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October 12, 2021 8 min read

It’s easy to feel envious of male models. Not only do they live glamorous lives in glamorous cities around the world, they often bring in big bucks and come home to partners who are equally beautiful.

While you may not have so much control over the money and partners part, you can follow the male model workout in order to at least look like you might belong on a billboard in Times Square.

In this article, we take a closer look at the body type male models must work to maintain, a typical two-day exercise routine for staying fit and lean, and some basic diet and supplement rules most male models follow.  

What Is the Male Model Body Type? 

There are strict requirements for both male and female body types. Though some agents, casting directors, and brands will occasionally search for someone different, the general guidelines for male models are a height between 5’11” and 6’3”, a waist measuring 29-32 inches, and a chest measuring 39-40 inches.

Sexy model in aviator sunglasses

The ideal physique of a male model is different from what is typically considered the  ideal proportions of the male body. Most male models aim for “lean” -- that is, some muscle definition, but an overall natural look. 

The Male Model Workout 

Male models tend to have a unique workout goal. Rather than aiming to get as big as possible, most male models work out with the goal of maintaining their lean muscle mass.

The male model workout we detail below spans just two days, and can be repeated throughout the week, with one rest day. Each exercise day lasts just 40-60 minutes, including one minute of rest between each set.  

A formal workout includes 5-6 sets and 10-12 reps of every exercise. Though there is room for variation, the key to the male model workout is to work until “muscle failure” -- that is, you should be able to do 12 reps exactly.

If you aren’t able to hit 12 reps, then the weights you are using are probably too heavy. On the other hand, if hitting 12 reps is a breeze, then your weights are likely too light. Working until “muscle failure” is the way to get the most out of your workout routine.

Below, we look at a two-day exercise plan you can use to maintain a lean physique and conform to the strict guidelines for male models. 

Day One

Day one of your two-day exercise routine focuses on your upper body. Begin with:

Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is a more challenging variation of the traditional bench press. Position your bench at about a 45-degree angle in order to work out your upper chest and the frontside of your shoulders.

Then work straight into:

Traditional Bench Press or Dumbbell Bench Press

The choice is yours, and can depend solely on your mood for the day. Both of these exercises require the use of a bench and dumbbells, and  target your pectoral muscles, shoulders, and arms.

Then work straight into:

Peck Deck or the Standing Cable Chest Fly

Once again, the choice is yours. The peck deck -- perhaps better known as the machine fly or the seated lever fly -- requires the use of a specific machine. It targets the arms and chest muscles, and is designed to increase strength and muscle mass.

For this reason, you’ll want to alternate your exercise days between this and the standing cable chest fly. The standing cable chest fly is a variation of the traditional chest fly. Like the peck deck, it targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps, but does not require the use of a specific piece of equipment. 

After a short rest, gather your focus and complete the day’s workout with a series of back exercises. Begin this part of the workout with:

Pull Ups or Lateral Pull Downs 

If you have access to a bar, then pull ups are a simple and effective exercise for targeting your lats and biceps. It is not necessary to work your core each and every day of the week, so this exercise can be replaced some days with lateral pull downs. Lateral pull downs help sculpt your back by targeting the latissimus dorsi. This exercise requires the use of a lat pulldown machine.  

Next, work on:

Lower Back Extensions 

Lower back extensions, sometimes called hyperextensions, target and strengthen  stabilizing muscles in the lower back. They can be done just about anywhere, as they do not require any special equipment.

Move immediately onto:

Tricep Rope Pulldown 

When done correctly, the tricep rope pulldown is great for building overall strength of your arms. The exercise, which requires the use of special equipment, works all parts of the tricep, while also engaging your core, shoulders, and back.

Next, complete:

Overhead Tricep Extensions

Known also as the dumbbell tricep extension, this challenging isolation exercise requires you to lift a pair of dumbbells over your head through a full range of arm motion. The exercise targets your tricep muscles. Once you have targeted your triceps, move onto working your biceps with:

Bicep Curls (with Rope) or Traditional Bicep Curls with no rest between the two arms

Bicep curls are one of the most effective exercises you can do to work out your biceps and strengthen your elbow. When you aren’t in the mood for bicep curls, or you don’t have the required equipment, you can substitute this exercise with  traditional  bicep curls.

