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Built for Show: Four Body-Changing Workouts for Building Muscle, Losing Fat, andLooking Good Eno ugh to Hook Up Paperback – November 20, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nate Green is a writer, fitness expert, and marketing strategist. After dropping out of community college at 18, he started a small personal training company and began studying under some of the best coaches and writers in the fitness and health industry. He served as an assistant editor at T-Nation.com for 2 years before joining Precision Nutrition, where he continues to work as a "marketing and ideas guy." 

His first book, Built For Show, was published in 2008 by Avery Publishing when Green was 23, and he's written for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Livestrong.com, the Huffington Post and more. Green's subsequent books, The Hero Handbook and Bigger, Smaller, Bigger were released online and given away for free.

He currently lives in Portland, Oregon. and works closely with the Precision Nutrition team.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


What a Guy Really Wants, and Why

I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to give it to me straight.I’ve heard all sorts of answers from all sorts of guys, so my B.S. detectoris finely tuned and has had quite a bit of practice. So I need you to levelwith me when you answer this question:

Why do you want to work out?

Why does any guy want to work out? Why train with weights at all?If you said “to lower my cholesterol levels,” “to touch the rim,” or “to preventosteoporosis later in life,” I’m not buying it. There’s nothing wrong with thosebenefits, and I’m sure you’ll achieve them from the workouts I’ve designed. Butcome on. You don’t lift because you’re worried about your health or your performancein pickup basketball games.

You work out so you can increase your chances of hooking up. That meanshaving the kind of physique that looks good in clothes and looks even betternaked.

I’ll accept variations on that answer. Like, “I go to the gym because my wifetells me to.” Or, “If I don’t stay in shape, my girlfriend will find someone whodoes.” I know a few guys who won’t even go to the grocery store if they don’tlook their best.

I get it. Some guys are born motivated, some achieve motivation, and somehave motivation thrust upon them. But at the root of our motivation is an understandingthat, when all else is equal, the guy with the better physique gets the girl.The combination of well-developed muscle mass and minimal body fat (whatanthropologists mean when they report that the indigenous males of a particularregion are “jacked”) is a sign of reproductive fitness. It shows that you have moretestosterone than the next guy, even if you don’t. The more primed women arefor sex, the more they notice. (True fact: Published scientific research shows thatwomen are more attracted to the manliest men when they are ovulating thanthey are at other times in their menstrual cycle.) If you’re Tarzan, she’s game.

So let’s start this relationship with some mutual candor. I wrote this bookbecause nobody else did. There was a time, not long ago, when I wanted toknow more about building my body in hopes of accumulating more frequent fornicationpoints. I wanted exactly what you want: muscles that women notice.I couldn’t find that book, because it wasn’t yet written. Instead, I learned how toachieve the goal, and in the process became a very busy personal trainer. Then Iset out to write the book I always wanted to read.

That’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

Whether you’re thick or thin, you want the wide shoulders and chiseledtorso that women don’t just notice, they occasionally grab. You don’t wish bodilyharm on anybody, but you’d be flattered to know that the woman who justpassed you on the freeway risked soft-tissue damage when her head whippedaround to get a better look.

At a bare minimum, you want the most attractive women in your apartmentcomplex to see you as the go-to guy the next time they need some furnituremoved.

Now that we’ve cleared the air about why you want the body you want, let’stalk about something a bit more complex: Why don’t you have that kind of body already? I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the concept of working out. IfI were a betting man, I’d wager that most of you reading this work out regularly.But if you’re like most of the guys I see in gyms these days, you’re doing workoutsthat can’t possibly help you reach your goals.

Worse, I see some of the finest young men of my generation exercising in away that will take them further away from their goals. Some of the more sharp-tonguedmembers of my profession refer to commercial gyms as “fatness centers.”Health clubs encourage you to come in and mope your way throughuseless circuits on machines that only exist as marketing tools to make strengthtraining look “easy” to the newbies. They discourage you from working hard bymaking it relatively inconvenient to do the exercises that build the most musclemass. One gym chain on the East Coast even has a rule against grunting. I’m asopposed to gratuitous noise as anybody, but how do you push yourself to getstronger if you have to worry about getting kicked out of the damned gym justbecause an exertion-related sound involuntarily escaped from your throat?

There are lots of ways to work out that don’t involve the risk of breathinghard. That’s why the health-club chains want you to do high-repetition, low weightcircuits on their shiny exercise machines. You won’t build the body youwant with those workouts, but the owners of the health clubs don’t care. They’rehappy to see you waste your time, as long as your account is paid in full.Frankly, though, I couldn’t care less about people who want results withouthard work. I’m more concerned with the guys who work hard but don’t ever getthe results they’ve earned. I see a lot of these lifters falling into three distinctcategories:


These are the guys who “blast their biceps” with thirty-two different exercises,following the workouts of the pro bodybuilders they read about in themagazines. They never ask if their biceps need to be blasted at all, much less withthirty-two exercises. Result? Their muscles get more blood-engorged than a tick with a rather serious glandular problem, but once the blood drains back out oftheir biceps the result is . . . deflating.


Remember the workout program you did in high school, back when you puton twenty pounds of solid muscle your senior year, when you made third-teamall-conference? Your muscles sure as hell remember. That’s why you haven’t gottenany stronger since high school. It was probably a great workout (althoughI’ve seen some pretty crappy programs designed by high school coaches). Still,no matter how well designed the program was, a body will make only so manyadaptations to any one system of training. Without variety, there’s no challenge.Without challenge, there’s no progress.


It’s great to be open-minded about new ideas in training. But it can go toofar. The smartest, most successful trainers I know make endless fun of the peoplebalancing on Bosu balls while attempting to lift weights that are too light to putmuscle on the glandular tick I mentioned a moment ago. (A Bosu ball is half ofa rubber ball on top of a plastic platform. Consider yourself lucky if you’ve neverencountered one.) Unless you’re training to be an acrobat, it’s far better to workout with one or both feet on the floor, since that’s the way you use your musclesin real life.

Most guys I see end up doing workouts that are hybrid versions of all thepitfalls I just described. It’s not that they don’t have enough information. Betweenbooks, magazines, and the Internet, there’s more information than ever.And if it was as good as it claims to be, we’d all be ripped to shreds and warmingup on the bench press with five hundred pounds.

The information itself is often the problem, especially when it comes fromthe wrong sources: muscle magazines, misinformed personal trainers, Hollywood“trainers to the stars” . . . sometimes the stars themselves pretend to be fitnessexperts. The truth is that most “fitness experts” have no idea how to getactual results for actual humans.

That’s why a typical guy’s workout looks something like this:

STEP ONE: Walk into gym.

STEP TWO: Bench-press, incline bench-press, dumbbell bench-press,dumbbell incline bench-press, hop on a treadmill.

STEP THREE: Try to impress the girl on the machine next to you byflexing your pecs while you run.

STEP FOUR: Go home alone and cry.

STEP FIVE: Return to the gym the next day, only instead of twenty-foursets of chest exercises, you do twenty each for your biceps andtriceps. And instead of flexing your pecs while you run on thetreadmill, you flex your arms, making you look like you’reauditioning for a remake of Robocop.

That’s why I wrote Built for Show. If you have the motivation and desire, youdeserve a program that shows you how to reach your goals, step-by-step. You deservea system that makes efficient use of your time and energy.

I hope you get a little more knowledgeable about training when you readBuilt for Show. (I know I got a lot smarter writing it. You never know what youdon’t know until you try to verify the things you think you know.) And I’m sureyou’ll get a lot of benefits that don’t matter much to you now. You’ll build strongerbones, lowering your risk of osteoporosis. You’ll ramp up your metabolism,making it easier to keep body fat from returning, or from accumulating in thefirst place. If you have some nagging little injuries, you’ll probably find they becomea lot less bothersome.

All of those are perfectly nice side effects, like going on The Price Is Right and winning a coffeemaker as a consolation prize when you were hoping for theconvertible Mustang. My guess is that you wouldn’t be very consoled. But if youwon the grand prize, you wouldn’t complain about finding the coffeemaker inthe backseat.

Are you ready to go after that grand prize?


I’ll get into this in much greater detail in Chapter 7, but right now you’reprobably curious about what you’ll be doing to get built for show. My yearlongworkout system is divided into four seasonal programs:

Fall: I hope most readers will start here, especially those who haven’t yet spenta lot of time in the weight room. These workouts introduce you to the most importantexercises, like squats and deadlifts, and focus on building a base ofstrength and muscle mass while providing enough of a training stimulus to workoff a little fat in the process.

Winter: Here you’ll focus on building pure strength, which also packs muscleon the places where women will notice it.

Spring: The goal here is to continue building your strength and muscle sizewhile also making your workouts more challenging. So you’ll improve youroverall conditioning and athleticism while burning off some fat and getting yourbody ready for display.

Summer: Now you’ll seriously attack whatever remaining fat you have withmore technically complex exercises and tougher workouts. You’ll also get to dosome curls and extensions to put the finishing touches on your physique.The system is modular, so you can start with any program that suits yourneeds and is compatible with your current abilities. I encourage most of you tostart at the beginning and continue for a year. It doesn’t matter if you end upwith your “summer” body in October or April; once you’re built for show you’llreap the benefits any day of the year.


On-demand, studio quality fitness classes. Learn more.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Avery (November 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583333193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583333198
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Bought this book based on Nate Green's reputation, and was a bit skeptical due to the title...particularly the "hooking up" part. I understand the marketing angle though, so I went ahead and bought it for the training program alone. What I got was a lot more...

Training - The Cake
As expected, this book lays down "the fundamentals" that the athletes follow, but most common gym-goers ignore. The program is not anything groundbreaking, but that's the point -- simple therefore effective. More important than the "what" is the "how" and "why" which Nate explains thoroughly without getting too scientific. It's enough for you to explain to a buddy without a) looking like a dork and b) seem condescending. The most unique thing about the program for me was breaking it into Fall/Winter/Summer/Spring and programming accordingly. So your Fall/Winter are more hypertrophy/strength based -- while your spring/summer are more fat-loss based. Makes complete sense! Another unique find was the "garage variation" of each exercise in case you don't have access to a gym. Small but very practical detail that will help many.

Nutrition - Icing
Again Nate appeals to the target audience of single-guys well. The tips and info are all from the perspective of someone who may be budget-crunched but still health conscious. I wouldn't purchase this book for the nutrition tips alone, but it supplements the rest of the book well and Nate even recommends the Precision Nutrition system later in the book. Definitely worth reading the nutrition section for its unique perspective.

"Lifestyle" Tips - More GQ than Maxim.
Gotta admit, this was the biggest surprise to me of the entire book.
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Format: Paperback
While shopping for the Holidays I picked up Built for Show for my boyfriend, an avid gym go-er. It's something I know he'll enjoy, but I also wanted to read it myself because I found the author's approach to fitness unique. While I realize that by being a woman I'm not in the targeted audience, I wanted to know a man's perspective of what sets a guy apart. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

The book is formatted in a helpful and easy to read manner and the interjected humor makes it a good read for any audience, even female. Nate gives priceless advice all the way from nutrition and exercise to confidence building, and gives an especially unique perspective on the role of women.

I was a bit disheartened to see the only other woman's perspective on Built for Show provided a complete misrepresentation of the author's message. In no way does the author suggest that women are objects or that they should be used for sex. Throughout the entire book he makes an argument that women are ultimately the ones who decide whether or not a man will be successful at pursuing a relationship of any type. This is a rather empowering argument that contradicts any suggestion of women being sex objects and is quite the opposite of the orthodox portrayal of men being the initiators of sex and women simply being conveniences to satisfy them.

I hope that more women and men will invest their time and money into reading this book as it provides great fitness advice and an uncommonly seen inside to the benefits of being healthy that applies to audiences from every demographic. I'm excited for my boyfriend to read this book and I have a feeling we'll both be able to enjoy the benefits.
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Format: Paperback
I've read this book twice now as I really wanted to follow the workout and nutrition program to the letter. After two weeks on the fall program I have really noticed a difference in my body. I was in pretty good shape before but now my body looks more defined and bigger (well my abs aren't bigger thank God). Which makes sense as the exercises Nate recommends cater specifically to working your biggest body parts (chest, shoulders, upper back, and legs) intensely with predominantly multi-joint exercises. You won't be doing chest fly's, lateral raises, leg curls, leg extensions, or calf raises. And here's where he'll lose a few people (and he nearly lost me when I read it) but you'll pretty much only be doing biceps curls and triceps extensions for six weeks out of the year long program. I nearly sent the book back when I read that.

However whatever concerns that I had initially have vanished, as my arms looks as muscular as before but bigger which hasn't happened for a while. The workout programs that Nate provides almost ensures that your body won't adapt. You'll be going back and forth from an upper / lower body split to whole body training. And if that weren't enough his set and rep variables (undulated periodization, super sets, giant sets, back-off sets, and everything in between) will shock your muscles to new growth during every phase of the program.

If there was one aspect of the book that I wish Nate would have provided more insight on was nutrition. He pretty much breaks down what foods to avoid and what types of foods to eat but had this book had a meal plan and recipes to follow I would have rated it five stars.
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