As men’s physique competitors, we should strive for that perfect beach body look—aesthetically pleasing and in proportion. We train just as intensely as any bodybuilder aiming for that perfect X shape, but the difficulty lies in conditioning without becoming bulky or letting one muscle group dominate another. So, how to achieve this look?


When looking at a men’s physique competitor on stage, the first thing that always stands out to me is a wide set of shoulders. I find that this helps to create the illusion of a smaller waist and, thus, a V taper. The best exercises I’ve found to help achieve this are to hit my shoulders firstly with a large compound movement involving all heads. This usually involves a type of press, either dumbbell or overhead barbell, followed by a side lateral movement to really isolate the lateral head of my delts. This, in turn, will help create that width. Here is one of my favourite shoulder work-outs for achieving that look:

Shoulder Workout

2 warm up sets

Side lateral raises: 15-20 reps

Dumbbell press or plate loaded shoulder press: 15-20 reps

3 giant sets

Dumbbell or plate loaded shoulder press: 8-12 reps

Side lateral raises heavy weight: 10-12 reps

Drop set, 50% of weight: 15-20 reps

Finish with heavy partial raises: 10-12 reps (for added resistance, get training partner to force on elbows)

3 giant sets

Rear dumbbell flyes on incline bench: 10-12 reps

Standing bent over dumbbell flyes: 10-12 reps

Cable rope face pulls: 10-12 reps


Cable shoulder press: 3 x 10-12 reps


Heavy dumbbell shrugs: 3 x 12-15 reps

For the cable shoulder press exercise, I set a seated bench between the cable crossovers and aim to pyramid up my weight on the stack each set aiming for around 10-12 reps, then straight into a standing dumbbell shrug aiming to increase the weight each set but still reaching 12-15 reps. This superset takes me nicely into my trap focused exercise. For traps, I like to use either a barbell shrug or plate loaded shrug, nice and basic, really focusing on that squeeze.

3 giant sets

Barbell shrug or plate loaded shrug: 8-12 reps

This shoulder workout will hit all heads of the shoulders and give you that increased intensity from the higher rep ranges and drop sets, which will give your shoulders a much more aesthetic and pleasing look.

Next Up: Chest


The next muscle that I think stands out on a competitor is to have a full thick-looking chest, that still shows great condition, which helps to complement the rest of the physique. Below, I have outlined a basic workout that I use to develop my chest:

Chest Workout

2 warm up sets

Incline Dumbbell or Barbell Press: 15-20 reps 

4 working sets

Incline Dumbbell or Barbell Press: 8-12 reps

Flat bench or plate loaded press:8-12 reps

3 working sets

Incline cable flyes: 15-20 reps

Dumbbell flyes or pec dec drop set: 12-15 reps on each drop


Another thing that everyone’s eyes seem to be drawn to when looking at a men’s physique competitor is a great set of abs. I have trained my midsection from a young age through gymnastics and swimming as a child, then on to training them in the gym twice a week, which has built me a strong core for stage. So how do I sculpt my abdominals? Personally, I have had the best results when I have trained them in sections. To do this, I work the upper and lower abs at the start of the week, then lower abs, obliques, and core towards the end.

Upper/Lower Abs Workout

4 sets

Hanging leg raises: 8-12 reps

Kneeling or standing cable crunches: 8-12 reps

Reverse decline crunches: 10-15 reps

Decline weighted crunches: 8-12 reps

Lower Abs/Obliques/Core Workout

4 sets

Hanging leg raises: 8-12 reps

Side raises back extension: 10-15 reps

Cable wood chops: 8-12 reps

Bar torso twists: 10-15 reps each side

Plank: 1-2 minute hold


I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying that shows are won from the back, and it’s very true. A good back will make or break a great physique on stage. Because the back is such a big muscle group, it is important to stimulate all parts. A varied workout is key.

Back Workout

4 sets

Wide grip pullups: 8-12 reps

Wide grip lateral pulldown 8-12 reps T-bar row: 8-12 Reps

Single-arm dumbbell row: 8-12 reps on each arm

Barbell deadlifts: 6-8 reps

3 sets

Seated cable row: 10-15 reps

Next Up: Legs


Although we as men’s physique competi-tors get a lot of stick for saying that we don’t show legs, many of them have a great pair as they are still trained like any other muscle part with allocated days of the week. Legs make up 50% of our overall physique, so, in order to have a balanced aesthetic physique, legs must be trained.

Here is a basic legs session that I use:

Legs Workout

2 warmup sets

Leg extensions: 15-20 reps

Barbell squats: 15 reps

4 working sets

Barbell squats: 6-8 reps

Leg press: 8-12 reps

Barbell walking lunges: 10 lunges on each leg

Lying hamstring curls 

4 working sets: 10-15 reps

Sets stiff-legged deadlifts: 10-15 reps

Seated calf raises 8-12 reps


Finally, to complete the look of a men’s physique competitor, you should have full but defined-looking arms. When given feedback from last year’s Olympia, I was told I needed to bring up my arms more to make them in proportion with the rest of my physique. I have been working very hard on bringing them up and below is one of the routines I have used to achieve this:

Arms Workout

Single arm dumbbell concentration curls 2 x warmup sets, 15 reps, then 3 x working sets, 8-12 reps (make sure to go heavier and heavier each set). On the last set, perform a triple drop set to failure on each arm.

Barbell curls, 4 x working sets: 6-8 rep range

Dumbbell cross-body hammer curls, 4 x working sets: 8-12 reps

Lying down cable curl, 3 x working sets: 8-12 reps, pyramiding up in weight, then the last set is a triple drop where you pyramid back down in weight rep until failure.

Triceps cable pushdowns, 2 x warmup sets: 20 reps, 3 x working sets, 8-12 reps / last set perform a triple drop set to failure.

Barbell skull crushers, 4 x working set: 10-12 reps

Smith machine close grip press: 4 x 10-12 reps

Single arm triceps pushdowns, 3 x working sets: 12-15 reps