Ectomorph Aesthetics

Ectomorph Aesthetics (Full Article)

Written by Shane Duquette on November 8, 2012

(Updated March 2016) Every straight guy knows how a woman’s femininity can tug on our heart strings. And our lust strings. Sometimes a woman’s shape, personality, face, voice—it all just adds up to make her absolutely irresistible. (Here‘s an article on the most attractive female body.) Women feel the same way about us men… just based on a whole different set of traits.

For better or worse, the impression we give off can have a huge impact on our lives. Even if we train and eat well for our health and performance, we also want to attract great women, and ultimately spending the rest of our lives with the one we want is a pretty damn big deal. And, of course, even once we have her that doesn’t mean we should stop striving to be the man of her dreams.

It’s not just about women either—getting the respect of other men is important to us too, both in our personal and work life. So too is getting the respect of ourselves. I know that confidence should come from within, but that confidence also needs to come from real accomplishments. Being able to put in the time and dedication required to build a strong, healthy and capable body is one of many things that can give us a true kind of confidence. It also gives us the physical power that is sometimes needed to stand up for our beliefs.

Aesthetics, muscle, health and masculinity are all so closely related to one another that how we train and eat can roll over into every area of our life. So of course we care. It’s not just instinctual, it’s logical.

If anything, as men sometimes we tend to think attractiveness matters less than it actually does. A new study just published at the University of Notre Dame found that the whole successful but otherwise unattractive guy marrying a beautiful woman stereotype is pretty much just a myth. It turns out that attractiveness attracts attractiveness, just like success attracts success. This is great news for sexism, bad news for thinking you can get away with being a schlub. (study)

The tricky part is that some of the traits we portray are obvious… but some we’d never even think to think of. Moreover, sometimes it’s those elusive traits that make or break us.

I should also point out that caring about building a manly physique isn’t just a skinny-boy thing. In a study done on college football players—guys who are madly in love with their sport and whose careers depend on how well they perform—they found that while most of them listed power and performance as their reasons behind wanting muscular bodies… they also admitted to caring a whole hell of a lot about their attractiveness. (study)

Aesthetics isn’t something we can avoid, and everyone is influenced by it. To a certain extent we’re all unique snowflakes, sure, but when it comes to aesthetics, well, we aren’t. Personal preference has its place, but a lot of it, in fact almost all of it, is basic human nature with some social conditioning sprinkled on top. Love it or hate it, it happens. It’s instinctive, uncontrollable and often subconscious. We’re built to automatically respect men who display certain traits, and in a similar but different way some of our male traits can create gut-level attraction in women.

Think about the effect that a curvy female hourglass physique has on you. Combine the right bone structure with fat in the right places and muscle in the right places and bam—you get that instinctive response that turns your head and knocks the wind right out of you. I often find myself tempted to click on ridiculous ads featuring photoshopped girls for that very reason.

As men, sometimes the character we portray is obvious. I have one uncle who’s 6’2 and maybe 250 pounds. That man loves his football and loves to eat. He’s been lifting heavy things and eating big his entire life, resulting in around 100 of those pounds being in his shoulders. He doesn’t look like a bodybuilder, he looks like a bear. He has to get all of his clothing not just tailored but completely custom made to accommodate his cartooned musculature. Combine that with his deep booming voice and the overall effect is pretty wild—when he speaks the room falls silent, when he walks down the sidewalk guys give him a wide berth, and when he asks you for something you hurriedly splurt out a yes, often before he finishes his sentence.

It isn’t all show either, and I’ve seen him lift a man off his feet who was (very) disrespectful to my female cousin. When my uncle put him back down the man hit the ground running. Seconds later we heard tires skidding as he sped off. Understandably—if a bear set me back down I’d seriously consider the same exit strategy.

Having a guy like that on your side immediately makes you feel safe. If something goes wrong you just figure things will be okay. He’s a smart and well-read guy, too, and his voice, physique and confidence all make for a hell of a lot of charisma when he speaks.

Do you know what words a stranger would use to describe you when you walk by?

As men we tune into certain things about other men, immediately sizing them up and forming an opinion… yet we’re often totally unaware of how we’re portraying ourselves to other men, let alone women. There are traits we don’t even know exist that can have a powerful drug-like effect on women. Some strong athletic masculine men convey them naturally, but I’ve always found that it pays to consciously know how we can improve, even if just to encourage ourselves to be the most that we can be. That’s how us ectomorphs become strong athletic masculine men, after all.

Besides, aesthetics aren’t just skin deep. The benefits go all the way down to our bones*, improving our health, strength, intelligence, performance and mood. Good looks signal higher degrees of those traits after all, which is why they look “good” to begin with.

*Not a figure of speech—heavy strength training actually increases bone density, as does solid nutrition.

Without further ado, here’s my most research / study / illustration-filled article yet:

Woman-friendly Physiques

It’s not about women being shallow and judging you just based on how hot you are, it’s about women being extremely perceptive and using your physique to give them clues about your genes, your lifestyle and your character. Will you make a good breeding partner? A good husband? A good father?

And can she trust you? Will you protect her? Are you intelligent and ambitious? Will other men respect you? Are you physically, mentally and genetically healthy enough not just to survive, but to thrive?

These are really important questions, and right away smart women will make assumptions about all of them based on the very first impression you give them. Is that fair? Surprisingly it usually is, because, well, women are really damn good at it. (study)

See, lots of guys will pretend to be nice to get what they want. Some guys brag and exaggerate, scheme and manipulate. Some guys will hide skeletons and put only their best foot forward.

An attractive woman can’t give every single guy a chance—there isn’t enough time. And they can’t bet their future on a man if they don’t know if he’s worth it or not. It’s not like they can wait for a disaster to see if a guy can keep it together under pressure… because by then it’s already too late.

So girls judge us based on things that are extremely hard to fake.

All women thus come programmed with the ability to pick out an attractive, healthy, strong, intelligent, honest man. It’s just part of their genes. Then, based on their social conditioning and media exposure, those abilities are slightly tweaked and “heightened” to match the society they live in. (That’s where trends and fashion come in, but we can largely ignore that, since the underlying universal fundamentals are far more powerful anyway.)

There are several things that women instinctively look for regarding your physique, and I’ll break ’em all down and tell you why they matter. First here’s a rough idea of what’ll put a gal’s heart in her stomach:

The weights and measurements are based on a 6″ tall male, although we don’t really care about height here—just proportions. Body fat is 8-12%.

Now let’s break it down.

1. Strong Broad Shoulders

It’s no coincidence that business suits are designed to make men seem broader in the shoulders – constructed shoulders are the padded push-up bras of male culture.

… actually that’s unfair to suits. Women respond to broad shoulders far more powerfully than men respond to babely breasts, making suits the more powerful of the two. You know that lustful feeling well cloven cleavage can instil in you? Well broad shoulders give women that same feeling, except stronger.(study)

The first things women will take in is your overall shape, allowing them to get a quick guess at how you’ll stack up in all the following aesthetic arenas. There’s a lot of information in how broad your shoulders are – especially in comparison to your waist – and it’s available at a glance. Every study is in unanimous agreement here, and you’re probably already well aware of it. (study, study)

Why? Well broad shoulders are very indicative of a strong man, since adding muscle to your body invariably adds several inches to your shoulders. And what woman doesn’t want a man whose shoulders can bear the weight of the world? There’s a correlation between guys with naturally broad shoulders and naturally high levels of testosterone too, so even in the absence of muscle it’s still a very masculine trait, which girls dig. As such the breadth of your shoulders is a very good indicator of health, strength and masculinity: it’s accurate, it’s hard to fake, and women can see it right away.

The ideal shoulder to waist ratio: 1.618 to 1.

