Let’s face it, a lot of us are pretty vain creatures. We see something nice on a magazine cover and instantly want to emulate it. Those arms, that butt, her legs….it’s immediately what flashes through our mind. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself what these people are doing to achieve that look? Clearly there’s a difference between the Maxim cover model and the female bodybuilder with a neck that would make Ray Lewis jealous – but what is it? As with most things, the devil is in the details.
As a quick aside, let this be a learning experience for a lot of you – just because you lift weights and are generally working out like a beast, doesn’t mean you’re going to turn into a big, beefy, bulk of muscle. Both the female bodybuilder and the female fitness model are absolutely killing it in the gym, but they have entirely different physiques. Remember that the next time you hear someone tell you to be careful about lifting those weights because you’re going to get bulky.
But back to the reason you’re here – the fitness model workout. Of course, not every fitness model uses the same workout plan, but the overwhelming majority are going to follow a guideline like the one I’m going to show you below. On top of that, fitness models take their diet VERY seriously. I mean, how else are you going to achieve washboard abs if you aren’t on top of each and every thing you toss down your gullet?
This is the point I’d like to throw out a disclaimer – I’m not insinuating that THIS is the best way to workout. I’m also not suggesting this is the most practical way to work out for the vast majority of you. The motivation for today’s post came in the form of numerous questions over the years from curious readers wondering how in the world they could get themselves looking like that fitness model cover. If you’ve got some serious determination, an excess of time, and a minimal social life, this fitness model workout plan may be just the thing for you. If on the other hand, you’re a regular person who isn’t bringing in the bacon with their physique, don’t feel like you’re half-assing it by not following the plan below. Look at this as educational and a chance to see what goes into the making of a highly sought after fitness model.
The Fitness Model Workout Plan
A lot of what you’re going to see goes against conventional wisdom – it certainly goes against a lot of what I preach on this very blog. You’ve got to understand, fitness models are a different creature. First off, almost all of them are already working with a great set of genetics, which simply cannot be underestimated. Second, the nature of their often low-calorie diet is going to dictate the intensity of their cardio sessions, making super intense HIIT workouts something to avoid. With that in mind, let’s forge ahead and check out what goes into the makings of a fitness model.
- Body Part Specific Workout Days. Much like bodybuilders, fitness models almost always break their workouts up by hitting different body parts on different days. Typically, chest and shoulders on one day, cardio and abs the next, followed by back and traps, leg day, then bi/tri day. This format allows them to REALLY hit the muscle of the day, bringing it to complete exhaustion, which is what helps them build those incredibly shapely and full looking muscles.
- Iso-Work. For most of us, doing pure iso-work, i.e. bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, etc. is a waste of time. We’re trying to lower our body fat, add a bit of muscle, and generally improve our physique to the point that it may turn a couple heads when we walk past in our bikini. Fitness models are hyper-aware of their bodies and know exactly which areas need to be improved. By using a lot of isolation exercises, they’re better able to target specific areas and really work them to fatigue.
- Supersets. Supersets are a great training tool, for the average Joe and fitness model alike. Supersets involve pairing two exercises back-to-back, with no rest between each exercise. Something like dumbbell bench press immediately followed by front dumbbell raises is a very common superset combo. Fitness models often scale back the weight which allows them to perform these supersets in quick succession, thereby pumping up their muscles while also helping to shed a bit of fat in the process (due to the uptempo nature of this workout style).
- Lighter Weights Aren’t Avoided. Fitness models will often use light weights, for a number of reasons. First, it provides a break from cycles of heavy lifting which they will continue to use from time to time. Second, it allows for effective supersetting, as mentioned above. Thirdly, it allows for a more uptempo style of training which is great for burning fat. And lastly, lifting light weights to complete muscle exhaustion has been scientifically shown to be effective in creating new muscle tissue. Bottom line, fitness models don’t only lift super heavy weights to achieve their look – it’s a healthy mix of light and heavy which gets them to where they are.
- Build that V. I’ve talked about “the look” on this blog in the past, but fitness models just take that to another level. Creating that “V” shape is utmost importance to a fitness model. They place a heavy focus on exercises which are going to give their body that V shape. This includes wide grip lat pulldowns for mid-lats, close grip lat pulldowns for outer lats, and seated cable rows for the mid/inner back. Having a prominent V shape is essentially a prerequisite for a fitness model, so taking the time to focus on these exercises is extremely important.
- Steady State Cardio. I know, this is an area where my advice is largely at odds with a fitness model’s workout. For most of you, you’re looking to go from 25% body fat to 15-20%. The fitness model is trying to go from 9% to 7%, while saving every bit of muscle fiber clinging to their body. For that reason, the intense nature of HIIT training isn’t conducive for their goals. They’ll shoot for 25-35 minutes of slow state cardio on the treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster, or rower, about two times a week. If they’ve got a shoot coming up, they might bump this up to three or even four times a week, but the overwhelming idea is, too much cardio is going to eat away your precious muscle gains. Fitness models are keenly aware of this and do their best to use a slow burn approach as they whittle down their last remaining stores of non-essential fat.
- Diet. Fitness models have insane diets. They are on top of every nutrient they ingest and know exactly when they need to be ingesting them. Food prep goes a long way here, especially when you’re eating as frequently as a fitness model. Models typically have lots of small meals a day, high in protein, low in carbs, with a nice balance of healthy fats. On top of that, they guzzle nearly a gallon of water a day to keep their muscles fully hydrated and at peak potential.
- Supplementation. I’d venture to say 99/100 fitness is taking a supplement of some sort. Some may only be taking a whey protein drink, but the vast majority are on something else as well. BCAA’s, fat burners, multivitamins, ZMA’s….the list goes on. Personally, I shy away from anything other than whey protein. I’ve never liked putting a variety of substances into my body, so like to keep things as basic as possible. Then again, if I were being paid 5-figures to stand around and have my picture taken, things might be a little different.
So putting that all together, a weekly fitness model workout plan would look like this:
- Monday – Shoulders/Chest
- Tuesday – Cardio/Abs
- Wednesday – Back/Traps
- Thursday – Legs
- Friday – Bi/Tri’s
- Saturday – Cardio/Abs
- Sunday – Rest
And keep in mind, since each of those workouts are focused on only one or two body parts, they tend to be long, drawn out experiences. It’s easy to get in and out of the gym in less than 45 minutes when you’re doing a killer circuit or total body training workout, but when you are meticulously hitting each body part to full exhaustion, using lighter weights, and performing a bunch of isolation movements, you better allot yourself a solid 90 minutes of work.
As you can probably see, the life of a fitness model involves hard work, a lot time spent in the gym, and dedication after you leave for the day. Your diet needs to be absolutely on point, or everything else you’re doing will be in vain. Of course, I’m not suggesting any of you stop what you’re doing and pick up the workout tendencies of an elite fitness model. This was simply to show you how those with the fittest and “most ideal” bodies are living. Personally, it’s not a way I chose to live my life. I still workout five to six days a week, but I don’t obsess. I maintain a social life. Hell, I even opt for dessert from time to time. Do I still look good? I like to
think so, but I’m sure a fitness model or two would find more than a handful of things to critique about me. In the end, it’s about looking good, feeling good, being healthy, and enjoying your life. If your body isn’t providing for yourself and/or your family, it’s probably going to be okay if you aren’t working out with the same level of dedication as that guy or girl on that magazine cover you think you want to be.