The Opportunity Cost Of Building A Great Physique

When you want to achieve a great physique, you have to PAY for it. Nothing good comes out of nothing.

To be specific, you pay for a great physique through time and money:

  • Time: Study of fitness, training sessions and recovery.
  • Money: A proper bodybuilding diet is VERY expensive. During my hard bulking cycles I spend $1,000 a month on food/supplements. If I didn’t train hard, I could easily get away with less than half of that.

The time and money you put into building your body is time and money that you take away from OTHER things, such as:

  • Building a business or career.
  • Party.
  • Go on long vacations.
  • Relationships.

All of these are opportunity costs.

When you want to build a great physique, you often forego the opportunity to do other things.

This cost is higher for the skinny-fat guy who has to put in more time and effort to build the same physique that a naturally athletic guy can maintain without any effort.

In this article, I will discuss several aspects of building a physique to help you decide how far you should take your bodybuilding, and to give you some perspective on what it takes to get what you want.

Great Physique vs. Phenomenal Physique

While time, money and effort can get you a great physique, it won’t get you a phenomenal physique.

This distinction is crucial to make since the difference is similar to that of a millionaire and a billionaire.

In the book Money, Tony Robbins said that a million seconds is the equivalent of almost 12 days.

However, a billion seconds is the equivalent of almost 32 years!

In other words, billionaires and millionaires are two completely different things.

The same applies to people with a great physique and people with a phenomenal physique.

Both types of physique will make people admire you, but the phenomenal physique is a completely different universe!

To get a phenomenal physique you need to have the right genetics:

Lazar Angelov has all of these:

Lazar Angelov

And here’s Jeff Seid:

Jeff Seid

Both Lazar Angelov and Jeff Seid looked better in their before pictures than most guys look in the gym after years of training!

No matter how you slice it there are genetic factors that you cannot change.

This is similar to what Stephen King said about writers in his book On Writing.

He argued that:

A competent writer can become a great writer by putting in the time and effort, but a great writer can never become a phenomenal writer.

In fitness terms this means that while you can build a great physique through hard work and effort, but a phenomenal physique requires you to have the right genetics.

To be phenomenal you either have it or you don’t.

You can give a guy all the steroids in the world, but if he doesn’t have narrow hips, a narrow waist and good muscle insertions he will never look like Jeff Seid or Lazar Angelov. He will simply be a bigger version of himself!

Keep in mind though that a great physique still means that you look better than 95% of guys and stand out in most places.

Realistic But Exciting Goals Are Best

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 15.45.41

While it’s good to have a definition of your ideal physique, that definition is useless if that physique cannot be achieved.

This is what happens with most guys into bodybuilding.

They look aspire to guys like Jeff Seid and Lazar Angelov, but they never get close to achieving those physiques.

Your goal physique must arouse emotion in you and excite you, otherwise you won’t work hard towards it! However, it must be achievable.

You want a goal physique that is somewhere in the middle of your ideal physique and the physique you can realistically achieve with moderate effort and time spent.

Remember, it’s often the “middle-road” that is the best one. Extremes rarely work in the long-term!

Also, keep in mind that you can always adjust your goal physique later on. I’ve done this several times.

Diminishing Returns In Fitness

When it comes to building your body, it’s crucial to know that after a certain point, building a better body doesn’t provide the same returns where returns are defined as:

  • Positive responses by other people.
  • Your ability to enjoy social activities like going to the beach and doing sports.

Fitness follows the law of diminishing returns:


In my experience, this law kicks in once you have achieved the golden ratio of aesthetics.

In November 2012, I had achieved a shoulder-to-waist ratio of about 1.618 measured at the narrowest point of my waist:


Leading up to this point I had noticed that people respected me more, I became more confident in my own body and women noticed me more.

However, once you achieve this type of physique, those returns diminish significantly.

Today, over 2 years later, I still get those benefits but to a MUCH smaller degree.

It’s because once you have a good physique, it stops holding you back from living life to the fullest.

You don’t need a perfect body to feel good about yourself! You just need a good enough body.

Therefore, if you’re unsure about how much you’re willing to give up to build your ideal physique, I suggest that you start with the simple goal of achieving the golden ratio.

This can be done through basic bodyweight training and a sensible diet in about 6 months (phase 1 of you transformation).

Once you’ve put in this 1 year, you will be in a much better position to determine how much you’re willing to give up to build a great physique.

For some, that means going all the way and becoming a fitness model.

For others, that means putting in minimum effort into fitness and focus on other goals such as career and family.

