Muscle for life

The 3 Exercises That Build a “Godlike” Male Physique

The 3 Exercises That Build a “Godlike” Male Physique

If you want the “Greek god” type of male physique, then you want to master these 3 simple exercises.


These days, thanks to the glut of poor workout advice and hulking, freakish bodybuilders, it almost seems like the art of building a killer physique has been long forgotten.

Many people think it requires fancy, “magical” workout routines, grueling soreness and pain, 9 meals and 5,000 calories per day, and  a laundry list of snake oil supplements.

The reality is they’ve missed the forest for the trees, lost in the minutiae of protein timing, supplementation, and fancy workout routines and tactics, failing to realize that none of it will solve the riddle of why they’re not making the progress they should be.

The truth is, the most powerful driver of total body muscle growth is total body strength. And the reason you haven’t built the physique you want, is probably because, well, you’re weak.

Don’t hate me yet–I’m a loving tyrant–but one look around a commercial gym tells me that these days, most of us don’t even know what strong is anymore.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight and outline what real total body strength is, the exercises that build it, and why it’s the key to building an awesome male physique.

What is Strong, Anyway?

It’s hard to define what solid strength is when most people in the gym are following routines designed to make them weak.

Moreover, those that are strong tend to have absolute strength, which doesn’t take into account their body weight. That is, they can lift plenty of weight, but when when you factor in their bodyweight, it’s far from impressive.

Real strength is how much you can lift, proportionate to your bodyweight. This is known as relative strength.

By focusing on building relative strength, you’re forced to become efficient in your workouts and in building your physique. You have to strip off any excess body fat and build serious, dense, and powerful muscle without turning into an amorphous blob.

A great example of individuals with high amounts of relative strength are professional gymnasts. And look at their physiques–absolutely unbelievable!

Gymnasts have to develop incredible relative strength to maneuver their bodies the way they do, and we can see how effective it is for building impressive amounts of muscle and definition.

Fortunately, though, you don’t need elite genetics and you don’t have to spend a decade on the rings and pommel horse to follow in their physical footsteps.

Instead, you can utilize the effectiveness of weightlifting to focus on building relative strength and get very, very strong while also maintaining low levels of body fat, and you’ll build the type of body that sends tongues wagging.

The Fastest, Most Effective Way to Build Muscle is to Build Strength

Every day I hear from dozens of guys complaining that they simply can’t build muscle no matter what they do in the gym or how many calories they eat. And the most common “problem areas” are the chest, shoulders, and arms.

My answer is almost always the same: if you want to get bigger, you need to get stronger.

I’ve never seen a guy repping out 120 lbs dumbbells on the incline bench and then complaining that his chest doesn’t grow. Nor have I seen a guy doing weighted pull ups with a couple of plates dangling off the belt that didn’t have a world class back.

Your shoulders won’t grow? Work up to your bodyweight on the standing overhead press for 6-8 reps and I guarantee you’ll have a serious case of capped delts.

The message here is simple: your muscles need a good reason to be well developed, dense, and powerful. So give them one!

Doing 200 reps per workout is not a good enough reason. Progressive overload is, and that means adding weight to the bar over time. Work your way up to “godlike” strength and get under 10% body fat, and lo and behold, you’ll also be rocking a godlike physique. I guarantee it.

I’m talking the type of strength that makes the juiced up bodybuilders want to know how the hell you got so strong. That makes you physically capable to handle just about any situation you might find yourself in.

So that’s the goal. Let’s learn how to get there.

The Key Exercises for Building a Godlike Male Physique


When we boil it down, a truly great physique requires three things: a V-shaped back, round powerful shoulders, and a well-developed chest, with particular emphasis on upper-chest development.

What about the legs, you ask?

Well, building muscle and adding muscle to the lower body is much, much easier than the upper body. Your legs are the largest muscle group in your body and they respond very quickly to exercises like heavy squatting and deadlifting.

In fact, many guys are at risk of adding too much size to their lower body to the point where it detracts from their physiques.

There’s a point where the legs just get too big–jeans of any cut no longer fit, your thighs are constantly rubbing together, and your quads are starting to look like tree trunks. Too much mass in your legs and butt just draws people’s attention downward and skews your upper body ratios.

You often see this in guys following weightlifting programs that emphasize the lower body with several sessions of lower body work per week.

Now, I’m not saying you should neglect your leg training–dress legs are far from attractive–but you’re going to build sleek, proportionate, and powerful legs doing a simple legs workout built around heavy squatting far quicker than you’re going to achieve the awe-inspiring upper body that you want.

And this is why, when building an awesome physique is your number one goal, you can get away with focusing on the legs a little less than your upper body training. So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the three upper body exercises that really get the job done…

Weighted Pull-up and Chin-up

It’s no secret that, in men, the shoulder-to-waist ratio is a fundamental, almost primal agent of attraction.

Well, the key to developing a great shoulder-to-waist ratio is developing your lats, and I know of no better way to do this than weighted pull-ups and chin-ups.

