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.
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 build, here’s the ultimate guide to building a Greek God physique — from the workout and diet to ideal measurements.
Table of Contents
- What is a Greek God Physique?
- Greek God Physique Measurements
- Before We Continue …
- The Greek God Physique Workout
- The Greek God Physique Diet
- How Long Does It Take to Get a Greek God Physique?
What is a Greek God Physique?
A Greek God 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, imagine Brad Pitt in Troy or Gerard Butler as King Leonidas in 300.
Generally, a Greek God physique will include:
- Strong, dense muscles
- Low body fat (closer to 8-10%)
- An ultra-wide V-taper and narrow waist combo
- 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 physique 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 a Greek God physique 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 Physique 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.”
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 depicting Greek Gods.
He walked away with a formula that future bodybuilding elites — particularly 40s legend Steve Reeves — would follow while chasing that classic “Greek God physique.”
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 circumference based on your waist:
|Waist (in inches)||Shoulders (in inches)|
As you can see, the Golden Ratio (and the Greek God physique) emphasizes a wide V-taper with 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 waist-to-shoulder 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
Now, if you’ve ever seen Zeus or Poseidon, you know that there’s far more to their physiques than a slim waist and mountainous shoulders.
(Imagine Hercules with toothpick legs or pool-noodle arms.)
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 non-dominant wrist and knee (both circumference).
With those numbers in mind, here’s how the rest of your body should compare:
|Body Part or Muscle||How to Calculate It|
|Flexed Upper Arm||Wrist x 2.5|
|Flexed Calves||= Flexed Upper Arm|
|Shoulder Circumference||Waist x 1.618 (Golden Ratio)|
|Chest Circumference||Wrist x 6.5|
|Upper Leg Circumference||Knee x 1.75|
Say your measurements are a 7” wrist, 34” waist, and 13” knee. Plugging those numbers into the simple equations above, your Greek God physique would creep in around:
- Flexed Upper Arm: 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. 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 hell of a lot cooler.)
Grecian Ideal Body Fat
To transform your physique into the modern-day Hercules or Dionysus, you need to wage a two-part battle: bulking up and torching considerable body fat.
Greek Gods stood around 8-10% body fat.
Now, why is 8-10% the unofficial Grecian ideal?
When you plummet to sub-10% body fat, you’ll start to see your abs chipping through, veins bulging through your biceps and forearms, and less doughy muscles.
However, anything below 8% and maintaining that Poseidon-style 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!
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Before We Continue …
Building a Greek God physique is rather cut-and-dry when it comes to the end results.
However, the path you take to put Zeus to shame 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 a strong build?
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 Greek God physique workout and diet!
The Greek God Physique Workout
The traditional Greek God physique boils down to a few target areas and concepts.
These include sculpting broad shoulders, building super-wide lats, puffing up your pectorals, beefing up your 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 builds both mass and strength.
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 almost any range when you add density to the picture.
We’re going to focus on two, in particular.
The consensus seems to be that 8-12 reps are ideal for an adequate time under tension (TUT), muscle tearing (and later growth), and achieving that blood-pooling “pump.”
But sub-five rep sets have a unique edge: placing a heavier load on your muscles for fewer reps allows you to train for strength, thickening your muscle fibers and ramping up your PRs.
Lift heavier, get stronger.
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%.
Your muscles need time to recover between workouts. Now, the recommendation sits at between 48-72 hours after 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.
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 you’ll bulk up!
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 growth.
Expect between 1-2 minutes of rest between sets!
You’ll discover three workouts below that are a part of our latest routine rollout: A Greek God physique workout. 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 resting on Sunday, you can cycle back to Workout A, leave the following Monday as a rest day, and so on.
Now, here’s the workout:
(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).
Workout A – Quadriceps, Hamstrings, & Calves
- Back Squat – 4 sets x 3-5 reps [90 sec. rest between sets]
- Romanian Deadlift – 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 Raise – 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 Greek God Physique Diet
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)
If you want to snag a beach-ready, Sports Illustrated-worthy, Greek God physique, let’s talk about how to do that via how you fuel your body!
If you remember from earlier, the classic Greek God physique hovers around 8-10% body fat. 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 learn how many calories to eat daily 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.
Achieving a 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 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 getting a tad pudgy or feel wiped out energy-wise, 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.
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 push your gains over the edge. 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 gains, and sheer confidence in the gym.
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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 outlast your previous workouts, enhance muscle size, and thicken your already-existing pythons!
It’s a little nudge in the right direction.
A Greek God physique 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.
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Whey protein powder with 20-40g of protein per scoop is 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.)
Pre-workout powder won’t work miracles. In other words, the caffeinated jolt won’t deliver superhuman strength and catapult your 150 lb bench to a 300 lb PR.
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According to 2019 research, most pre-workout users depend on these supplements for:
- More energy and focus (89%)
- Improved muscular endurance (37.3%)
- Extra 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 can almost guarantee better mental focus while lifting, lengthier workouts, and better recovery post-workout!
It might be more placebo than anything, with your mind tricking you into thinking you’re more energized than you are.
But hey, it works!
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)
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.
It’s the difference between clean and dirty bulking.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Greek God Physique?
In all honesty, that depends on where you’re starting, how many BF% 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 about 1-2% of your current body fat per week. If the final leg of your journey was slimming down and revealing well-defined muscles, here’s how long it could take:
|Current Body Fat||How Many Weeks Until 10%?|
|10%||0 (good job!)|
If you’re eager to add a little lean bulk to your muscular build, your Greek God physique goals are likely 6-24 months away.
Yes, it’s a long journey. However, with a clean diet, three-day workout plan, and supplements in your routine, you can potentially fast-track your results.
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!
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