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How to Get in Athletic Shape

By Tina Pashley ; Updated July 18, 2017

An athletic body, with its strong, lean physique, is often sought after by individuals who wish to improve their outward appearance and overall health. Athletes have various body types depending on the individual and their sport of choice. However, most athletes develop a large amount of muscle mass during training and usually have a low body fat percentage. Although exercise is a fundamental component of developing an athletic physique, several other factors must also be considered.

Aerobic Exercise

Fat loss is key when attempting to develop an athletic build. To achieve a lean body while trying to build muscle, incorporate a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week into your workout regimen, as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Examples of moderate aerobic exercise include walking, bicycling or swimming. Alternately, to shed fat more quickly, choose more vigorous types of aerobic activity for longer periods. For example, jog or run 45 to 60 minutes a day, five days a week.

Building Muscle

Muscle-building exercises sculpt your body for a lean, defined look. In addition to aerobic exercise, perform weight-bearing exercises that target your arms, legs, back, chest, shoulders, legs, hips and abdomen. You can use free weights, such as dumbbells, to perform strengthening exercises, or use your own body weight as resistance. For example, perform pushups to target your chest, shoulders and arms, squats for your hips, buttocks and legs, pullups for your back, shoulders and arms and crunches for your abdomen. Complete eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise at least twice a week.


Feeding your body wholesome, nutritious foods goes hand in hand with developing a healthy, athletic build. Consume a wide variety of foods that offer carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates, found in breads, pasta and sugar, give your body fuel for performing tasks. This nutrient should be consumed before, after and sometimes during exercise. Choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, to give you longer-lasting energy. Consume lean proteins, such as fish, low-fat dairy products and lean beef, to feed your developing muscles. Choose foods low in saturated fats to keep your body lean and healthy.


Skimping on your sleep can hinder your weight-loss and muscle-building results. Lack of sleep causes fatigue during the day, meaning you will not be giving your all during workouts and other calorie-burning activities throughout the day. In addition, your body repairs itself while at rest, such as rebuilding muscle broken down during workouts. Without adequate restoration time, muscle can't be properly rebuilt. Strive for approximately eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night to keep you going strong through workouts and to maximize your results.

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