Be proud but stay hungry,

Oskar Faarkrog


Read my guide the 2 Phases of a Skinny-Fat Transformation:


View My Top 40 Fitness Articles (Read By Over 3 Million Skinny-Fat Guys):


  1. Awesome Site, Oskar.

    You’re right about Lazar Angelof and Jeff Said, genetics play a big role indeed. But it isn’t all genetics for those guys…its steroids too, of course. Whats cool is I see a lot of success stories here who wind up looking like the 2004 photo of Lazar..lean and muscular, which is totally achievable naturally. Who would want more than that? Great info here, Oskar..keep it going, man.

  2. HI Oskar!

    I’ve been on and off training the last few years, always keeping it up for a few months, then neglecting it for something else that has come up in life. However, I always felt that even when I trained as they teach you “should”, my body could handle more stress. I was just afraid that I wouldn’t get good results if I strayed from conventional advice.
    So my question:
    What do you suppose would happen if I trained some body parts every day? I’m particularly meaning shoulder, bi, tri and chest, with 4-6 sets of 10-14 reps of close grip push ups, overhead press and curls.

  3. $1000 in food and supplements…what supplements are you taking?


    • Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer says:

      Currently Omega-3 oil from ArcticMed, Zinc and Multivitamin. All fairly cheap. I will also add L-glutamine and BCAA again from next week.

      Most of my costs are for food, not supplements. I spend maybe 100-150 USD on supplements a month (max), but food is around 800-900 USD. Quality food is expensive.

    • Notice that Oskar lives in Denmark, where the pricelevel in general, and regarding food especially, is very high.

      I once saw a comparison of the pricelevels of foodstuffs in the EU, and I believe DK was the most expensive of Them all. Even 20-30% higher than Sweden 💸 😳


  4. So I’ve been doing the three main exercises that you recommended for the average skinny fat guy 6 times a week & I just wanted to know if it’s okay if I added one or two barbell exercises at the end of my workouts every other day (without going to failure), or do I have to wait until the 4-6 month period is over? I just wanted to know because I bought some bars & a bench a while back & it’s very painful to just watch them collect dust. Also do you have any tips on how a skinny fat guy can get a manlier butt (LOL)? I’ve always been conscious about it because when I was a teen some old friends use to tell me that I had no butt. I was thinking of doing a lot of heavy squats before I read your blog. I don’t know if it will work.

  5. Hi, i am 46 years old, been to gym for 3 months now, i am a skinny-fat, and i get worried as i read in this website because so far there’s not a lot said for older guys like myself, I sincerely hope i can achieve…is there any thing i can expect after 1 year or 3 years, put differently I hope its not going to take me 5 years to get to where it would take you guys aged under 30’s to get in 1 year….its really disheartening…..
    make matters worse, im deaf and unemployed….so budget is tight but i know i can achieve but just HOW LONG??…
    would running help , a tabatha cardio help speed up metabolism in such a way to speed up process or theres not much else except just train same as Id would if I am 26 years old??

  6. The past few days I was questioning myself why I still train, whats the point aiming for a phenomenal physique about all of it. And went to the gym yesterday unmotivated. I saw this fat man who was sweating all over the place and left the gym very dirty. And it reminded me of how I was training during my first day at the gym. Another guy in the gym said to me “Look how dirty and wet the gym is!”. In that moment I can see on his face how unmotivated he was and may want to leave the gym. I felt the same way too after looking at how the floor was so wet but thinking about how I trained the first day at the gym reminded me to not QUIT and so I cleaned the floors and we became pumped up after. Just sharing this story here on SFT(The best website ever). Thank you Oskar!

  7. It is a TON of work. I struggle with getting my body fat as low as I did in my late 20’s, I am just not as motivated to diet for 60 days in a row. Maintaining a 6-pack is not too hard, getting ripped to shreds is work…

  8. Great points, which I couldn’t agree more with.

    Hyper-specialists in all fields agree — you can’t be “phenomenal” without natural talent/genetics for the skill/thing in question.

    It is better to be realistic and know your limitations than to waste time on pipedreams.

    • @Ludvig: +1 on becoming phenomenal in a field. Very nicely said.

      @Oskar: Besides time and money, your effort/energy is also something you invest when building a great physique. You mentioned it in the body of the article, make sure you also put it in bold at the beginning :)

      When I think about it, strength training/building a better body increased the quality of my life so much (attention from women, confidence, intelligence, etc.) I never thought about it in terms of opportunity costs, nice angle.

      • Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer says:

        I actually put effort there too, but removed it because it’s similar to time. When you put in a lot of time into something, you often also put in effort.

        • I find some time on week ends for a vacation and still train because of the nice view and new environment. This is how I take off from the monotony of training while working. Just curious on what do you guys do on rest days?

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