Some amateur bodybuilders wake up at 5 a.m., crush through 90-minute training sessions, sacrifice alcohol and cheat meals, and commit to nothing but “clean” eating.
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All in the name of pushing their bodies to their limits.
Others choose a celebrity or athlete with rock-hard abs and bulging biceps they too crave.
Maybe it’s Hugh Jackman (circa Wolverine), Bruce Lee, Rocky-era Sylvester Stallone, or none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
But what happens when your ideal physique dates back to 900 BC Ancient Greece?
If you’re itching for a symmetrical, bulky, and low-fat body, here’s the ultimate guide to building a Greek God physique — from the workout and diet plan to ideal measurements.
What is a Greek God Physique?
A Greek God’s physique is a near-exact replica of classic Greek God sculptures (the ones with shirtless beefy guys sporting traditional wreaths on their heads with tridents or swords in hand).
If Gods like Apollo or Hercules aren’t ringing a bell, at least build-wise, consider certain actors in Hollywood movies like Brad Pitt in Troy or Gerard Butler as King Leonidas in 300.
Generally, this physique will include:
- Strong, dense muscles
- Low body fat percentage (closer to 8-10%)
- An ultra-wide V-taper and narrow waist circumference
- Well-defined leg muscles
- Rounded and bulky biceps, triceps, shoulders, and pectorals
- Symmetry (no muscles are stealing the show from lagging ones)
The Greek God body is the textbook definition for “aesthetic,” thanks to its focus on symmetry and muscular balance, which you’ll discover later when discussing the Golden Ratio.
But if you’re struggling in the dating department, sculpting muscle mass like this might earn you ogling eyes while you’re shirtless at the beach or pumping iron in a tank top.
In a word, you’ll look (and feel) “ripped.”
Greek God Body Measurements
The “Father of Modern Bodybuilding” was a Victorian-era bodybuilder hailing from Prussia by the name of Eugen Sandow. By today’s standards, Sandow was “ahead of his time” with his understanding of the human body.
In the late 1800s, Sandow wowed audiences with his brute force strength and athleticism, one-arm snatching 180 lbs and performing backflips with 30+ lb weights in each hand.
But his 5’9”, 185 lb build with the following measurements wasn’t a fluke:
- Biceps: 18”
- Chest: 48”
- Waist: 30”
- Upper leg: 27”
- Calves: 18”
Sandow admittedly visited local museums while lugging around a measuring tape with one goal in mind: to map out the physical proportions of the artistic statues to understand what it takes to look like a Greek God.
(The ultimate aesthetic physique.)
He walked away with a formula that future bodybuilding elites — particularly 40s legend Steve Reeves — would follow while chasing that classic physique of the Greek Gods.
If you’re ready to knock out some math, we can tell you what your physique should look like.
(Before you hop on the bathroom scale like you normally would, grab a measuring tape to get accurate measurements.)
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The Golden Ratio
The most basic formula is better known as the “Golden Ratio.” In bodybuilding circles, the 1:1.618 Golden Ratio describes the most aesthetic waist-to-shoulders comparison.
The table below reveals your ideal shoulder width based on your waist:
As you can see, the Golden Ratio emphasizes a narrow waist and broad shoulders.
And, it might just be the answer to your struggles in the dating scene!
A 2006 study analyzing how the shoulder to waist ratio impacts a man’s luck with women found that the ladies see a “manlier” V-taper as more desirable, at least in the short-term (catching on?).
The Grecian Ideal: The Body Measurements and Symmetry of a Greek Physique
Now, if you’ve ever seen Zeus or Poseidon from Greek mythology, you know that there’s far more to their physiques than a slim waist and broad shoulder width on a wide upper body.
(Imagine ancient Greek sculptures of Hercules with toothpick legs or pool-noodle arms.)
These physiques have perfect proportions, but are inadvertently an “athletic build”.
Sandow later covered the rest in what’s now known as the “Grecian Ideal.”
To figure out how muscular your flexed arms, calves, thighs, and chest should be, you first need to measure your knee circumference and non-dominant wrist circumference.
With those numbers in mind, here’s how the other important body parts should compare:
Say your measurements are a 7” wrist, 34” waist, and 13” knee. Plugging those numbers into the simple equations above, your ideal physique based on each key muscle group would be around:
- Flexed Upper Arms: 17.5”
- Flexed Calves: 17.5”
- Shoulder Circumference: 55”
- Chest Circumference: 45.5”
- Upper Leg Circumference: 22.75”
Now, remember …
The only motives behind these measurements are aesthetic symmetry and balance between major muscle groups. 22” upper legs won’t help you squat 300 lbs, nor will 17.5” biceps leave you with 500 Tinder matches.
Those results require a little extra work, particularly a successful strength training program and — you know — not letting your ego control your personality!
