5 Tips for Building a Sexy Body

blogheaderimg3The other week I was at a fitness seminar and met a brash young Scottish trainer from Long Island named John Romaniello (that’s a photo of him, but I’m not sure why he’s crying).

Now I’m pretty skeptical of other personal trainers, but this guy seemed to know his stuff. He’s written for T-Nation, Shape magazine, and is even doing stuff for Men’s Health…

…that gave him some credibility. He’s also kind of funny. Kind of.

So I asked him to write 2 articles for you – one for men and one for women – on building a sexy body. For some strange reason, he sent me the article for men first, but I’m still going to litter this article with pictures of sexy girls instead.

Warning: John has some weirdo-bodybuilder type ideas, but we’ll also forgive him for that. Hopefully this gives you some ideas to help you get the body you want…

5 Tips for Building a Sexy Body – John Romaniellohot_girl1

Whatever your fitness and physique goals are, it is important to structure your programming in a way that allows you to meet those goals in the shortest time period possible.

You have a tremendous variety of tools in the tool box, and it is sometimes easy to forget that not all methods are effective for all goals.

Athletes training for their sport practice some high specific drills; training for fat loss requires adjustment of nutrition strategies, power lifters work on becoming skilled and efficient in their primary lifts.

Given these examples, is easy to see that none of these scenarios would really benefit from using strategies intended for the others.

And so, if your goal is simply to build a lean, symmetrical, attractive and sexy body, you have to gear your diet and structure towards those goals.

Here are 5 tips to help you along the way:

1) Focus on Building an X-Shaped Physique

When it comes to being physically attractive to the opposite sex, it’s important to understand that certain body dimensions are visually important, from an evolutionary perspective.

Our progenitors credited desirable traits like strength, productivity, and virility to corresponding physical attributes.  While the society ‘needs’ may have changed in a way that no longer makes it ‘necessary’ to have the characteristics to succeed, to a certain extent we carry our ancestors tastes.

This means that physical traits which imply the presence of “mating qualifiers” are important for increasing your stock with the ladies.

To that end, an X-shaped physique means: broad shoulders, a narrow waist, and strong, well-developed calves.

For broad shoulders, focus on core movements that allow for maximal recruitment, such as the push press, as well as some isolation exercises to focus on the medial delts and increases width, such as lateral raises.

A narrow waist is primarily the result of a low level of body fat, obviously. However, it is important to understand that the muscles around your waist respond to weight training in much the same way that all other muscles do: by growing!

So while I don’t ever advise avoiding certain exercises completely, I offer the caveat that one should avoid training rotational exercises with either heavy weight or high volume.

Strong, well-developed calves are not easy to come by.  Calves are a notoriously stubborn body part to grow, so I recommend training them multiple times per week.  Work your calves first in your training session, not last.

By focusing on these muscles and building a physique more in line with what our ancestors considered desirable (and let’s be honest, we still do), you are on the road to a sexier body.

2) Push Less, Pull More

In keeping with the ideas from above, the goal of training for sexiness should also include balance and symmetry.  This not only should you train the right way, but also that you need to make a concentrated effort to avoid training the wrong way.

As men, we’re highly visual creatures.  As trainees, this translates into becoming highly focused on ‘mirror muscles’ – that is, those you can readily see in any mirror.

Guys in general tend to do a lot more work on muscles like chest than back. I cannot begin to describe the drawbacks of this mentality.

Instead, I’ll focus on the main ideas of this post.

With specific regard to appearance, lopsided training which focuses on anterior (front) muscles over posterior (rear) muscles leads to pretty ugly imbalances.

In addition to this being a great way to get yourself injured, it can lead to a round, forward shouldered look that is not the goal of any training program I’ve ever heard of.

Keeping in mind the idea of building a sexy body, it’s worth noting that such a look is also decidedly unattractive.

Instead, we should focus more on the muscles of the upper back: latissimus dorsi, teres major, trapezius, et al.  These muscles, developed correctly, will help pull your shoulders back, helping to create the broad shouldered look that men find powerful and women find attractive.

To prevent imbalances and help to create such a look, try to maintain a 3:2 ratio of pulling exercises to pushing exercises.

As an example, 3 sets of rows, 2 sets of bench presses.

Following this pattern, you are far less likely to develop unattractive imbalances; in addition, you will be less like to incur injury.  And probably be more likely get naked.

3) Lift Heavy at Least 4 Days per Month

The benefits of heavy training are widely documented, so once again I’ll just focus on the relevancy to building a bang-worthy body.

Training heavy doesn’t just make you strong-it makes you look strong. Training in low rep-ranges (3-5 reps) necessitates the use of near-maximal weight.  In generally, you would be working within 75%-85% of your 1RM.

