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A lot of people assume all guys want that completely ripped, bulky look that some action heroes and bodybuilders have.

It’s idealized for sure.

But anyone who knows anything about fitness understands that that much muscle mass is hard to achieve and maintain. 

More often, we aspire to the ottermode physique. That leaner, defined muscle appearance, athletic and mobile body that is easier to obtain and maintain long term.

Today, I’m going to do more than explain what that means.

I’m going to lay out exactly how you get the ottermode physique. 

Keep reading at your own risk.

Ottermode isn’t impossible by any means, but spoiler alert – it probably won’t happen quickly.

What is the ottermode body type?

You may be new to the term “ottermode”, but it’s a body type that’s been admired for more than a century, at least. 

Back in the day, it was merely called a “swimmer’s physique.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

After all, otters are great swimmers.

Essentially, the ottermode physique is defined by lean, visible muscle. 

Look at bulkier, more muscular types or bear mode physiques. You can tell they spend a lot of time in the gym. They train like it’s their job (and sometimes, it is).

An ottermode physique is more about function and mobility. It doesn’t just look ideal while lifting heavy things. It looks capable in the gym, on the trail, in the water – just about anywhere. 

Now – does going ottermode mean losing a bunch of weight?

We’ll get into exactly how much body fat is involved later.

Right now, just think of the V-shaped body competitive swimmers have. More muscular than, for example, a runner, but less than most football players.

With an ottermode physique, broad shoulders narrow into six-pack abdominals. The hips are narrow, and the legs are toned, not bulky. Same for the arms. 

For the record, this doesn’t mean you get to skip leg day.

It means you have to work your entire body consistently. You can’t spot-train yourself into ottermode and you can’t neglect a muscle group, either.

I’ll talk more about exercise coming up. Right now, I want to talk about the very real health benefits of ottermode.

This isn’t all about looks, folks. It never was.

The ottermode physique is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

No matter what new and terrifying problems plague modern society, heart disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide

From bad food to desk jobs to stress overload, we cannot escape it.

The type of lean muscle mass characteristic of ottermode decreases the risk.

In fact, one study suggests that your lean muscle mass today can determine your heart disease risk for the next ten years.  

Want better overall health and longevity? Move toward ottermode.

What is longevity if you’re always nursing an injury?

Six-pack abs aren’t just for show. They’re a sign (not proof, but a sign) of a highly stable core capable of keeping you on your feet. 

I’m talking about the transverse abdominis, of course. Connecting the back, ribs, and pelvis, a strong transverse abdominis is what helps make six-pack abs possible.

With a strong transverse abdominis, you reduce your risk of injury and maintain better posture and balance for LIFE.

If nothing else, the ottermode physique is highly functional. You can’t say the same for bigger builds.   

ottermode vs athletic

Ottermode supports your metabolism in setting you up for long-term health.

Got lean muscle? If so, you’re much less likely to encounter insulin resistance

Lean muscle mass doesn’t just sit there looking pretty. It works hard, even when you’re asleep.

Increase muscle, decrease fat, and you’ll realize it’s not as hard to maintain as you think. That’s because your body will be primed to keep burning fat. That’s better for your hormones, your organs, and as prevention toward plenty of super-common long-term diseases.

How do you achieve the ottermode body?

Okay, you know what it is and why you want it. Let’s get into how to achieve it. 

Ottermode Rule #1: Resistance Training

When you lean out, what do you want people to see? 

Muscle, of course. And there’s no chance you’re going to build muscle without resistance training.

For complete beginners, resistance training is any exercise where you have to contract the muscle. It’s any strength-building exercise. 

Two really important things here:

  1. Mix it up. 

Do not just pick up heavy stuff and put it back down. By all means, hit the weight bench, but don’t forget bodyweight. 

Plank workouts are easy to do at home and excellent for the core strength ottermode demands.

Also, work in some circuits with kettlebells or adjustable dumbbells. You can even use a portable gym for travel and home workouts with the Maxpro fitness smart cable gym.

  1. Don’t stop.

You cannot skimp on or skip resistance training. This is the foundation of the ottermode physique. 

Since you can strength train at home with no equipment, if necessary, there are no excuses not to do it.

Starting out, aim to strength train three times a week, for at least 30 minutes. Learn about the best 3 day workout splits to train for fast results.

You can work your way up to an hour three times a week, or stay at 30 minutes four or five days a week. 

It depends on where you’re starting from, your genetics, and more. If you stick to the 30 minutes, three days, you’ll be able to intuit what the next step is.

Not sure how to plan your workouts or what exercises to do? Don’t sweat it. We’ll go over workout strategies a bit more at the end.

Right now, we still have to add one more type of activity. It’ll complement the muscle building we’re doing.

Ottermode Rule #2: Sprinkle Cardio Throughout the Week

Ottermode Workout Plan

While we’re getting a good foundation of muscle, let’s work on leaning out. If you’re already pretty thin, you still need cardio for endurance and maintenance. 

Like strength training, getting enough cardio is just non-negotiable.

I mean, just imagine yourself looking pretty slim or fit, but gasping for air as you climb a set of stairs.

While you’re doing bodyweight, add in some faster-paced high-intensity interval training (HIIT) circuits.

Again, no equipment needed, so no excuses. 

HIIT alone is responsible for a lot of the health benefits you get from going ottermode.

And remember, we’re mixing it up. You also need to get into swimming. You want a swimmer’s body, after all.

In addition to being excellent cardiovascular exercise, swimming is a resistance activity – you’re working against the water. 

Ultimately, if done enough, swimming is a fast track to build up your shoulders.