(If these formulas look familiar, you might know them better as the “Adonis Index,” which, we’ll admit, sounds a lot cooler.)
Ideal Body Fat Percentage For a Greek God’s Physique
If you want to look like a Greek God, transforming your physique into the modern-day Hercules or Dionysus, you need to wage a two-part battle: bulking up and torching considerable fat.
For this impressive physique, you need have a low body fat level at around 8-10%.
Now, why is 8-10% the unofficial Grecian ideal?
When you plummet to sub-10%, you’ll start to see your abs chipping through, veins bulging through each upper arm and forearm, and lean legs.
However, anything below 8% and maintaining that Greek God build could mean dehydrating yourself, weakening your bones, and risking malnutrition.
As pointed out in a 2013 study, dropping too much weight can lower your heart rate (53 to 27) and blood pressure (132/69 to 104/56) to dangerous levels, likely taking a toll on your heart health.
Take it easy on the crash diets!
Before We Continue …
Trying to get a body like Zeus is rather cut-and-dry when it comes to the end results.
However, building a Greek God physique depends on whether you’re starting with a low-hanging beer gut or an already-built decently muscular physique.
Are you starting from scratch at square one?
Or are you simply putting a few prideful finishing touches on already prominent muscle groups?
Since you know training and nutrition aren’t one-size-fits-all, you may have to adapt your plans to match your goals. With that, let’s get to the workout and diet plan!
The Greek God Physique Workout Plan
The traditional body of the Greek Gods boils down to a few target areas and concepts.
These include sculpting broad shoulders, building super-wide lats, puffing up your pectorals, building noticeably bigger arms, and developing symmetry everywhere else (really, everywhere!).
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details.
The Greek God Workout Principles
Now that you know which muscle groups take top priority, you also need to build a Greek God routine that efficiently build strength and mass.
Remember, you’re aiming for large and dense muscles!
That requires a little bodybuilding know-how, including these principles:
Now, normally we’re shouting “8-12 reps” from the rooftops. And, that’s because nearly every training organization — including the ACSM — regards that range as the best for hypertrophy.
However, you can make a case for more or fewer reps when you add density to the picture.
We’re going to focus on two ranges, in particular.
The consensus seems to be that 8-12 reps are ideal for an adequate time under tension (TUT), muscle tearing (and later muscle growth), and achieving that blood-pooling “pump.”
But sub-five rep sets have a unique edge, which is placing a heavier load on your muscles for a fewer number of reps allows you to train for general strength, thickening your muscle fibers and ramping up your PRs.
Lift heavier, get stronger, get that Greek God’s body.
Choose rep ranges between 1-12.
Training Days Per Week (& %1RM)
Again, the Greek God Physique sends us for another twist since twice a week is typically the “gold standard” for sculpting substantial mass (according to a 2016 study).
We’re going to recommend three training sessions total per week.
A little startled? Here’s why.
If you’re typically following an 8-12 rep scheme, you’re maxing out at 71-81% of your 1RM. Drop your upper-end goal to five reps, even if only for a few sets, and that number inflates to 89%.
You need time to recover between workouts before hitting the same muscle group again. Now, the recommendation sits at between 48-72 hours after movements like the squat, leg press, and bench press (according to a 2019 study).
Or basically, the compound lifts, which you should use to lead every workout session.
And, if you’re ramping up the intensity even slightly, another day or two of rest can return you to full strength, guaranteeing you’ll be at near-100% by the time you hit the rack again.
The heavier you can lift, and the more reps you can crank out, the more muscle growth you’ll see!
Rest Between Sets
The number of seconds (or minutes) you wedge between sets is among the most hotly contested subjects in the bodybuilding community — among many.
Since you’re eyeing lower reps, higher resistance, and boosted strength and size, let’s lean on 2009 research suggesting that your muscles require even more recovery time between sets.
Waiting a little longer than your standard 30-60 of rest can also trigger a greater anabolic hormone response, leading to even more impressive muscle growth for your Greek God physique.
Expect between 1-2 minutes of rest between sets, especially on compound movements!
The Workout Program Schedule
You’ll discover three workouts below that are a part of our latest routine rollout. There are two ways you can arrange your workouts during the week.
- Monday: Workout A
- Tuesday: Rest
- Wednesday: Workout B
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: Workout C
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Rest
Or, you can hold to an every other day pattern. In other words, instead of having one of your rest days on Sunday, you can cycle back to Workout A, leave the following Monday as a rest day, and so on.
This routine resembles a class Push Pull Legs (PPL) setup with more emphasis on your upper body.
Now, here’s the workout:
(For your training journey, all you need are free weights and machines; a basic gym membership will do but we don’t want to mislead you. You can still build a Greek God physique with calisthenics too).
This most important things are following the plan and training hard.
