Defining Aesthetics: What Exactly Is The Perfect Physique?

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Steve ReevesDo you want want to look great naked, feel good about yourself and attract positive attention to your body?

I bet you do.

If you’re anything like me and most other people, you have an ideal physique in your mind.

My image of an ideal physique is similar to that of the classical bodybuilder Steve Reeves, pictured on the right.

Compared to modern top-level bodybuilders, he looks phenomenal.

He is lean and muscular without looking like a freak that was produced in a laboratory.

In this article, I will explain why Steve Reeves’ body looked aesthetic compared to modern bodybuilders, and I will present formulas that you can use to develop the perfect physique.

Let’s get started:

Modern Bodybuilders Do Not Represent Aesthetics

If you look at most competitive bodybuilders today, they are much bigger and much leaner than Steve Reeves, but they lack the aesthetics.

Take a look at 3 of the best modern bodybuilders: Jay Cutler, Kai Greene and Phil Heath.

Bodybuilders2

When I see the picture above I’m impressed by the work they have put into their bodies, but I would never want their physiques.

Modern bodybuilding physiques are not aesthetic.

They are overdeveloped everywhere while being at an extremely low body-fat level that just looks unhealthy.

This overdevelopment is mostly seen in the traps, legs and abs.

They have big guts that stick out further than their chest, huge traps that make them look like they have no neck and bulky thighs that are almost the size of their torsos.

Aesthetics vs. Mass

Now, take a look at Steve Reeves and compare him with the bodybuilders above:

steve-reeves

Steve Reeves was smaller and had a higher body-fat level than the top bodybuilders today, but he looked much better.

He looked better because his goal was to build a proportionate physique instead of mindlessly adding as much muscle as possible all over his body.

To be specific, Steve Reeves looked better than modern bodybuilders because of the following reasons:

  • He had a smaller waist creating the illusion of a greater V-taper: He never trained abs directly so he could keep his waist tiny.
  • He had smaller traps: He never trained traps directly so they wouldn’t overdevelop.
  • He had thighs, calves and glutes that were proportional to his upper body: He always trained legs as the last thing in his training, after completing his upper body training.
  • He had a healthy body-fat level: He was very lean, but he was not so shredded that you could see striations and veins everywhere. He didn’t diet down to unhealthy body-fat levels that wreck the testosterone levels of a natural bodybuilder.

In other words, Steve Reeves looked better than modern bodybuilders because he didn’t take bodybuilding to an unhealthy extreme.

Another great example of an aesthetic body is MMA fighter, Georges St-Pierre. He is just 170 pounds at 5’10” yet he looks amazing:

GSP

And here’s Frank Zane, another classical bodybuilder who weighed “just” 185 pounds at 5’9″:

frank-zane.-1972-vs-2012-5-pics_2

Steve Reeves, Georges St-Pierre and Frank Zane show that proportions are more important than just mindlessly adding muscle all over your body.

The 5’7″ guy with perfect proportions will look better to the average person than the 6’4″ bulky bodybuilder at 260 pounds.

You Can Change Your NATURAL Proportions

Unfortunately, your natural proportions are largely determined by your bone structure.

I say unfortunately because you cannot change your bone structure.

Here’s an example of Ryan Gosling who has the worst bone structure for aesthetics: wide hips and narrow shoulders (in this picture he had already gained a lot of muscle mass for a guy with his genetics, but you can still see he has naturally narrow shoulders and wide hips):

ryan gosling

And here’s an example of Steve Reeves with the perfect bone structure for aesthetics: narrow hips and wide shoulders (picture is taken before he started training):

Youn_Steve_Reeves

If you put both guys on the same training routine and ask them to add as much muscle mass as possible, both of them will simply become bigger versions of themselves:

  • Ryan Gosling will add a lot of size to his lower body, abs and traps.
  • Steve Reeves will add most of his size to his shoulders, lats, arms and chest.

In Steve Reeves’ case, he will look even better than when he started, but Ryan Gosling will will lack a V-taper on his upper body and his arms will look tiny compared to his lower body.

This is what happens when you chase unclear goals such as “I want to be 220 pounds at 8% body-fat because Steve Reeves was 220 pounds at 8% body-fat “.

You focus so much on adding size all over your body that you forget all about PROPORTION.

Remember, aesthetics are not based on how BIG you are but on how proportionate you are.

Unfortunately, your bone structure determines your natural proportions, but the right type of training can change those proportions.

To be specific, the right type of training for aesthetics focuses on developing wide shoulders while maintaining a tight waist and a proportionate lower body.