This particular ratio—the golden ratio—appears all over the ideal human body (and throughout nature) and sculptors and artists have been using it for millennia to depict the ideal physique. All those sculptures of Greek gods and Olympians are rockin’ exactly that ratio. What this means is that if you’re a skinny dude with a lean 30 inch waist you’d want to build your shoulder muscles up to 49 inches (1.618 times as big as your waist). With a 32 inch waist you’d build your shoulders up to 52 inches around, etc.

Whatever width your shoulders are right now, don’t fret. Like I said, powerful shoulders can be built:

Bony to Beastly Ectomorph Hardgainer Transformation—How to build broad shoulders


2. A Trim Waist

Size only matters if that size is lean. Women aren’t trying to just find a big man, they’re trying to find a strong one. Since our male hormones cause us to store a lot of fat in our midsection, the best way to quickly spot a chubster is to look at his belt size. Thus broad shoulders are only attractive when paired with a proportionately small waist.

Why do women care if you’re holding onto some fat? Well obesity has always been a sign of suboptimal health, and it can result in a plethora of issues. Generally speaking a bit of fat isn’t necessarily bad, and thus throughout most of history being a little pudgy was okay. In today’s culture we’re hyper-sensitized to it, likely because so many first-world men struggle with it. We hear about the problems of obesity every single day, while being lean is an increasingly rare and impressive trait.

Having your midsection mastered immediately suggests a lot of things about you: a healthy diet, possible good genetics, physical health, youth, and, of course, self control. (study) And since a trim waist hints at a longer lifespan, chances are she’ll get to enjoy all those great things about you for longer.

This is a really big thing for women—so much so that it actually doesn’t matter how big you get if you’ve got any sort of pudge going on.

It’s like being a really skinny guy with abs. Our abs don’t count until we’re muscular. (Dammit.)

Those big beefy strong guys? They’re disqualified. They win points from men for being stronger, but their guts fail to win them points with women.

I should note here that I don’t mean abs, I simply mean a trim waist, i.e., no love handles or belly. A flat stomach is equally as attractive as abs, unless you’re dating a woman who’s really into fitness, in which case she may prefer abs simply because she’s part of that cut culture. Generally though being extremely lean is a way for us to show off to each other—not to women.

Yep, that means you can take your ab shot off your online dating profile. A girl can tell how much she likes your ‘bod from how good you look in a fitted tee.

3. Muscularity

Keep in mind that the coveted “V” taper isn’t just created by broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Having beastly back musculature and strong glutes is also incredibly important, and will both make your waist seem smaller and your shoulders seem broader. Forget your back and legs and you’ll wind up with a “T” taper.

With your shoulder / waist ratio women are getting an idea of our muscularity, but the main factor there is the ratio, not about whether it’s from our muscle mass or bone structure. Further studies needed to be done to determine an ideal level of muscularity independent from our shoulder width, and they found that broad shoulders are attractive even in absence of muscle, and muscle is attractive even in absence of broad shoulders. (study)

So here we’re talking less about your frame and more about muscle itself, making this more of a chest & back / waist ratio thing. (Factoring in your lats and chest.)

The drive for muscularity in men is both very innate and very cultural—sort of a chicken and egg scenario. (You know, the scenario where we should really be eating a lot of both.) Men are naturally drawn to muscle, and that drive is further exaggerated by the media. As men we have different biological priorities combined with exposure to different media than women. We thus have very slightly different ideals concerning muscularity than women do. Most guys, myself included, instinctively get this part wrong. (I’ll talk more about male ideals later.)

Muscles aren’t just a man thing though, and one of the main reasons we love them so much is because of women—women love a certain degree of muscularity too.

Why? It’s like a peacock’s tail, indicating an abundance of the ingredients required to thrive. Since the beginning of humanity only the most capable of men have been able to build muscle. It requires a steady supply of a lot of good food, indicating that you can acquire that food consistently; it requires lots of hearty physical activity, indicating that you’re physically healthy and capable; and it requires masculine hormones which have a lot of positive effects on our health and performance.

(Muscularity is heavily influenced by our production of testosterone, hGH, IGF-1 and insulin. Some of this is genetic, but much of our hormone production has to do with our diet and exercise.)

Muscularity isn’t an outdated mechanism either. In today’s society the same basics hold true, and while we may not need to hunt down food ourselves, protein is not the cheapest of foods, healthy food is more expensive than heavily processed food, and consistently eating well and training requires good health, time and dedication. Muscle speaks of a lifestyle of health and abundance.

Going beyond that, it also says a lot about your character. Building a strong lean physique requires dedication, consistency and self control. Since muscularity is such an innate masculine goal it can almost be assumed that every man would prefer to have it, all else equal. Deep down every man wants it, but not every man has the willpower to achieve it. It thus says a lot about your ability to get what you want out of life.

As ectomorphs we can start getting the benefits of being muscular pretty early into our development, since we’re often starting out fairly lean. As soon as our shoulders, back, glutes and chest (in order of importance) start beefing up we do pretty great. The “fit” bodytype isn’t that muscular and can often be accomplished in a matter of months.

Eventually we get to that optimal level where we don’t just look fit—we look strong and masculine. It takes longer, but women really start to feel feminine, sexy and safe around us, since we have a larger and more classically masculine physique.

Going from strong to jacked is no walk in the park, and adding muscle beyond that point is a challenge for most men. Once you get to that highly muscular point it’s truly commendable—but you’ve gone beyond what women find ideal, and you’ll fall behind the more slenderly muscled “fit” guy in terms of desirability. Not by much though, and you’ll still be very highly sought after.

Long story short: slimmer than “fit” and you risk being perceived as weak, fickle, submissive, etc. Any bigger than “jacked” and you lose points for being overly yoked, and thus hormonally fragile.

For guys who are already into strength training that’s a bit of a weird thing to wrap your head around, and I have to admit I fall into the category of guys who instinctively think “whoa wait—why isn’t more better!?”

Turns out more is not better. Not at all. And if you go much beyond the muscularity of the “jacked” guy your physique stops becoming attractive altogether. (study) Women begin to get the sense that something fishy is up hormonally… and they’re probably right—muscularity beyond a certain threshold is nearly impossible to accomplish without either abnormal hormone production (overly mesomorphic genetics) or pharmaceuticals. A very lean 200 pounds (under 10% bodyfat) is the upper limit of muscularity for most 6″ tall men, even with many years of intelligent and consistent training.

See, men have always wanted to be muscular and women have always been drawn to it, but the whole really muscular thing doesn’t work for women. They aren’t socially conditioned to like it, since Cosmo is full of Brad Pitt / Ryan Gosling types—guys who are somewhere between “fit” and “strong”.

(Both examples are ectomorphs, with Pitt being less muscular with naturally broader shoulders, and Gosling being more muscular with naturally narrower shoulders.)

There’s a legitimate reason behind it too though. With peacocks the bigger the tail is the better. It might be costly and dangerous to parade it around, and it may mean they die sooner (either of illness or lion). But that’s okay. Peahens want the most badass offspring possible and don’t really care about what happens to their mate after they mate. Women, however, do. They want a man who’s emotionally stable enough to stick around and healthy enough to survive. That’s how you raise badass offspring, after all.

The right amount of muscularity means you’re healthy and strong. You’ll be able to protect her, provide for her and help her raise healthy muscular kids like you.

4. A healthy masculine (chiseled) face

To a certain extent we’re stuck with the faces our mothers gave us, but there’s actually a whole lot we can do just by improving our health, increasing our muscularity and lowering our body fat percentage.

