Okay, time to get real honest with ourselves today…the main reason we train – or at least started training – is to look great, right?
The truth is, many of us started our training career for pure vanity reasons. We wanted washboard abs, or sleeve-stretching biceps, either to make our bros jealous, or the ladies swoon.
Now, your reason for training may have evolved since then, but don’t ever deny that you aren’t playing the training game for the vanity consolation prize. At some level, we’re all training to look good. Because when we look good, we feel good. And when we feel good, everything’s good.
But how do you define “look good”? Is it a huge set of biceps? Washboard abs? A great ass? Those things are great and all, but none of them really give you “the look”.
The Power Look: Holy Grail of Physique Training?
The power look is a physique that turns heads when you walk into a room. It’s powerful. It’s intimidating. No one wants to mess with you. It’s a look of athleticism, of strength, of respect, and of sex appeal. It’s the look many who start a weight training program want, but few ever achieve.
The power look is more important than big arms, or shredded abs; because you can’t fake it. You can have big biceps and not be strong. You can have abs without ever touching a single weight.
I mean, this is great and all…
But give me this, any day of the week…
To have the power look, you need to be strong. There’s no way around it. The power look can be worn as a symbol of pride; a sign you put in the work. And a sign that you will fuck up anyone who messes with you.
So what’s the power look you ask? Let’s define it…
Also known as the traps. These muscles start at the neck and run down the center of the back, and make most of your upper back.
There are actually three parts to the trapezius: the upper, middle, and lower traps.
The upper traps sit on top of the shoulders and at the base of the neck. Their main function is elevating the shoulders. The middle portion of the traps retract the shoulder blades, pulling them towards the spine while the lower traps depress the shoulder blades, pulling them down.
Not only are they responsible for a lot of upper back strength – key for when you’re trying to strike fear in the hearts of your enemies – but they also play a large role in shoulder health and stabilization.
Traps are important for achieving the power look. Big traps will sit above the shoulder line and produce that “no neck” appearance.
The lats are the largest muscles in the upper body and because of that, they perform a lot of different functions. They connect at five different points including the spine, pelvis, ribs, scapula, and upper arm.
They work by adducting, rotating, and extending the arms, as well as pulling the arms back and down towards the hips. A classic example of the effect weak or undertrained lats can have in lifters is been hunched over. This is a result of overdevelopment of the chest and shoulder muscles due to performing more pushing than pulling exercises.
Like the traps, lats are key players in performance. A strong set of lats will have direct carryover to almost everything you do, including trial by combat.
Big lats help produce that “bat wing” look when you raise your arms. They give your torso a wider appearance, and important in the development of the power look.
The shoulder muscles, known as the deltoids, are comprised of three main groups: the anterior delts, which sit in the front, the medial delts in the middle, and the posterior delts on the back of the shoulder.
Strong, healthy shoulders help improve both performance and posture. Not only that, but broad shoulders are actually important for helping you achieve the Golden Ratio, or what many consider to be the peak waist-to-shoulder proportions for physical attractiveness.
Boulder shoulders are key for the power look, as the larger and more well-defined your shoulders are, the better they will compliment your traps.
I classify the pectorals, and specifically the upper pecs, as part of the power look because a big, thick chest not only compliments the rest of your power look muscles, but is needed for upper body explosiveness.
So how do you get the look? Like I said, to get it you need to be strong, so training for strength is going to be your main priority. Occasionally you’ll hit double digit reps with the assistance work, but for most exercises we’re going to keep it to 8 reps or less.
The Power Look Exercises
The following exercises are all designed to hit the power muscles hard. While some other muscle groups will get worked through these exercises, our main focus will be the traps, lats, and delts.
Deadlift – Traps, lats
The deadlift is one of the best back-building exercises out there, and since two out of our three power look muscles are in our back, it makes sense to start there. There’s also the added benefit of the deadlift being a total body exercise, so in addition to the back work, you work everything else as well.
The conventional deadlift is not for everyone however. It does require a lot of hip mobility and can be taxing on the lower back. For some, the trap bar deadlift may be a better alternative, and still provides many of the same benefits.
Push Press – Delts, Lats
We’re going with the push press here because it allows us to move more weight than the standard barbell overhead press. And when strength and power is our goal, that’s what we want.
Snatch-Grip High Pull – Traps, Lats
The snatch-grip high pull is one of my favorite back-building exercises. It’s basically the first half of a full barbell snatch. Drive through the hips and pull the barbell up until your elbows reach shoulder height.
Behind the Back Barbell Shrugs – Traps
When it comes to trap isolation exercises, shrugs really can’t be beat. I prefer the behind the back variation because it keeps the shoulders back instead of rolled forward.
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press w/ Constant Tension – Delts
The seated shoulder press really isolates the delts. For this, you’re also going to add constant tension, which means you’ll stop each rep short of lockout.
Barbell Dead-Stop Row – Lats, Delts
When it comes to power development, I’m a fan of the dead-stop row over the traditional barbell row. The dead-stop allows you to use more weight than a regular bent-over row because each rep is done from a dead stop, meaning less stress is placed on the spine. Rows also help with rear delt development.
I recommend elevating the bar to make it a little easier to get into the starting position.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – Delts, Upper Pecs
Incline pressing is a great way to get some chest work in while also hitting the deltoids, specifically the front, and to a lesser extend the middle.
Snatch-Grip Deadlifts – Lats, Traps
The snatch-grip deadlifts places a lot of emphasis on the traps and lats, more so than the traditional deadlift, because of the wider than normal grip.
Front Squats – Delts, Traps, Lats
While the front squat is primarily a lower body exercise, the anterior load calls into action a lot of upper body muscles for stabilization, especially the back. Not only that, but in order to look powerful, you need to be powerful. And to be powerful you need a strong lower body.
Sample Power Look Workouts
The Power Look PDF
You didn’t just think I’d leave you with a couple sample workouts and send you on your way did you?
I’m giving you access to the whole damn thing. That’s right, I want to give you the 4-week Power Look training program, fo’ free!
All you need to do is let me know your best email, and I’ll send you the Power Look training program – with built-in progression, and a quick-start nutrition guide – absolutely free.
If you want to become a super-human freak-beast, with a physique that will strike fear in the hearts of your enemies, the Power Look program is what you want.
Plus it’s free, so…