Life is not so bad if you have plenty of luck, a good physique, and not much imagination. – Christopher Isherwood
An individual’s physique is defined as their body, considered with reference to their proportions, appearance, and muscular development. In my experience, the first thing most people notice about someone else is their physique – before you begin discerning the details (ie facial features, hair color, eye color, etc) of another individual, you most likely take note of their “presence,” which has to do almost entirely with their physique & posture.
This is at first glance of course. But as the old adage goes, “first impressions are lasting impressions.”
Your physique is very important. Period.
It says a lot about you – whether that’s fair or not.
Now, you may have a below average or average physique and be an awesome, vibrant, intelligent, interesting, good person. That’s wonderful – and when people get to know you they love you. Great.
But that’s not going to be the focus of this article: we are going to be talking about the importance of building an impressionable & attractive physique for vanity’s sake. Yes it may be shallow, but so what? If you were 100% completely happy with your physique then you probably wouldn’t be reading this post about how to improve it anyways now would you?
So read on, NoGym warriors, and let’s make a toast to our vanity as we all revel in the glory of six pack abs!
Let’s get to work.
The Point of this Post
3/4 of this post is going to be used to explore a few of the social and psychological reasons behind why striving for a great physique is an admirable goal – one that you will reap rewards from for the rest of your life.
The other 1/4 is going to give you a few suggestions in terms of specific exercises you can use to get your body to certain ideal proportions. I’ll share with you the exercises that I’ve personally found to be both very time efficient as well as effective in terms of adding shape and tone to certain areas of my own body. Remember, proportions are more important than size (this applies to both men and women).
An ideally proportioned body can give the illusion of size – either large or small, depending on what you are going for.
What Is A Perfect Body?
Only you know what your perfect body is.
Your mind knows what you would love to look like and your body itself knows what, with a balanced endocrine system and the right strengthening exercises, is possible. It might sound like some hoopla, but since I like to mix hoopla with my science I’m going to say it: You body has an internal ‘intelligence’ – it knows what state of being it wants to exist in.
This is when everything within it is running optimally – when you are truly healthy.
For most men, the Perfect Body entails broad shoulders, a thick back that supports good posture, a tapered waist with rippling abdominal muscles showing from under a thin layer of skin, powerful arms and a defined chest.
It is very common for both men and women to cite the Olympic sprinter and/or the body of a swimmer as being ideal for the male physique. This is also the Hollywood ideal that most of the ‘action hero’ movie stars shoot for for their super hero or sports hero movie roles that hit it big at the box office and in the beach body tabloids.
They are not overly bulky (like the Muscle Man Ideal, which is actually considered unattractive to many females) and can move with natural fluidity and power.
I strongly believe that we are genetically programmed to find a certain body ideal appealing: the one that is best equipped to thrive in our environment. One that is physically superior.
The problem – in my opinion – with a lot of weight lifters is that they believe that physical superiority is all about muscle size. It isn’t. Proportion, speed, power, force production, & muscle density are also very important.
The Renaissance artists and sculptors recognized this human fascination with the “ideal body” type and routinely used the Golden Ratio to define the proportions on the statues of Greek and Roman gods.
For some reason, there is just something ridiculously appealing about the ratio of 1.618:1.
I don’t know why, but it’s definitely good material for a post in the future. There are large-scale popular movements on the internet focused on building the Adonis Physique – building your body based on the Golden Ratio, such as the Adonis Index.
The Psychology Behind Having a Great Body
If you have any desire at all to have a great body – your definition of perfect – I say go for it. There is no better time than right now to make the commitment.
The beauty about making the commitment to get into better shape & improve your physique is that you should expect it to take months and even years. This isn’t some crash diet “lose 20lbs in ten minutes” kind of endeavor; it is a process that requires a lot of patience.
And learning to be patient is a wonderful thing.
You’d be surprised at how many things you’ve given up on in the past that, had you just been patient, you would have accomplished by now.
Should you decide that you want to improve your physique, just be patient, don’t obsess over it, take the right small steps every day, and continue to go along with the rest of your life. Trust me, before you know it you will look in the mirror and realize that you look different – a good different.
Small, consistent change is what makes the biggest impact over time – because it is sustainable.
Now, let’s talk about the biggest benefit of having a great physique that you are happy with. You might think it is about the sex appeal and, well it partly is, but that’s not all of it. The most rewarding aspect of having an awesome body is…
your self esteem will make you unstoppable.