These simple movements are almost mystical in their ability to build strong, muscular backs and biceps. At this point, I’ve actually had to drop my back work down to one set per week because any more back development and I’ll have to get all my clothes custom made.

Whenever someone complains to me that they can’t grow their back, I ask them how many chin-ups they can do… with 100 pounds hanging from their waist. And they usually just stare at me like I’d asked how many people they’ve killed.

Weighted pull-ups and chin-ups do more than just build a back–they also build downright freakish pulling strength. This is why chin-ups and pull-ups are a favorite among wrestlers, martial artists, and military professionals.

Notice I keep saying weighted chin-ups. That’s key. And you have to learn to embrace the heavy. When you get to the point where you can do triple digit weighted chin-ups (100+ lbs), you’ll be able to throw people around like rag dolls.

In fact, when I was training heavily in Brazilian Jujitsu, I often had to fight guys far more skilled and technically savvy than me, but because I had so much pulling strength, they simply couldn’t tap me out. I had enough technique and intuition to avoid the inescapable locks, and from there, I could simply overpower them. This is why many mixed martial arts fighters focus so heavily on building raw strength. It makes that much of a difference.

The bottom line is if I were to choose just one exercise to get really strong at, weighted chin-ups would be it.

Incline Barbell Press

The incline press develops a masculine square-like chest. If you want the type of pecs that look like armor plates, then you want to get strong on your incline press. End of story.

This great little exercise also does a beautiful job filling in the muscle at the top of your chest (the “upper chest”), which prevents the “bottom-heavy” pec and creates the line down the center of your chest that just looks fantastic.

Yet another benefit of the incline press is it tends to be easier on the rotator cuff, which can become the bane of guys that only focus on getting strong on the flat bench.

This is probably because whether you’re pushing someone away, pushing a car, or throwing a punch, your arms usually project slightly upward. Real-world pressing usually occurs at a slightly upward angle.  

Overhead Press

My go-to shoulder press movement is the barbell standing press because it requires you to have both powerful shoulders and triceps and a rock solid core and incredible stability.

This exercise was a favorite among the old-school weightlifters notorious for extremely strong, balanced, and proportionate physiques, and it’s still considered one of the best tests of a man’s overall strength.

The overhead press can be tricky at first–you need to get used to keeping your elbows locked in (resisting the urge to flare them outward), and you need to learn to create a stable base to press off of by keeping your heels close together and bracing your butt and abs hard–but once you get the technique, you can use it to get very, very strong.

Moreover, standing presses build a type of real-world strength that you just don’t want to mess with. The ability to maintain solid balance and stability while generating large amounts of upward force is a big part of “superhuman” athleticism and functionality.

Make no mistake, though–the standing press is the deadlift of upper body exercises. It delivers fantastic results in the way of shoulder growth, but it’s brutally hard. 

The Type of Strength That Builds an Awesome Physique

If you want to build a godlike male physique, you will need to get very, very strong on the three movements outlined above.

If you did that and supplemented with enough leg work to maintain your proportions, you’ll wind up with the perfect amount of muscle for your stature. Combine that with 6-10% body fat (men only–16-20% for women) and congratulations, you now look like a Greek god.


Staying lean isn’t just for looking good, though, because relative strength means that the more you weigh, the more you have to be able to lift. And as fat doesn’t have a direct impact on strength, too much of it just holds you back.

The bottom line is high amounts of relative strength also implies a great body composition and a great physique–lots of muscle and not a lot of fat.

If you don’t know how to reach single-digit body fat percentages, don’t worry–it’s no more complicated than the training principles I’m outlining here. And you can even do it while building strength.

So, let’s get to the strength goals to shoot for. If you build up to the godlike level on all three movements, and get lean, you’re going to look incredible and have more strength and power than you will know what to do with.


 Weighted Chin-up

Good – 45% of bodyweight attached for 5 reps

Great – 60% of bodyweight attached for 5 reps

Godlike – 75% of bodyweight attached for 5 reps

Incline Barbell Bench Press

Good – 115% of bodyweight for 5 reps

Great – 130% of bodyweight for 5 reps

Godlike – 145% of bodyweight for 5 reps

Standing Barbell Press

Good – 80% of bodyweight for 6 reps

Great – 90% of bodyweight for 6 reps

Godlike – 100% of bodyweight for 6 reps


If you’re a little flabbergasted, I understand. Those are some serious milestones.

But take heart–with enough work and time, anybody can achieve them naturally (some creatine doesn’t hurt, either).

As a matter of fact, I’ve surpassed each of those myself and have helped countless people do the same. Whether it was my personal coaching clients or people following my Greek God Program, it can be done.

Two Simple Workouts That Build the Ultimate Male Physique

What would an article like this be without a workout routine to follow?

Well, I want to share the exact routine I’ve used to build freakish strength and what many people say is an incredible physique. It’s low volume and heavy in nature, but combine it with a proper diet plan and don’t be surprised if you set PRs week after week.