The Golden Ratio of Aesthetics

Architects, designers, painters and other types of artists are known to create objects based on the golden ratio of 1.618.

This means that if they draw a rectangle, one side will be 1.618 times longer than the other side.

To relate this to bodybuilding, sculptures of bodies often have a golden ratio between the shoulders since this ratio is naturally pleasing to the eye:

aesthetics

In other words, body sculptures of men often have a shoulder-to-waist-ratio of 1.618.

Hugh Jackman in peak shape displays the golden ratio:

aesthetics

The reasoning is that men with shoulders that are wide relative to their waist signal good physical health:

  • Wide shoulders = Strength.
  • Narrow waist = Healthy body-fat level.

Those traits increase your attraction and they will make other people respect you more.

How to measure your shoulder-to-waist-ratio:

  • Step 1: Stand straight with your back against a wall in a relaxed state with your arms down.
  • Step 2: Use a pencil to make a mark close to the widest point of each of your shoulders.
  • Step 3: Use a pencil to make a mark close to the WIDEST point of your waist. (Do not measure at the narrowest like in the picture with Hugh Jackman).
  • Step 4: Use a tape to measure the distance between the shoulder points and the waist points.
  • Step 5: Divide your shoulder width measurement with your waist width measurement to obtain your shoulder-to-waist ratio.

(You can ask someone to make the marks on the wall for you, or you can do them yourselves. If you do them yourself, do the test 3 times and use the average shoulder-to-waist ratio to get the most precise result.)

If you’re like most skinny-fat men, your shoulder-to-waist-ratio probably falls somewhere around 1.1-1.3.

If that’s you, make it your goal to reach a shoulder-to-waist-ratio of 1.618 or for simplicity’s sake: 1.6. Measure your ratio once every two weeks and note down the numbers somewhere visible in your room so you can see your progression. A white-board is great for this purpose.

In my experience, the golden ratio is by far the best LONG-TERM goal to start your journey for aesthetics, because it forces you to keep your waist tight while adding mass to your shoulders, lats and upper chest.

This goal is simple, yet specific enough to steer you in the right direction in your skinny-fat transformation.

The shoulders, lats and upper chest are by far the 3 most important muscle groups to develop when you’re a skinny-fat guy.

My shoulder-to-waist ratio transformation

To showcase the importance of training for proportions, rather than overall size, take a look at my progress picture below:

OSKAR PROGRESSPictured: Me in December 2011 vs. December 2014 (Same bodyweight, around 200 pounds)

In the first picture I had been training for almost 2 years, but at that time I didn’t know about the golden ratio.

I just mindlessly added as much muscle mass as I could. Most of that mass went to my thighs, glutes, traps, lower chest and abs (I had big abs hidden under that layer of bloating/fat).

But how about arms, shoulders, upper chest and lats? I had a bit of lats, but the rest were pretty much non-existent!

Now, the interesting part is that I’m not MUCH bigger than I was 3 years ago. In fact, I’m at about the same bodyweight and I’m slightly leaner and slightly more muscular.

The big difference is that right now I carry my muscle mass in the right places, thereby creating an illusion of being bigger than I actually am!

To be specific, I have slightly bigger shoulders, upper chest, arms, upper back and lats and I’m slightly smaller around my waist and hips.

The difference is so big that earlier, my shoulder-to-waist ratio was around 1.35 and now it’s 1.56.

I’m telling you this to give you some perspective on how crucial it is to tailer your training to your needs.

If you’ve trained incorrectly for years without results there’s still hope.

Steve Reeves’ Ideal Measurements

The golden shoulder to waist ratio is a great initial long-term goal to set for yourself, since it can be achieved by anyone who is willing to put in the effort.

However, once you achieve this goal you may want to take it a step further and aim for Steve Reeves’ ideal measurements:

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 15.17.59

Source: BodyBuilding.com

Keep in mind that when you measure your pelvis, you’re supposed to use the LEAN measurement, otherwise you will get an inflated chest size number.

To get the lean measurement, just pull the tape tight around your pelvis to squeeze the fat away. The reasoning is that we assume you will cut down and get lean once your desired level of muscular development.

Also, your head should be measured like this:

wig-circumference

Finally, your arms and calves should be measured flexed (without a pump) while the rest is measured in a relaxed state.

I believe that Steve Reeves’ formulas are as close to perfect as one can get, because they are all based on proportions.

