So you want to be Superman… or at least look like him anyway.
Contrary to common belief, building a superhero physique is not as far off as you’d think. Below we outline the 7 steps you need to portray your rock hard superhero body.
What Is The Superhero Physique And Why Is It So Attractive?
If you’ve watched a handful of superhero movies, then you’re already familiar with what a superhero physique looks like. To put it in words, a superhero physique is lean and aesthetic with a lot of muscle mass and definition (like your favorite superhero).
What makes such a physique attractive is:
- The symmetry of a large upper body sitting on a small waist (think v-taper), and
- The muscle definition produces by those large muscles on a lean body
Science has shown that humans are naturally attracted to symmetry and perfect proportions, which is why the golden ratio seems so attractive. So if you can’t wait to build a superhero physique, just follow the steps below.
7 Steps To Building A Superhero Physique
Superhero bodies are built just like any other physique: with discipline and intention. Being deliberate about how you train and eat will aid you in building any physique you want.
Here we outline the steps you need to look like your childhood hero:
1. Use Compound Movements
Compound movements are exercises that utilize more than one muscle group. To accelerate progress and minimize the hours spent in the gym, you must use compound movements to create efficient workouts.
The compound movements include:
- Bench Press
…but these are not the only movements you should be using in your workouts. These three create a strong base to begin your training program, but you must add in complementary and secondary movements that are still taxing multiple areas.
After performing your main lift, add in 5-7 secondary compound movements such as pull ups, bent over rows, hanging leg raises, leg press, etc.
2. Work in the Correct Rep Range
To build muscle mass you must lift heavy loads for increased volume. Completing sets of 1-2 reps won’t stimulate the muscle enough to promote growth (though it can increase strength), likewise sets above the 10 rep range generally are not heavy enough to break down the muscle tissue.
In order to break down muscle tissue, promote strength building, and gain muscle mass you should be performing sets of 4-8 reps as heavy as you can while maintaining proper form. A great way to do this is using the Reverse Pyramid Training technique.
After performing your warm-up sets, Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT) calls for one set at the heaviest weight you can handle, followed by 2 sets at 10% less weight. The idea behind RPT is that your muscles are fresh for the heavy set and you’ll be able to put more on the bar than if you were trying to progressively lift heavier over 3-5 sets. Start with the heavy set, maximize muscle potential, and then overload the muscle group with the 2 successive drop sets.
Here’s an example progression:
- Set #1: 100 lbs x 4-6 reps
- Set #2: 90 lbs x 6-8 reps
- Set #3: 80 lbs x 8-10 reps
3. Constantly Challenge Your Muscles with Progressive Overload
Muscles adapt quickly to a given stimulus. Because of this, each week you repeat a lift, aim to go 5-10 lbs heavier than the week before. If you are bench pressing 135 lb for a set of 8 during week 1, and are able to get all 8 reps with proper form, then the goal for week 2 should be 140 lbs or 145 lbs.
This concept of adding a small amount of weight each week is referred to as progressive overload. The increase in weight is just enough stimulus to keep the muscle progressing forward, increasing to your overall strength and size without causing too much damage to the tissue resulting in injury.
4. Get Quality Supplements
The amount of lifting and loading placed on the body to obtain a superhero physique will require quality supplements. At the very least we recommend a quality protein powder and creatine supplement.
When it comes down to it superheroes are made from protein. This macronutrient is the building block of muscle tissue. To enhance muscle growth you have to increase your protein intake.
Currently, the protein powder that we gets our highest recommendation is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey. Click the button below to check the current price of this extremely high-quality protein.
Along with this we recommend taking creatine. Creatine is used by the body to shuttle energy to muscle cells. By supplementing with creatine, you’ll be able to recover from sets quicker and lift heavier for longer.
Right now, Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine is the creatine supplement that we recommend. It’s very high quality and comes from the well-trusted ON brand.
5. Eat to Support Muscle Gain
As we stated earlier, muscle tissue is built from protein. When training you should increase protein intake, along with fat and carbohydrate consumption since these will be your primary energy sources. Aim to maintain a balanced diet with 50-55% of your calories coming from carbohydrate sources, 20-25% from protein, and 10-15% from healthy fats.
The number of calories you will need depends on the phase of training you are in. We discuss this concept next.
6. Work in Phases
Building a superhero physique does not happen overnight. To obtain this body type will take months of work and can be broken down into different phases.
The primary phase will be a muscle building phase. This is done by using the rep schema we have lined out in conjunction with eating a slight excess of calories. To build muscle, the body needs extra nutrients.
After spending 6-8 weeks in the building phase, we can then cut back on calories to create a slight calorie deficit and begin a cutting phase. During this cutting phase you will maintain the training regimen, but the calorie deficit will allow you to start burning away any excess body fat.
By creating training phases you’ll be able to tackle one main goal at a time and build the superhero physique faster than most.
7. Build Rest and Recovery into Your Program
Superheroes have down time, and you should too. Progressive overload, and Reverse Pyramid Training will help break down muscle tissue and stimulate growth, but the muscles must have time to rebuild to become bigger and stronger.
The best way to build in recovery is by maintaining a split training schedule.
Here’s a good example:
- Day 1: Upper Body
- Day 2: Lower Body
- Day 3: Rest
- Day 4: Upper Body
- Day 5: Lower Body
- Day 6: Rest (Optional Ab Work)
- Day 7: Rest
On training days 1 and 3 focus on upper body- shoulder, chest, upper back- while training days 2 and 4 are primarily lower body- quads, hamstrings, glute- mix in a light training day comprised of low intensity cardio like swimming, and rest the remaining days of the week.
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How is this Different from the Warrior Physique?
Another popular physique category is called the warrior physique. The primary traits of this physique include:
- Noticeable definition in abdominal muscles
- Denser, stronger muscles all over
- Hard biceps and triceps
- Smaller waist and hips
This contrasts with the superhero physique since the SP is noticeably bigger and fuller and sacrifices a little bit of definition for thicker and more powerful muscle proportions in the upper and lower body.
You Can Build a Superhero Physique
Becoming a superhero may be a daunting task but looking like one shouldn’t. It’s really all about effective training matched with a consistent diet over time that will help you grow lean muscle tissue that really sculpts your appearance.
Use these 7 steps to build your superhero physique today and become your own version of the man of steel.
Example Superhero Workout
You can use different workout routines to achieve a superhero body. But one that catches the eye is this aesthetic V-taper workout, which focuses on the looks, symmetry, and proportions of the muscles on your body.
Just like a superhero, you’ll need to look aesthetic, so developing a v taper is a must. An aesthetic v-taper translates to having wide lats and delts while maintaining a narrow waist to reveal the V-shape.
But it’s not just about the upper body, as this workout routine dedicates a training day to your lower body because a superhero body with scrawny legs looks odd. Although, you may notice that the legs get the least action, but it’s because a superhero body puts emphasis on the upper body, which gathers more attention than the lower body.
Day 1 – Back and Shoulder Day
Day 1 targets your delts and traps, which are two key ingredients in building a V-taper, and thus, a superhero physique.
- Wide-grip lat pulldown – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Cable row – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Medium-grip lat pulldown – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Dumbbell shrug – 3 sets x 12–15 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Pull-up – 3 sets to 1 rep short of failure (30–60 seconds)
- Barbell shoulder press – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Arnold press – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Lateral raise – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
Day 2 – Leg Day
No superhero (that we know) has scrawny legs, and you’re not about to be the first. Day 2 is the only day dedicated to your lower body, so use it wisely.
- Barbell back squat – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- 45-degree leg press – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Leg extension – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Single-leg curl – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Stiff-legged deadlift – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Seated calf raise – 3 sets x 12–15 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Standing calf raise – 3 sets x 15+ reps (30–60 seconds)
Day 3 – Chest Day
Don’t undermine your chest’s role in building a superhero physique. It may seem like your chest doesn’t do much for your V-taper. However, large pecs enhance the appearance of the delts, and also makes you look big from a 3D perspective, and not just in 2D images.
- Barbell bench press – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Incline dumbbell fly – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Incline dumbbell bench press – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Cable crossover – 3 sets x 12–15 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Chest dip – 3 sets to failure (30–60 seconds)
Day 4 – Rest Day
Day 5 – V-taper focus day
Day 5 is going to focus on your V-taper, which is a prerequisite if want to develop want an attractive physique of any kind (superhero or not). Get ready to hit your traps, delts, pecs, and core. But you’d want to avoid thickening your core muscle too much to maintain the V shape.
- High cable row – 2 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Weighted pull-up – 2 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Reverse dumbbell lateral raise – 2 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Barbell upright row – 2 sets x 8–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Dumbbell pullover – 2 sets x 8–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Crunch – 2 sets x 15+ reps (30–60 seconds)
- Reverse crunch – 2 sets x 20+ reps (30–60 seconds)
Day 6 – Arms and abs day
Your superhero physique won’t be complete without big-buff arms and rock-hard abs, so it makes sense to dedicate a full training day to them.
- Superset 1: Barbell curl – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (no rest)
- Superset 1: Close-grip bench press – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (no rest)
- Superset 2: Hammer curl – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (no rest)
- Superset 2: French press – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (no rest)
- Superset 3: Preacher curl – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (no rest)
- Superset 3: Dumbbell skull crusher – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (no rest)
- Weighted crunch – 3 sets x 10–15 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Hanging leg raise – 3 sets x 15–20 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Ab rollout – 3 sets to failure (30–60 seconds)
Day 7 – Rest Day
There are only two rest days in this workout routine, so ensure to maximize your recovery time and avoid overtraining any muscle group to prevent harming your gains.
Superhero Physique FAQs
How to build a superhero physique?
To build a superhero physique, you need to follow a resistance training routine that focuses on muscular hypertrophy with 8-12 reps per set and 3-4 sets per exercise. Your routine should accentuate the major upper body muscle groups like shoulders, chest, and lats to create a v-taper effect without neglecting your legs. Finally, consume a high protein diet and eat in a minor caloric surplus to fuel your workouts while minimizing fat gain.
How long does it take to get a superhero body?
It takes an average of 4-6 months to build a superhero body with the right combination of diet, exercise, rest, and lifestyle. With the right plan, support, and dedication, you could reach their goals faster.
Build a Superhero Body Without Training Like One
Getting in shape isn't easy. But this program gives you a real-life approach to building a leaner, more muscular body without obsessing over fitness 24/7.