’t train for size. Muscle grows either to produce more force (increasing the size of the contractile tissue so it can lift heavier weights) or to improve endurance (increasing the capacity to store fuel known as glycogen around the muscle fibers). Increased muscle size, is a side effect.
Most of the muscle mass a natural lifter can gain will come from getting stronger in the 5-12 rep range. That is because lifting heavier and heavier weights over time increases the actual size of the muscle fibers. Doing a lot of light reps will only lead to a small amount of muscle growth. That’s because after your glycogen stores have increased enough to handle that volume, there’s no more reason to grow.
What this means for you is that the routine that will get you strongest in a medium rep range will also be the routine that will give you the largest increase in muscle mass.
So here’s how your first workout routine might look like:
- Incline Bench Press – 5 x 5
- Barbell Row – 5 x 5 (You do these until you can do body weight chin-ups)
- Seated DB Press – 3 x 8
- Biceps Curls – 3 x 10-12
- Squat / Sumo Deadlift – 5 x 5
- Reverse Dumbbell Lunges: 3 x 6-8 reps per leg
- Standing One Leg DB Calf Raises: 3 x 10-15 reps
- Abs Wheel Roll Outs: 3 sets x 10 reps
Training is done three days per week, on non-consecutive days, alternating between Workout A and Workout B, like this: Monday: Workout A, Wednesday: Workout B, Friday: Workout A, Monday: Workout B, Wednesday: Workout A, and so on.
Rest three minutes between sets for the compound movements. Rest 60-90 seconds for the assistance exercises.
When you hit the required reps for all sets, increase the weight on all sets the following workout. This will probably cause you to lose 1 or 2 reps in the last 2 sets. That’s normal and the goal for the following workout is to add back the reps in those last sets so you can increase the weight again.
From the Base Level to the Greek God Physique
After 1-3 months of cutting and lifting you’ll be at the Base Level. To reach the Greek God Physique you now must focus on gaining weight in addition to gaining strength.
You’ll now shift your focus on maximizing muscle growth by lean bulking. To do this you’ll eat a slight calorie surplus (5-10% above maintenance) for long periods of time. As you’ll gain strength on the key movements you’ll also build muscle and size.
For most people, the process will take around 2 years. A lot of guys get discouraged when they hear that and I think they miss a VERY important point. You won’t go from your current physique right to your goal physique.
It won’t be like: fat & weak, fat & weak, fat & weak, and on the 730th day you’ll wake up looking awesome. No! You’ll gradually look better as you’re progressing towards you goal.
This is the reason why we need to stay lean while building muscle. To keep our motivation high and enjoy our fitness journey, we should start out looking good and end up looking great!
You need to stay under 15% body fat all the time. Your cut and bulk cycles will be kept in the range of 8-15% body fat. You’ll inevitably gain some fat as you’re gaining muscle so once you’re up to 15% body fat it’s time to cut back to around 10% range. You’ll repeat this process until you reach the Greek God Physique.
This program lays out exactly how to go from the Base Level to the Greek God Physique. It’s the training and nutrition program I’ve been following for two years.
I highly recommend you check it out!