Also, the proportions clearly work. Steve Reeves was very close to achieve his own definition of an ideal physique with the following measurements:

  • Arms: 18.5
  • Calves: 18.5
  • Neck: 18.5
  • Thighs: 27
  • Chest: 54
  • Waist: 30

Can Everyone Build The Perfect Physique?

Since I’m extremely close to having the golden ratio (I will have it once I cut down for spring), my new long-term goal is to achieve Steve Reeves ideal measurements.

Here’s how I stack up against his ideals:

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 13.38.49

Keep in mind that I use my lean pelvis size (when I don’t squeeze the fat, I have a 104 CM pelvis).

According to Steve’s ideals, I need to work the most on my chest circumference which is done by adding size to my upper back, lats and chest.

I’m surprised by this finding since my back is my most developed body part, and I added over 4 inches to my chest circumference during this 2 month bulk, yet I’m so far away from this ideal.

I believe that the reasoning to my “underdeveloped” chest circumference compared to my hips is mainly genetic.

If you’re a guy with wide hip bones and a narrow torso, it will be very hard to achieve a chest size that is 48% bigger than your pelvis size.

However, that shouldn’t stop you. 5 years ago I would never have thought that I could achieve the physique I have today. Back then I just wanted a “normal” body.

Similarly, today, the goal of achieving Steve Reeves’ measurements seems to be very far away, but that won’t stop me.

I will train hard for the rest of my life or until I’m unable to do so, therefore getting as close as possible to Steve Reeves’ measurements is one of my life goals.

I don’t care whether it takes me 10-20 or 30 years. If you love what you do, time flies. I can still remember my first gym session as if it was today.

Therefore, stop thinking about whether you can achieve some type of physique or not. Instead, do the hard work and do your best to get as close as possible to that goal. If you love what you do, the journey itself will be worth 1000 times more than the destination.

To end this article, I want to ask you 2 questions:

  1. What exactly is your ideal physique? Can you name any people that have this ideal physique? 
  2. Do you believe that YOU can achieve this physique? If not, what’s holding you back?

I look forward to hear you answers.

By the way, should it happen that you found this article useful, be sure to follow my daily updates on my facebook page and instagram.

Be proud but stay hungry!

– Oskar Faarkrog

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Comments

  1. Guru prasad says:

    Can u please help me in finding out my body ratio….am 5.7height,36 inches chest and my waist is around 28 inches….

  2. sohaib khan says:

    After 6 years of mindless, yoyo trying and dieting and betting utterly disappointed finally I got the receipe of what I always wondered. Can’t thankyou more oskar

  3. Just stumbled across this older post. Very very well written informative and sourced i am an active guy but at 6 ‘ 3″ the only guys i see with my frame at the gym are bulky and useless in my lifestyle. Ifeel that i have a good base going under a small layer of fat. Recently have been thinking of aesthetics and usefullness and a way to approach it. I think you nailed it with the golden triangle and some of the responses to comments. This gives me a better and more calculated way to approach it. I appreciate it, sir.

  4. Hi Oskar, can you give more info on where we should make the rest of the measurements? I.e. is wrist done over the wrist bone, just in front of it or behind it, or is it done at the smallest part of the forearm (which for me is 2″ behind my wrist)? Same for ankles etc…

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      There’s no one way to take measurements and the actual number is less important than the trend and how you actually look in real life.

      The most important thing is that you consistently take your measurements in the same place so you can see trends (e.g. gains or losses in size).

      I personally take the wrist measurement at the “wrist bone”.

  5. Prasad Mohapatra says:

    Hello Oskar, I’m 5’6 and 55 kg.. I joined a gym last month and don’t take supplements… I noticed that my weight dropped 2kgs after that. Is it okay to continue without supplements or should I take supplements? Before taking weight gainers, I was 42kgs. And what should be the ideal weight for someone of my size without looking bulky but have a similar physique like Zyzz or Steve Reeves… Also please check this guy called Tiger Shroff, an Indian actor.. He’s got a good physique like Zyzz and Steve Reeves… Also, can I get your workout routine please? I will be grateful to you…

  6. Sunil Stanislaus says:

    I don’t normally comment on articles but I have to say that was a brilliant article mate. You look so much better yourself after paying more attention to the golden ratio. Some really good advice you’ve given for me to follow on the road to aesthetics.Cheers man.

  7. Kerstan says:

    I know this particular article is geared towards men, but could anyone happen to point me in the direction of one for women?

    Having a small waist, wide hips, small shoulders, full C’s or D’s, slightly thick thighs, and a nice, round, plump bubbly booty that is proportionately bigger is my dream physique. I call it “slim-thick”. While remaining slender, yet defined all over, but not overly done ( even as a woman ).