It’s like pushing a boulder down a hill. It takes considerable effort to get that boulder to the precipice, but once it goes over – it becomes very difficult to stop.
The same is true with your self esteem.
As wrong or right as it may be, we tend to tie a lot of our perceived self-worth into our outward appearance. It’s just the truth; you can try and change that perception or you can improve your appearance. The latter is much easier.
I’ve experienced this in my own life. When I finally gave myself permission to be patient and understood that losing body fat is a long term process, I started to celebrate my small triumphs – like eating 80% healthy for an entire week – instead of focusing on the fact that I didn’t lose any weight that week.
This tactic made a big impact in the way I viewed myself. I was no longer a failure; I was making strides in the right direction. And in that respect, I was a success.
And that increase in self-esteem, week after week, built up to be an unstoppable force. Eventually I was losing body fat – and it was becoming easier and easier. Then I felt so good that I started to focus on gaining some muscle on my frame – in the places that count.
Now I am feeling really good. And my self-esteem is at an all-time high and I have no doubts that it will remain that way, all because I shifted the focus to small, manageable triumphs – not large, unrealistic expectations.
When you finally have a great physique that you earned through patient persistence you truly appreciate it – and you feel really f%$#ing good about yourself.
I’m about to go a little Napoleon Hill on you for a second, but hey, he did write one of the best selling business books of all time…
Use the power of suggestion and constant reinforcement to get the physique of your dreams. No kidding, it works.
Find a picture of the ideal body you want and picture yourself with that body. With a relentlessly focused pursuit of that body ideal, while minding the basic principles of body recomposition, you can have that body. Now, it may take some time, years even. But it IS possible (Keep in mind that some of your ‘body idols’ are actually using drugs to get that way).
Be smart about it. Figure out what you need to do to achieve that ideal and then constantly execute upon your plan.
Do you want broader shoulders? Find out the right exercises to use and focus on those.
It took me about two years and 35lbs of fat loss to reach my ideal physique but guess what: I did it. And it was simple.
It wasn’t easy (there will always be minor setbacks from time to time) but as long as I continually reminded myself of what I wanted to look like, and always moved forward in the right direction, I eventually got where I want to be.
The Social Implications of Having a Great Body
Our spendid physique as a people is entirely due to our national stupidity.
– Oscar Wilde
You’ll have to be ready for both sides of the coin here.
On one side, individuals who you thought were your friends before may become jealous and act out their own insecurities and direct it at you. Take it in stride and identify it as it is.
If you understand what you’re dealing with it becomes much easier to handle.
And on the other side – the good stuff. You’ll start getting a lot of attention you weren’t getting before – from both sexes. And your self-esteem will continue to climb. It’s a positive feedback loop.
There are million different exercises I could put in here but for the sake of brevity I will give you three. You do not need a gym for these moves – you can do them just about anywhere.
Done consistently – a couple times a week – these three moves will put you on the right path to having an awesome physique because they work the common trouble areas.
#1 – Behind the Neck Pullups
Many guys struggle with narrow shoulders. And to be honest, if most guys just worked their shoulders more and became broader the entire range of proportions of their body would be improved and look visually much more appealing.
Think about it. If you currently have 48in shoulder width and a 33in waist the ratio is 1.45:1. If you didn’t lose any inches off your waist but broaden your shoulders by 4in your ratio would now be 1.58:1 – which is damn close to the Golden Ratio ideal.
Spend time working your shoulders.
#2 – Pistol Squats
Whether you have chicken legs or chubby legs, building up to doing pistol squats will change that.
A properly executed pistol squat is indicative of power in a range of your leg muscles. And as opposed to heavy squats in the gym – pistol squats don’t bulk your legs up to the point where you have to wear ‘dad jeans’ or sweat pants.
They give you a nice lean shape and work your abs pretty hard too. If you can’t do one just work on it over time using body weight squats and sprinting to build strength in the correct muscles.
#3 – Standard Pull Ups
The ultimate upper body movement. They work your back, shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, forearms, and even your abs.
If you were to work diligently on no other form of exercise besides being able to do a lot of pull ups you would still develop an impressive physique.
There are many great reasons, both psychological and physical, for attaining an impressive physique.
And getting there is really not that difficult: it is quite simple actually. However, you must acknowledge that it is a process that will take patience and persistence.
The rewards are waiting for you.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is therefore not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle