How to Build Muscles to Look Better in Your T-shirt

How to Build Muscles to Look Better in Your T-shirt
 

While attacking the large muscle groups in your upper body—your back, chest, shoulders—is obviously important, the key to looking great in a t-shirt is in the finer details. In other words, it’s all about targeting the little muscles within the bigger muscles. For instance, your biceps are comprised of two parts—the biceps brachii (at the top of your shoulder) and the brachialis—which starts a bit lower down and helps you bend your elbow.) Many people only focus on the former, but targeting the smaller component of the bicepsthe brachialis—adds the extra level of detail. That’s why we included the Hammer Curl in this routine. Turning your palms to face each other makes your brachialis muscle do more work.

Triceps actually take up a larger percent of your arm than your biceps. They’re composed of three parts (hence it’s name): the lateral, medial, and long heads. So, that means you want to up the volume a little bit higher than you would for your biceps. That’s why we increased the sets for the Dips and Dumbbell Skull Crushers in workout B.

And when you’re training your shoulders it can’t just be all about pressing (which targets your front and middle delts). Many guys neglect rear delt development, but you need to find ways to work your them to give yourself 3-D symmetry. How you do that though actually is in the form of upper back exercises, which comes as a surprise to many. That’s why we incorporated the Rear Delt Fly into workout B.

Speaking of your back, training it can’t just be all about deadlifting and rowing. You want exercises that accentuate that V-taper that fills you out. What’s more: there are so many smaller-yet-important muscles in your back. If you’re a rower, you may not think you need a wide-grip pull-up, but you do. Rowing works your traps, but wide-grip pull-ups also get your latimus dorsi and the much smaller rhomboids to a greater degree.

Finally, on chest day, you want to make sure you do exercises that hit the muscle fibers that make up the clavicular part of your upper chest to fill out your neckline and give the illusion of a bigger chest. And even though Pectoralis Major sounds more important, hitting the Pectoralis Minor with moves like those dips are important too. 

We just threw a lot of physiology at you, but you don’t have to remember any of it because we did the hard part and crafted a workout that takes it all in to account—helping you sculpt not only those big, major muscles, but also the smaller, sometimes-neglected ones. The bottom line and all you need to remember? You’ll look better in a t-shirt.

Perform workout A & B once a week with at least one day off in between (you can focus on lower-body that day). Then, check out The 10 Best T-Shirts for a Muscular Body and buy one (or 10).

Workout courtesy of Alyssa Ages, Athlete with PowerNYC Training and Trainer at Uplift Studios, EPIC Hybrid Training, and Global Strongman Gym, who created these workouts.

Workout A

Primary Muscles Worked: lats, biceps, chest

Lat Cable Pull-Downs

-4 sets of 10 reps
-Seated at a lat cable machine, take hands out to a wide grip and pull the straight bar down to just below your chin (it should feel difficult to pull the bar down further). Slowly return to start and repeat

Wide-Grip Pull-Ups 

-4 sets of as many reps as possible
-To emphasize the focus on and to build broader lats, take your pull-ups with a wider grip, about twice the width of your shoulders

Hammer Curls

-4 sets of 8 reps
-Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your sides. Keeping your upper arms against your sides, curl both weights up at the same time. 

Seated Concentration Curls

-4 sets of 10 reps on each arm
-Sit at the edge of a bench with a dumbbell in one hand and feet placed wider than shoulder-width apart. Rest the arm with the dumbbell on the inside of your thigh. Curl the dumbbell to your shoulder and lower back to start.     

Lying Dumbbell Pullover

-4 sets of 10 reps
-On a bench or the floor, press two dumbbells together with arms straight directly above your chest. Keeping arms straight, slowly bring the dumbbells overhead towards the floor or bench. Return to center. 

Barbell Incline Press: [chest]

-4 sets of 6-8 reps 
-Set an incline bench to an angle of about 45 degrees. Lower the bar to your upper chest and return to overhead. 

Workout B

Primary Muscles Worked: traps, triceps, shoulders

Barbell Shrugs 

-4 sets of 8 reps
-Hold a barbell in front of your body with feet at shoulder-width distance. Palms should face your body. Raise shoulders, hold, and return to start.  

Kettlebell Sumo High Pull

-4 sets of 10 reps
-Stand with feet in a wide stance, toes pointed out slightly. Place a kettlebell between your feet and squat down to grip with both hands. As you drive through your heels to stand up, pull the kettlebell to shoulder height, raising your elbows. Return to start. 

Dips

-5 sets of as many good reps as possible
-Using parallel dip bars, lower your body until your arms are at a 90-degree angle, and press back up to straight arms. 

Dumbbell Skull Crushers

-5 sets of 10-12 reps 
-Lying on your back on the floor, hold a set of dumbbells with arms straight, shoulder-width distance apart, directly above the chest. Hinging at the elbows, lower the dumbbells towards your head, bringing them down to touch the floor on either side of your head. 

Barbell Overhead Strict Press

-4 sets of 6-8 reps 
-With barbell at shoulder height in a squat rack, grip the barbell wider than shoulder width. Step out of the rack. Without dipping, press the barbell overhead, keeping a vertical path until the bar is completely overhead. Lock arms and slowly return to start position at your shoulders.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

-3 sets of 10-12 reps
-Standing with feed hip-width distance apart, hold one dumbbell in each hand. Raise arms out to the sides of your body until arms are at shoulder height. Slowly return to start.

Rear Delt Fly

-3 sets of 10-12 reps
Hinge forward from the hips holding a dumbbell in each hand, keeping a slight bend in your knees. Raise the dumbbells out to the sides of your body, palms facing down until they are even with your shoulders. Slowly reverse the movement to return to start. 

Bonus Moves

These moves work multiple muscles in the upper body and can be added to either day.

Barbell Deadlifts

-4 sets of 6 reps
-Stand in front of the barbell and bend at the knees, maintaining a flat back to grip the barbell with an overhand or mixed (if the weight is difficult for you to move) grip. Tighten your upper back and with straight arms, pull the slack from the bar. Pressing through the heels, stand up with the barbell and lock out to complete the movement. Return to start. 

Manmakers

-2 sets of 10 reps
-A favorite of crossfitters, this one works a number of upper-body muscles. Begin in plank position with a dumbbell under each hand. Perform one pushup. Perform a renegade row with each arm. Hop feet up towards hands, and rise to a squat position with dumbbells at shoulders. As you stand, use the leg drive to press dumbbells overhead.