    I’m not sure I can achieve this do to my body frame/bone structure ( I basically have the rectangle shape, small square booty that is kind of round as well, narrow hips, skinny arms and legs, and possibly wide shoulders – they measure 15″ ).

    I feel like a boy. :”(

    I’m 23, my normal weight is around 130lbs, and I’m 5’7.

    If I could attach a picture, I would.

    Please help me if you can! I’d greatly appreciate it!

  8. i admire an aesthetic body like Zyzz, Im working on it, i’m 5’8, 86kg, ive been training for a year, currently dieting to drop bodyfat which is like 15 or 20%, is their any excersises especifically for building an aesthetic body???

  9. There is no such thing as a perfect body. All human bodies are imperfect and will always be imperfect. A reminder that we must be humble. Bodybuilding can be very detrimental for one’s mental health when it comes to ideals about appearance that actually don’t really matter and how much they can affect our body image when we are unable to achieve those standards. Validating yourself for the way you look is never the way to go.

    • Luddendorf says:

      That is such bullshit! Humans need ideals, God’s, things to strive for! Don’t project your own insecurities onto body building. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be great. Perfection is about the pursuit.

      • Couldn’t have said it better! *claps*

      • It’s not bullshit. You’re essentially trying to say your opinion is more important than his, which isn’t the case. The only one spewing bullshit here is you.

        It’s just an opinion. It’s similar to how some men are attracted to tomboys, some aren’t, some are attracted to tall lean women, some aren’t, etc.

  10. Hey Oskar,
    So, I did the measurements three times for me as you said I got anywhere between a 1.52 – 1.59. I am a short guy at 5’1” withth the measurements of 11-12 in. Waist, and 17.5 – 18.25 shoulders measured across. However, I have been looking elsewhere and others seem to say it is the waist and shoulder circumference that should be measured. Doing that yield a 1.43 for me. Have you heard about the circumference approach? Which is better?

  11. What are your thoughts on the Vince Gironda Steak and Eggs diet for fat loss? You may have come across it on bold and determined.

    It is exactly what it sounds like. You do 2 meals a day, 8-16 oz of steak and 4-6 eggs per meal.

    It essentially is a ketogenic diet, but a very strict version of it. I have seen youtube videos with people’s testimonials and it seems effective, but do you feel it is actually safe?

    • Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer says:

      I tried it. It worked well for fat loss but I felt horrible. No energy and lack of libido because of lack of carbs

  12. Hmm, so what the hell do I do if mine comes out at 1.68< @ 5'11 and not got into working out yet?

    18.5in width shoulders, 11in width waist.

    How can I add muscle to shoulders if my waist isn't going to grow much, thats gonna throw me off :(
    This sucks! I'm skinny-fat with some obvious muscle, thats mostly in my legs though. Around 145lbs.

    Great article btw.

    • Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer says:

      Send me a picture of your upper body through the contact form and I’ll tell you :)

  13. So I was looking for Steve Reeves articles and I found this, great read. My life goal is to achieve a body like Reeves in my twenty’s. His aesthetics are out of this world. True bodybuilder.

  14. Hey Oscar! Great article. I also agree that a guy won’t look good with small shoulders and a smaller waist. I’m 16 yrs old and weigh about 118 pounds. I’ve been doing weighted diamond push ups up to 12 decent reps (I can do 20 decent reps without backpacks and and up to 35 reps on a basic push up), but haven’t seen much gain on my chest and triceps, maybe I’m too young to get bigger triceps and chest(The arm are 12.5 inches while my chest is 35 inches). Do you think it’s advisable start you think it’s advisable to start building an aesthetic body now or should I wait till I turn 18 or 21 before I start?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Emmanuel,

      Training can make you stronger, but to see muscle gains, you need to eat a caloric surplus aswell. Think about your body as a house: To build a house you need bricks. Without bricks you cannot build the house. Same goes for building muscle, without enough food and calories, you won’t be able to build muscle since your body needs a caloric surplus to build.

      Definitely keep building now. Perhaps you are still developing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your body. Training can only be a good thing regardless if you gain muscle or not. In the end, more strength will make it easier to gain muscle in the future.

      Also, once you can do 20 good reps it’s time to make the exercise harder. Try doing them from an incline or try working your way up to handstand push ups.

  15. hello oskar Can I improve my bodyshape like you in your two photos of 2011 and 2014 if I eat the same amount of calories, but I improve my training?You advice me I do your routine pump training because Im good in calisthenics.I have a body similar body´s ryan gosling Im going to buy fatgripz too.Its enough meal eat only a shake after trainingThanks oskar.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Daniel, each person is individual so you can’t just copy my routine and diet and expect the same results.

  16. EDIT

    This is my first cut where I have counted macros.

    I have tried to cut and each time I used to cut for 10-12 days but would quit because of lack of results. I blamed my genetics/ T3 levels/ Testosterone levels etc before. This is the first time I have cut for longer than 12 days and am feeling I am getting results.

    I will continue to cut until I meet my goal this time as I want to see my muscles instead of fat.

    Oscar, can you give me an idea of how long it will take me to reach ~ 8 % BF ( right now I am at 21.2%).

    thanks once again

  17. Hey Oscar I had commented about how my waist size was not decreasing even though my weight has decreased.

    I made that post on 14 th December.

    My waist measurement stayed the same upto 5 days ago i.e 37.4 inches but when I measured on 21 December my waist has shrunk by 2 inches almost overnight.it is now 35.5 inches.

    its like magic. Feeling good now as I am down to 21.2% BF from 24.5% BF in ~ 27 days.

    Just came to say thanks:)

  18. great article! ppl always forget that is all about the aesthetics, not the quantity of plates or how much you bench/deadlift/squat, this reminds me when i started training i used to look myself and compare to a picture of a jacked guy and think “i must add mass here, and here…and here, ohhh and also here….i dont care the rest”, pullups and dips make you look aesthethic in no time

  19. Hey Oskar,

    First off — congrats on 1M pageviews!

    Good point there on aesthetics vs bodybuilding. Hadn’t thought about that before. You know a LOT about these things. But that picture of GSP is an insult to him, it looks like he’s taking a shit.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you Ludvig!

      Fixed GSP picture. I liked the previous one because his shoulders looked jacked but you’re right, he did in fact look like he was about to make a poop.

  20. 1. Oscar! oscar! you forgot one very important aspect of body ratios! I.E. HEIGHT!

    You cannot take shoulders to waist ratio without knowing what your ideal waist measurement should be!

    For example: My height is 5 feet 10 inches. I can achieve a golden ratio of 1.618 with a 60 inch shoulder and 37 inch waist. I can achieve a golden ratio with 52 inch shoulder and a 32 inch waist. And I can also achieve a golden ratio with a 45 inch shoulder and 27 inch waist!!

    Measuring golden ratio without taking in height in consideration could lead to disastrous results! Because although all three return a golden ratio, not all three of those will look aesthetically pleasing.

    I have been studying golden ratios about a year and a half now and this article -> http://kinobody.com/workouts-and-exercises/the-perfect-male-body/ by far is the best I have found for acheiving the golden ratios. Also the author is hands down the best looking fitness guy I have ever seen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-kzz0MP7SQ which speaks volume for the accuracy of the ratios he presents because most guys or atleast I would kill to look like him.

    You can also verify the importance of taking height into consideration from The Adonis Index program by Brad Pilon and John Barban.

    So I urge and request you to make appropriate changes in the article to take height into consideration for calculating the golden ratio.

    2. Also another important this to consider is your breadth. A guy will well developed chest and shoulders will have a different look from a guy with a flat chest and smaller shoulders. So it is necessary to add some inches for breadth to make up for the breadth which is otherwise not accounted for.

    3. It is also necessary to consider that what looks good on screen looks way off in real life. I can guarantee that steve reeves’s body wouldnt look so desirable if you saw him in real life because his ratio is off. Images have a weird quality to themselves. ONSCREEN IMAGES MAKE BIGGER GUYS LOOK SMALL AND SMALLER GUYS LOOK BIGGER. Hence it is necessary to keep in mind that you need to aim to look good in reality and not on images. If you aim for the Steve reeves look in real life, you will end up looking disproportionate.

    4. If you meet your golden ratio correctly, it is impossible to look huge onscreen or images. For eg, brad pitt, beckham, ryan gosling or some of the most desired men look really under-musculed (is that even a word?)

    5. No offence but reeves, zanes and well as your own ratio seems off (way too much lat and chest development). I suggest you take your height into consideration and check your golden ratio again.

    Thank you.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Rock,

      Great comment. I’m learning a lot here!

