We’ve all heard the expression “built like a brick shit house” and have seen individuals to whom this saying refers. Some lucky, rare individuals, are built this way naturally, due to very favourable genetics. I have a friend like this, much younger than me with a powerful looking physique, posessing a big neck, thick wrists and forearms corded with muscle. He doesn’t even lift, never has, neither is he interested in doing so, despite my offers to coach him for free.
These dudes are normally thick boned, large mesomorphs, or endomorphic in build. If they are also hard manual workers such as mechanics, or they work on the land, this will augment their already well developed muscularity, and powerful looking physique.
Most of us however, are not this lucky with our genetics, and have to work out regularly to acheive any level of size and muscularity.
Despite this, many never actually acheive “the look” regardless of their aspirations. The reason for this is usually simple – they’re not doing it right.
That being said, if you are a tall and skinny ectomorph, the chances are, that you won’t ever acheive a powerful looking physique, at least not naturally. The harsh reality is that even for those who are able to acheive this level of muscle density, it takes years of heavy lifting to develop a really powerful looking physique.
I know this from personal experience as I was naturally slim, and had to work damn hard to aquire the muscle I still retain, on my medium sized frame.
I’m testament to the old saying that “training heavy builds muscle that lasts”, as I will be 59 yrs of age next birthday, and I’ve not lost any meat from my bones as yet. I have managed to build and maintain a powerful looking physique by doing the basics for many years without significant lay-offs from training.
I have been in and around gymnasiums for over four decades and have encountered some remarkable physiques. I know that the majority are chemically enhanced, but the ones who look intimidating and strong as hell always stand out. They exude primordial power, from years of heavy lifting. Additionally, they look and present as a functional unit, not a conglomerate of well developed bodyparts, like many of the bodybuilders you may encounter in gyms.
You are unlikely nowadays to see many athletes with powerful looking physiques in commercial gyms. They tend to inhabit more hardcore establishments like “old school” dungeons. They are often unable to ply their trade in modern gymnasiums in any case, because many of these now ban the use of chalk, and the lifting of heavy free weights. Deadlifts are completely banned in many of these establishments.
Employing the wrong exercises
Most people initially try to build muscle by doing high repetition isolation exercises, or by training predominantly on machines, until they are pumped. This is inneffective for aspiring trainees trying to gain muscle mass. It is rarely succesful because the stimulus is insufficient to initiate systemic muscle growth.
Only lifters who have previously built their muscular foundation with compound movements, or who are chemically enhanced, can build appreciable muscle mass by machine training, or performing mostly isolation exercises. You will never aquire strength and athleticism by employing this method either.
Unfortunately, many trainees still attempt to build their body without performing the basics first. This explains why so many of them fail to gain appreciable size, strength and muscle. A strong foundation is an absolute pre-requisite of building a powerful looking physique, remember this.
You will not look, or become powerful, by just pissing around with pansy weights for high repetitions. Building a powerful looking physique is hard, and for many trainees therefore it remains permanently out of reach, primarily due to an unwillingness to program and undertake heavy ass workouts.
Building a powerful looking physique
The reality is that in order to aquire a truly powerful looking physique you will need to train hard on basic barbell lifts for many years. There are no natural short cuts. You will have to go through pain and suffering.
All the following lifts performed with a barbell, dumbells, or heavy kettlebells, will give you “the look” if you train hard, eat and sleep well, and employ progressive resistance for a long enough period of time.
Naturally they are all compound movements
- Squats of all denominations: Back Squats, Front Squats, Box Squats, Zercher Squats, Safety Bar Squats, Double Kettlebell Squats
- Deadlifts and their derivatives: Conventional Deadlifts, Trap Bar Deadlifts, Rack Pulls, Snatch Grip Deadlifts, Rumanian Deadlifts, Deficit Deadlifts
- Power Cleans, Hang Cleans, High Pulls
- Heavy Swings
- Clean & Press
- Barbell Rows / Dumbbell Rows / Kettlebell Rows / T Bar Rows
- Standing Press, Press in racks, Bench Presses, Floor Presses, Incline Presses, Push Presses
- Chins, Dips ( preferably weighted)
- Weighted Carries
Natural trainee lifters require compound, multi-joint, preferably ground based exercises in order to build significant muscle, athleticism, and develop a powerful looking physique.
You need to Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press and Row as a minimum.
You also need to lift heavy.
Do this consistently and you can gain muscle, and build a powerful looking physique without using anabolic steroids, or training more than three times a week.