How To Build The Best Physique That Will Increase Sex Appeal

When I talk about sex appeal in this article I mean the non conscious reaction members of the opposite sex have to your physique. Don’t take this the wrong way, sex appeal involves more then your physique, but since this is a fitness site, this is where we are going to start.

Another reason to talk about sex appeal on this site is that there are very well documented standards for physical proportions that regularly illicit the most positive responses from members of the opposite sex. In fact, these standards are nearly universal and apply across a wide range of populations.

What I would like to do is first get right into the physique types that are most appealing to the opposite sex. I will then discuss the different formulas that have been proposed for these physique types and the different types of workouts you can do to build them.

Finally I will get into some of the history of the physique types and whey they are important to keep in mind even if fitness isn’t your primary concern. In this section I will also give some a detailed description of what you should focus on in order to maximize the attractiveness of your physique.

 

The “Ideal” Women’s Physique

The perfect women’s physique is pretty objective as the measurements decided upon in multiple studies are nearly identical.  What this means is that both men and women generally agree upon nearly the exact same “ideal” measurements for the perfect female physique.

One of the interesting differences is that in some of the studies, women actually preferred a larger chest size then men did.  We could get into some of the possible reasons for that, but since the studies were not explicit about why that was it would all be speculation.

One of the major things that people agree upon when looking at the ultimate male or female physique is the hip to waist ratio.  Nearly every “ideal” male and female physique survey points to the waist to hip ratio of the woman as the most important characteristic for attractiveness.

Photo Credit: Today

The picture above was taken from a study where 40 random participants were asked to decide between pictures of females they thought were attractive.  The average of the results of their answers is shown in the picture in the above left.  The figure shown on the above right represents the average measurements of an American woman.

What’s interesting about this study is that both men and women were asked to determine what their ideal male and female physique would look like.  According to the researchers:

“The results of this study revealed a couple of surprises. First, the ideals ran across genders. Men and women barely differed in their opinion of what an ideal body looked like, whether the ideal was for a male or a female.”

According to the women, the ideal female physique had a BMI of 18.8, a waist to hip ratio of 0.70 and a waist to chest ratio of 0.69.  According to the men the ideal woman had a BMI of 18.8 an ideal waist to hip ratio of .73 and waist to chest ratio of 0.69.  The male “ideal” was less curvy then females version of the “ideal” female physique.  Specifically, the women preferred a larger chest.

Photo Credit: Today

Researchers found that both men and women were fairly consistent on what they thought was attractive.  For a quick reference, the measurements are shown below.

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) = masskg/heightm2
  • Waist-to-hip Ratio (WHR) = Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Hips
  • Waist-to-chest Ratio (WCR)= Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Chest

According to women:

  • BMI: 18.9
  • WHR: 0.70
  • WCR: 0.67

According to men:

  • BMI: 18.8
  • WHR: 0.73
  • WCR: 0.69

As you can see from the above ratio’s the women actually preferred a women who had  larger chest and larger hips relative to the waist.

 

How To Measure

  1. Get a tape measure.
  2. Take your measurement for the widest point around your chest, usually this is right under your arms or with the tape around your body under your forearms.
  3. Take another measure at the most tapered point of your waist.
  4. Take your last measure at the widest point around your hips, usually where your but sticks out the furthest.
  5. Divide your waist measurement by your chest measurement.  The closer it is to 0.70 the closer it is to the “ideal”.
  6. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.  The closer this number is to 0.70 the closer it is to “ideal”.

Obstacles To Creating The Ideal Female physique

 

Focusing on excessive amounts of cardiovascular training:

Cardiovascular exercise, when done for too long or too intensely is not beneficial for enhancing the appearance of the female physique.  This has to do with the fact that excessive cardiovascular exercise interferes with sex hormone production in both men and women.

What this means for women is that the testosterone they would normally produce which helps them to burn bodyfat and enhance muscle tissue gets reduced.  While this might seem counter-intuitive, testosterone is extremely important for women.

Although testosterone is produced in much smaller quantities in women, it affects on muscle building and bodyfat reduction are similar in men and women.  therefore, you want to make sure you are not decreasing your testosterone by overly stressing your body.