Workout A – Quadriceps, Hamstrings, & Calves
- Back Squats – 4 sets x 3-5 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Romanian Deadlifts – 4 sets x 3-5 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Sumo Deadlift – 3 sets x 8-10 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Barbell Good Morning – 3 sets x 8-10 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Standing Calf Raise – 2 sets x 15 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
Workout B – Chest, Triceps, & Abs
- Bench Press – 4 sets x 3-5 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Incline Bench Press – 3 sets x 8-10 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Dumbbell Lateral Raises – 3 sets x 8-10 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Barbell French Press – 3 sets x 8-10 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Weighted Sit-Up – 3 sets x 10-12 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
Workout C – Back, Traps, & Biceps
- Pull-Up – 4 sets x 3-5 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Bent-Over Row – 4 sets x 3-5 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Dumbbell Shrug – 3 sets x 8-10 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Dumbbell Bicep Curl – 3 sets x 8-10 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Rear Deltoid Raise – 3 sets x 10-12 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
The Diet And Nutrition Plan
Turning your Herculean dreams into a reality is a little more challenging than following an already-laid-out workout routine (for obvious reasons).
Not only do you have to forfeit your nightly brews, McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A pit stops, and common delicacies (like extra whipped cream), but you also have to consider these three things:
- Macros (protein, fats, carbohydrates)
How Many Calories Should You Eat?
If you remember from earlier, your body fat percentage should hover around 8-10% for this body type. That leaves you with a few options regarding your future game plan:
- Cutting down to your ideal BF% before bulking
- Bulking to your Grecian Ideal before cutting
Regardless of where you’re starting, you need to figure out your TDEE — total daily energy expenditure. In other words, sticking to your daily routine, how many calories do you burn?
You can use this calculator to discover the calorie intake you need to maintain your weight. If you’re 26 years old, 5’9”, 160 lbs, with an office job, you need 2,035 calories daily!
If You’re Bulking …
Add about 10-20% to your TDEE (or about 200-300 calories), according to a 2019 study looking into off-season bodybuilders bulking up.
If You’re Cutting …
Strive to lose about 0.5-1% of your body weight per week to prevent muscle loss. For reference, a pound of fat is about 3500 calories.
Multiply your body weight by 1%, multiply that by 3500, and divide that number by seven — that’s your daily calorie deficit to aim for.
Macros: How Much Protein, Carbs, and Fat Should You Eat?
Achieving the Greek God physique also means fueling your body for either fat loss or muscle mass. But interestingly enough, the two goals share similar macronutrient breakdowns.
In a 2004 study detailing what bodybuilders eat in the six weeks leading up to competition and in the off-season, maximal fat loss and mass gains came from a diet with:
(The key difference between in-season and off-season bodybuilding diets tends to be how many calories you’ll eat per day.)
Of course, these percentages will match up with the number of calories you eat per day. For example, if your calorie intake goal sits at a steady-2,500, you should aim for:
- 750-875 calories worth of protein
- 1,125-1,500 calories of carbohydrates
- 375-750 calories from fats
And, if you notice you’re taking on too much excess weight or feel wiped out from your workout program, feel free to inch closer to the higher or lower ends.
After a meal or two, you’ll realize that tracking these numbers can become a blur. That’s why diet apps like MyFitnessPal can put your nutritional intake into a better perspective and improve your ability to lose fat or build muscle.
If you want to get simplistic, the most important things to do with your diet are to:
- Stick to your daily-allotted calories
- Consume high protein
- Consume moderate to low fat
Follow those rules and you’ll probably be OK.
Perhaps the biggest make-or-break in your Greek God plan isn’t what you’re munching on for dinner or when you’re sneaking downstairs for your nightly midnight snack.
Supplements can pick up the slack and improve your ability to gain muscle. If you decide to use any three supplements to sneak into Poseidon territory, we recommend:
Creatine is the supplement that does it all, especially if you crave heavier lifts, massive muscle gain, and sheer confidence in the gym.
The results are earth-shattering (okay, maybe that’s a tad dramatic, but they’re still impressive). Here’s what a 12-week clinical trial from 1999 discovered — creatine vs. placebo:
- Double the mass growth (6.3% vs. 3.1%)
- 8% greater bench and squat increases
- 24% more Type I muscle fiber growth
As a Greek God-bod chaser, 5-10g of creatine per day can help you recover faster throughout your workout program, enhance muscle size, and thicken your already-existing pythons!
You still need to train hard and leave the gym on rest days, but adding creatine will give you just a little boost.
Whey Protein Powder
Building/maintaining muscle requires about 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight in most cases.
And, let’s be honest, those online eating plans suggesting grilled chicken 3-4 times a day don’t take boredom or low appetite into consideration.
That’s where most amateur lifters grab for whey protein powder.
Whey protein powders with 20-40g of protein per scoop are a great pick-me-up post-workout and can keep your protein intake in check if you’re low by the evening.
(A 2017 study found that dosing with 25g of whey protein at night post-training can improve protein levels after 10 hours and can fast-track recovery and muscle repair between workouts because it’s considered a “fast digestible protein”.)
Additionally, protein powders come from different brands and in a wide variety of flavors so finding something delicious and high-quality shouldn’t be a problem.
Pre-workout powder doesn’t work miracles. In other words, caffeine, the main active ingredient, won’t deliver superhuman strength and catapult your 150 lb bench to a 300 lb PR.
According to 2019 research, most pre-workout users depend on these supplements for:
- More energy and focus (89%)
- Improved muscular endurance (37.3%)
- Increasing blood flow — or the classic lifting “pump” (37%)
- Greater muscular strength (30%)
- More muscle mass (13%)
With a scoop of pre-workout powder 30 minutes before a workout, you might experience better mental focus while lifting, lengthier endurance, and better recovery post-workout.
Note: If you do decide to supplement with pre-workout and don’t want to “feel jittery,” consider blends without beta-alanine.
It might be more placebo than anything, with your mind tricking you into thinking you’re more energized than you are.
Would Ancient Greeks give it a try for an extra boost of strength? Probably.
What You Should & Shouldn’t Eat
The bonus about following the Greek God diet is that you can apply the IIFYM rule (short for “If It Fits Your Macros”). The table below details which foods you should and shouldn’t eat:
|What You Should Eat/Drink||What You Shouldn’t Eat/Drink|
|● Water (sparkling or regular)|
● Ground turkey
● Chicken breast
● Sweet potatoes
● Green vegetables
● Fresh fruits
● Yogurt (Greek or low-fat)
● Almonds, peanuts, and other nuts
● Whole-grain pasta
● Carrots (and similar vegetables)
● Cottage cheese
● Almond milk
● Apples & citrus fruits
● Regular soda
● Whole milk
● Regular ice cream
● Pure butter
● Fried foods
● Canned anything
● Desserts (in excess)
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle, the goal is for almost every calorie to mean something. For example, regular soda has sugar, which equals carbs, but those same carbs would fuel your body better in the form of rice.
And while yes, ice cream and cheese have protein, it’s a better option to stick to lean meats as a primary source.
Be flexible and willing to give up your favorite foods occassionally.
How Long Will It Take to Get a Greek God Body?
In all honesty, the time it takes to achieve this body composition depends on:
- Where you’re starting,
- How much body fat you have to lose to reach 8-10%, and
- How many inches you have to gain from shoulders to calves.
It’s safe to lose fat at the rate of about 1-2% of your current BF per week.
If the final leg of your journey to resemble a Greek God was slimming down and revealing well-defined muscles, here’s how much time it could take:
If you’re eager to add a little lean bulk to your muscular build, your Greek God body goals are likely a few months to two years away.
Yes, it’s a long journey. However, with a clean diet, three-day workout plan, and supplements in your routine, you can get that broad chest faster than you think.
Remember, the goal is progressive overload. When you can tack on 30-40 pounds six months down the road, you know that you’re both stronger and your muscles are larger!
How Realistic Is It To Get A Greek God Physique?
If you gazed at this body type and thought to yourself “this will never be me”, think again because almost anyone can develop the muscle and symmetry that’s required.
The things that could stop you from developing your physique (ie. building muscle and burning fat) are injury, sickness, bad genetics, or something that’s totally out of your control.
But if the Ancient Greeks could do it (we’re assuming)… so can you!
With proper training and nutrition, you can get close to this ideal physique if you put in the hard work, consistency, and dedication. Just be realistic…
Final Thoughts On How To Build A Greek God Physique
Like most fitness goals, building a Greek God physique isn’t rocket science, but it’s not a walk in the park either.
Building strength, gaining lean mass, and achieving muscular symmetry takes time and effort.
But once you’re ready, start training hard with a reliable workout program, get good nutrition under your belt, and you’ll be there in about 6-24 months.
Greek God Physique FAQs
What is the Greek God physique?
The Greek God physique can be defined as a lean (8-10% body fat), muscular and athlete-like body that’s symmetrical and balanced with no one muscle group overshadowing the other. It’s characterized by having a wide shoulder width in comparison to your waist size.
How do you get a Greek God physique?
Getting a Greek God physique is all about building muscle, following proper nutrition, and staying consistent. You should follow a resistance-training program with compound exercises to stimulate muscle hypertrophy in your shoulders, chest, and arms to build a noticeable v-shape. Pair that with a macro-based nutrition plan that focuses on lots of protein and healthy fats and you’re well on your way.
How long does it take to get a Greek God Physique?
The timeline for Greek God physique development varies, depending on your existing body fat and muscle tissue, and how much hard work you invest in the process. On average, it may take between 6-24 months or longer to get there.