Not only that, but as you start adding 20, 30, 40+ lbs onto your key movements, your physique will fill out beautifully. You’ll hardly believe the results that such a simple and minimalist routine can provide.

I don’t have enough words to explain the entire reasoning behind every aspect of this workout, but there is a method to the madness.

What you’ll notice is that each workout is being performed every 4-5 days, which gives your muscles and the local neurons that fire those muscles enough time to recover.

While some people can get away with a higher training frequency than others, many will find that training everything 2 to 3 times per week simply leads to overtraining and, ultimately, regression.

By hitting key movements every 4-5 days, you can maximize strength and muscle gains.

Another unique aspect of the workouts is the reverse pyramid setup, which has you perform your heaviest set first, followed by progressively lighter sets. This will allow you to lift considerably heavier weights than a traditional pyramid structure.

Lifting your heavy weights first can also enable your body to recruit more muscle fibers on the subsequent sets, meaning you’ll be able to lift more weight for the higher rep ranges, which is key for maximizing their potential for hypertrophy.

One other “fancy” aspect to this otherwise KISS style of training is a “rest pause set,” which is one where I want you to do 12-15 reps followed by 4 mini sets of 3-5 reps with the same weight, with 10-15 seconds rest between sets.

Alright then…to the workouts!


Workout A 

Incline Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT) (4-6, 6-8, 8-10)

Standing Barbell Press: 3 sets of RPT (4-6, 6-8, 8-10)

Skull Crushers: 3 sets of RPT (6-8, 8-10, 10-12)

Lateral Raises: Rest Pause Style

Workout B

Weighted Pull-ups or Chin-ups: 3 sets of RPT (4, 5, 6)

Incline DB Curls: 3 sets of RPT (4-6, 6-8, 8-10)

Sumo Deadlifts or Power Cleans: 2 sets of RPT (3, 4)

Bulgarian Split Squats: 2 sets of RPT (6-8, 8-10)


Workout Notes 

Train three days per week, on non-consecutive days, alternating between Workout A and Workout B, like this:


Monday: Workout A

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Workout B

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Workout A

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest


Then, the next week, do workout B twice and A once.

Rest a full three minutes in between sets.

When you hit the top end of the rep range for all three sets, increase the weight on all three sets the following workout, which will bring you to the bottom of the range.

Micro-load your weighted pull-ups or chin-ups by adding 2.5 lbs to the belt each workout. When doing this causes you to start losing reps, stay with your weight, switch the grip from pull-ups to chin ups or vice versa, and work up to the top of your rep ranges.

Some Final Advice For Your Physique-Building Adventure

Record your weight, body fat percentage, and numbers on each lift each and every week, and if your weight and strength are going up, you’re building muscle.. Depending on what you’re doing with your diet, you can expect to gain some body fat along the way, but I recommend you keep it to a minimum.

Remember that there’s no reason to eat like a horse and get sloppy fat on a muscle-building program. You can gain strength and muscle at or slightly above your total daily energy expenditure, and doing it this way keeps you lean.

You also need to know that adding 15 to 20 pounds of muscle, or more, is a slow process, even when you’re doing everything right. The most a natural weightlifter who’s brand new can hope for is a couple of pounds of muscle per month, and the more experienced the weightlifter, the smaller this number gets.

So don’t get too obsessive about your weight on the scale or reflection in the mirror. It takes a few years to go from “normal” to “godlike,” but don’t despair because once you’re there, it’s easy to maintain for the rest of your life.

Just focus on building that relative strength and on slowly increasing your body weight while keeping your body fat levels low, and you’ll not only kick major ass, you’ll also save tons of time and effort that would have been otherwise been wasted on ineffective workouts and diets.


What are your thoughts on building the ultimate male physique? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Gregory O’Gallagher is the creator of the Greek God Program and founder of kinobody.com. He teaches men how to build proportionate muscle and achieve low levels of body fat by lifting three days per week, eating incredibly satisfying meals every day, and reveling on weekends.


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  • ross byrne

    brilliant article mike just one query, you have said in previous articles that you should never preform chest/shoulders on the same day and here you have incline bench press and shoulder press with pretty heavy weights.. wll this not cause shoulders or chest not to preform at optimum strenght.?

    • Greg – Kinobody

      Hey Ross! Not performing shoulders and chest on the same day is a good rule of thumb. That said, every workout routine has some trade offs. The advantage of this routine is you get plenty of rest between sessions and you’ll hit personal records extremely fast on your key movements. This is perfect for someone that really needs to get their strength up. That said, overhead pressing will be done in a bit of a fatigued state. So you won’t be as strong as normal on shoulder presses. That said, if you rest a good 5 minutes after incline. And go a little lighter on shoulder press at first, you’ll find you can make good strength gains. In many of my other routines, I do a 3 day split with chest, biceps, rear delts on one day, legs on another and shoulders back and triceps on the third. That said, this routine here is by far the fastest route to building your key lifts since you’re training them every 4-5 days. Eventually you’ll want to move to a 3 day split or a routine where you keep chest and shoulders separate.

      • Greg – Kinobody

        Also one more note – the combination of hitting heavy incline and standing presses (with minimal additional flat/decline work), leads to a very square chest. It’s really remarkable. When my chest starts to get too rounded at the bottom and lacks that plate of armour look, I’ll drop the flat work and focus on this routine and over the course of a few weeks, it will take on that square, masculine chiseled look.

  • Josh Mcnolty

    Good article, I’ve been paying attention to both you and Greg for some time and it’s been very helpful. Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the support!

  • Shane

    I stopped doing pull up as I had a knee ligament injury which was really bothering me. For the past 4 weeks (in phase 3 of BLS by the way) I’ve done: t bar row, lat pull down (wide grip) and seated row on the cable machine. What would you get rid of to out these in? I presume lat pull down as it’s a similar plane?

    • Michael Matthews

      Arg I’m sorry to hear that but why did you have to stop doing pullups because of a knee injury?

  • D

    Very interesting article/workout plan, Greg. I do weighted chin-ups on Back day. They’re my third exercise of the day. Unfortunately, after heavy deadlifts and Pendlay rows, I can only do 10lb weighted chin-ups for 5 reps haha. Building up, though. For the Reverse Pyramid Training, do you just take 10lbs off for each set? Kinda confused on that. Also, any recommendations on a belt to buy for easily adding weight to chin-ups and dips? I just hold a dumbbell between my legs, but it doesn’t seem ideal. Thanks!

    • Greg – Kinobody

      Definitely get a good quality belt. There’s some good options on amazon – harbringer belt is good. For RPT take 10% off of total bodyweight. If you’re 150 lbs and you’re doing 50 lbs – that = 200 total pounds. So you’d reduce by approx 20 lbs. I would consider starting with heavy chins then move to deads and rows. Deads are very neurally demanding so I find it’s much harder to make strength gains doing chins after deads. Where-as heavy chins doesn’t compromise deadlift strength as much. But I know some people like to do deads first.

      • D

        Thanks for the reply! Makes sense. And there’s no additional leg training besides the sumo deads and split squats?

        • Greg – Kinobody

          Nope. Sumo deads and split squats should be able to maintain a pretty natural level of leg size for most guys. Especially if you work up to good weights on these movements. This routine isn’t designed to trigger maximum growth in the legs. But rather to keep your legs athletic and strong.

          If you want to pack on a lot of size to the legs. Well sometimes you need to focus on one goal at a time. This routine is designed to bring up the strength on your key lifts as fast as possible and improve the aesthetics of your physique. You can do this style of routine for 3 months, then move to a 3 day split routine or one of Mike Matthews routines.

  • Anthony

    Curious why you recommend weighted chin-ups over weighted pull-ups or especially weighted wide grip pull-ups

    • Greg – Kinobody

      Both variations are extremely useful. Chin ups will lead to better biceps development, with pull ups you’ll hit your lats a little bit harder. That said, chin ups can still build amazing lats, this has been the case for me and many others. I tend to over develop my back with weighted pull ups. Anyways, I’d suggest focusing on one variation for 1-2 months and when you hit a plateau, switch to the other variation.

  • Donald

    Greg is the man! After following Bigger Leaner Stronger for 8 months I picked up Greg’s Greek God program and have really enjoyed it. Both programs are solid but I prefer Greg’s program as I enjoy a rest day between heavy lifting days. It is easier to bring maximum intensity and focus after a rest day and I feel stronger in the gym. Most importantly my lifts keep going up. Between Mike and Greg’s information you can’t go wrong. I prefer Greg’s lifting protocol and dietary strategies (black coffee and IF) but enjoy the content on Mike’s website a bit more and his explanations in BLS are second to none. What both guys have in common is a no nonsense approach. Follow basic rules in terms of energy balance and progressive overload and enjoy the process.

    • Michael Matthews

      Glad to hear you’re doing well! Keep it up!

  • James Buckley

    Nice program in the context of short term specialisation.

    The downside is that you’re training 2/3 of the body (back/legs) on one day. In comparison to back and legs, there’s not a lot of muscle to be gained in upper pecs and delts – but nice upper-pecs and delts do do wonders for aesthetics!

    I like the brevity of the routine. My one hesitation with Mike Matthews’ standard routines is that for me personally (as an advanced lifter working at high intensity) the volume is a lot. (This is in part because I’m getting older and need a lot of mobility and flexibility work, and making time for this is much easier if I dial back volume.)

    That said, I’d be tempted to add a row, some abs, and a calf raise to the routine above.

    • Greg – Kinobody

      This routine is very minamist, you could add some rows on Workout B. And you could do calves and abs 2x per week on rest days (these won’t effect neural recovery). The other option would be to do a 3 day split. One of my 3 day routines can be found here – http://kinobody.com/workouts-and-exercises/muscle-pump-of-the-gods/. And I find that for myself and many others, the legs and back can grow pretty well, whereas the shoulders and upper chest are more difficult.

    • Michael Matthews

      There definitely is a point where an experienced lifter is going to need to add more weekly volume if he wants to continue getting bigger. I talk about this here:


      • James Buckley

        Thanks Mike. I remember that article; it’s good. I’m totally with you on frequency, and it’s possible my physique would improve if I upped my reps to 60-75 per workout.

        The reason I prefer slightly less volume is personal; it has to do with age and the place my physique is:

        (1) I’ve hit an okay level so don’t feel an urgent need to improve (see attached), and (2) I can’t train as much as I used to and still feel human the next day!

        • Michael Matthews

          Awesome job man. You look great. And yes, the primary difference with training as you age is recovery just becomes impaired, which means volume has to come down.

          I’ve found this varies from person to person though. I know guys in their 50s that can train almost as hard as me, 100% naturally.


    How do u warm up for this workouts??

    • asai

      2 minutes on the row machine is the best way to warm up for me.

    • Michael Matthews

      A couple lighter sets before the heavy stuff.

  • Asai

    I do a similiar workout following the ripped body reverse pyramid routine and I only have 2 words… It Works!
    I am 160 pounds 5’11” and my deadlift has gone from 230 to 385 in 2 months. I can do 4.5 chin ups with 105lbs on my waist and can over head press 185. For all those people that are worried about the program not being for them, do not be because it definitely does work! Just got to stay consistent and keep recording what you accomplish on that particular day.
    Oh and I do absolutely ZERO cardio. 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      That rocks man! Keep up the good work!

  • Mike

    What if you can’t even do unweighted pull ups yet?

    I am still pretty new to weight lifting and can only do about 4 chin ups and 2 pull ups. Adding weight will keep me from getting off the ground!

    Should I jump and then do slow weighted negatives? What would you recommend Greg?

  • Tony H

    great article.. setting goals is the key.

  • Carlo

    Hey Greg, I’m wondering who’ll look better someone who has “Godlike” lifts with 10-12% BF, or someone who has “Great” lifts, but 8-10% BF?

    • Michael Matthews

      In my book leaner is always better, haha.

      • Greg – Kinobody

        Yep I agree haha! Though it’s easier to have godlike lifts at 8-10% body fat because the lower body fat means you don’t have to lift as much weight.

  • Revdoc

    Have been following your BLS …am into phase 4 …five days per week. I am 58 years old 175 lbs @15% body fat down from 24% (thanks great program) …and am wondering about the % of body weight for each of the four major lifts. By that I mean 1.75% of body weight for deadlift (175 lbs x1.75 = 306.25) as an example. Do you believe that age factors into the percentages? AM going to stick to the BLS for the recommended 1-1.5 years but am reading BBLS because I want to learn as much as I can. And by the way I have converted a few friends (old guys as well) to BLS and they are showing gains in strength as well. Thanks keep the research and encouragement coming to counter the Bro Science

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome man! Really glad to hear you’re doing well!

      Yes that’s right and yes age may have an effect, but not as much as you might think:


      Your plan sounds good and thanks a lot for the support. You rock.

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

      Oh and I’d love to feature you in a before and after success story if you’re interested! It’s a simple matter of digging up before pictures, reaching your goal, and then taking after pictures and sending them over to me. What do you think?

  • Joy McReynolds Bradford

    What about women? Is there an article similar to this for women?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m going to write one. 🙂

      • Joy McReynolds Bradford

        Fantastic! I look forward to it. I love lifting heavy weights.

        • Michael Matthews

          Nice! They do your body good. 🙂

  • Mark

    LOVE this simple routine! Been doing it for a few weeks and it’s amazing. Just two questions; do you prefer barbell incline press quite a bit more over the incline DB press? And if one wanted to do weighted dips in this routine would it only be possible at the expense of taking out the overhead press?

    • Michael Matthews

      Glad to hear you’re doing well Mark!

      I like BB and DB presses equally, really. Both are valuable tools.

      I wouldn’t replace OHP with dips. Just add the dips.

  • Michael Matthews

    Thanks for stopping by and checking out the article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:


    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

  • John

    Greg certainly has a different writing style than Mike, can’t remember the last time you mentioned your Brazilian Jujitsu, Mike

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  • Ivo Naves

    Greg is inventive and passionate. This is a very unusual workout plan and looks so cool. I’ll do this after BLS Y1C of if working as a lawyer gets in the way and I can’t get in the gym 5x/week.

    Anyway, I’m almost maxing out the weight in the machines on the Close and Front Lat Pulldowns… and I’m in the middle of Phase I. Is it good if I trade them for Weighted Pulls/Chins? The muscles involved appear to be the same.

    • You can definitely give it a go and see what you think. Yup that would be a great upgrade.

