Anybody can look good in a well-fitted suit and some great kicks. Casual clothes, on the other hand, are a lot trickier. There’s no tailoring or styling wizardry to hide behind when you’re just donning a pair of jeans and a basic T-shirt. While many workouts will help you look good in your low-key duds, you can supercharge your results by working in a routine geared toward sculpting your arms, chest, core, and back. The real secret, according to Men’s Fitness, is targeting smaller muscles within the larger groups that usually go ignored.
You’re also guaranteed to look great if you’re wearing the right shirt. Ditch the tattered Ts from the gym, and go with something that’s effortlessly cool. GQ shared eight of their favorites to get you started. The picks range from $16 to $102, so there’s something for every budget.
Once you have the right top, you just need to choose a fitness routine. These five workouts will help sculpt your upper body faster than you ever thought possible.
1. The T-Shirt and Tank Top Workout
Many guys focus on compound lifts in the gym, which is a great way to burn muscle and increase mass. When you’re looking to make certain muscles pop, like the ones that you show off in a t-shirt, you’ll want to start incorporating isolation moves into your routine. Muscle & Fitness explained the best way to target these key body parts is by going for heavy weights and lots of repetition. The details are also extremely important, so you can’t just go through the motions without giving them your full attention. Also, rest periods should be kept on the short side.
This program is actually a set of two workouts. The first routine will look pretty standard to gym veterans. It includes cable press-downs to work your triceps and shoulders, as well as incline biceps curls to target your biceps and forearms. The workout also includes one superset to blast your upper traps and pectorals. The second workout is performed as a circuit, combining moves like the incline dumbbell bench press, cable chest flyes, and ab wheel rollouts. For this workout, you’ll go from one move right to the next, rest for a few minutes, then repeat the cycle two more times. The articles suggested performing both of these workouts two times per week for the best results.
While isolation moves are great for aesthetics, they won’t offer the same calorie burn or overall strength benefits as compound moves. If you have some weight to lose, STACK said it’s unwise to choose isolation exercises until you get relatively lean. Newcomers to the weight-lifting scene will likely be in the same boat, as they’ll be committing fewer hours to the gym, at least to start.
2. 10-Minute T-Shirt Muscle Workout
For guys who struggle finding the time to sculpt a perfect body, a circuit routine is the best bet. This type of intense, fast-paced workout is great at burning fat as well as building muscle, as long as you do it correctly. Bodybuilding.com said you’ll need to go with heavy weights and short rest periods, because maximizing your intensity gives you the greatest metabolic boost during and after your workout.
For this circuit from Men’s Health UK, you’ll combine five moves without taking any rest. At the end of the first cycle, give yourself a 60-second breather, then repeat the circuit as many as four times. The first two moves are supersets, which will immediately kick your effort into high gear. Start with a combination of walking lunges and bicep curls to target your glutes, quads, and biceps. Next, move to a superset of squats and lateral raises. You’ll then go into a series of spiderman press-ups, dumbbell press-ups, and seated bent over rear deltoid raises, to really work your arms. Since this routine will only take about 10 minutes, try to fit it into your schedule several times a week.
3. Look Great in a T-Shirt Workout
Traveling for work and social commitments can make it a real challenge for some guys to make it to the weight room, but that doesn’t mean your hopes of looking great in your favorite T-shirt are dashed. Body weight training is getting more notice in the fitness world, and it’s not just for females. Beachbody explained these movements utilize your own weight against gravity to provide the same type of resistance you get with weight lifting. And many of these exercises are more functional than lifts using barbells and dumbbells. As they become easier, you can increase your intensity by altering the movements. For example, you can make push-ups much more challenging by raising your feet off the ground.
This workout from Dappered combines six moves to help define your arms, chest, back, and stomach. It combines pull-ups, push-ups, planks, tricep dips, crunches, and supermans. Though the last move might seem like an odd choice, the article explained incorporating this exercise helps strengthen your back and prevents an abdominal muscle imbalance. For the best results, you’ll want to start incorporating these moves into your fitness regimen a few times per week.
4. Summer Shape-Up
Getting a great t-shirt body is about way more than bulking up your arms, chest, and abs. In fact, focusing too much on any one of these muscle groups could completely backfire. If you’re performing endless repetitions of the same exercises every day, you’re going to suffer from overtraining. Bodybuilding.com explained this is problematic, because it prevents you from getting stronger and building bigger muscles. For the best results, you should focus your efforts on a variety of muscle groups, including some supporting players.
A well-rounded workout should incorporate moves that target your triceps, midsection, neck, and shoulders. The Huffington Post recommended moves for each of these muscle groups, including dips, planks, dumbbell shoulder shrugs, and standing rows. While the article provided a comprehensive list of moves, it also suggested a circuit workout as an easier alternative. Aim for three to five cycles of this 5-move workout to get on the road to a better body.
5. The T-Shirt Workout
While full-body workouts are a great way to burn calories and hit every major muscle group, shifting to a program that targets just a few areas each day could help you achieve a better shape. According to BuiltLean, split routines are great for guys who regularly hit the gym and want to have the most control over their appearance. With this approach, you’ll be maximizing your effort by exhausting a few muscle groups with heavy weights. Because a split routine burns fewer calories, though, guys carrying a little extra weight should consider sticking with full-body workouts, like some of the circuits mentioned earlier.
Men’s Fitness splits their t-shirt workout into two parts: one day for shoulders and lats, and one for chest and arms. The first day consists of moves like snatchgrip high pulls, pull-ups, and lateral raises. The second day features dumbbell flyes, dips, and drag curls. The article recommends performing each routine once a week, spacing them apart by at least two days. Though these moves will help you carve body parts you show off in a t-shirt, don’t forget about incorporating moves that strengthen your lower body on other days. Nothing looks more ridiculous than a massive upper body on top of spindly legs.