This elicits some profound physiological changes.

Training with heavy loads leads to an increase in both neurogenic and myogenic muscle tone, both of which are important for building an attractive physique.

First, it is necessary to recognize that for the purposes of this writing, the word “tone” means the level of tension in a muscle.  With that understood, let’s talk about each type.

Neurogenic tone refers to the level of tension in a muscle in a working or flexed state.  That is, how “hard” a muscle is when you are either training it, or just flexing it for some chick at the gym/beach/World of Warcraft party.

Myogenic tone can be defined as residual tension in a resting muscle.  What this really means is how hard, full, and dense your muscles are when you’re just hanging out.  Rather than some artificial pump, an increase in myogenic tone is a permanent increase in the appearance of your muscles.

Increasing neurogenic and mygenic tone also has the benefit of making muscles more visible at slightly higher levels of bodyfat – and there is a lot to be said for having your triceps pop out a bit more at 10%–just imagine how they’ll look at 8%!

To achieve the increases, my clients all have at least 1 day per week dedicated to lifting near maximal loads.  In addition to the aforementioned benefits, heavy training also leads to strength increases, which has obvious implications for training in the future.

Take home: lift heavy, get hard.

4) Mix Up Your Training

In order to create a body suited for a variety of physical.er, tasks, you need to change up you workout pretty frequently.

Training variety keeps you motivated and invariably leads to better results.

In terms of helping you increase your rating on the Scale of Sexy, the main benefit if from a fat loss perspective.

While it is arguable that “training ADD” can inhibit muscle gains (which is only true if you are changing haphazardly with no thought to programming)…

for the purposes of getting lean, exposing yourself to consistently changing stimulus is an excellent way to ramp up metabolism and consistently increases the processes by which fat loss is made possible.

Certainly, I do not advocate switching programs from day to day.  Instead, I recommend choosing or designing programs that have multiple training methods built into a training week.

An easy way to work variety into your training is to change exercises for the same movement.  Switching form bench presses to push ups, counter intuitive though it might seem, can actually help you increase muscle mass, as well as lose fat.

Even a switch as simple as trading in barbells for dumbbells for a single workout can make significant changes, and keep you lean year round, aiding your quest for a sexy body.

For more structured change, consider trying out timed workouts: that is, instead of counting reps, each set will be for a given length of time-the goal of course is to get as many reps in that time period as possible.

Not only will increasing training variety make you sexier, but it also keeps training fresh and fun.

5) Tame Your Hormones

Bro, I hope it isn’t news to you that men and women have vastly different fat storage patterns than men.  Moreover, fat storage patterns vary pretty heavily from man to man.

In general, men tend to store fat around the abdominal and love handle areas.  Once again, we have our ancestors to thank/blame for this one.  So after 10,000 years of evolution, we’ve adapted to storing fat where it wouldn’t get in the way of hunting, killing, skinning, and devouring dinosaurs, wildebeests, umber hulks, and squirrels.

Women, on the other hand, store fat in the hip and thigh area.

Evolutionary favoritism notwithstanding, these differences are due in large part to differences in hormonal environments between men and women.

To make it basic: high testosterone will lend itself to storage of midsection fact, whereas high estrogen leads to lower body fat storage.

Men, listen up: testosterone is your friend, and the more of it you have, the faster you’ll gain muscle, lose fat, meet women, and read my blog posts.

Therefore, high levels of test are good.  Unfortunately, when you are on a fat loss program (AKA when you are dieting down for beach season or spring break), the way testosterone effects insulin management gets a little screwy.

In fact, with most of the male clients I’ve had, as they get closer to their goal body fat level, it gets much harder to lose fat in those more “masculine” areas such as abs, obliques, and lower back.

Therefore, as you continue to lean out towards your ideal sexy body, you will probably notice that you are suffering from Chronic Love Handular Fatittude-never fear, Roman to the rescue.

To aid in shedding the love handles and creating a body worth seeing naked, there are a few ways to improve insulin management via supplementation and diet.

For supplements, fish oil, along with the myriad of other benefits, has been shown to vastly improve insulin management when taken in high doses.

As far as additions to diet: cinnamon, added to meals containing carbohydrates, has been shown to mitigate the effects of insulin spikes and fat storage.  Along those same lines, there is some evidence to support that drinking a moderate dose of apple cider vinegar prior to meals containing carbohydrates has similar effects.

A combination of an intelligent diet and training program, as well as a few tricks like the supplement recommendations above is a great way to make your endocrine system work with you to create a sexy body, instead of against you.

So there you have it:

5 simple strategies to help you lose fat, put muscle on the right places, and build a body women are evolutionarily programmed to want to see naked.

You’re welcome.

