Top 8 Gym Exercises for Men To Achieve a Superhero Physique

By Tyler Read

Posted 3 years agoHEALTH


If you are after that Hollywood type of muscular physique, just like Chris Evans looked in Captain America or like Henry Cavil in Man of Steel, this post right here is going right down your street. These guys looked absolutely phenomenal in those movies. They had great muscular development; everything looked so symmetrical and aesthetic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like that?

But when you’re average looking (to say the least), how do you get from where you are right now to that kind of physiques? You might have been hitting the gym regularly for a while now but your progress is nowhere near that level.

It seems like no matter how much time and effort you put into your workouts you can’t make your muscles grow. If your nutrition is in check and you are getting enough sleep, then there’s clearly a problem with the way you train.

Down below we’re outlining the top 8 exercises you need to do in order to achieve that superhero physique you’re chasing. But before we get to that, let’s look at the characteristics of a superhero physique.


What makes a superhero physique?

First and foremost it’s the amount of muscle mass. To look like a superhero you will need to put on a ton of mass. This means heavy resistance training and a caloric surplus for a long period of time. So don’t expect to get that look overnight.

Then the next most important factor is a thick chest with clear separation between the pecs. Shoulders development is equally important because it will give you that wide look and it will make your waist look smaller. You want your shoulders to really pop out.

In fact, the shoulder to waist ratio is pretty much what makes or breaks a good-looking male physique. Just as in women it is the waist-to-hip ratio. So you want a big wide back and shoulders and a smaller waist. This means you will need to be fairly lean as well.

All superheroes have big, nicely defined arms with big triceps and biceps. Lastly but not least, you also want toned up legs. But not as developed as some might think because they will start to overpower the upper body. You need just the right amount of size and definition in your legs, but without going overboard.

Alright, now that we have a pretty clear picture of that superhero physique let’s see how we can achieve it.

1. Incline barbell bench press

This is the absolute best exercise you can do for developing your upper and mid-chest. You can do both dumbbell and barbell variations and you can also try different incline angles. But always stay between a 30 to 45 degrees incline.

Pick a weight which is heavy enough so that you can’t do more than 8-10 reps per set. You can do as little as 4-6 reps if you’re using heavier weights.

The great thing about incline bench press is that it allows you the safely use the progressive overloading training method, with minimum risk of injuries. Because you have more muscle groups and more joints moving the weight, even though the upper chest gets the most load, the risk of getting injured is much smaller.

Here’s how to bench press correctly:

  • Lie down on the bench so that bar is exactly above your eye level
  • Arch your back a little bit and plant your feet on the ground for better stability
  • Hand placement should be a bit wider than shoulder width apart
  • Keep your wrists tight and straight up (not bent)
  • Un-rack the weight and slowly start to descent by controlling it until it gently touches the upper part of your chest (it shouldn’t bounce off your chest)
  • Push it up as explosively as you can
  • When you are done securely re-rack the bar

Here’s a video demonstration:

2. Weighted dips

This one is another awesome exercise for developing your upper body. It will primarily target your chest and triceps, but you also get some shoulder activation as well.

If you can’t do weighted that’s fine, you can start with bodyweight dips, but if you want to achieve that superhero physique you are going to have to work your way up to doing dips using a 45 pounds plate or even more.

The great thing about dips is that it can target both your chest and triceps depending on the variation you are doing. So it’s a great exercise if you want a fuller chest but also bigger arms. The tricep actually makes up for ⅔ of the size of your arm, so it’s extremely important to train it if you want more size.

In terms of rep range, you can go from 8 reps up to 12-15 reps per set.

Here’s how to do 2 different dips variations.

Dips chest version

  • Use a wide grip on the parallel bar
  • Starting position is with your elbows straight
  • Bend your elbows and start to lower your body slowly while leaning forward around 30 degrees
  • Try to bring your feet forward a little bit as you go down so that you bring more weight forward (on the chest)
  • Stop once your shoulder level is slightly below your elbows level. You should feel a stretch in your chest at this point
  • From there push explosively through your palms until you are at the starting position, but don’t lock out your elbows.

Dips tricep version

  • Use a narrower grip on the parallel bar
  • Starting position is the same as before, with your elbows straight
  • Bend your elbows and start to lower your body slowly while keeping your upper body as straight up as possible.
  • Push your feet back as you go down so that you bring more weight backward (on the triceps)
  • Ending position is when your shoulder level is slightly below your elbows level.
  • Same as before, push through your palms until you are at the starting position and don’t lock your elbows.

Here’s how it should looks:

3. Deadlifts

This is one of the most challenging exercises you can do in the gym. It will activate your entire back chain of muscles such as the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, but it will also strengthen your core, quads and your grip. It is primarily used as a back training exercise though.

Because it uses so many muscles you will be able to use really heavy weights which make is so much more effective for building muscles. But also for losing fat because you will be burning more calories.

Having a good form is important for any exercise that you do,. But with deadlifts, you want to take your form to perfection. Everything has to be in check, otherwise, you may end up hurting your lower back really bad.

So here’s how to perform correctly this fantastic compound movement:

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing slightly outside
  • Hand placement on the bar should be just a bit wider than your feet placement
  • Make sure the hand placement is even on each side
  • The starting position is with your bum stuck out, chest out, shoulders rolled back and head up
  • Your spine should be in a neutral position
  • When you lift it push through the legs first while keeping your back straight
  • Then, once you are about halfway through the lift, the final movement is from the lower back
  • Arch your back just a little bit as you go up
  • Coming back down is the same: lower back first, and then bend your legs until the bar hits the ground.