Move immediately onto:

Alternating Shoulder Raises

The alternating shoulder raise is another exercise you can do whenever and wherever, as they really only require the use of a couple of weights. This exercise is also called an alternating lateral raise. Finally, finish your workout with some:

Push Ups

Finish up today’s workout with five sets of push ups. Instead of limiting your sets to 10-12 reps as is suggested for the other exercises mentioned, complete each set of push ups until failure.  By the end of your 40- to 60-minute day one exercise routine, you should feel like you went through a real workout. 

Day Two

Day two of the male model workout focuses on your lower body. Start your exercise by targeting your abs and doing sets of:

Jackknives with weights

The jackknife is a simple move that does not require any specialized gym equipment. Though this exercise can be done without weights, most male models recommend that extra few pounds.

Work immediately into:


This is another exercise which does not require the use of any equipment. The position is similar to the position for jackknives, and is a great way to target your abs and core. Complete one side at a time.

Immediately after your bicycles, begin:

Elevated Toe Tuck Touches 

You can keep your starting position as you begin elevated toe tuck touches, another exercise that targets your abs. Finish your abs workout by completing some: 

Crunches on a Swiss Ball 

If you do not have access to a Swiss ball, you can complete crunches on a bench or on the floor. Repeat the above for three more sets, then move onto leg exercises. 

Alternating Squats and Lunges

Do both squats and lunges to give your legs a complete workout. You can make both exercises more challenging by carrying a sandbag on your shoulders.

Immediately work into:  

Leg Extensions

Leg extensions require the use of a leg extension machine. The resistance weight training exercise is great for targeting your quads.

Work immediately into:

Hamstring Curls 

Also called leg curls, hamstring curls involve flexing your lower leg against resistance towards your buttocks. Hamstring curls can be completed while standing, lying down, or while you’re seated.

Finish your leg exercises and today’s workout with:

Calf Raises

Calf raises work the various muscles in your lower leg. A deceptively simple exercise, calf raises require you to stand and balance on the balls of your feet. You can make your calf raises more challenging by incorporating the use of weights. 

These two days can be repeated throughout the week, with at least one rest day incorporated. 

The Male Model Diet

As any male model is bound to attest, weight loss happens in the kitchen, not in the gym. If you want to slim down to meet the male model standards, then a disciplined diet of healthy, wholesome foods is necessary.  

Every male model follows his own specific diet regimen, but most adhere to a few basic “rules:”

  • Lots of protein, especially chicken and fish

  • Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fruits and  vegetables like kale, apples, oranges, grapefruit, and celery

  • Small meals throughout the day, but nothing to eat within two hours of bedtime

  • Easy on the carbs


Incorporating supplements into your diet is an effective way to maximize any effort you are putting in at the gym and in the kitchen. 

Before your workouts, a carb, electrolyte, and amino replenishment supplement like  Hyperade can be helpful for preparing your body for the workout ahead, while a post workout protein shake with  Whey-Pro ensures you are taking in the protein you need.

After your workouts, when it's time to go to sleep, help your body to recover and rest by supplementing with  Rested-AF.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do male models lift weights? 

Though not all weight lifting exercises meet the needs of male models, some weight lifting is appropriate for a male model’s workout routine.

2. How many hours a day do models workout? 

The goal of a male model is to be toned rather than muscular, so there aren’t very many who spend hours on end in the gym working out. Rather, most male models limit their exercises to one hour or less multiple times a week. 

3. Do male models need to be muscular? 

Though different projects may call for different body types, the typical male model has a physique that is slim and toned. Clothing that needs to be modeled is not made for the model personally, but rather in a set size. Therefore, male models must adhere to some strict guidelines in terms of body shape and measurements.

4. Do male models do any cardio?

Absolutely. Consistent cardio exercises contribute to the “chiseled” look for which male models are so well known.

Cardio also keeps body fat to a minimum. Some common cardio exercises include  HIIT (high intensity interval training), jump rope, and running in place.  

5. Who are the most popular male models? 

Tyson Beckford, Jon Kortajarena, Noah Mills, and David Gandy all top the list of the most successful male models of all time. Other famous faces you may recognize include David Beckham and Channing Tatum. 


Whether you are hoping to break into the industry or you just want to look the part, following the typical male model workout and diet plan is an effective way to maintain a lean and attractive physique. Unlike bodybuilders, male models don’t need to spend hours in the gym tackling the most difficult exercises.

Rather, most of the best known models spend less than an hour each day completing a variety of exercises meant to target their full body. A balanced and protein-heavy diet is helpful for keeping the fat off and losing weight when necessary.

Finally, supplements pre-, intra-, and post-workout ensure the right nutrients, the right diet, and the right amount of rest for anyone who hopes to see themselves on magazine covers and billboards.