We’ve all seen photos of celebrities looking effortlessly chic in a t-shirt and jeans, only to try replicating the look and falling completely short. The flimsy fabric can reveal every unwanted bulge and imperfection, whether it’s upper arm flab, droopy shoulders, or the dreaded muffin top.
Remember, celebrities have personal trainers who’ve straightened their backs, sculpted their shoulders, tightened their abs, and crafted their killer arms. Now, you can do the same with these trainer-approved moves!
Women often underestimate the importance of a solid upper body, but you better believe your favorite celeb is working every muscle group. A balanced body is key if you want to look good naked—and in clothes. Although finding the right diet for you is integral to creating your desired figure, we’re just going to focus on the exercises needed to sculpt the perfect t-shirt silhouette. With some hard work and a few targeted exercises, you’ll be able to rock any style tee.
Step 1: Work On Your Waist
As if worrying about muffin top wasn’t enough, now with the rise of the crop top, a slender midsection is more important than ever. If you really want a tighter tummy, you need to incorporate exercises that create a belt of muscle around your entire mid-section. By working the abs from all angles, you’ll draw in the waist, flatten the stomach and add abdominal definition.
To work all of your core muscles, you need to include the following four types of movement:
1) Abdominal flexion, which will tighten the “rectus abdomonis”, or sheet of muscle tissue that is directly on the front of your stomach e.g. crunches, reverse crunches, v-ups, hanging leg raises.
2) Rotation, which will work the internal and external oblique muscles that are on the sides of your stomach e.g. Russian twists, cable torso twists, incline crunch and twist.
3) Waist extension, which will incorporate the low back muscles to improve posture and allow you to keep your stomach sucked in. e.g. hyperextension, bridges, single leg stability ball bridge, opposite arm/leg extension.
4) A total planking exercise, which will allow you to tone each of the muscles listed above in one all-encompassing exercise e.g. plank, side plank, stability ball plank, side plank rotation, stability ball pike, mountain climber.
Create a circuit-style workout by combining exercises from each category and repeat three to four times with minimal rest in between each exercise. This could be 30 seconds of crunches, followed by 30 seconds of Russian twists, followed by 30 seconds of double leg bridge, followed by a 30 seconds plank, repeated three to four times.
Take your core training to the next level with my article on how to get a flat stomach.
Continue for a killer arm workout
Step 2: Target Your Triceps
Great-looking arms aren’t all about the biceps – you have to train the back of your arms, too! The triceps actually comprise 75% of your upper arm mass and should be trained from all angles. Although you can’t lose fat from one specific area, a sensible diet and exercise plan will help banish upper arm flab to reveal your sexy, t-shirt ready arms.
Three of the best exercises for defined triceps are:
1) Narrow grip pushups: Do a push-up in the regular or knee push-up position, but keep your hands closer together and make sure your elbows brush your ribcage as you lower yourself down and push yourself back up.
2) Triceps push-downs: At most gyms, you’ll find a cable apparatus with a rope or bar attached to it. This is perfect for triceps push-downs, in which you start with your arms bent at 90 degrees and then extend them down to your hips until they’re completely straight.
3) Dips: Begin by holding onto two bars and suspending your body in the air. You then lower yourself as far as you can–or until your elbows are at about 90 degrees–then push yourself back up.
Step 3: Perfect your Posture
Long days sitting at the office and excessive screen time are two of the biggest culprits contributing to poor posture. I’m sure you’re not thinking about work while you’re enjoying the weekend in your favorite t-shirt, so don’t take your day job’s consequences with you via a slouched back. The combination of a tight chest and a weak back promote a hunched back, but the following exercises will address these issues:
1) Seated rows – Sit at a low pulley row machine with a V-bar, place your feet on the platform with a slight bend in the knees, grab the V-bar with your arms extended and hinge back at your waist until your torso is at a 90 degree angle from your legs, keeping the torso stationary, pull the handles back toward your torso and really squeeze the back muscles, return to starting position by extending the arms and repeat.
2) Pull-ups – Grab the pull-up bar with palms facing forward, curve the lower back and stick the chest out, pull your torso up until the bar touches your upper chest by bringing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back and squeezing the back muscles, lower and repeat; use a chin assist machine if you’re unable to pull up your full body weight, or utilise the technique shown below.
3) Lat Pull-downs – Sit down at a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached, grab the bar with palms facing forward, bring your torso back about 30 degrees while curving the lower back and sticking chest out, bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest by bringing the shoulders and upper arms down and back and squeezing shoulder blades together, raise bar back to starting position and repeat.
4) Super-slow push-ups – Beginning in plank position with arms straight and hands directly below the shoulders, lower yourself downward for a 1-2-3-4 count until chest almost touches the floor, then push-up for a 1-2-3-4 count.
You should also work on your posture and improve your back health outside of the weight room. Yoga will certainly strengthen and engage the back, but you should really check out my favorite method called Foundation Training.
Sculpt your shoulders with the next page’s workout!
Step 4: Strengthen your Shoulders
A t-shirt isn’t going to hang properly from droopy shoulders. Strong, sculpted shoulders will not only fill out a t-shirt, they will create the illusion of a smaller waist. To achieve defined deltoids, you need to work the shoulders from all angles with the following exercises:
1) Dumbbell shoulder press – Hold the dumbbells lengthwise, at ear level, with palms facing forward, then press the weight up until arms are nearly straight, lower weights to ear level and repeat.
2) Dumbbell lateral raise – Stand with your arms by your sides with dumbbells in hand and palms facing inward, slowly raise the arms to the side while maintaining a slight bend at the elbow until shoulder height, slowly lower and repeat.
3) Dumbbell rear lateral raise – Stand with your arms by your sides with dumbbells in hand and palms facing inward, bend knees and bend over through the hips with a flat back until back is close to horizontal, raise the arms laterally from below the chest to shoulder level while maintaining a slight elbow bend, lower arms and repeat
If you have weak or injured shoulders, you can still exercise the shoulders without weights.
Step 5: Fight the Fat
While all of these exercises will help make wearing a t-shirt as effortless as it should be, you won’t be able to showcase your fierce muscles through a layer of fat. Maintaining a healthy body fat percentage will not only keep you healthy, it’ll make getting dressed a quick and painless process. I can give you all of my favorite exercises for common trouble areas, but you must also commit to a diet plan and philosophy that best suits your needs. Once you have a handle on your nutrition, you can really dial it in to become a fat burning machine and experiment with fat loss supplements.
Now that you know the moves, it’s time to get to it! If it’s been a while since you’ve hit the gym, don’t let an insufficient workout wardrobe stop you. Learn all of the nitty-gritty details on how to choose the perfect fabric, and the ideal fashion for fitness, in this recent, free audio podcast I recorded, entitled “Fitness Fabrics & Fashion.” Enjoy!
Finally, if you need a quick t-shirt workout that incorporates the concepts in this article, try this on for size:
- 10 Narrow Grip Push-Ups
- 10 Seated Rows
- 10 Side Plank Rotations
- 10 Walking Lunges
- 10 Dumbbell Deadlifts
Complete the circuit above three to five times through with minimal rest between exercises, then go find the right t-shirt for your new physique!