Mastering our muscularity and midsection will go a long way to changing how attractive women find our faces. See, regardless of how large our noses are, we want faces shaped by muscle, not bone or fat. This will build up manly jaw muscles and chisel out our faces, making us appear more masculine, which women find sexually irresistible.(study) Interestingly enough, the more attractive a woman thinks she is, the more drawn to masculine facial features she is. (study) It may not just be how attractive she thinks she is, either, and some studies are showing that greater attractiveness and femininity in women results in a stronger preference for men with masculine faces. (study)

Facial masculinity is just one piece of the puzzle though, and the next piece is perhaps even more interesting: women can subconsciously pick up on what our skin tone is saying about us. Having the right amount of red and yellow in our colouring is an indicator of health, and will make us appear more attractive. How do we improve our skin tone? Exercise and sound nutrition. Yep, you probably saw that one coming. A higher intake of fruits and vegetables (nutrition), higher levels of oxygenated blood (exercise) and more melanin production (both) will all help. (study) It will go a long way to clearing up acne and improving your complexion, too.

Even in a snowsuit* women can tell if we’re lean, healthy and muscular. Pretty wild.

*This matters to us Canadians.

5. Masculinity (i.e. testosterone)

Masculinity is an interesting thing, and different women are drawn to different levels of it depending on what they’re looking for, how feminine they are and how high their confidence is:

  • Generally the more feminine the woman, the more she’ll be drawn to masculinity. Similarly, more masculine women are often drawn to more feminine men.
  • The more attractive a woman thinks she is, the more confident she’ll feel around masculine men and the more she’ll enjoy being around them. One theory here is that only the most desirable of women are able to attract a very masculine man and keep him. The more masculine the man, the more options he’ll have, after all.
  • The more masculine a man, the more sexually attractive he is. This is that gut-level kind of attraction that women find irresistible—they’re just drawn to it.
  • The more hormonally balanced a man is the more a woman will be inclined to get into a relationship with him. While a slightly less masculine man might not have the same raw sexiness, they often give off better boyfriend / husband vibes.
  • It’s possible to balance masculinity with an equally impressive degree of health, making you irresistibly masculine yet stable enough to rock a successful relationship.

Women can tell how masculine we are from our body language, stride, voice, muscularity and even our scent. Having the right amount of masculine hormones changes us right down to the way we smell, and that can either make our scent irresistible to women or instinctively give them bad vibes. (study, study, study)

The variance in testosterone levels between men is huge, and it has a big impact on our personalities, appearance and health. Some men walk around with 4-5 times as much testosterone pumping through them as others. Not fair, us slenderly muscled ectomorphs might think, but once again this is not out of our control.

Why does masculinity matter? It says a lot about our health and fitness. Taking it one step further, women can also infer clues about our character. High levels of testosterone in men are linked with ambition and confidence, but there’s another lesser-known side of testosterone too—it also hints at a man’s integrity.

Higher testosterone is strongly linked with honesty, for example. In a study done just a couple weeks ago they found that men whose testosterone levels had been increased (using a gel) were significantly more honest than the men who were given a placebo. Looks like the confidence and power that comes with testosterone also gives us the strength to man up and be honest with one another. (study)

On the flip side, overly high levels of testosterone are actually quite unattractive, as they can cause selfishness, volatility and fragility. While the golden zone of testosterone improves strength, confidence, integrity and ambition, overly high levels of testosterone can in some cases make men emotionally unstable (study), less likely to stick around in a relationship and more prone to illness.

Less likely to stick around in a relationship?!

Interestingly enough, men in longterm relationships have slightly lower testosterone output. Whether entering into a relationship causes the testosterone drop, or whether lower testosterone increases a man’s desire to enter a relationship isn’t clear. (study) Whichever causes which, women are often wary of men with sky-high testosterone.

High testosterone output making us prone to illness is another weird one. Testosterone is a costly hormone, and too much of it not only increases the likelihood that we’ll do stupidly dangerous crap, it also sacrifices our immune system in favour of power. Of course, too little testosterone and we also become vulnerable. Women know we can’t have it all, so they’ve become finely tuned to pick up on Goldilock’s “just right” amount of testosterone output.

Too little testosterone and we’ll be deemed weak, fickle and effeminate. Too much and we’re deemed selfish, volatile and fragile. Rough.

Luckily this isn’t all up to our genetics. Strength training and solid muscle-building nutrition will help regulate your masculinizing hormones (like testosterone) and feminizing hormones (like estrogen), and staying lean will help as well. If you’re doing all that right you can just let your hormones take care of themselves.

+1 for fit guys.

6. Symmetry

Symmetry is pretty straightforward—it’s indicative of good genes. Just like your face is probably pretty symmetrical, chances are your muscles were relatively symmetrical by default but your lopsided desk-dude lifestyle has resulted in some asymmetries.

That’s fine, and relatively easy to fix. The best way to fix’ er right up is just to focus on unilateral lifts (e.g. one-armed bench press, 1-armed lat pulldown) for a while. Train your weaker side first, and limit your dominant side to whatever your weaker side can do. The first phase of our program features a lot of unilateral lifts and by the end of it most of our guys are pretty symmetrical and a hell of a lot more muscular. Symmetry doesn’t take as long to fix as you’d think, and you can add mass everywhere while doing it.

Asymmetrical shoulder heights are also really common among our members and sometimes take a bit longer to fix. Many of us, myself included, started out with one shoulder cocked higher than the other. Luckily I was able to gain 40 pounds while addressing it, so once again it’s not something that should get in our way.

6. Posture / Alignment 

Better posture increases your perceived masculinity, height, status, strength, and confidence. Posture is so finely tied to status and confidence that improving your posture will improve not only the impression you give off, but also how confident you feel. To make things even more interesting, proper posture actually increases our testosterone output and improves the transmission of strength from our lower body to our upper body. Improving our alignment makes us both more masculine and stronger in and of itself. Pretty sweet.

This is fairly advanced stuff, and one reason why I don’t make my own workout programming. We let Marco do his thing and trust his expertise. It’s also why we highly encourage our members to take photos and post them on the forum. From there we can spot any potential problems and make sure we’re addressing them. Luckily most of us ectomorphs have a very similar and distinct problem: upper and lower crossed syndrome with internally rotated shoulders (shown above).

We place a lot of emphasis on lifting heavy and adding mass, but we also dig building wickedly functional, strong and aesthetic bodies, so we always round out our workouts with some quick postural exercises. (More on posture here)

7. Muscular Balance

Women really dig musculature that actually works. Most women couldn’t tell you the difference between your deltoid and your rhomboid, but they’ll still instinctively get a “something is funky over there” vibe when guys have disproportionately built physiques.

Many bodies aren’t trained for function, don’t look like they were trained for function, and thus fail to accomplish their (presumed) primary goal of looking good. Whoops.

How do you get a disproportionate physique?

a) Certain sports. Hockey players, soccer players and bikers often have large legs combined with small upper bodies (the t-rex), rock climbers tend to have really big backs with small chests and triceps, tennis players get one big arm and one little arm, and basketball players are often really tall. In a way that’s a good thing, because it allows them to kick serious ass at their sport. They also need to be careful though, because unbalanced musculature can limit performance and increase the chance of injuries. A degree of physique specialization is recommended for athletes, but it shouldn’t be haphazard.

b) A homemade training program. That’ll give you a pretty wonky ‘bod, guaranteed. We naturally gravitate towards certain exercises and making a program ourselves inevitably leads to a  body that we think looks good in the mirror but that women are confused and repelled by. Women, who get a full 360* view, care about how big your back and butt are.

c) Being totally out of it. The best way to get an unbalanced body is by taking up desk-hunching and couch-riding without any solid physical activity. Some things will tighten up, some things will stretch out, some muscles will get lazy (like your ass), and others will get tendonitis.