      1) If you stay lean as advised by this and many other articles on the site, height won’t be necessary since you will already be at your natural lean waist. I was considering to include it, but I decided not to for simplicity’s sake. I do agree though that you can achieve a golden ratio at different sizes and that some are better than others, but as long as you stay below 12% body-fat you will be fine. For example, I’m at the end of my bulk right now and I’m below 12% body-fat and my measurements fit the formulas on your link almost perfectly:

      Formula 1: Waist – 45-47% of height
      – My height: 188 CM
      – Ideal waist: 85-88
      – Current waist: 91 CM at widest point, 80 CM at narrowest point (end of bulk), 86 CM at widest point, 80 CM at narrowest point (cut)

      Formula 2: Shoulders – 1.618x waist
      – Ideal waist: 85-88 > Ideal shoulder CIRCUMFERENCE: 138-142 CM
      – Current shoulder circumference: 134 CM

      Formula 3: Arms – identical size of neck circumference
      – Neck = 39 CM
      – Arms = 38.5 CM

      Formula 4: Chest – 10-12″ greater than waist
      – Ideal Waist: 86 CM
      – Current chest: 119 CM (I have gynecomastia too, so once I get surgery and cut down I will have an ideal chest measurement)
      – Ideal chest: 111,4-116,48

      In other words, I pretty much fit his ideals with the exception that I need slightly wider shoulders (add about 2 inches to them), and that I need to cut for a few weeks to get to my ideal waist again.

      By the way, I would be interested to hear why shoulder circumference and waist circumference is used rather than shoulder width and waist width? I used to go by circumference, but I find width measurements to give a better idea of your current aesthetics. When using circumference my ratio is just 1.45 indicating that I need to gain a lot more muscle to reach it.

      2) How exactly do you do this?

      3)

      “ONSCREEN IMAGES MAKE BIGGER GUYS LOOK SMALL AND SMALLER GUYS LOOK BIGGER.”

      Interesting point, I never noticed that before. How do you aim to look good in reality if you have no images to go by? Is it better to use the mirror?

      4) Again, very interesting stuff. I wouldn’t call Ryan Gosling or Brad Pitt undermuscled. They look fit and healthy, but I see your point: they don’t look huge.

      5) Zane and Reeves were closer to 2 on the shoulder-to-waist ratio, and you’re probably right about them looking huge in real life. According to the formulas my chest circumference is just 1 inch too big, but that will be accounted for once I get my gynecomastia gland taken out. Other than that, it seems like all I have to do is to cut for a few weeks and then gain a few inches on my shoulders. The ideal measurements from KinoBody will be my new short term goal for the next 6 months then and after that I will reevaluate if I wanna get even bigger.

      Thanks for the insightful comment.

  21. Hey Oskar,

    Thanks for the great post and a worthwhile discussion on bodies and aesthetics; you make a lot of compelling points. My personal ideal is Marlon Brando circa 1950 (http://classicmoviechat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/brando-jpeg1.jpg) and (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/23/e9/a2/23e9a28edcf0d63d8b9d3324d2fc23b0.jpg) and I’m working hard to get there. He’s nowhere near as developed as Reeves or Zane but in my view that’s the perfect masculine body.

    I was interested in what you said about Reeves never training his abs or traps directly, and began to wonder if I should leave those muscle groups alone. I’m closer to the Gosling bone structure. After cutting down to 11% bf I’ve started bulking on a fairly commonplace split routine. I also do a lot of pullups (went from 0 to 10) for the lats. Would you suggest skipping the ab workouts to try and maintain a tight waist?

    Thanks for all your work on the site; it’s a good one.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey JT,

      Marlon Brando looks like a healthy man who works out but doesn’t obsess about his diet. His level of leanness is what I maintain most of the year and I can understand why his physique would be something to aim for.

      The abs part is very much up to you. I’m personally still trying to figure out whether I should train abs more or not. On the one hand, it’s nice to see my abs being more defined and fill out some of the loose skin from my fat loss, but on the other hand I like to keep my waist as small and flat as possible. It’s a trade-off.

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you like it!

  22. im a ecto with thin hip and shoulders and bird bones like nubret and zyzz.they also have 6 to 6.5 inch wrists.

  23. hey,when i asked about your measurements 4-5 months ago,your arms were 15inches.and now 17 inches..wow…..i consider serge nubret and zyzz as my ideal.both were 6 feet and 200lbs.can i achieve physique like them even in 5 years or more.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Prabh, my arms are not 17 inches. The measurements are all in centimeters, and 17 is my wrist measurement (17 CM). My arm size is currently 38,5 CM (excel rounded to 39 CM), which is 15.2″ thus I gained 0.2″ on my arms since we talked 4-5 months ago. Usually, to gain 1″ on your arms it’s said you have to gain 10 pounds of muscle mass, and I’ve gained 2 pounds of lean mass during my last bulk, so a 0.2″ gains fits that theory perfectly.

