How to achieve an amazing physique without looking massive

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Q. I’ve been lifting weights for a few years, and am very motivated to achieve a great body, but I don’t want (or have the time) to be massive.. I’m average height and don’t want to be bigger than 13 stone, but I want to be lean and perfectly proportioned. Should I train differently to someone who wants to be huge?

A. Someone may want to be huge, but if he doesn’t have the genetic potential to be huge he’ll never develop huge muscles no matter how he trains. Everyone, however, can improve their physique, and most people can improve their physique greatly. ‘Big’ and ‘huge’ are relative terms, and their interpretation varies over time. Physiques that were considered huge in the 1950s would be considered small today while physiques that were considered huge in the 1970s, for example, may not be considered big today.

Frank Zane is a former Mr. Olympia who was never considered a big man. But if you look at Zane from the late 1960s, early in his career, he was big for the time. In his prime - as a three-time Mr. Olympia (1977, 1978 and 1979) - he was probably lighter than he was earlier on, but it was his great attention to size and definition, proportion, symmetry and details, along with his outstanding natural aesthetics and presentation, that made him famous. He weighed only 185 to 190 pounds - about 13 and a half stone - when he won the Mr. Olympia. And Zane is average height, not short. Most people thought he was much bigger!

Although you may not want to be more than 13 stone (182 pounds), if that 13 stone is symmetrical and very lean, it can be very impressive. While it wouldn’t win any big bodybuilding competitions , it would greatly impress everyone other than the very few people who need to see 250+ pounds of muscle before they are impressed. Thirteen well-honed stone can yield a brilliant physique.

To build muscle you need to train in the same way that anyone seeking to build muscle should, regardless of whether you want to build half a stone, or a couple of stone. I recommend you train in the manner found in my secrets to getting in shape guide because this is an approach that works well even for people who don’t have great genetics for bodybuilding.

Go as far as you can, and if or when you find you’re as big as you want to be, stop building further strength and trim your food intake a little. That combination should prevent further size development. Then, to further improve your physique while maintaining your existing muscular size, work on improving the details of your physique, bring up lagging parts, like a sculpture, and get leaner to bring out the definition

Furthermore, give increased attention to your cardiovascular fitness, so you have the fitness to go with the look - but without overdoing it so that it has a detrimental effect on your muscular development.

You may or may not have the genetic potential to produce a lean physique (10% bodyfat) of 13 stone. For an average height man, a lean 13 stone is a tremendous achievement. It requires above-average genetic potential to build such a physique. Train as well as possible, recuperate as well as possible, and that’s all you can do. Be the best that you can be.

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