I'm 6ft and 200lbs. I have some stomach fat, not too much, but enough that I would like to lose it. My Dr. recently considered me very healthy weight-wise, although he didn't get into fat percentages.

I've been working out about 4 days a week since May, doing various exercises and having protein shakes and a creatine supplement every day. My diet is balanced and healthy, and I eat between 2000 and 2500 calories a day.
My exercises at the moment consist of overhead press, push ups, chin ups, dumbbell squats, biceps curls and triceps curls.

I would like to start to develop a physique close to Chris Evans in Captain America or Christian Bale in Batman Begins.
Essentially, well developed and visible chest and arm muscles, although not too huge, with visible abdominal muscles. Not necessarily a six pack like you might see on the cover of Men's Health.

I would like to know if it is possible to work towards that type of body type using just dumbbells or a chin-up/sit-up bar. If so what type of exercises should I be doing?

  • How long have you been using your current program? Have the weights or reps increased? How would you say it's working for you so far? Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 9:11
  • Hi Dave, I've been doing it since May, and in September pushups, squats and chinups were added. Weights have increased by about 10lbs...reps not really, still 3 sets of 10 for most. I've deifnitly gained some muscle and seen an improvement...but I think I want to focus more on look than actual weight or strength.
    – Josh
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 13:34
  • How are your workouts split currently? For four days a week it doesn't sound like you're doing that much, unless you're doing those exercises more than once. Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 15:58
  • Hi Anthony, I do those exercises 4 days a week, 3 sets of 15 for each. It takes me a while to do as it's still a good challenge for me..
    – Josh
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 9:10

2 Answers 2


If I got your question right, you have a goal of looking ripped and want to show definition in your muscle as well as separation. I think your journey needs a couple of dynamic variables varying from your fat loss/cutting techniques to changing routines.

In general terms, my advise would be as following:

Must Do's:

  • Make a plan which consists of a solid target and progress chart in a spreadsheet (your stats like weight, body-fat %, limb measurements, ratios etc)
  • Create phases in training (strength-hypertrophy-endurance cycle with progressive overload 4 weeks each cycle)
  • Learn how to be patient and consistent. Check Self-discipline videos of Brian Tracy on YouTube which will definitely help you if you incorporate a couple of his advice regarding the habits.

  • Get a copy of "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle" and study it. This book will definitely make you be more aware of nutrition and its effects on your gains. Also this book might teach you how to plan your diets in different seasons.

  • Get a copy of "The Polinquin Principles" to get an impression of effective training which will give you another angle of view when it comes to plan your workouts
  • Make sure you practice on your form and focus on your form instead of weight (if you wanna get your shape in good form, you gotta do your reps in good form)
  • Rest and rest well. Make sure you sleep enough.

Additional helper: If you wanna get your body-fat lower to show what muscle you got, you can do two-a-days like cardio in fasted state in the morning and resistance training in the evening.

Most important of all:
Discover what type of a body you have (are you close to an ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph) and make an adherent plan on your diet and food. This will set you on the right track. And also you can look for effective training methods on which your body type responds in general. But it is different for everyone, so you will have to find that out yourself.

Learn how to measure your body fat percentage with a skinfold caliper and create a spreadsheet with your stats every week in the same situation (measure your weight daily right after waking up and visiting the toiled in your fasted state and your all-round body fat every 5 days). Also trust the mirror. Make sure you make standard pose pictures to see the differences. I would suggest use the same room in the same time of day with the same proper lighting.

Measuring progress and crunching numbers is the only way for you to get an indication on which parts you need to focus to reach your goal.

I would also advise to ask your doctor to do a full range blood-test and after you have come closer to your goal and re-take the test to see whether there is anything different. This one is not mandatory but is nice to have if you want to check your hormonal mirrors and make sure you have no deficiencies on minerals, vitamins, enzymes or excess. It will also be an indicator on whether you are on the right path in terms of your stress load and journey.

Experiment and find out what works out for you the best and see how you respond to nutrition and exercise. Be not afraid of new things. But don't take everything on the internet for the granted. If something is not clear, ask to those who might now, but also ask for the reason why it is so. Because what works for me might not work for you at all.

Last thing: Remember that you have a target and it will be a hell of a trip. Make sure you enjoy it, otherwise it will turn into a waste. Finish each of your workouts and every time you do a set keep the end of your set in mind. And when you hit a plateau or feel like giving up, think about where you started and see how far you actually are.


Personally I would consider adding the following:

Dumbbell presses

If you have access to a bench then do incline/flat/decline to hit your chest from various angles; otherwise there's a variation you can do on the floor.

Dumbbell flies

Another good exercise for working your chest. Do them either on a bench or the floor variation.

Dumbbell deadlifts

I'm not sure how these compare to deadlifting with a barbell, but they should give you many of the same benefits. While you'll feel it mainly in your lower back, just like squats deadlifts are good for building overall strength because everything will be involved at heavier weights.

Dumbbell bent-over rows

Tricep kickbacks

You don't even need to do every exercise each week. Varying the specific exercises you're doing - while ensuring you're still working all of the muscle groups - makes it slightly more interesting and your body won't be able to adapt to the same workout every single week.

In addition to adding exercises, experiment with how you're arranging your sets. Drop sets, negatives (rarely), very slow repetitions with low weight, medium weight sets to failure, etc.

Personally I found that, after the initial beginner gains phase, I noticed an improvement from different approaches for each body part. I preferred doing drop sets for my chest; got the best results from doing very slow (2-2-4 tempo) low weight repetitions for three sets on three or four tricep exercises; but my biceps gained the most from doing medium weight sets to failure on only two exercises (barbell curls and hammer curls).

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