This is all because it works your latissimus dorsi and deltoids (lats and delts), muscles essential to the V-shape ottermode entails.

Ottermode Rule #3: Eat Clean & Keep It That Way   

This always sounds like a huge hassle to people who don’t really know what it is to “eat clean.”

The truth is, a clean diet is easier and less restrictive than most other diets, including keto and vegan.  

Clean eating places emphasis on whole foods and limits processed ones. That’s it. 

If this sounds intimidating, or you find yourself eating the same boring “clean” things, I have a cheat code.

Go back and check my Superhero X12 (SX12) program review. The bonus meal plans and recipe books are a goldmine of clean eating. 

Superhero X12 Nutrition Guide

(And yes, there is a coupon code there for EWS readers.)

The clean factor isn’t the only reason SX12 is a great diet guide. There, you get easy plans for lean bulking – critical to ottermode – and tools and info concerning macros.

With lean bulking, your caloric intake will be a little higher than your base, maintenance calorie amount. It’s the way to help build that muscle without adding as much fat.

So, go check out what Superhero X12 can do to help clean up your diet. You do not want to mess this part up.

Ottermode Rule #4: Be Patient.  

You might not like this, but hear me out.

The thing about lean bulking is it takes time. More time than other muscle growth methods. So be patient.

In the end, it’ll be worth it when it’s time to start cutting. Because you are leaner (less body fat), cutting won’t take as long, so you won’t be losing as much muscle. 

Also, I happen to have seen a lot of guys go ham and make big gains and/or fat losses in short periods of time. 

Guess where they are a year or two down the road?

If they aren’t plateaued and frustrated, they’re closer to where they started. Big, sweeping changes for fast aesthetics are rarely sustainable or healthy. They lead to injury and burnout.

You’re working with a one-of-a-kind machine – your body. Your genetics will impact things like muscle growth rate.  

If you don’t have patience, ottermode isn’t for you. Follow the above rules, get enough sleep, and it will happen in due time.

Ottermode vs. Athletic: What’s the difference?

Honestly, they could be used interchangeably, and they often are. 

Both involve broad shoulders, low body fat, and well-defined muscles. 

However, I see a true ottermode physique as slightly less bulky than an athletic body. It places more emphasis on muscle tone than muscle mass.

On one hand, a guy going for a solidly athletic physique might have a higher caloric intake and greater muscle mass in the chest and legs. 

On the other hand, swimmers are athletes. If you have a swimmer’s body (aka ottermode) you technically have an athletic physique.

In the end, the similarities are greater than the differences. Both words indicate a strong, lean, functional body that has many of the same benefits the other does.

Ottermode Body Composition

We know ottermode is a low-fat body type, but how low should you go?

First, know that we’re not going to focus on the BMI. You already know that a tall, fit person can be considered obese using that tool. We’re only considering body fat percentage.

Second, a lot of professional swimmers actually have higher body fat percentages than other athletes! We could hardly claim there’s an ironclad standard because like most other stats, it’ll vary across large groups of people.

However, if I were to choose a standard, one you’d recognize, it’s Michael Phelps.

He is a classic ottermode body type that would clock in between 5-8% body fat while training for competition. 

Make no mistake, that’s low. Especially considering the dude is 6’4”. 

But it isn’t totally unreasonable, just impressive. For ottermode, it is ideal to have 5-12% body fat. 

Ottermode body composition

For reference, let’s consider the average fit guy. He’s not super athletic or ripped or anything, he just gets enough exercise and is in decent health.

If he weighs 165 pounds with a height of about 5’10”, he would be maintaining 15-16% body fat. 

NOTE: It is estimated that men require 2-5% essential body fat. That means that some men need 5% body fat just to keep their organs functioning as they should. Always consider your height, weight, muscle mass, genetics, health conditions, and more when aiming for a percentage. 

A lot of us can achieve the ottermode physique, but none of us can be Michael Phelps.

Ottermode Workouts

Putting all of the advice I’ve given you here today isn’t so hard. 

Committing to it is up to you, though.

Some existing programs can be adapted to handle planning ottermode workouts and meals for you.

Circling back to my Superhero X12 review – that program contains hundreds of exercises across various guides and bonus materials.

Superhero X12 workout plan

The main exercise module itself includes detailed workout routines for a few different levels. It’s a solid mix of strength with some intervals and bodyweight mixed in.

Plus, there’s a lot of specific info on nutrition and lean bulking, which is exactly what you’re doing in ottermode.

If you use SX12, the only exercise adjustment I’d make is adding in a bit more cardio, since that program is pretty light on it.

Add swimming a few times a week, and it’d be pretty much perfect.  

If you’re not interested in that, here are a few pointers:

  • Resistance train a few times a week. Stick to the moderate rep range for muscle building. That’s 8-12 rep sets.
  • Do cardio at least twice a week. If you can do it three times a week, you won’t have to go as hard. 
  • Get your entire body involved. For strength training, compound exercises will be very beneficial. For cardio, a HIIT program is ideal for full-body toning.

Final Thoughts

There are two things currently standing between you and ottermode: consistency, and potentially, genetics. 

How your body distributes fat can impact the overall look you achieve. Some guys have no trouble building up their shoulders, but will never get their waist and hips as narrow as they like. 

So, as usual, your mileage may vary.

If you’re skinny-fat, have a moderate to high amount of weight to lose, or are inexperienced with resistance training, I still think you should give SX12 a shot. 

You need more guidance, and that program has a lot of it. 

That’s about it for today. If you have more questions about ottermode or try the Superhero X12 program, let me know.