Tricks for having perfectly balanced functional musculature: 

a) Train your back twice (i.e. a pull) for every time you train your chest (i.e. a press). Back muscles respond better to a higher volume and will contribute more to your athleticism and aestheticism than your chest. This is especially important for us ectomorphs who look like a lollipop when viewed from the side, since your back musculature is responsible for two thirds of the thickness of your upper body. It’s also responsible for our v-taper when viewed from the front and back.

… but don’t neglect your chest. You really do want strong and plump pecs, since they’re such a huge indicator of muscularity and strength.

b) Train your legs almost as often as you train your upper body, and squat deep enough that you get your glutes and hamstrings working along with your quads. You want your thigh bones going down parallel to the floor. You’ll squat less weight, sure, but even with less weight you’ll build more muscle. You can spend a bit more time growing your upper body if you prefer the look, but if you don’t build up impressive leg (and thus full body) strength you’ll fail to achieve the aesthetic and athletic physique that women long for.

c) Deadlift like a monster. It’s the best back exercise, it’s the best trap exercise, it’ll do wonders to your lower body, it will strengthen your posture and it’s an incredible exercise for core strength. Want a Superman-like silhouette in a hurry? Deadlift. You’ll get absolutely strong as hell and it’ll show from a mile away. It’s also the best forearm / grip exercise out there, so you’ll develop rock hard man-hands that your lady will love to hold.

The Bodies Men Respect & Idolize

Any article on aesthetics needs to be broken up by gender, since both men and women dream of having a body that’s rather different from what the other gender dreams of waking up next to.

Women prefer a man who’s significantly leaner and more muscular than average, you know, like a man found in Cosmo. They found these physiques more attractive than the more muscular ones in magazines targeted at health conscious men, like Men’s Health, and much more attractive than the muscles aspiring male weightlifters are exposed to in magazines like Men’s Fitness. (study) Rest assured that male bodybuilders are not what your dream girl is dreaming of. (Us ectomorphs actually have a pretty great shot at quickly becoming rather ideal in the eyes of most women.)

As ectomorphs some us set our sights a little smaller. When I was 6’2 and 130 pounds damn I was eager just to bulk up to the point where the word bony didn’t spring into everyone’s mind when I entered the room. It wasn’t until I reached 150 that I started trying to look fit, and it wasn’t until 170 that I wanted to look strong. At 185 I’m pretty happy with how I look and care most about actually being strong.

Ectomorphs aside though, most men want slightly more muscular physiques than the men found in Cosmo, shooting instead for the stronger look popular in Men’s Health. (Surprisingly, the physiques in Men’s Health line up pretty well with the physiques that women actually gravitate towards, photos in magazine aside.)

Generally the more interested in fitness a guy is, the more muscle related media he gets exposed to and the bigger he wants to become. Many guys, like me, gradually increase their goals as they go along. That can definitely be a good thing, but many weightlifting enthusiasts eventually get to a point where they’re overestimating what women want by as much as 30 pounds. (study)

I’m not saying it’s all created by the media—Hell the media might just be mirroring what us guys are naturally drawn to. Muscle is a very masculine thing historically, culturally and biologically (men have much more muscle-building potential than women do) so it makes sense that we just want more of it.

Bringing us to:

Bodybuilder Aesthetics

This niche of dudes has relatively distinct goals, so it deserves a bit of attention of its own. Perception varies between subcultures, and while women have a rather uniform preference for healthy, strong and athletic looking guys, different subsets of men shoot for different goals. A bodybuilder would see the “muscular” guy girls are fawning over and think “Psh. Do you even lift?”

So while most guys and gals dig strong human-like proportions, some guys strive to achieve superhuman proportions.

While many professional bodybuilders these days do simply focus on size, there’s often an equally large emphasis on proportions. The ideal shoulder / waist ratio remains the same, but you’d want bigger measurements in both areas. To determine muscularity you’d start by measuring something fixed, like your wrist size, and then building up your relaxed arm, neck and calf muscles to 250% of that size. For a guy like me with 7″ wrists that would result in nearly 18 inch upper arms / calves / neck, which is far beyond what’s attractive to people outside of the bodybuilding community—and these are the proportions advocated by the classic bodybuilder Steve Reeves, who had a relatively slender physique by bodybuilding standards!

His exaggerated physique and remarkable good looks made him one of the first bodybuilding celebrities. He wasn’t just an oddity, he became a celebrity and icon. This brought bodybuilding into the mainstream.

There’s a dark side to bodybuilding too, and steroid abuse is becoming quite common, permeating even novice bodybuilding circles. Steve Reeves was among the early mainstream bodybuilding pioneers in the 40’s, taking relatively low doses of steroids (if any) by modern standards. He followed a routine that was typical of natural weightlifters. He’d do three full body workouts per week, his training volume was moderate, and he primarily used compound lifts that worked many different muscle groups at once.

Years later Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the arena. Like Reeves, he was handsome and charismatic enough to popularize his even more exaggeratedly masculine physique and have massive success in the mainstream.

Professional bodybuilding culture began to evolve as drugs became more potent, and nowadays many guys who don’t even take steroids are accidentally following routines initially designed and optimized for steroid users. Not so long ago this wasn’t a very well researched topic, and many of the bodybuilding pioneers were responsible for figuring out what worked best by simple trial and error. Guys like Schwarzenegger and his friends would try out a variety of techniques, see what worked, and then pass on that information to others. Some of this stuff had merit, some of it was just muscle mythology. That information would then be spread around in muscle magazines, eventually trickling down to the mainstream.

Drugs have a huge impact on what style of lifting is effective though, and information trickling down from the trial and error of guys using steroids (and other drugs) can make it very hard for natural guys to figure out how to train. “Triple split” routines are perhaps the most common example of a bodybuilding routine that trickled down from steroid users and was then adopted by the mainstream.

There’s also some truth to the idea that bodybuilders tend to focus on growing their muscles via metabolic stress (“the pump”) instead of exclusively via mechanical tension (lifting heavy). This can affect how your body adapts, although many of the myths surrounding bulkier guys, like being slow or inflexible, are false. We wrote up an article on the different types of exercise / weightlifting and the muscular adaptions they cause here.

Now that steroids have been around for a few decades, studies are showing them to be the male equivalent of anorexia and bulimia—both typically being the result of anxiety and body image issues. The same drive that causes even very thin women to develop eating disorders results in even already very muscular men taking steroids. (study) Among thinness / muscularity heavy niches, like female fashion and male bodybuilding, these practices can become quite common and even an accepted part of that subculture. That certainly doesn’t describe every bodybuilder though (or even every steroid user).

A parting point: while bodybuilding is often thought to be a vain sport, there’s actually very little correlation between narcissism and the drive for extreme amounts of muscle. It isn’t an obsession with beauty, after all, and more so an urge to develop extreme masculinity. (study)

Classic Male Aesthetics

Most men want a strong dashing ‘bod that’s healthy, muscular, functional, looks good to women, earns the respect of men and doesn’t require an arsenal of pharmaceuticals.

Bodybuilding techniques trickle down into mainstream culture though, and many novice weightlifters mimic their routines, not realizing it’s a highly specialized form of training that likely doesn’t match their current situation or future goals at all. Athletes, actors and classic strong dudes train a totally different way.

We’re better off using big compound lifts (bench press, squats, deadlifts, chin ups, etc) that naturally build muscle mass everywhere. It’s efficient, requiring less time in the gym; it’s functional, meaning our growing muscles directly translate into improved strength and athletic performance; and it’s aesthetic, in that both men and women will think they look rad.

This ensures that you can use your muscles to both literally and metaphorically pick up women.

But there’s still a bit of a discrepancy between how woman want us to look and how we want ourselves to look. See, women place a high priority on balance and function… and don’t typically judge us based on how we look in the mirror. (Women are tricky devils like that.) The result is that there’s a relatively low priority placed on glory-muscles, like our biceps.

