This is the ultimate men’s physique according to women

Categories: Videos & podcasts


00:00 Introduction

00:13 What women find attractive – study results

03:39 Why muscularity is only attractive up to a point

04:08 The attractiveness of the dadbod

06:27 Disclaimer and conclusion


What is the most attractive body type for women? Is it bodybuilders? Is it like the Greek statues? Is it the infamous dad bod?

Here are some pictures I want you to look at I want you to tell me which of these body types represents the ideal male body according to women? Here you can see the ratings, according to a study that posed these exact question to women. You can see that the built body type was most preferred. The rating starts to taper off a little bit when it came to the brawny build. This finding is consistent with a large body of scientific research, finding that there is an optimum level of muscularity and an optimum level of leanness to be attractive to women.

Here are the results of another study where you can see a characterized silhouette type comparison of male body types with, again, the ratings overlaid according to women. You can see that women prefer a decently muscular build, but when you get to a bodybuilder level with super high muscle definition, the ratings taper off precipitously. As another study concluded, women prefer a physique with moderately developed musculature and a rather slim build. So basically women want a physique that is lean but not like striated glutes, full Six-Pack, veins everywhere. They want you to be like healthy level, lean, and probably what a natural trainee would achieve as fit or muscular. Definitely not enhanced steroid level bodybuilder type. Here you can see some more photos of a poll I conducted on my own Facebook page, noting that these are serious lifting women, for the most part, that rate guys physiques. Here you can see that women’s top nine includes very fit physiques, but not the fittest. In fact, the very fittest, the bodybuilder, was rated a last, with no women actually preferring that physique. So I conducted the same poll with my male audience and here you can see the results. They differ quite significantly from the female results. You can see that for men the typical male fitness model look shredded, pretty muscular, ranked by far the number one with 41% of the vote. Arnold Schwarzenegger rated second. After that, we got all the other physiques with far fewer votes. The physique that men thought was the ideal physique for women actually only got 10% of the vote by women.

Conversely, the top two physiques that basically share up the number one spot, according to women, only got about 10% of the votes according to men. So here we can see a significant discrepancy between what men think women want and what women actually want. One study concluded: “In all three countries, men chose an ideal body that was a mean of about 28 lbs, so about 13 kilos more muscular than themselves, and estimated that women preferred a male body about 30 lbs or 14 kilograms more muscular than themselves.” In a pilot study, however, the authors found that actual women preferred an ordinary male body without added muscle. Another study concluded very similarly: “Women prefer a less muscular body than men.” But here’s an interesting exception. “All muscle groups, apart from the buttocks,” meaning the glutes, “were also rated as more important by men than by women.

The social role of muscularity, for example, in forming relationships with women was exaggerated by men. Men’s perception of their muscularity is not coherent with the way females perceive it.” That is basically science speak for saying that men overestimate how important it is to be jacked to be attractive to women. Interestingly, the only muscle group that men do not overestimate is the glutes. So women do actually care about the same as men, about having a muscular booty. Now, why is it that women only prefer muscularity up to a point? It makes perfect sense from an evolutionary psychological point of view that women like muscular men. Muscular men are stronger, they can protect you, they probably have good genes, can give you a baby that also has good genes, they can beat up other guys that try to assault you, they are probably good at hunting…

In general, in evolutionary psychological terms, they are good at acquiring resources and maintaining them. So they can keep you safe and well-fed. However, you don’t just need a man that’s good at acquiring resources. You also want a man that will share them with you, and you don’t just want a man that will give you a child with amazing genes, you actually want the guy to stick around and help raise the child. And it seems that in this sense, women feel that highly muscular men might be a risk. As one study reported, women rate muscular men as sexier, more physically dominant and volatile and less committed to their mates than non muscular men. Consistent with the “inverted U” hypothesis of masculine traits, men with moderate muscularity are rated most attractive. This essentially explains why some women prefer the dad-bod’s type, but dad-bod type may not have the same capacity to acquire resources, may not have the same alpha genetics, but they are more likely to stick around and help you raise the kid and actually share their resources with you and just you rather than their whole harem of other women.

Interestingly, it seems that despite these preferences by women not to like exceedingly muscular men, do actually fall for the muscular guys, for the most part, and muscular men quite consistently report having more sex. And quoting another study: “Consistent with past research on fitness cues across two measures, women indicate that their most recent short term sex partners were more muscular than their other sex partners. Muscular men report more lifetime sex partners, more short term partners and more affairs with mated women.” So interestingly, it seems that more muscular guys also hook up more with women that are in relationships specifically. Now, if women don’t like highly muscular men, why is it that muscular men quite consistently get more sex? That seems to be because, as researchers put it, although highly muscular men might be less attractive to women, they may be more dominant, volatile, persistent, confident, coercive, narcissistic, which would lead them to have more sex partners.

There’s also certainly a component that women fall for the bad boy types, even though that’s not necessarily good for them. Plus, women aren’t stupid. A lot of guys think that they are the only ones that see the difference between short term and long term mating strategies. And women actually do the same thing. Just because a woman is willing to hook up with you doesn’t mean she’s willing to get married. So if a girl sees you as a fuck boy, she might be willing to fuck you, but she might not be willing to have you put a ring on that finger. Now, everything I’ve said in this video refers to averages.

Of course, not everyone has these preferences, and not every man has these preferences. I should hope that my audience is educated enough that I don’t have to give this disclaimer. However, there is actually also interesting research about different types of women and different types of men that have different preferences somewhat consistently. Specifically, it seems that highly feminine women like more muscular guys more than less feminine women. As one study concluded: “Women’s preferences for male physiques can be summarized in terms of feminine and masculine sex role stereotypes. Women who are traditionally feminine show a preference for traditionally masculine physiques,” that is tapering V physiques, “while less traditional women express more non stereotype preferences.” This is also very much my personal experience in fitness talking to guys and women in fitness that men in fitness tend to be more masculine than the average guy in a male population. And those types of men typically prefer more curvy girls and more curvy girls also prefer more muscular guys. So there is a synergy there in which the type of women that muscular guys typically like also is the type of girl that typically likes more muscular men. That might also help explain why more muscular men very consistently have more sex than less muscular men. Despite women in the average population reporting that they don’t like very muscular guys.

I hope this video gave you an evidence based answer to the question of what type of physique is generally most attractive to women. If you like this type of evidence based fitness content, I’d be honored if you like, and subscribe.

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About the author

Menno Henselmans

Formerly a business consultant, I've traded my company car to follow my passion in strength training. I'm now an online physique coach, scientist and international public speaker with the mission to help serious trainees master their physique.

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