  • JonX

    Standing shoulder presses and incline bench presses are awfully similar to make them two of three go to exercises. And no chest dips to balance out? Pullups are a great exercise, but lack overall back development potential when compared to rows. And sumos as the lower body answer? I don’t know. The program simply looks gimmicky and market driven as substannce is seriously lacking. It looks like a program a beginner might come up with. And of course, Greek gods weren’t always so impressive looking – and neither are you. I think when people are thinking Greek god look in human form they’re thinking of the king’s physique in the movie “300”. And you just don’t get that with the semi-developed pussy routine you’ve put together.

  • Frederik Linderberg

    What if you feel like you have more left in the tank? I normally workout 6-7 times a week + I like to do more than just 3-4 excersises and more than only 2-3 sets.. Is there anyway you can make this even more “advanced” while still benefitting from the same gains, or even make it harder to achieve even more gains than what to will get from workout A and B. Because I still feel like working out, after I have done either workout A or B..

    • You may like my program more, which is a 5 x per week split:


    • Apeks

      I can only share what I was told and that is if you still have something in the tank, the intensity is not high enough. I know I usually feel like there might be a bit more to do on upper day – but on leg day (with 50 reps of leg presses @ 500LB) I am struggling to stand and get my butt out to the car. Slower negatives, higher weight, and a “hold” rep generally whip me – just a suggestion….

  • Apeks

    Correct me if I am wrong – but this looks a lot like DC training – with the exception of no extreme stretching and a slightly different exercise profile. I do swear by DC – it flat works – lower volume high intensity and you can work each body part every 4 days of so. For each DC exercise, I do about 4 sets of warm ups then I lift a weight that I can do 6-8 reps, 12 second break, try for 3 or 4 more reps, 12 second break, then a final set for another 2 or 3 reps until my sum for the “work” sets is 15 reps – then the extreme stretch follows. Move up in weight when you can do more than 15.
    Your program has many of these elements and I do believe it will be very effective to follow. Thanks for the info!

  • John

    Hey just wanted to know exactly how to perform the weighted chin up….Was looking online and couldn’t find any clear cut answers. Underhand or overhand grip? Narrow width, shoulder width or wider?

  • Jack

    Are there any work outs to loose weight off the abs and make them looked ripped like the pictures or does that just come with fat loss with this workout over time?

  • Awesome post greg, Strength is definitely the only way to add size and thickness to your muscles. I also agree body weighted exercises such as weighted pull ups, dips and weighted pushups are very effective when it comes gaining additional strength. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jim

    Pretty good muscle handbook and Greek god system over a NoExcusesMuscle.com

  • Jack Williams

    What is the difference between the Greek God Program, this workout here and the workout at this following link?


    Do they all give the same results?


  • Peter


    • Greg’s programs don’t include any squatting or deadlifting, I believe.

  • Peter

    I cant do chins

    • You can do cable pulldowns until you’re strong enough to do bodyweight pull-ups.


  • Justin

    I know it say u should workout every other day but can it be done in a row

  • Adrian Merida

    “What is the difference between the Greek God Program, this workout here and the workout at this following link?


    Do they all give the same results?”
    jack williams asked this and i was also wondering what you thought about it? could really use the info on the differences thanks!

  • Ask

    Hi Mike. I´ve been following your BLS workout for a few weeks now and today I read about Gregs workouts. His workout theory is quite different from yours since he recommends that you should always have off days to ensure a recharged and fresh nervous system while you say 5 days a week is always better.

    Since you´re always good at backing up what you think why do you think that Greg is wrong in his approach or if not wrong then less effective? Why do you think 5 days a week is better? Basically what makes your 5 days a week program better than his 3 days a week program?

    • Thanks brother!

      I have an article coming on this subject actually. It will be up on Thursday on Legion.

  • Jack Williams

    I am interested in taking this routine on and developing a good physique. I just have one question. What are the goals to aim for with the exercises such as skull crushers, dead lifts, lateral raises, etc? Basically, how heavy should I start these.

    • Hey Jack! Great!

      Everyone’s starting weight for each exercises is different.

      Honestly it’s just trial and error for your first week or two. As a general rule, for every 5 lbs you add to a dumbbell exercise, you’ll lose 2 reps. The same for every 10 lbs added to a barbell exercise. So if you put 100 lbs on the squat bar and do 10 reps, you should be able to get about 6 reps with 140 lbs.

      Just work with light weights at first and learn the form, and then increase. You’ll get your numbers within a week or two. 🙂

  • Henry Fob

    I know you mentioned the number of pounds you have to lift is based on the % of your body weight for weighted chin-up, incline barbell bench press, and standing barbell press. What about skull crushers, lateral raises, incline DB curls, dead lifts, and squats? How do I determine how many pounds I should lift for those exercises?

  • Alexander Cornelius

    Greg doesn’t have a godlike physique though. Compared to Mike he is mediocre at best, seriously unimpressive.