If you have badass biceps, sure, girls are going to comment on them, but that doesn’t mean it’s a defining characteristic of your physique. If your girlfriend has particularly dainty feet you might compliment her on them—especially if she’s proud of them—but if she had average feet you’d probably be almost equally as enthralled with her overall appearance. Biceps are kind of like that. Having rad biceps certainly doesn’t hurt, and girls like nice biceps just fine. It just isn’t any kind of big deal.

Most of us guys who build muscle, on the other hand, quite like them. I’m smiling down at mine affectionately right now while I’m typing this up, and when I flex at myself in the mirror they’re right there giving it their all. Improving our back strength is the best way to make them bigger (think chin ups), and improving our fitness levels results in a prominent vein running through them (due to increased oxygen delivery). They’re a pretty good indicator of how we’re doing.

As a result our biceps are perhaps the most visible and impressive muscle on our body—to us.

Women judge our strength primarily through our posterior chain (legs, glutes, lats and traps) and the width of our shoulders. Even from the front the “muscularity” of a man is largely judged by our chests. And it’s our belt size that tells girls whether we’re lean or not, not how vascular our biceps are. Sure, arms are certainly somewhere on the aesthetics list, but they’re by no means any kind of important thing, so long as they’re proportionately sized.

Men judge other men in a similar way—but we add in the arms. Since we judge ourselves partly based on how large our biceps are, we also look for it in other men. As such we typically gravitate towards a physique where the arms are ever so slightly proportionally larger. The most famous example of this is Brad Pitt in Fight Club. He’s got broad shoulders, a tight waist, great posture, solid definition in his chest and an overall athletic look. This, combined with his character’s personality and Pitt’s masculine face, makes it one of the most appealing physiques to women. He also has proportionally large arms and shoulders, making his physique a common goal among men. This is especially true with us ectomorphs, since he’s a good example of an ectomorph who successfully added some muscle to his frame.

One thing we struggle with though is the temptation to over-emphasize our arms and chest at the expense of our posterior chain. This inevitably leads to disproportionately large arms and, ironically, a small chest. An underdeveloped posterior chain results in muscular balance issues which prevent the pec muscles from being properly activated in chest lifts, like the bench press.

We thus often sacrifice our chest, a powerful muscle that actually makes us strong and women actually care about (study), by neglecting our posterior chain—which is the strongest and most physically appealing muscle group out there!

Anyway, by focusing on proportional and functional strength we naturally develop a big chest, so that’s already part of the “strong” package. And the good news is that so long as we’re strong and functional we can increase our arm size and get the best of all worlds. Women won’t dock us any points, since we’re still indicating health and strength, and we get to have a physique that feels right to us, too.

Muscle and Power

For better or worse, women judge each other’s ability to attract men largely based on physical attractiveness. When it comes to men sizing each other up for competition though we don’t much care how attractive the other guy is, and place twice as much emphasis on how socially dominant* they are. (study)

*Social dominance being a combination of physical dominance, confidence, ambition,  social status, assertiveness and charisma.

So while women get jealous of other beautiful women, as men we instinctively infer status amongst one another largely from our strength, posture, athleticism and the strength of our jawlines. From this we get clues to confidence, ambition, assertiveness, charisma and power. (study, study, study)

Most of these benefits max out at a certain point, with the “strong” physique outperforming all others, including much bigger and more highly muscled ones. Where the more muscle thing comes into play though is with physical dominance, which is simply height, muscularity and strength, i.e., total functional mass. This trait has nothing to do with aesthetics and everything to do with lean mass. The stronger and more masculine someone is the more physically dominant they are, and that’s the advantage that incredibly physically powerful men have. The catch here is that their mass still needs to look functional, athletic and strong. (study)

(Being absolutely incredibly muscular will also win you points among guys who are into bodybuilding, where size can be likened to athletic prowess in their sport.)

Interestingly enough even a guy with wealth, socioeconomic status, ambition and confidence will still have more social success if he’s fit and healthy, both with men and women. (study)

This is becoming more and more true as societies become more and more modern. With gender equality comes a change in how men and women are judged and perceived. Women are being judged a lot more based on their status, intelligence and earning power, whereas men are beginning to be judged a little more on their physical attractiveness, strength and health.

Aesthetics and Brain Power

As we touched in the woman section, how fit you look is usually an indicator of how fit you are. (This depends on your nutrition and training, of course.) As such increasing your strength and improving your diet can have a huge impact on all of your organs—including your brain.

Strenuous physical activity stresses the brain and promotes adaptation and growth, improving brain function and allowing the brain to better respond to future challenges. As a result a good training program will have an impact on your memory, concentration, mood and ability to learn. (study)

Building muscle is also a matter of nutrition, which is strongly tied to brain function as well, reducing anxiety, increasing energy levels, improving concentration, etc.

This deserves an article all on its own, but long story short, improving your aesthetics can also boost your intellect, make you as emotionally stable as a rock, and increase your enjoyment of life.

This is one reason why people infer so many character traits from aesthetics. When you see a pristine Ferrari you instinctively expect what’s under the hood to be pretty impressive, too.

For better or worse other guys will make similar assumptions about you.

In Conclusion

It’s basic human nature for us to care. Part of being a normal healthy man is caring about the impression we give off, and we know that a lot of that has to do with our strength and muscularity.

It may sound shallow or superficial but it really isn’t. Our physical appearance is such an accurate representation of our health and strength that we really don’t need to be ashamed about caring about it. Becoming better looking (the right way) can make us more ambitious, healthier, stronger, more attractive to women, more respected by men, smarter, live longer and have better brain health.

As ectomorph men we often think we’re at a disadvantage in the muscle department, but we’re actually pretty lucky. Building muscle beyond a certain threshold is challenging and requires both consistency and patience, but as ectomorphs we often experience very rapid growth when we first begin training. If we can do that while correcting our posture and alignment we very quickly start to look pretty good.

With dedication and a good plan we can pop into the “fit” category in a matter of months, and not too long after that, given consistent effort and smarts, land ourselves in the “strong” category.

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Easier said than done, I know, but these are extremely achievable goals with huge rewards, both inside and out.

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So, what'd you think? 262 responses below.

Joram Oudenaarde

Great article! Some of these things are unconsiously obvious, but laying them out like that really makes it clear what parts we need to focus on… both in workout and in personality, since building a good physique will result in a change in personality as well I think.

What I found most interesting is that while building a better physique and feeling better about yourself as a result, women tend to fall for that increase in confidence almost more than the increased muscle tone that we’ve been working so hard for. I actually have a collegue who never worked out a day in his life (and it shows), but his confidence levels are through the roof by default. The guy has women literally calling him on a weekly basis (even when he’s at work).

Aside from the female attention, I think in the end a proper workout/physique makes a huge difference for self confidence and mental health 🙂

Anyway, “bookmarked”! 🙂

Shane Duquette

Glad you enjoyed it man.

I have a friend like that too. Great guy with an irresistible personality. Recently he’s become really active, and his confidence and energy levels seem to have just gone through the roof. I find it cool how these things all build on one another.

I think you hit the nail on the head. Personality matters a whole hell of a lot … and a strong healthy lifestyle is a great way to develop and showcase it.


With all due respect, I think you guys missed the point of this great article. They’re not saying that confidence or a “great personality” will impress women; they’re saying that fitness/handsome features will. Please re-read the first part, which very specifically says that women are hardwired to react positively to these things — it’s in their DNA. The problem with believing that an attractive “personality” will get you attention is that it convinces guys (my old self included) that women have some kind of noble desire for a guy’s great personality. Trust me (and the writer), they do NOT. They’re just like you — looking for the hottest guy they can find, either fit or handsome or both. Period. If you start believing their nonsense about confidence and a sense of humor and “a good heart” being on top of their Desire List, you’re deluding yourself. The answer is simple: 1) Be handsome, 2) be fit, or 3) be rich. And if you’re really awesome, be all three! But being homely and having a great personality will get you absolutely nowhere. I know; I’m fit now, and everything has changed. I’m as shy and un-confident as I was before — I just let my body do the talking, and high-value girls respond immediately. Stop giving them so much credit!