John Romaniello
Roman Fitness Blog


Interested to hear what you think…I’m down with the training hard and heavy and changing it up, but still not sure I believe in the power of supplements, especially for fat loss.

Let us know what you think,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

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  • Thanks for posting this, CB. Hopefully your readers can get a lot out of it.


    • Craig Ballantyne

      I’m sure they will John, looking forward to the female version.

    • Joanne Strobel

      “To make it basic: high testosterone will lend itself to storage of midsection fact, whereas high estrogen leads to lower body fat storage.”

      This really hits home for me.

      I am a 49 year old female. At age 38 I turned my life and body around. Lost 55 lbs. down to a sexy looking 115-118 range. I exercised faithfully. And it felt good.

      But, 3 years ago this fall I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, had surgery, had radiation treatments, and I have been on TAMOXIFEN for the last 3 years and 2 more years to go.
      My tumor tested positive for Estrogen Receptor positive, meaning it was my own estrogen that caused my tumor. That is why I am on Tamoxifen to block my estrogen. Therefore I cannot every take any Estrogen replacement therapy.

      The last 3 years have been a real struggle…….struggle with the fatigue, struggled with frustration, stress, and at times depression. I have put on 15 lbs and look horrible, currently battling between 132 – 135. YUCK!

      I have continued to exercise but cannot manage the high intensity level that I was could.

      My Thyroid is low, and my cortisol is extremely high.

      My Hormone doctor put me on Levothyroxine (synthroid) for my low thyroid, and Progestrone with some Testosterone to help with my female issues.

      After 3 months I have not noticed any difference in the way my body responds to diet and exercise.

      What can you offer or suggest for a person with my obstacles?

      Feeling like I’m in combat with my own body.

      • Craig Ballantyne

        Hi Joanne!

        First, congratulations on winning your battle against breast cancer. I will ask around for help on this and other female hormone issues.


      • Christina Boss

        I am a registered pharmacist(25+ years), personal trainer, biochemist and physiologist. I am also a pro natural bodybuilder. I can tell you the reason for the cancer IS NOT YOUR OWN ESTROGEN….. No matter what the doctors might be leading you to believe. I have had many clients come to me with breast cancer and I help them successfully through the ordeal with strength (yes, they continue to resistance train thru-out it all with no problem) and quick recovery after chemo treatments. I also teach clients what to do to prevent re-currence. And as far as Tamoxifen ( remember I am a drug EXPERT so what I say is very valid) …America’s women have been MISLEAD.

      • Hey Joanne,

        I’ll echo Craig’s sentiments and congratulate you on your battle.

        I am going to give a little bit of advice, but before I do that, I just want to qualify where it is coming from.

        To date, I have trained 9 women and 4 men during their battle with or recovery from Cancer. Of those women, 8 of them had breast cancer.

        In addition, just prior to my 18th birthday, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother died from that same disease before I was born.

        Given all that, I think it is fair to say that I have some experience.

        With that in mind, I have run into this same situation several times, and each time it is very frustrating. The important thing to remember is that the mere fact that you lived through your ordeal is a miracle unto itself.

        The medications now affecting your appearance negatively are part of a process of treatment that is affecting your health in a very positive way.

        I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, and I apologize for the redundancy; it’s simply that my mother wouldn’t approve of me taking anything other than the most thorough approach to this subject possible.

        There are a few things to consider here:

        Given that the majority of your current weight gain is really a reaction to a drug, you want to take this time to focus on the idea that your body isn’t at war with itself. Rather, your medications are still at war with the disease, and your body is the battleground.

        The good news is, only two more years on the Tamoxifen, and the weight is literally going to fall off. Seriously. My mother (who is fine), lost about 40 pounds in 4 months after getting off Nolvadex–during the time she was on the drug, the greatest 4 month weight loss she had was 6 pounds.

        More recently, I had one client coming off Tamoxifen lose nearly 60 pounds in about 18 weeks, or just under 5 months. Pretty incredible.

        I guess the take home is that while you are certainly not powerless while on Tamoxifen, it imposes some obvious limitations on you that I KNOW are just insanely frustrating.

        For the time being, refocus on working out for your health first, and try to be patient and let your doctors–and the medications the prescribe–do their thing and keep you better.

        One of the things that helps is to try to pick up a new physical skill during this time period. Something like becoming stronger (maybe be able to do a pull up, or multiple pull ups), become proficient at yoga, or maybe run a 5K or something.

        The idea is to set achievable goals that you can control (as opposed to the medications, which you cant). If you can set and achieve small physical goals, you’ll feel so much better, and it’ll make the next two years fly by so much faster.

        And once they are over, I promise the weight will really fly off =)

        Please accept my most sincere congratulations for taking things this far. Be patient.

        They say patience is an extension of strength–and if there is one thing all the breast cancer survivors I know have in common, it is that they are uncommonly strong. Patience should be easy.

        Let me know if you need anything at all.

        Thanks for sharing your story, Joanne.


      • Craig Ballantyne

        John, thank you. This is powerful information. – Craig

      • Mary

        What a powerful reply!!! I just know that this is going to help Joanne with her struggle!!! I am going to keep your message because it’s such a positive outlook on something that can be so dibilitating! May God bless you and Joanne! (You too Craig!)

      • Hasan

        its the other way around…..testosterone helps you shred fat, while estrogen makes you store it. Tat is why people with stomach fat have higher estrogen levels. Additionally, alcoholic beverages raise estrogen levels, which is why alcoholics have “beer bellies.” I learned all this from Mike Geary, a JACKED specialist in nutrition and fitness.

  • Hey Craig and John, thanks for the post.

    I think people need to find a good balance at finding a way to look great without compromising their overall health and longevity.

    I think you make a great point on the push-and-pull aspects of fitness, as far too many dudes go into a gym, crank out 3 sets on the bench press, do a few arm curls and call it a day.

    Personally I’m a huge advocate of the “appearance is a consequence of fitness” and train with that in mind, but I can see how this would work for those who are looking to get the most of their time in the gym in the quickest way possible.


    • Craig Ballantyne

      Great point Steve, thanks!

  • linda

    okay, just wondering i listened to the joel marion and John romaniello webcast and funnily enough john doesn’t have a scottish accent like myself , so i am assuming that his parents or grandparents are scottish..?
    I too am looking forward to the female version. by the way it was a great webcast.. good information.

    • Linda,

      Thanks for listening to the webcast! I hope you got a lot out of it.

      You are correct: I do not have a Scottish accent. Because I am not, in fact, Scottish.

      In point of fact, I’m of mixed descent. As “Romaniello” would imply, in I’m a bit Italian. (Roughly 50%). The rest of me is a mix of Irish, Polish, Native American (Cherokee, actually), German,and some other stuff.

      No Canadian, though.

      Craig is making fun of me, because during the time we spent together at the seminar, I subjected him to my Sean Connery impression for hours. Which is awesome.

      • Craig Ballantyne

        I thought you said you were Scottish.

      • Considering the fact that you lied to me about everything North of my border, I don’t think I can trust your word.

        I may have mentioned it, I’m a little Scottish…less than 5% I’d imagine. But I can’t for the life of me remember having mentioned it.

      • Craig Ballantyne

        Maybe it was Vince who said that.

  • TJ


    Great to see you post something from one of my fellow Long Islanders. It’s never bad to be reminded of solid tips like these.

  • Andrew Lowry

    CB thanks for posting this. I see many of the elements you use in TT with this thinking. If doing a TT for Mass program how would one add in the heavy lifting 4 times per month? Pick one session per week and up the weight and drop the reps?

    Any thoughts of making a TT workout based around this advice?

  • Ali

    Do you NOT want women to be comfortable going to your site? I felt a bit that way today.

    • Nicole

      Really? Are you intimidated by pictures of hot women? Like really…. the photos are meant as eye candy for everyone, if not motivation, for women at least.

      • Ali

        I don’t find these pictures motivating. Not really intimidated just put off, we all have different goals and values. I’m interested in health and strength.

  • Dr. George

    I need to play more volleyball!!!

  • Of COURSE Craig wants women coming to his site!

    That’s why he posted pictures of me with my shirt off.

    Kidding, kidding…a little.

    But really, the picture are motivational. And Craig is a fair minded guy. I’m sure the Womens version of the article will be peppered with pictures of shirtless males, for your view pleasure. And for motivation for the guys.

    Speaking of Volleyball, I actually asked CB if he wanted to get a game of beach V-ball going in Tampa, where we’d get all the fitness pros oiled up and flexing at each other, like in Top Gun.

    He said they don’t have Top Gun in Canada. So that was the end of that.

  • Earlteam brazil!

    I need to play volley ball… I can’t imagine a better core work out than with team Brazil!!

  • Body2Shape

    Hi John you talked about waist size about about, personally, from all the power lifting type exercises and core work I have don’t over the year I have found my waist to have gotten a whole lot bigger. As a note, if you’re looking to have a more tapered, V-shaped body like a bodybuilders its probably wise to easy off things like deallifts and squats. two exercises that have increases my waist even with my low body fat.

  • Mary

    Where is the woman’s version of this article??? Don’t have a problem with girls in bikini’s just so long as you put as many buff looking guys with them! 😉

  • Hey John,
    Thanks – – especially for the “weirdo bodybuilding tips”! 🙂

  • Tim

    I love reading these tips and also LOVE the random giant crazy squirrel. Thanks for sharing your humour!