The main take away here is that your back has to be straight through the whole motion. You don’t want it rounded unless you plan on breaking something. So pick a weight which allows you to perform this exercise with good form.

In terms of rep range, 5 to 12 reps per set is ideal.

Here’s how a good deadlift form looks:

4. Pull-ups/Chin-ups

Moving on we have another exercise which will target your upper back this time, but also the biceps – pull-ups or chin-up, depending on what palm placement you will be using.

Pull-ups will put more emphasis on your back, and are great for building width, whereas chin-ups will put more emphasis on your biceps. Ideally, you want work your way up to doing weighted pull-ups and chin-ups if you want to reach a higher level of muscular development. So definitely focus on improving your strength.

Here’s how to perform a pull-up correctly:

  • First, for pull-ups, you need to use an overhand grip
  • Then place your hands on the bar wide apart so that they form a V (wider than shoulder width apart)
  • Hang from the bar with your elbows completely straight (this will tighten your dorsal muscle)
  • Lean back a bit and stick your chest out as you pull yourself up
  • At the very top of the movement, you should have your chin pass the bar
  • Slowly return to the starting position, while controlling the movement.

Here’s how to perform a chin-up correctly:

  • For chin-up, you need to use an underhand grip
  • Hand placement should be about shoulder width apart
  • Hang from the bar with your elbows completely straight
  • Keep your body in a vertical position (don’t lean back as before) as you pull yourself up
  • At the very top of the movement, you should have your chin pass the bar
  • Slowly return to the starting position, while controlling the movement.

Aim for 6 to 12 reps per set and focus on progressing from bodyweight to weighted pull-ups and chin-ups.

Here’s how a pull-up looks:

And here’s a chin-up:

5. Lateral raises

This is my personal favorite shoulder exercise. Even though it’s not a compound movement like all the other exercise outline here, it’s the best way of building those round shoulders that make you look like you have a wide back as well.

You will be working out with lighter weights, so the main goal of this exercise is to keep the muscle under the tension for longer periods of time, and to use perfect form.

Here’s how to do shoulder lateral raises:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart while holding the dumbbells in your hands
  • Slowly raise your hand up to the sides until the dumbbells are just a bit above your head level
  • Your elbows should be slightly bent (this will take some stress off the joints)
  • Don’t swing your body or use any momentum as you are bringing the dumbbells up
  • Go back to the starting position slowly.

Do anywhere from 10 to 15 reps per set.

Here’s a visual demonstration:

6. Overhead shoulder press

The second shoulder exercise is the overhead press. Unlike the lateral raises, this is a compound movement which will target all 3 heads of the delts. But it also uses a lot of core muscles in order to stabilize the body, as well as a little bit of upper chest and arms muscles.

Here’s how to perform this exercise using a barbell:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Put the bar high on your chest (you should use a power rack)
  • Keep your chest up and elbows forward
  • Squeeze your glutes and keep your back straight
  • Your knees and hips should be locked throughout the movement
  • As the bar passes your head tilt it slightly backward to let the bar pass
  • At the very top position, your elbows shouldn’t be locked
  • At the very bottom position, the bar should touch your upper chest.

Aim for 6 to 12 reps per set.

Here’s how it should look:

7. Squats

Final weight training exercise on the list – squats – is targeting the lower body.

As mentioned in the very beginning, you don’t want really big and muscular legs because they will overpower your upper body. Of course, you don’t want chicken legs either. So we are after toning up the legs and create good muscle definition without making them too bulky.

For this purpose, you should do 10-12 reps per set with a weight which is about 70-75% of your one rep maximum. Squats are going to directly work your quads and hamstrings as well as your core muscles and a little bit of your back.

Here’s how to squat:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Keep your back straight, chest forward and shoulders backward
  • Keep your head straight and eyes forward
  • As you start to go down keep your back in a neutral position
  • Keep your knees in line with your feet
  • Bottom position should be when your bum is slightly lower than your knees
  • From there start pushing through your heels
  • Maintain a neutral spine as you go up back to the starting position.

That’s pretty much it. Start off with a lighter weight and work on your form first. Once you got it right use a moderate to heavy workload.

Here’s how it should look like:


Lastly but not least you want to do some cardio as well. It will help you keep your body fat percentage relatively low while still eating plenty of food.

The thing is that cardio can often interfere with muscle growth, and we definitely don’t want that. There are two ways you can prevent that from happening or at least minimize the effects.

The first one is to always do your cardio after your weight training. This way you will put most of your energy into the weightlifting, which is obviously more beneficial for your main goal.

The second one is to any kind of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) instead of a slower paced cardio such as incline walking or light jogging.

HIIT will give you the best bang for your buck. You will burn more calories in less time and it will interfere less with your muscle building process. Additionally, you will also benefit from the so-called after-burn effect, which will make your body continue to burn calories at a faster rate even if you are done with your cardio training.


Don’t forget – every hero needs his rest.


There you have it – the only 8 exercises you need to put in most of your time and effort in the gym if you want to become a superhero. Stick with it in the long term and the results will eventually start to show.

Always focus on getting stronger on each of these exercises. Make sure that your nutrition is in check and that you are living a balanced lifestyle for optimal results as well.

About the author Tyler Read

Tyler has been working as a certified personal trainer for over 10 years specializing in weight loss and functional training with women between the ages of 30 - 65. He also enjoys helping others become industry leading personal trainers through his website and YouTube Channel.

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