      I honestly believe that Zyzz’ physique is achievable naturally in 5-10 years depending on genetics/work ethic, but I don’t know about Serge Nubret. You need to know that both used steroids!

  24. http://angrytrainerfitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/taylor-lautner-before-after.jpg Taylor Lautner looks pretty good, especially that apollo’s belt and those arms. Upper body could be wider though, and there’s something unnatural about that shoulder-traps section. I don’t know if it’s even possible for me to get even close to those abs and the apollo’s belt since he seems to have always carried them whereas I have never had real stomach definition. But I have done reverse crunches and leg raises and think that the lower part has become a bit more defined, we’ll see.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I agree, he has a great mid section but the traps look too big for him. I can’t say whether you can get his abs or not, but I can say that you can always improve. When I started I had 0 abs and no apollo’s belt. Now I have 4 abs and the apollo’s belt is getting more visible. I noticed that when I train abs a lot (including obliques), my apollo’s belt is more visible (even at higher body-fat levels), but my waist starts getting thicker looking so it’s a trade-off.

  25. Back when I was a skinny fat teenager I was really impressed with Brendan Fraser’s physique in George of the Jungle.

    Newspaper articles at the time said Brendan was 6% bf for the film. but I don’t think that was the case. I’d be interested to know your guesses for weight, bf% and bicep size?

    There’s debate about Steve Reeves and steroids but it’s safe to say that Brendan Fraser’s physique is naturally attainable.

    Could I attain this physique?

    I’ve come a long a way from my skinny fat days – am usually 82kg at 1.85m and can do 18 chin ups. In terms of genetics I have short bicep insertions so despite being decently strong have small upper arms, adding size seems hard. I have a big rib cage and a barrel chest – which would take away from the lean flat look. Unfortunately my training suffers because I get pain from bench pressing and squats – otherwise I would do them more.

    My diet is far from ideal so I could get leaner fairly easily if I cooked ahead. Intermittent fasting keeps me from gaining too much weight but I am not very strict with eating.

    Answer – maybe not but I’m already almost beach fit and with some minor tweaks could look better.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Jaydub,

      I would guess he is around 180 pounds, 8% body-fat and has 15″ arms. He’s the same height as me, and looks like he has about the same sized arms, and he is definitely leaner than me (I’m 11.9% body-fat and my arms are just a bit over 15″). His physique is definitely attainable naturally by everyone. The only difficulty would be to maintain his level of leanness if you’re naturally prone to carry fat. For you, the key to get his physique would be to optimize your diet and get leaner.

      Have you tried doing low cable flys and incline pullovers for chest development instead of bench presses? If not, I suggest you try that and see how it feels.

      About squats: Just do leg presses instead. For tall lifters, leg presses, leg extensions and hamstring curls can be superior to squats since many of us tall guys have “awkward” proportions with long hamstrings, making squatting very difficult. Lou Ferrigno was a very tall bodybuilder and used leg extensions to build massive legs.

      • Thanks, I’ve wanted to read someone’s informed opinion about Brendan’s shape in the movie.

        Funnily enough – something simple like substituting exercises is a revelation because there’s so much insistence on doing the big three (squat, bench, deadlift). I’ll try cable flies and pull overs – nothing to lose.

  26. Just Skinny says:

    Hi oskar
    I am just a skinny guy and I have small waist but also a small shoulder, is it still possible for me to achieve the golden ratio?
    Thanks in advance !!!

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Yes, definitely. I started with small shoulders and a wide waist/hips and now I’m very close to have it. It just takes time.

  27. Very nice article ! I like how you point out the difference between the genetics of Gosling vs Zane instead of creating false hope that everybody can look like Zane.

    I also think that while using examples of the perfect body you should use examples of natty people only or at least mention if they are not. Frank Zane was not natty, (beat Arnold in som competitions) propably Reeves neither.

    You site is definately one the best in the neverending storm of fitness sites.

    Regards !

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thanks for the compliment Lasse, I appreciate it!

      It was Gosling and Reeves, however the point still stands: bone structure determines your starting point and overall potential, but you can still change your natural proportions for the better with the right training.