It’s funny how you claim “I’m as shy and un-confident as I was before” right after claiming “But being homely and having a great personality will get you absolutely nowhere”.

Shane Duquette

Ahaha gg, I am the author of this article. I assure you that I haven’t misread it. Research, especially new research, is finding that people are attracted to people with traits that they value—oftentimes traits that they themselves possess. Women who are fit and into fitness will go weak at the knees over guys who are very fit. So if you consider a “high value” woman to be one that is very fit and beautiful, then yes, it will help tremendously to be very fit and physically attractive.

To attract the best woman overall though, I would recommend being the best that you can be overall. If you want a woman who is beautiful, fit, smart, kind, successful, etc… then you will do best if you are also handsome, strong, smart, kind, successful, etc.

Yes, you can find the odd example of an unsuccessful, beautiful woman who isn’t the brightest winding up with a smart, successful man who isn’t the handsomest… but this is very rare! More often than not you get the Angelina Jolie’s marrying the Brad Pitts, i.e., the beautiful and successful woman who is into acting marrying the handsome and successful man who is into acting. Or you would get the unremarkable but super smart and successful Mark Zuckerberg marrying Priscilla Chan, who is unremarkable looking but very smart and successful—also both Harvard grads. Jay Cutler, who won the Mr. Olympia title many times, is married to a professional female bodybuilder. This is the new way that attraction tends to work nowadays.

So being fit, strong and healthy is important if you want to attract a fit, strong and healthy woman. Optimizing your aesthetics is important if you want to attract an extremely beautiful woman. But no, this is not everything. Far from it.


Very informative and a great article overall — I just wish you had one for the ladies!

Jared Polowick

Hey AW, we do! You can find Shane’s article about the ladies here.


Really well done. A very concise and direct packaging of pertinent info about my primary motivation for strength training. It certainly makes me wish I had known these fundamental things about weight-lifting all those years ago when I began hitting the gym. The split routine I’d been doing for the past 5-6ish years has molded my body into that imbalanced “mirror” physique. The disappointment about all that lost time gives rise to a little concern – neurotic, maybe – that I’ve irreparably damaged my capabilities of building a well-rounded physique because I’ve spent my most prime years (19-24) doing the wrong routine. I have absolutely no educated basis for this concern, and so I figure I’d throw it out there for Shane and anyone else in the know. In all your research, have you come across anything that might shed light on this concern, e.g. the effects of extended training with a certain routine, and/or prime age to build a physique? I’m still so ignorant about the science behind weight-training…

Shane Duquette

Haha I probably would have wound up in the same situation, except I never succeeded at building muscle in my early days of training 😉

I think your previous training will be an asset, if anything. You’ve already built up great habits (hitting the gym consistently) and even if your training wasn’t ideal, I’m sure it still had a very positive affect on your health and appearance.

Besides, having beastly mirror muscles is by no means the end of the world! It means you don’t need to worry about your arms—just work at maintaining them while building up muscle elsewhere.

I’m at that point with my chest, where I’m working now to build up my squat and deadlift while just maintaining my chest strength as I go. When I hit my goal of benching 1.5x my bodyweight I celebrated! I think that’s the same attitude you should have with the muscle groups you’ve already done a good job of building up. Now you can sink your teeth into your squat and deadlift, building up a sweet posterior chain and functional strength as you go.

I’ll do more research into how activities/training during a prime age can affect muscle-building, but I haven’t come across anything to that effect yet. Sounds like an interesting topic though, so I’ll do some digging.


Awesome article Shane, lots of wicked studies and insights in here. I learned a ton.

This is great news for all the skinny, lanky guys out there – you’re really not that far off from having the body that’ll get you a wife 😉

Seriously great resource, I know I’ll still be referring back to this one a year or two from now.

Shane Duquette

Haha thanks for indulging all of my “Man!—you’ll never believe what I just read about the relationship between testosterone and _____” moments on the way to the gym.


Another great in depth write up Shane I enjoyed that, i took a module at uni that covered some of the issues with male and female body perception in the media; you nailed it. It’s funny though when talking about the big bodybuilder type of guys, I’ve got friends who insist they’re tiny 230lbs plus; and they’re seen as ‘less’ attractive to women. That’s crazy! I personally think that’s too far, I’d be happy with a physique like yours, each to their own though I guess.

Shane Duquette

Thanks Daniel—glad you liked it.

Definitely crazy. I suppose it all has to do with your goals, your social circle and what media you’re exposed to, right? A millionaire might feel poor if all his friends are billionaires, just like a 230 pounder might feel small if he’s used to looking at 330 pounders in muscle mags. Little does he know that all the 120 pound girls think he’s gone too far.

I bet he still does just fine though. There are probably more girls out there with a peculiar preference for extremely muscular guys than there are extremely muscular guys. Demand may still exceed supply!

I was pretty pleased with the results though. Looks like for the most part a physique that embodies health comes out on top. Here, at least, mainstream media seems to be encouraging people to live better.


Awesome article fella’s (Mike2k9 here from the forums) I haven’t been around on the forums at all, that’s because I pretty much nailed everything down that works for me.

I’m not posting any progress pics ‘cus I really wanna be able to show off the big difference next year before around the summer season ( the gains are there for sure 😉 ).

But enough about that, back on topic.

Excellent read, I really enjoyed reading it and it’s pieces like this that make me wanna come back to B2B if only for the ‘brotherly’ touch that’s embedded in almost every article.
We are all doing this for ourselves, true, but it’s always great to know that many of us are in this together.

I’m past the point where I need motivational speeches to get me out and excersising, it’s part of my life already and I’m enjoying it a ton, especially since the gains are becomming very noticable.

All the info wrapped up in this article is just another great tool to put in the toolbelt, and I salute your efforts and willingness to share all that information with us. I’ve been working out for almost a year now, and although I found my own routine and know what works best for me, different angles and observations from others always remind me that I’m not done learning when it comes to ways to improve my health.

Shane, Jared and Marco, keep up the good work guys.


Shane Duquette

Ah that’s awesome man! Glad to hear about the success you’re having. And thank you for the kind words.

Definitely show us those progress shots when you take them!

P.s. Stay tuned for some sweet updates and new content coming in the new year for our members. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes. I’ll email it to ya when it’s ready 🙂


Just thought I’d share this with you guys also



I dont entirely agree with the article itself but I like how it proposes that slim men with healthy face better in the eyes of women. As well as the antibody correlation too 🙂

The Bony to Beastly will give us the best of both worlds! Macho feature and a healthier face and antibodies because of the good nutrition and exercises 😀

Shane Duquette

Ah really fascinating article! Thanks for sharing this—I love this stuff.

It seems to agree with most of the points we made, where the healthier you appear the hotter you are … but it also points out that there’s little correlation between masculinity and attractiveness?

Not only does that last part contradict a lot of studies I came across, but their own photo seems to prove the opposite. The rad-health composite image I would describe as being quite masculine, as he appears both lean and muscular. Very chiselled face.

I think the disagreement is mainly semantics, i.e., we’re using different words to describe the same ideal body.

Muahaha Bony to Beastly-style living for the win!

Shane Duquette

Also holy crap do those composites ever result in weird looking hairdos! (And that’s coming from me!)