  • dtrain22

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you for sharing an effective training and diet system that fits so well into a balanced lifestyle. I have learned a lot from checking out your various posts and videos. Based on the training principles that you teach, I have created a program for myself, and was hoping you could give me some feedback. First, some Background info:
    Age: 34
    Height: 6-1
    Weight: 185
    BF %: Aprox. 12 %
    Goals: reduce BF% to 6-9%, increase strength

    To achieve the goals above, I am intermittent fasting (2 solid meals per day), eating at about a 500 calorie daily deficit, and doing 30-60 minutes of brisk walking every day, and skipping 1-2 meals per week.

    This is the program that I am using – (I alternate back and forth, training M, W, F). I also train calves and abs on my off-days.
    Workout A – Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
    Incline Bench Press: 3 sets x 5-8 reps
    Weighted Dips: 3 sets x 5-8 reps
    Shoulder Press: 3 sets X 5-8 reps
    Lateral Delts Exercise: 3 sets x 6-10 reps (3RD set RPT) (superset with exercise below)
    Shoulder Shrugs: 3 sets X 10-12 reps (traps our lagging body part for me) (superset with exercise above)

    Workout B – Back, Biceps, legs
    Weighted Chins: 3 sets x 5-8 reps
    Deep Squats: 3 sets x 5-8 reps
    Barbell Rows: 3 sets 5-8 reps
    Rear Delts Exercise: 3 sets x 6-10 reps (3rd set RPT) (superset with exercise below)
    Barbell Curls: 3 sets x 6-10 reps (superset with exercise above)

    -Considering my goals, would you say this program is solid? Any suggestions? Thanks so much in advance,

    • Hi Dustin, let’s change this up. You could use some more heavy compound movements such as the deadlift and more leg work as well as upper body. Try one of these routines:


      • dtrain22

        Thanks for the feedback Roger! I definitely plan on using a plan similar to the ones you recommended in about 7 weeks. For this summer, I am wanting to focus a little more on upper body, while still doing heavy squats 1-2X per week. One more question: Considering I am dieting (1000 calorie deficit per day), and I want to preserve as much lean muscle as possible, and even possibly gain muscle and get stronger, what rep scheme would you recommend? 4-6 reps for major compound lifts?, and maybe 6-10 on secondary lifts? Different? Thanks for any more help you can provide!

  • eric pedigo

    Hey question I’m 16 and I’m reasonably fit but I was wondering… I have 2 years left of high school and I’m trying to whip myself into a good physical condition in that time without putting too much strain on my body is there a solid routine that I can do that doesn’t require any fancy gym equipment but still build my chest and arms, mainly my triceps and biceps cause my legs are about as good as they get cause I’m 5’8 and weigh 150 lbs and squat 240lbs.

  • eric pedigo

    Hey I’m 16 and I was wondering if there was any way to build up my arms and chest quickly as I have plenty of lower body muscle if it helps I’m 5’8 I weigh 150 and squat 240lbs but no matter how hard I try I can’t build up my arms, chest, or shoulders can you recommend me a few tips? ([email protected])

  • rituraj

    I just wanted some tips for a plan that I can do with my bodyweight , is it possible to get such physique without weights ?? I know that it might get to be some lengthy workout schedule but can we reach or even get closer to the aim of building such physique . If yes then can you please suggest me some workout plan or some tips ?? ([email protected])

  • Nahid

    how is the relative strength calculated???? Is it 5 reps – (75% of body weight) of 1 set or 3 sets????

    • Those are the goals for 1 set of that amount of reps.

      • Nahid

        Thanks for ur reply Mike.. I have one more question.. Currently I am hitting the gym with the following workout..
        Monday & Thursday:
        Dips(without weights)- 3X12
        Incline Dumbbell press- 5X12
        Triceps Push down- 3X12

        Tuesday & Friday:
        Chin ups(without weights): 5 sets(trying to increase reps upto 10)
        Dumbbell Shoulder press: 3X12
        Lateral Dumbbell raises: 3X12
        Biceps curl: 3X12

        Wednesday & Saturday:
        Cycling(warm up)
        Leg Press: 3X12
        Dumbbell squats: 3X12
        Dumbbell Lunges: 3X12

        My workout doesn’t last more than 30 to 40 minutes everyday. But I see my gym mates are doing for 1 hour.
        What i need to learn from u is, should I spend more time on gym by adding warm up exercise like push ups or my current workout is ok???
        Does the warm up really matter before weight training for gaining mass???
        Thanks in advance

        • Warming up will prevent injury and help you perform better. I strongly recommend that you do it.

  • Jeff

    Is the 3 sets for chest really enough or should I add more?

    • 9-12 sets a week is a great place to start.

      • Dean

        so at most this workout would have 6 sets per week…so add another workout?

        • This is from Greg’s program. The BLS program will have you doing 3 exercises (9 sets). If you want to modify this one, feel free to make that modification.

  • Marco Vries

    How long would this workout take to complete each day? With so few exercises it looks like around 30 minutes or so?

    • Pretty quick, yeah. Definitely within the hour.