      The problem with using people that are natty when you write about “the perfect physique” is that there’s no way you can know who is natty and who is not. Everybody will claim they are natty, but how can we know for sure? I’ve earlier started writing an article about what is achievable naturally based on numbers from Casey Butt (see link here: http://www.weightrainer.net/bodypred.html), and when I put my own numbers in and put the body-fat at 8% my potential bulked bodyweight is about the same as Steve Reeves’ during his peak (215 pounds) which suggests that Steve Reeves was natty (we are both about the same height).

      The big difference was that my potential measurements were much different with 17.2 inch arms and a 47.8 inch chest while Steve Reeves claimed to have 18.5 inch arms and a 57 inch chest at his peak. I believe that his very high chest and arm measurement can be explained by 2 reasons: 1) he has a naturally wide rib-cage/lats and 2) his measurements were taken with a pump and he exagarrated them a bit.

      I believe Steve Reeves was natural and his size is attainable naturally, but very few of us will look the same way as he does at that size because he was gifted with the right bone structure.

  28. Very good article, Oskar. I’d like to ask you: what’s your current training routine?
    Keep up the awesome work.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you Dave, I definitely will!

      My current split is like that:

      Monday: Arms, Shoulders
      Tuesday: Legs
      Wednesday: Chest, Back
      Thursday: Shoulders
      Friday: Arms
      Saturday: Chest
      Sunday: OFF

      I do calves most days of the week for about 4-8 dropsets, and I do a few sets of abs at the end of 3-4 workouts.

      My training is based on doing a lot of sets, 10-12 reps per set, a lot of dropsets and keep rest short between sets.

      I don’t have a set exercise routine I follow, I just pick whatever exercises I feel like doing that day for that muscle group and do each exercise for as many sets as it takes to completely trash my muscle. Usually I pick my favorite exercises which you can find a list of here: http://skinnyfattransformation.com/gain-muscle-while-staying-lean/

      My workouts usually take around 2-3 hours, including stretching and warmup which I always do.

      There will be a new post up soon with a more detailed description of my recent 2 month bulk where I made some of the best gains of my life.

  29. oscar I am currently 75kg at 5ft 8inches.

    I was 78 kg about 17 days ago. Following your advice I have started cutting by eating less and lifting heavy. has improved a bit and I have dropped ~ 3kg.

    But my waist size has not decreased and I look a bit smaller. but so far no changes in mirror.

    in these 17 days my strength is slowly improving but my appearance has not changed much. according to ny measurements I have lost about 1.3% bodyfat. But people are commenting on how I look a bit deflated,weak etc. I am feeling demotivated due to this.

    should I continue to cut or stop?
    am I doing something wrong?

    plz help

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey, in 17 days you can’t really make a huge amount of progress, but 3 kg sounds like a very good weight loss.

      Unfortunately, cutting will not make you look better during the first many weeks/months if you have a lot to lose. The reasoning is that you don’t start looking good until you reach a low body-fat percentage and visible abs. Until you reach a low body-fat percentage, you simply look smaller for each week, not necessarily much better.

      It’s hard to tell you if you should continue cutting or stop with that info, but perhaps you should consider doing it slower (max 1 kg a week), and up your carbs to help with deflation (low carb makes you look deflates).

      Also, do you remember to refeed 1-2 times a week?

  30. Wow — this article is outstanding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a detailed, in depth discussion on aesthetics. Good for you for talking about something that, despite being decidedly politically incorrect, everyone secretly cares a lot about: vanity.

    I agree that it doesn’t get much better than bearded Frank Zane. He looks amazing there, and better yet that kind of look (or something very close to it) is totally achievable naturally or without a massive cocktail of PEDs like the ones the Mr. Olympias are taking these days.

    What’s really cool is that 40 years latter Frank Zane still looks awesome: http://izifunny.com/2013/09/03/bodybuilder-frank-zane.-1972-vs-2012-5-pics,4.html

    It just goes to show that aesthetics and health are complementary. If you look great you will feel great and have great health.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you Pete, I really appreciate it. Wow, I didn’t know Frank Zane still looked that great at 65. He looks better than most young men who lift!

  31. Very good article Oskar! Indeed, many people forget about proportions after being brainwashed by the mainstream bodybuilding crap. However, my problem is just what you mentioned above – my hip bones look abnormally wide compared to my narrow shoulders. Right now, I’m leaning down but I plan to bulk up soon, and what muscle zones do you recommend to target and train directly in this situation?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Nika,

      Thank you!

      Focus on lats first, and shoulders second. When you train shoulders, don’t forget to train all 3 heads: rear, lateral and front. Training rear shoulders helped me a lot.

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