I hope you meant cold measurements unflexed and relaxed for the biceps and the thighs because I’ve reached those measurements flexed in a little under 3 years. If you didn’t mean it cold, do you know what cold measurements you meant? It’s a big letdown to know I can only workout to maintain for the rest of my life if I want to have the most desirable physique to women, though

Shane Duquette

I would imagine it would be the size that you would see, i.e., if you only have those measurements after pumping up then you would only have the absolutely ideal size right after pumping up.

It’s really really common for people to hit their ideal size and then want to keep going. By the time I hit three years of consistent training I may be struggling with the same issue … I do quite enjoy constantly striving to improve. I definitely get where you’re coming from.

I quite enjoy training for relative strength though, so at that time I’ll probably have an even better time working towards deadlifting 2.5 times my weight at 190 or so pounds.

Perhaps, with aesthetics mastered, you work at training towards a different goal?

Shane Duquette

Oh and congrats on achieving the ideal physique in just 3 years! That’s really damn awesome! You’ve done what most men only dream of 🙂


I see. I meant with a bicep flex, kind of like flexing for the ladies when they want to feel that bicep haha. I didn’t mean swollen after finishing a workout, that would just be too hard to track. Legs are also tricky because depending on where you measure and how you flex, you can make the measurement 1-2 inches bigger than relaxed. If you meant with a flex, looks like I have just under 2 years to reach the physique at a height of 5’10 and 15% bf. Not many people know that building broad shoulders is pretty hard and pretty impressive also because that guy is BIG, not cartoonish, but pretty damn huge next to even seasoned lifters. If you meant completely relaxed, like measured while your arms at your sides, not even a bicep pose without flexing(hence the name cold), then I now have 2 inches to grow, which will take probably 4 years to reach. Also, do you think I would have the same most desirable physique if I had these measurements at 5’10? Or since I’m 2″ shorter than 6′, I should probably err on 51″ if the limit is 51″ for shoulders? Btw thank you, it must be amazing to know you have the most desirable physique now, and all you train in the gym for is to get strong, not just in the gym but be able to carry more than the average man and overall perform better than anyone else in any given sport or task.

Shane Duquette

Haha I mean in a natural state—cold.

I wouldn’t worry too much about exact measurements unless you’re into fitness modelling or bodybuilding. Women seem to generally just look for cues that tell them that you’re a strong and healthy guy.

The proportion and height thing is a really good question, and the answer is pretty interesting. Our next article has to do with bone structure, body type and proportions, and I think you’ll really like it!

One cool theory is that people don’t scale proportionally. Generally tall people are taller because they have longer limbs … so a 5’6 guy and a 6’2 guy may have the same size head, same size wrists, and same size rib cage, just very different limb lengths. I’m in the midst of all this so I’m still looking into it.

For your shoulders though it’s simple. Cut down to a body fat percentage that you love and are happy maintaining (presumably indefinitely) and then build your shoulders up to 1.618 the size of your waist in that lean state. Your waist may grow a bit, which is fine, but it won’t grow at nearly the pace that your shoulders will.

I’m not trying to get you all obsessed with aesthetics though. If you want to train for strength and performance starting now then go for it.


Geez. That means I have a lot of work to do. Can’t wait for the next article then. Aesthetics is all I’m obsessed with haha. But past reaching that physique, I also see it’s very important to have ability behind that physique.


I actually find heavily muscled men to be repulsive. Strange as it may seem, I prefer the moderate or even skinny guy.

I do love looking at muscled men, though. But don’t get me wrong. I’m an artist, and I love muscled men. On paper. They’re fun to draw, but other than that…

Shane Duquette

I know what you mean about them being the most fun to draw. I used to be a tiny 130 pound short haired dude, but would draw up these muscular tattooed long haired guys. Fast forward a couple years and …

Thanks for the comment Brheanna 🙂


They’re fun to draw. But again, I don’t find them attractive. Even to the point your website promotes I don’t find even that attractive. The reason why it’s fun to draw is because there’s line shapes. That’s really the only reason why. But the same could be said about women. The reason why they’re fun to draw is because of the many shapes.

I think the whole muscled power dream for guys is rather ridiculous. But I also realize that I am probably a minority who thinks this as it seems every time I turn around the ideal that most women go after is something that I would rather avoid. Or that I think the ideals of the majority are silly. In the end, I’m just an odd person who doesn’t take first sight into account and generally avoid eye contact. First conversations maybe. There’s really no value to me if a potential mate is muscled when I differentiate what looks appealing and what is practically appealing. Of course, changing your appearance to be healthy is good, but I am highly against saying that a certain body shape is standard in order to be at your best.


I think looking athletic & toned is extremely different from looking like a gym-rat and having excessive muscles. The whole “massive” look is quickly dying in our society. Girl’s don’t want their man, or man-to-be, to give off the vibe that he eats, breathes, and lives GYM (or steroids). The fitness industry is still slowly struggling to catch on to this change BUT at the same time, men who are MASSIVELY BULKY know women don’t find it attractive and would still rather satisfy their craving to live that type of lifestyle.

I could be saying this about women as well. It goes both ways. It’s a lifestyle choice and personal preference…and by saying you like skinny or huge guys, that’s just your taste and that’s fine too (I’m not knocking you!) but I think it’s fair to say that if you’re an athletic women who takes care of her body, eats well, and exercises regularly, you’re naturally attractive to men who do the same. If you look at Hollywood’s sex symbols (like Brad Pitt, Ryan Gossling, Eva Longoria, etc) they aren’t these giant hulk-like men and women. They are fit and have athletic bodies but when you see them, you don’t automatically think “gym-rat” or “bodybuilder”, you think “damn, nice body”…and that’s ideal.

As an athletic woman, I find myself most attracted to men who look healthy. When we first meet someone (or stare at someone creepily from across the room), our first impression is purely physical, from clothes to body type. Trust me boys, we can tell what’s under those clothes.

I feel like I just went on a little tangent…point is, the ideal babeshow body type is athletic, not bulky or overly skinny. It’s also not natural for people to be consuming so many artificial enhancers. On either end of the spectrum, health issues have proven to be more prevalent than someone that’s more balanced (I called it: damn right sexy).

Don’t confuse muscle and athleticism with JUICEHEADS & HULKS! 🙂 Huge difference (literally) 😉

Shane Duquette

“men who are MASSIVELY BULKY know women don’t find it attractive and would still rather satisfy their craving to live that type of lifestyle.”

That’s a really cool point. I remember hearing an interview with Mr. world’s biggest biceps and he was saying that guys would push girls out of the way to approach him at bars and ask him how he got them … meanwhile girls weren’t attracted to it at all. Even knowing that, he still wanted to have the biggest biceps in the world. Not like your goals need to be centered around women.

With that said, who doesn’t want the “ideal babeshow body” haha.


Breonna that’s a good perspective about physical attractiveness for men. A lot of guys fail to realize that the utility of man comes not just from power, but also skills. Think about the gait of a naturally dominant, proportionate, athletic male. The confidence in the step sends different signals than that of a bodybuilder with lat syndrome.

With regard to general athleticism here’s my standards:

1. 15+ full ROM pull ups
2. Squat 1.5x bodyweight
3. Deadlift 2x bodyweight
4. 20+ bodyweight dips full ROM (preferably on rings or suspended)
5. Uphill sprinting ability
6. Loaded carries for distance
7. Sled pushing / pulling
8. High jumps / 1 leg jumps
9. Turkish Get Up 100lbs+ up and down
10. Various locomotion, soft tissue quality, mobility/flexibility and skeletal alignment, safe movement patterns.

Of course most women I meet don’t ask me about these things… mostly I just receive a ton of compliments about my legs and bum.

Shane Duquette

Hehe I thought “nice bum” was the short way of saying all that – at least that’s what I’ve been interpreting it as 😉


wow this is a fantastic article. Really long! But I found myself reading through every single word of it.

I already know about the part regarding how muscular girls actually want guys to be, but it’s Interesting to know about the biceps thing and guys.

