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Top 8 Exercises to build the body of a Greek God

by Jamie Frater
fact checked by dickensgirl

Everyone has seen statues of the Greek gods and who wouldn’t want a body to match? These exercises will help. Formulated by Wayne Westcott, PhD, (fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA outside of Boston) these exercises are for the home or gym and are a great way to start! The measurements included are taken from the statue of Doryphoros by Polykleitos dating from the 5th century BC.

8 Neck (19 inches; 48.26)

Dioph It1 2A-1At the gym: Nautilus four-way neck machine. Allows you to safely work the neck by raising and lowering your head, and by moving it side to side. Start with 70 pounds in the head-raising exercises, 50 for all the rest. Do one set of 8-12 repetitions in each direction.

At home: Barbell shrug. Pick up a 100-125-pound barbell using an overhand grip. Stand straight and let the bar hang down near your thighs. Without bending your arms, repeatedly shrug your shoulders toward your ears. Do two sets of 8-12 repetitions.

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7 Biceps (16.5 inches; 41.9)

Gym or home: Incline biceps dumbbell curl. Sit on an incline bench and let your arms hang back so they’re fully stretched; your palms should face forward. Alternately curl the dumbbells up, turning each palm inward as you do. Two seconds up, pause, four seconds down. Do three sets of 8-12 repetitions; rest 45 seconds between sets.

6 Chest (52 inches; 132cm)

Gym or home: Bench press with dumbbells, or a barbell. Start with a warmup set, using two-thirds the weight you normally bench. Then add the rest of the weight and do three sets of 8-12 repetitions.

5 Forearms (14.5 inches; 36.8cm)

Gym or home: Wrist roll. Tie one end of a 30-inch rope to a broomstick that’s been shortened to 18 inches. Tie the other end to a five-to 10-pound weight. Hold the stick horizontally in front of you using an overhand grip, then roll it to raise and lower the weight. Repeat the exercise as many times as you can.

4 Buttocks (47.5 inches; 120.6cm)

At the gym: Nautilus hip-extension machine. It works the gluteal muscles and hamstrings. Do one set of 10-15 repetitions.

At home: Full squat, with dumbbells or a barbell. With feet flat, slowly lower yourself until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor; keep your weight on your heels and your knees in line with your feet. Slowly come back up. Start with a warmup set, using two-thirds the weight you normally squat. Then add the rest of the weight and do three sets of 10-15 repetitions. (If you have knee, hip or back problems, do a half squat: Lower yourself till your thighs make a 30-degree angle with the floor.)

3 Calves (19 inches; 48.26cm)

Gym or home: Standing calf raise, with dumbbells in your hands or a barbell on your shoulders. Stand on the balls of your feet at the edge of a sturdy step. Rise up on your toes, then come back down, letting your heels drop slightly below the step. Do two sets of 15-20 repetitions.

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2 Waist (40.5 inches; 102.8cm)

This is mainly due to his large obliques, the muscles on each side of his torso. In ancient Greece, athletes were thick-waisted; they needed abdominal strength for the discus, the long jump, and wrestling. Doryphoros’s waist doesn’t look big, though, because his chest is proportionately larger.

Gym or home: Twisting trunk curl. Lie on the floor with your lower legs on a chair seat. Slowly curl your upper torso off the floor; but at the top of the movement, slowly twist to the right, bringing your left elbow toward your right knee. Untwist and lower yourself, then curl up and twist to the left. That’s one repetition. Do two to four sets of 20-25 repetitions.

1 Thighs (26.5 inches; 67.3cm)

At the gym: Leg press. Pick a weight you can press only about a dozen times. After the twelfth repetition, quickly reduce the weight by 20 percent and do 6-8 more. If you are up to the challenge, drop the weight an additional 20 percent and pound out 6-8 more.

At home: Lunge, with dumbbells in hand or a barbell on your shoulders. Step forward with your right leg so that your knee is bent 90 degrees. As you do so, let your left knee drop toward the floor. Then push back to the starting position with your right leg. Now repeat with your left leg. That’s one repetition. Do one set of 6-8 repetitions. (If you have knee, hip or back problems, do the half squat under “Buttocks” instead.)


Doryphoros is 6 feet 5 and a half inches tall. In order to get the right proportions for your own height use these rules:

1. Your waist should be about 12 inches smaller than your chest.
2. Neck, biceps and calf measurements should each be roughly half your waist.
3. Your thighs should be about 1.5 times the size of your calves.

This list was featured in the magazine Menshealth.

fact checked by dickensgirl
Jamie Frater

Jamie is the founder of Listverse. When he’s not doing research for new lists or collecting historical oddities, he can be found in the comments or on Facebook where he approves all friends requests!

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