The search for the “perfect” body is almost as old as time itself.
Michelangelo’s statue of David, for example, was once considered the pinnacle of masculine form.
Although we now live in the age of “bigorexia” where many men want the biggest muscles they can get, many of us pursue something much more proportionate:
A slim, athletic, powerful and sculpted body.
So how do you get it? And how do you know when you did it?
According to Greg O’Gallagher, fitness expert and Hollywood physicist, the ideal proportions are:
- Waist – 45-47% of height
- Shoulders – Waist 1,618x
- Arms – Identical size of neck circumference
- Chest – 10-12 ″ larger than waist
Let’s take a deeper look at the perfect measurements of the male body (according to height).
Meeting these standards may require losing fat, building muscle, or both. Start with this easy test to find out the perfect workout program for you and get a great discount on the plan for your ideal body.
If you like to do things on your own, read on!
A quick note about being positive for the body:
There really is no ‘perfect body’.
You know that, right?
There is research that indicates what other people (and women) respond to in terms of physical attraction, and there are bodybuilding patterns, but objective perfection is not real.
Love your body the way it is, strive to improve, and enjoy the journey!
Ok, moving on.
Slim and tight waist (45-47% of height)
Waist size is the basis of a great body. Too much extra fill in the middle, and all the aesthetics suffer.
A waist size of about 45% of your height indicates a very low body fat percentage and an overall athletic build (probably also a good set of sit-ups).
Example: If you have 5 ′ 10 ″, the ‘ideal’ waist size would be 31 to 33 ″
How to get a slim waist: Diet! Men tend to store most of their fat in the upper body, especially around the belly, so you will need to lose a significant amount of fat to get a slim waist and reveal the abs.
Here is the basic plan:
- Eat with a moderate calorie deficit to lose fat
- Lift heavy weights to preserve or build muscle
- Do some direct ab work for definition
(For an amazing diet and training program that will help you lose about one pound of fat a week and shred quickly, check out Greg O’Gallagher’s Kinobody Warrior Shredding Program – click the link for my review and results. practical after trying the program myself!)
Wide Shoulders (Waist 1.618x)
Broad and powerful shoulders are a hallmark of the male physique. They indicate strength and confidence along with plenty of testosterone.
A shoulder width of just over one and a half times the size of the waist will make your upper body pop out and help give you that coveted V shape.
Example: For a 5 ′ 10 ″ man, the ideal shoulder width would be 51 to 53 ″
How to get broad shoulders: Unlike having a slim waist, you will have a significant amount of strength and muscles in your upper body to separate from your backpack.
- Strengthen With Air Presses And Other Shoulder Pressing Movements
- Increase extra volume by isolating the front, side, and rear delts (shoulder muscles)
- Get skinny!
(I recommend Kinobody’s Greek God Program and nutritional protocol to increase muscle mass while staying lean – click this link to see what happened when I tried this lean program myself.)
A highly overlooked muscle group for the perfect male body, the back is really the real key to V-shape.
Wide lats (the back muscles that rest under the back shoulder) can give your torso an impressive and powerful look. They will also be super functional to keep you healthy and strong in real life.
There is no specific ratio that can be applied to your back muscles, but they should be proportional to your shoulders and help contribute to the overall breadth of your torso.
How to get a wide back:
- Develop strength with vertical pulls (push-ups are best) to hit your lats hard
- Add thickness to back with horizontal lines and pulls
Upper chest thick (10-12 ″ wider than waist)
Big shoulders and broad back are the fundamentals of the V-shape that helps form the perfect male body, but without a powerful chest to keep up with it, the proportions will be reduced.
Your chest does not necessarily offer an extra ton of width to your body, but it does increase the thickness of the side and make the waist and stomach area look even smaller. The upper chest in particular forms a powerful-looking shelf when properly constructed.
Example: For a 5 ′ 10 ″ tall guy, a chest measurement of around 42-45 ″ is ideal, assuming a thin, firm waist in the 30 ″ range.
How to get a well developed chest and upper chest:
- Build strength in the incline press to really reach the upper chest and shoulders
- Flat bench and weighted dives can also be used.
(A 225 lb bench press is a very good milestone to remember when you start lifting. If you are wondering how long it will take to reach this level, start here to get my best estimate based on a ton of research.)
Well-developed arms (the same size as the neck)
Everyone wants huge, muscular arms, but their structure can only take a lot based on their height. A good number to shoot, in terms of impressive and well-proportioned arms, is the same circumference of the neck.
You want your biceps and triceps to be equally strong and well-developed for best results, while remaining lean to reveal many definitions.
Example: For the average 5 ′ 10 ″ man, raising your arms to about 15.5-16.5 ″ (typical neck size) should look great.
How to get great weapons:
- Focus on creating tremendous force in the main compound lifts already mentioned: incline bench press, weighted push-ups and other major push / pull movements
- Add extra volume to your multi-curl biceps and triceps with jerks, skull crushers and other isolation movements
The ideal male body has neither huge tree trunk legs nor lean chicken legs.
There is no ideal ratio here, but the goal should be athletic legs with solid muscle size and explosive strength.
How to get well-developed but proportionate legs:
- Do many one-leg movements (split squats, thrusts, pistol squats) for well-developed blocks
- These movements will also help your VMO (tear-above-knee muscle) burst, which looks great.
(By the way, if you’re having trouble with your pain or can’t walk after leg day, I’ve put together some important tips you should try before, during, and after your next lower body exercise!)
Once again, there is no true “ideal” body, but there are some standards based on the scientific study of attraction as well as general best bodybuilding practices.
Everyone’s body and goals are different, so don’t let them confine you. I hope these measures inspire you to achieve your best physique possible.
And here is a quick bonus if it is relevant to you!
What are the ideal bodybuilding measures and how is it judged?
In competitive bodybuilding, it is less important to look for a specific measure than you might think.
In other words, bigger is not always better.
(Although, yes, general mass is one of the main standards of judgment.)
Bodybuilding judges, however, also take into account a competitor’s performance:
And stage presence
Proportion: All things in proportion!
The major backward muscle groups in competitive bodybuilding are a huge no-no.
It’s amazing to have a “specialty” muscle group, such as incredible shoulders, but not at the expense of something like your back or arms.
Give proper attention to every part of your body, even smaller muscle groups.
Symmetry: This is a little harder to quantify and definitely harder to achieve.
Some people are genetically blessed with incredible symmetry in the face, body and muscles. Others simply are not.
However, you can adjust your routine to help create the illusion of a more symmetrical physique.
According to Bodybuilding.com, focus on:
And external back or lats
The extra calf and forearm training seems a bit unorthodox!
But these are important and highly visible muscle groups that can get your whole body out of control if not properly developed.
Definition: What you may not have size can always compensate for in definition or tone.
In most cases, the thinner and shredder you can, the bigger your appearance will be.
So if adding more mass to, say, your chest or back seems to be a problem for you, you can regain ground in the definition area by reaching a slope that larger competitors can’t.
Stage Presence: It’s a much bigger deal than most people attribute!
If your body and proportions are great but not the best on stage, you can always dazzle judges with:
Knowing your angles
Do not overlook this essential aspect of your training. In addition to time at the gym, you should also practice on stage.