      • Thomas

        Thanks for the reply! (Lost my other profile)

        I’m following this routine now because I think I’ve plateaued, and I want to focus more on these important muscle groups. I did Workout B yesterday and it seems like it literally takes a max of like 30 minutes to do. I have been working out for about 2 years and I feel this isn’t enough for me so I decide to add in some pull downs and other related exercises + sprinting cardio to fill in the hour. This is okay right? I really want to start seeing some abs, so is there anything specific you could add to this to maximize abdominal gains? I like to do ab machine crunches but I always read everywhere that crunches are BS.

        Is it also okay to do these all the way from Monday to Friday and then take off on the weekends, or perhaps add some abs/cardio in the weekends?

      • Thomas

        Also I have a pull-up/chin up bar in my room and I always feel like doing more of them, even when I get home from a workout after this routine. Is it okay to do this or should I really be giving this more rest? I overheard someone say you can never really do too many pull/chin ups.

        The bar just fell out of my door frame and I fell on my knees pretty bad.. Maybe it’s trying to tell me something haha

  • Ahmed

    I know u recommend low reps, but i take it that only works for chest? Will low reps work even for pullups (because pullups is back exercise)? They say high rep for back, low rep for chest, is that true? Or is low rep pullup better?

  • Quinn

    Do you guys have any recommendation for a lower body workout to go with this?

  • Miguel Rodrigues

    Hy i am intermetiade to advanced lifter and follow greek god program from Greg since late 2014 with insane results,however now im living in other country with more responsabilities and i find working out in the morning is a must and with gregs plan i go monday wed friday,the question is the CNS recovery and Revers Pyramid training strategies have been working wonders,by switching to 5 workouts straigh will my strenght hinder to much?thanks mike long time reader 2012 ,respect

  • Wasim Ali

    Hi Mike,

    I appreciate your hard work, you really have given a new method for building muscle via your book “Bigger Leaner Stronger”. Your book has really helped many people.

    Mike, I am writing this to get a little help from you; I want my physique look like similar to the physiques that male models have. Can you please provide me a complete workout routine that can give that look and feel.

    Thanks and regards,

  • Riley

    Hey Mike, Great Article..btw I was wondering if I could use Pullups as the main exercise for my back and substitute Deadlift with another exercise preferably one involving a machine because I have lower back issues and I can’t do the deadlift.
    Also, do I use the starting weights based on the 1RM rule or do I start with maybe 10 to 20 lbs and then add more weight accordingly?

    • Heya Riley,

      Glad you enjoyed the article. Have you tried hex bar deadlifts (also called trap bar deadlifts)? If that doesn’t work, then you can do hyperextensions.

      In the end, it’s still trial and error. If you’ve never done a lift before, then you have no reference point to calculate a 1RM right off the bat. Be conservative, and try out some light weights and start moving up until you get into the right rep range.

  • Jason

    If you don’t want overly bulky legs then just do deadlifts. They build your glutes well (which chicks love by the way b/c evolution and shit) they also build appreciable muscle in your hamstrings and quads, enough to look athletic but not enough to look bulky. Because deadlifts don’t have much of an eccentric component and only work the quads through a partial ROM it’s near impossible to overdevelop your legs with deadlifts. Deadlifts also complement weighted chins for a great looking back and deadlifts give you a great posture (also important to females). I understand Greg wants a GQ/Hollywood look which I totally get but bashing deadlifts is silly, deadlift exercises will give you the perfect amount of lower body development for wearing stylish clothing while also improving your posture and building a complete back. Plus all the actors Greg uses as examples of the Greek God and Superhero Physique do heavy deadlifts in preparation for those rolls, Daniel Craig, Henry Cavill, Chris Evans, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, Stephen Amell all have videos of them training for their roles and the common factor is they all deadlift.

    • Hey Jason! Sorry for the delay. With the amount of comments that come in, some fall through the cracks.

      I completely agree what you said though! I will say that some people will need more than just deadlifts if they have under-developed legs or just have a tough time growing their legs, but for most people that don’t want big legs, deadlifts will develop the legs enough. And yup, deadlifts are a KEY lift in building a great physique. That’s why I include them in my routines. 🙂

  • Alex

    I’m about 5 ft 11 tall and weigh about 147pounds . I can squat 374 , bench about 200 and deadlift 407. Haven’t seen much other than chest development and a little shoulders from training for about 3-4 years of powerlifting combined with some bodybuilding. I’m really strong compared to my bodyweight but my question is. I still look scrawny if I reach these godlike precentages on the following three lifts will I see any huge difference in my body. Would very much appreciate a response // Alex

  • JB

    Hi Mike – maybe a simple question, but when you say, for example, 145% bodyweight for 5 reps on the Incline Barbell Press, are you including the weight of the bar or just the weight of the plates you add to it?

  • Arqam Ejaaz Khan

    hey mike! i want broden my upper body! my legs and hips are in good shape, but my upper body in little thin! i want to broden my upper body and want to build my strength! what exercise should i do?

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