Similarly, over-stressing the body with excessive cardiovascular exercise can alter the levels of a number of important hormones.  At the top of the list are estrogen and cortisol.

When you perform excessive amounts of cardio, cortisol becomes chronically elevated and begins interfering with the production and balance of a number of other hormones.  For example, Insulin regulation can become deranged when cortisol is chronically elevated.

Elevated cortisol can even have a negative impact on the regulation of Estrogen.  The important point is that any lifestyle factor that places excessive repeated amounts of stress on the body can have a negative impact on hormonal regulation and your physique.  Cardiovascular exercise in particular is shown to cause a number of un-desirable changes in hormone levels when done excessively.

 

Using a weight training program designed for men:

Most weight training programs designed for men are not ideal for women.  This is not to say you will not get any benefits, you will.  In fact, programs for men will still get favorable results for women, the problem is that many programs for men are designed to train and enhance the male physique, no surprise there.

What this means is that these programs are designed to have an appropriate amount of volume and intensity to challenge a man.  On average,women have a much greater work capacity in their lower body then their upper bodies.  This means that, in general, women can perform a greater amount of relative work for lower body training then men.

On the flip side, women generally have lower relative work capacities in the upper body then men.  This has to do with a number of factors, one of the most important being androgen receptor density in the muscles of the upper body.  Women basically are designed to support a smaller relative muscle mass on their upper bodies and a larger relative muscle mass on their lower bodies when compared to men.

For the above mentioned reason, a program designed to maximize a woman’s physique should include a greater relative amounts of lower body volume and intensity.  What’s also interesting is that women can handle a greater amount of volume near their maximum then men.

Basically, women can work with weights closer to their maximum then men for a larger amount of sets.  In general terms women are going to be working with weights closer to their maximum for a larger amount of sets.  If your not sure how this ties in, don’t worry, I am going to give workout recommendations below.

 

Becoming overly focused on protein:

  This is a problem that affects men and women but it is even more damaging for women.  For some reason the fitness industry has convinced people that they need to get a certain amount of protein every day or their muscles will shrink.

While this may be true for a competitive bodybuilder who is taking T3, T4, Clen, Insulin and 3+ different kinds of anabolic hormones, it is not the case for the regular guy or girl.  The reason for this is that nitrogen retention, or the muscle turnover rate in your body is not fast enough.

Basically people who are not taking a bunch of drugs break down and build up muscle tissue on a continual basis.  your body is constantly breaking down and building up muscle tissue.  It does this according to the challenges in the environment.  this is the reason your body creates new muscle in response to the demands of weight training.

When you start to train, your body creates the signals that slightly increase nitrogen retention or the amount of muscle tissue your body maintains as opposed to breaking down.  When you train consistently over time, your body starts maintaining a slightly greater level of muscle tissue instead of breaking it down.

In order to maintain this slightly greater level of muscle tissue, most people do not need any additional protein.  Even people that are only getting 20% of their calories per day from protein probably do not need additional protein regardless of the type of training they do.

The reason this “protein” myth is so damaging for women is that the average women needs less calories then the average man.  If a women who, for example, eats 1700 kcal per day believes she needs to get 150 grams of protein, that is 600 kcal all tied up just for protein.

Many women who are drinking protein shakes through out the day are burning hundreds of calories on these foods that lack nutrition, are expensive and often times leave them more hungry then before you ate them.

 

Road Map To Creating The “Ideal” Female Physique:

Focus On weight training:

Whether you are trying to reduce your waist size or increase the size of your hips, you need to focus on weight training.  This is because weight training is the only reliable way to drastically change the size of your muscles.

By incorporating weight training into your exercise routine you can alter the size of the muscles in your hips and upper body so that you will be able to change the overall shape of your body.

I am going to get into the exercises and routines later in the article, but there is even types of training you can do to increase your chest measurement, think chest and back exercises.  Like I said, later in the article I am going to get into specifics.

Use a planned designed for the female physique:

As mentioned above, the female physique is capable of greater amounts of relative work capacity and more work near maximal strength levels.  This means women are going to be doing more volume then men and more relative volume for the lower body.

What this means for program design is that a female is going to be able to progress on a full body routine or a split woutine with more compound full body exercises then a man.  In general, women can usually train a larger percentage of their body in each workout than a man can.

When I set up programs for women I rarely use completely separate split routines where they are training only 1 or 2 muscle groups per day.  generally, the most “split up” training routine I will use is a 3 day split.  I think 2 day splits or full body workouts are the best options.

This means you would be doing at least one upper body push exercise, one upper body pull exercise and one lower body exercise as well as a handful of other more isolated exercises on each day.

 

Focus on nutrient density and nutritional quality instead of protein:

  This is completely universal for men and women, you must focus on nutrient density and nutritional quality.  I have a number of articles on this. You should be focusing on the amount of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in the foods you eat relative to the amount of calories that are in those foods.
If you are trying to gain or lose weight, you can then focus on the amount of total calories you are eating in order to reach your goals.  Focusing on nutritional quality will ensure you progress more easily in the gym and on the scale.  Once you have a diet built around nutrient dense foods, you can then start playing around with calories.

Too many women are overly focused on calories and macros, protein in particular.  This is counterproductive and prevents a focus on the most results producing activities.

 

The “Ideal” Men’s Physique

Photo Credit: Today

Photo Credit: Today

From the same study above, researchers determined the “ideal” male physique by asking men and women to rate what they thought were the best looking physiques.  After looking at a number of photos both male and female groups centered their opinions around a very similar set of measurements.

The men believed that the ideal physique has a BMI of 25.9 with a waist to hip ratio of 0.87 and a waist to chest ratio of 0.74.  The women felt that the ideal male physique had a BMI of 24.5, a waist to hip ratio of 0.86 and a waist to chest ratio of 0.77.  The biggest different was the BMI with the men preferring a heavier physique relative to the height.

The above pictures, similar to the female photos show the average US male physique vs. what the participants in the study felt were ideal physiques.  The measurements are shown below.

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) = masskg/heightm2
  • Waist-to-hip Ratio (WHR) = Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Hips
  • Waist-to-chest Ratio (WCR)= Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Chest

According to women:

  • BMI: 24.5
  • WHR: 0.86
  • WCR: 0.77

According to men:

  • BMI: 25.9
  • WHR: 0.87
  • WCR: 0.74

As you can see from the above, the measurements are very similar.  It’s also important to keep in mind that these are general guidelines for nearly anyone to follow.  These are the measurements that everyone should be using.

There are far more complex methods of measuring the physique that take into account arm size, leg size, calf size, neck size, shoulder size and forearm size.  These types of detailed systems of measurement include the following:

John McCallum’s realistic measurement ideals for hard gainers

  1. 6.5 times your wrist gives chest girth
  2. 85% of the chest girth produces the hips
  3. Take 70% of the chest girth for the waist
  4. 53% of the chest gives the thigh girth
  5. The neck size is 37% of the chest
  6. 36% of the chest produces the upper arm girth
  7. The calves come out a little less at 34%
  8. The forearms get 29% of the chest measurement

Steve Reeve’s Muscle to bone ratios:

  • Arm size= 252% of wrist size
  • Calf size= 192% of ankle size
  • Neck Size= 79% of head size
  • Chest Size= 148% of pelvis size
  • Waist size= 86% of pelvis size
  • Thigh size= 175% of knee size

These are two examples of commonly cited ratio’s for the “ideal” physique.  While these types of measurements are great, they are not important until you have reached the measurements that are widely considered attractive, the ones shown in the examples I gave for male and female physiques.

The reason for this is that the two examples are included in the more complicated formulas like the ones shown above.  For example, the “ideal” waist to chest ratio I gave in the above example, (0.74), is nearly identical to the one given in the McCallum formula (0.70).  Until you reach the 2 ratios and the BMI shown in the above examples it’s counterproductive to focus on more complicated formulas.

Finally, the formulas I gave for the ideal male and female physiques use chest measurement.  Many people who are familiar with men’s physique ratios know that the shoulder to waist ratio is one of the most important.  Ensuring that the shoulder to waist ratio adheres to the “golden ratio” (1.618) is very important.  However, ensuring that you get your chest to waist ratio in line will get you most of the way toward reaching the golden ratio of shoulder to waist ratio.

The reason for this is that many of the things you do to bring your chest to waist ratio will enhance your shoulder to waist ratio as well.  Specifically dieting down to reduce your body weight and your waist size as well as building up the upper body will both enhance the chest and shoulder to waist ratios.  if you are still interested in the more advanced formulas I have a number of articles where I discuss advanced aesthetics.

 

Obstacles To Creating The Ideal Male Physique

Too much focus on overall size

In order to reach the ideal physique ratios, most men are going to have to take a different approach to their body size and to working out in general.  There are a ton of guys that have a large part of their self image wrapped up in how big they are or how much they can lift on a specific lift in the gym.

While it is good to care about how strong you are and how physically intimidating you are there is definitely a point of diminishing returns in terms of creating the ideal physique.  To put this in perspective lets consider the average height male 5’10”.  In order to be at the ideal male physique according to men, BMI 25.9 this 5’10” man would have to weigh under 181 lbs.  This is not what most guys consider physically intimidating.

If you consider the “ideal” male physique according to women a BMI of 24.5 would put the same 5’10” man at less then 171 lbs.  If you are under 5’10” the BMI ratios go down about 5 lbs for every inch after that.  Keep in mind that anyone who adheres to these ratios is liable to have a pretty low bodyfat.  The reason for this is that the only way to have a small waist and relatively large chest and hip measurements is to have a low percentage of body fat and a relatively large amount of muscle mass.

Most men, in a quest to get as big and as strong as possible let their physique measurements go to shit.  They add mass by any means.  This type of weight gain will be in the form of sloppy fat mass randomly distributed over the body according to your genetics.

Finally, getting lean enough to see the outlines of all your muscles will force you to face reality in terms of your genetic capabilities.  Most people who loose weight end up realizing that a lot of what they thought was quality mass was just body fat.  They also realize that they have the capability to look way better then they thought they could.

What most guys don’t realize is that they are genetically designed to be lean and strong.  However, most guys have bought into the idea that people naturally look sloppy because people are genetically designed to store body fat to survive a famine or something like that.

The truth is that guys are supposed to be real lean and real strong.  With come consistency with their training and the correct mindset about body weight and body fat most guys can look like fitness models.  For a bunch of reasons that could be an article themselves guys believe they are supposed to be much heavier then they should be.  For most guys, they get lean at about 10-15 lbs. below where they thought they would have.  Consider the following examples.

Author “Mike Matthews” 6’2″ 182 lbs BMI = 23.4

Most guys would agree that he looks pretty good.  His BMI is 23.4 at his leanest.  Keep this in mind when you are considering what kind of weights you should be at to look lean and fit.

 

Not varying the rep range enough in training

  Most guys fall into one of two camps.  They either do conventional bodybuilding routines or they do all low rep powerlifting routines.  the guys that don’t stick to one of those two ends of the training spectrum tend to heavily favor either high or low reps.  The truth is that absolute strength can be built in a ton of different rep ranges.

The difference is that the carryover from your training to 1 rep maximum attempts will be higher with low rep training.  What this means is that if you always train the bench press with 2-3 reps and you estimate your 1 rep maximum to be 300 lbs. chances are you will be able to hit 300 lbs. for one rep.

on the other hand if you always train with 10-12 reps and you have the same estimated 1 rep max of 300 lbs. you might have trouble hitting 300 lbs. for 1 rep if you haven’t done any sets with less then 10 reps.

regardless of the rep range you use, you can build maximal strength and size with nearly any rep range.  One of the big issues with building strength and size with higher rep ranges is many guys don’t track higer rep ranges as religiously as they track lower rep range exercises.

For example, going from 3 reps to 6 reps with the same weight seems like a big deal.  However, going from 9-12 reps might not seem so important.  This is a huge mistake, adding reps, even in rep ranges as high as 15-20 can build up your 1 rep max.  This was something I ignored for years.  When I finally started really hitting the high rep sets hard I saw huge gains in my low rep strength.

If you are trying to increase your strength and size I suggest trying to set records for the amount of weight you can use for 1 rep, 12 reps and everything in between.  In fact I suggest using even higher rep ranges up to 15 or 20 so long as you focus most of your efforts in the 1-12 range with the majority of those sets in the 4-8 rep range.

Worrying too much about eating protein

  This is a problem that affects men and women.  For some reason the fitness industry has convinced people that they need to get a certain amount of protein every day or their muscles will shrink.

While this may be true for a competitive bodybuilder who is taking T3, T4, Clen, Insulin and 3+ different kinds of anabolic hormones, it is not the case for the regular guy or girl.  The reason for this is that nitrogen retention, or the muscle turnover rate in your body is not fast enough.

Basically people who are not taking a bunch of drugs break down and build up muscle tissue on a continual basis.  your body is constantly breaking down and building up muscle tissue.  It does this according to the challenges in the environment.  this is the reason your body creates new muscle in response to the demands of weight training.

When you start to train, your body creates the signals that slightly increase nitrogen retention or the amount of muscle tissue your body maintains as opposed to breaking down.  When you train consistently over time, your body starts maintaining a slightly greater level of muscle tissue instead of breaking it down.

In order to maintain this slightly greater level of muscle tissue, most people do not need any additional protein.  Even people that are only getting 20% of their calories per day from protein probably do not need additional protein regardless of the type of training they do.

Another problem the “myth” of needing a ton of protein is damaging to men is that it costs a dieter a ton of calories to eat a ton of protein. If a man who, for example, eats 2500 kcal per day believes he needs to get 220 grams of protein, that is 880 kcal all tied up just for protein.

Finally, protein is known to be damaging to anabolic hormones like testosterone.  When researchers look at how the macronutrient ratio of the diet affects testosterone they consistently find that high levels of protein lower testosterone.  They also consistently find that cortisol is raised in proportion to the amount of carbohydrates that are substituted for protein in the diet.

What this means is that guys who chronically eat large amounts of protein in favor of carbohydrates are decreasing their testosterone and increasing their cortisol.  Cortisol is one of the bodies main stress hormones.  Chronically elevated cortisol can decrease the effectiveness of insulin causing an increase in fat storage while breaking down muscle at the same time.  Obviously this is bad.
While high protein diets can accomplish some pretty interesting things in the short term they are counterproductive for maximizing health and fitness in the long term.

 

Road Map To Creating The “Ideal” Male Physique:

Follow a plan designed around well established male physique standards

As mentioned above, there are a ton of well established physique standards for men.  Guys are luck in that there is a massive body of literature surrounding the various ways to create the ideal male physique in the kitchen and the gym.  While I get into some of the more advanced system’s of measurement in my other articles I want to offer a simple path here if you are new.

First get your BMI into the 24-26 range.  This may seem light for a lot of guys who are used to seeing exaggeratedly large physiques.  The truth is that most guys are going to reach their highest relative strength levels at BMI levels of 24-26.

Focus on gaining strength through the 1-12 rep range

    As mentioned above, guys need to spend more time getting stong through a bunch of rep ranges.  There are actually a bunch of reasons for this.  One of the most important is that different muscles fatigue at different rep ranges and are more or less activated at different rep ranges.
For example, on the bench press, you will can fail to complete a rep because of a weakness in your chest, triceps, shoulders or any of the less effected supporting muscles or stabilizers.  Each of these muscle groups have different ratios of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers.  As you change the rep range the muscle that is relatively weakest at these different rep ranges can change.

By working compound movements hard through a number of different rep ranges ensure you are strengthening each part of the mechanical chain of muscles evenly.  If you are constantly hitting one rep range, the muscles that are affected the greatest by your compound movements will not change.

If you don’t alter the rep ranges for your compound movements you will more quickly hit plateaus.  For this reason you should use a number of rep ranges for your big compound movements, especially your main upper body pushing, upper body pulling and lower body movements.  Try these: 1-3, 2-5, 4-6, 5-8, 6-10, 8-12. 10-15, 12-20.

 

Focus on nutrient density and nutritional quality instead of protein:

  This is completely universal for men and women, you must focus on nutrient density and nutritional quality.  I have a number of articles on this. You should be focusing on the amount of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in the foods you eat relative to the amount of calories that are in those foods.
If you are trying to gain or lose weight, you can then focus on the amount of total calories you are eating in order to reach your goals.  Focusing on nutritional quality will ensure you progress more easily in the gym and on the scale.  Once you have a diet built around nutrient dense foods, you can then start playing around with calories.

Too many women are overly focused on calories and macros, protein in particular.  This is counterproductive and prevents a focus on the most results producing activities.

 

Guidelines for men and women

Both men and women need to reach a few milestones in order to reach their ideal physique.  First, get to the ideal BMI.  These standards are well established.  For both men and women there is a trend to pursue unrealistically high body weights and levels of muscularity.

If you are not willing to use drugs to reach exaggeratedly high body weights and levels of muscularity adjust your expectations.  If you cannot wrap your head around well established physique standards for natural athletes you could end up wasting time.

Once you are in pursuit of a realistic body weight you can focus on relative strength levels.  For both men and women I suggest focusing on one upper body pulling exercise, one upper body pushing exercise and one lower body exercise.

Build a workout to focus on reaching these strength levels and then move on to new goals.  Once you reach these strength levels maintain a schedule of assessing your physique balance so that you continue to improve over time.

One of the parts of maintaining a balanced physique is tracking changes in muscle size.  For anyone who doesn’t already measure any part of their body just start with body weight, chest circumference, waist circumference and hip circumference.  The following advice is shown in easy to follow steps below.

  1. Get yourself into to the following BMI zones: (Men) 24.5 – 25.9     (Women) 18.8
  2. (Men and Women) Pick one upper body pressing exercise, one upper body pulling exercise and one lower body exercise to increase your strength on. (Women) Pick one additional lower body exercise to use as a main lift that you will track religiously.
  3. Use a rep range calculator like this one so that you can see your progress toward new estimated one rep max strength levels while training in a number of rep ranges.
  4. Use one of the many well established systems of recording and improving relative strength levels.  My recommendations for most men and women are as follows.  (Men) Bench press 1.5-1.8 times body weight, chin up with 0.5 – 0.8 times body weight attached for a weighted chin up, front squat 1.5-1.8 times body weight, deadlift 2.0-2.5 times bodyweight.  (women) bench press 0.9-1.1 times body weight, chin /  weighted chin 0.9 – 1.1 times bodyweight, front squat 1.0-1.2 times bodyweight, deadlift 1.6-1.9 times bodyweight.

Conclusion:

Alright, there you have it, a simple plan to make your physique more attractive.  While there is definitely more detail in terms of the types of workouts you can use and when one type or another would be more beneficial I wanted to start with the concept.

I have a couple of other articles that talk about how to increase relative strength.  This is the most important part of making this plan work.  For most people that most important thing is going to be focusing on getting to the correct weight and getting to the right strength levels.  if you can wrap your mind around those two things, the rest will be easy.

 

 

 

Resfrences: 

Singh, D., Dixson, B. J., Jessop, T. S., Morgan, B. B., & Dixson, A. F. (2010). Cross-cultural consensus for waist–hip ratio and women’s attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31 (3), 176–81. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2009.09.001

Singh, D. (1993). Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: Role of waist-to-hip ratio. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(2), 293–307. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.65.2.293

http://www.today.com/health/ideal-real-what-perfect-body-really-looks-men-women-t83731

Dixson, B. J., Grimshaw, G. M., Linklater, W. L., & Dixson, A. F. (2010). Watching the hourglass: Eye tracking reveals men’s appreciation of the female form. Human Nature, 21(4), 355-370. doi:10.1007/s12110-010-9100-6

Hughes, S. M., & Gallup, G. R. Gallup (2003).  Sex differences in morphological predictors of sexual behavior: Shoulder to hip and waist to hip ratios. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24 (3), 173–78. doi:10.1016/S1090-5138(02)00149-6

Singh, D., & Singh, D. (2011). Shape and significance of feminine beauty: An evolutionary perspective. Sex Roles, 64(9-10), 723-731. doi:10.1007/s11199-011-9938-z

 

Perfect Female Body Measurements – The Hourglass Shape

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