No wonder I notice guys talking about biceps and looking at other guy’s arms much more than girls, who care more about shoulders relatively.


What an excellent post man, here you have a new fan from Costa Rica, keep lifting bro!

Shane Duquette

Right back at ya Costa Rican brother! Hope it helps.


Great article! I love every piece of it. Three years ago, I was around 140lbs (5’11) and decided that I needed to change and bulk up.

I bought Whey protein, mass gainers, and other supplements to try and aid me to my goal of 175lbs. as I hit the gym.

I was able to get up to 160lbs and looked a whole lot better. I couldn’t seem to gain any more weight after this point but I’m happier now than I was before.

Everyone around you starts noticing that you are gaining weight/muscle and compliments you which also in turn gives you tons of confidence.

It’s terrible when we (ectomorphs) are sick as we tend to drop a significant amount of weight if we stay ill for a while.

Anyhow, I just wanted to say that was a very well-written article.

Shane Duquette

Thanks Danny, glad you liked it! Congrats on gaining 20 pounds! It’s common to hit a plateau there, as that’s about where the “newbie gains” cut out and it often takes a more diligent and intelligent approach. After that it’s not harder, necessarily, just not as simple.

It’s too bad that building confidence so often needs to start with other people (external validation), but hey getting compliments rocks, and I’m glad you’ve managed to use them to build up your self esteem – that’s rad 🙂

Keep up the good work man! And if you ever want to push through that plateau it’s definitely possible – my before and afters are all from after I gained my first 20. It’s definitely doable – you aren’t up against any sort of genetic limitation or anything!


Absolutely excellent article. 11/10!


Really good read I’m about to poke around this site more, so I’m the tall thin guy with bad posture including my hunching over and forward rolled shoulders that give me a bad back from time to time… Also canadian
So what type of goals should I set for somone who is 6foot 6?

Shane Duquette

We’ve got a few really really tall guys. I think gaining 20 pounds of (fairly) lean mass is a good goal for anyone to start with … although at a slim 6’6 you may be looking to crush that goal twice over. The first 20 should come pretty easily, and then the fun begins!

It’s amazing seeing a big tall beastly guy standing next to people (which often happens in day-to-day life, but rarely in before and after shots). That’s when their size really becomes impressive.

Did I understand your question correctly?


I feel like this is just another article written to fill guys’ heads with nonsense about what women “really” like, building off the myth that women are like rubik’s cubes and that a man can only be attractive with a dominant image and personality.

Guys- you come in many beautiful shapes and sizes.

Shane Duquette

Guys (and girls) do come in many great shapes and sizes. I couldn’t agree with you more, and I think that’s a really important thing to say and emphasize. Confidence and happiness should be completely independent of appearance.

I spent a long time coming to terms with the fact that my body was not one that I wanted. It was awkward, clumsy, unathletic, pretty bad at everyday things (like moving furniture), I was reliant on energy drinks to boost my energy levels … and the guy I saw in the mirror isn’t the guy I wished I was. I wanted to look in the mirror and see accomplishment, not two more things on the to-do list (eating well and exercising). Plus I didn’t even know if my genetics would ALLOW for me to become strong and athletic – I’d been gangly and awkward for as long as I could remember.

During that time I was dating. It’s not like it made it impossible to date. Nowadays though I can say I enjoy it a lot more. I’m more in tune with my body, more energetic, more relaxed and more confident. Whether or not women like me more almost doesn’t matter. Dating and relationships are much better now even if their preferences had nothing to do with anything.

That doesn’t mean that women aren’t drawn to guys who are healthy and strong (and look healthy and strong) though, and it doesn’t mean that becoming healthier and stronger won’t change your confidence or success with women. It’s not the be all and end all, but definitely a factor. Even just from a hormonal standpoint, improving your health will generally result in feeling better and more confident. Is a happier, prouder and more confident guy more attractive? Usually. Can you be that way without being strong and healthy? Yep. It’s just a bit harder. Plus, I wouldn’t say being active and eating well is anything insidious or worth avoiding … so why not? 🙂

Thanks for sharing your comment N – I do think it’s always good for all of us, especially us skinny weightlifters, to remember not to let our self esteem get negatively caught up in this stuff.


Hello, thin person here. i found your website a week ago, and I’m very impressed with everything you have on here. I’m going to be buying your program this week, but I first have to ask you; are the muscle building recipes included in your program a vital part of the equation?

I ask because my current living situation involves me living on a campus where the only food is in the cafeteria, and is pretty nasty tasting stuff.

Will I still get the same results as you guys as long as I’m still getting the carbs, fats, and proteins?

It’s okay if I’ll rake slightly longer to get results, I just want to find out beforehand.

Shane Duquette

Hey Drew, that will depend on the quality of the food you’re eating! I would imagine you would do just fine though, as if you have access relatively nutritious food that contains more or less the right macronutrients that’s all you need!

The fact that it’s pre-prepared and accessible should, if anything, give you an advantage!

Glad you’ve decided to join us man! Pumped to see what you can do with the program 🙂

See you on the other side,


The second person narrative style is totally off putting, for reasons that should be obvious.

Shane Duquette

Hey Dubv, thanks for the feedback.

We’re a self-help site, so speaking directly to our readers and what they can do for themselves has always made sense to me.

First person seems a little egotistical (people aren’t here to read about me) and third person seems a little disconnected (they aren’t here to read about people in general, either).

What would you have preferred?



Great article Shane, for someone like me who is on the obese side of the weighing scale, this an eye opener. You bring to light may things that stay unspoken. Guess i know what i should do to improve my life. Regards from India.

Shane Duquette

Hey Vivek, your fitness is just one component of your life, of course, so don’t let it weigh you down (bad pun?). The health/mood/hormonal downsides of being obese are real though, so if you can take charge of it there really is an opportunity to life a larger life 🙂

As ectomorphs we often think the naturally chubby (endomorph) guys have it easy. Eating less can seem so easy to someone who does it naturally, whereas eating a whole lot can seem like the most insurmountable obstacle out there. It’s funny how different people can see these things so differently.

Good luck man, I hope you keep following our blog! We’ll be posting plenty, and not just things tailored absolutely specifically to ectomorphs.


Great article Shane!

I stumbled into Bony to beasty while searching on how an ectomorph targeting to build a lean and muscular body should approach training and nutrition. Most of the thing I read so far was just not making sense to me. How on Earth could I possibly eat so much meat? My stomach would never be able to do it! I read most of the blog posts so far and I dig all the information I found there. I’m going to put aside some money so I can become a member. I have one question though. What kind of equipment is needed for following the training program? I’m wondering if I can manage to buy the equipment and do the training at home instead of hitting the gym. I’m 33 with 3 kids and it’s kind of challenging to fit the local gym opening hours with my family life schedule.

Shane Duquette

Hey Jean-Francois, not only do you not need to eat massive amounts of meat … you don’t need to eat meat AT ALL. We’ve got lots of vegetarian ectomorphs who do a great job of building muscle, and even a couple vegan ectomorphs who do a great job. Meat is completely optional when it comes to building muscle. It is a great source of protein though, and eating an omnivorous diet certainly makes things simpler!

Yeah, you can definitely do it at home. We’ve got a fairly good split of members. Some prefer the gym, some prefer to build a home gym. You WOULD need equipment though. A bench, some adjustable dumbbells and a barbell is a good place to start. Later on you may want to get a chin-up bar and/or even a squat rack (and they often have chin up bars built in). With a bench, a rack (aka power cage, squat rage, power rack, etc), a barbell and some weight plates you can become an absolute beast of a dude in your basement/garage. And, like I said, you don’t need to get it all that once, you can work up to it. (That way it’s more similar to paying a monthly fee at a gym, and not a huge lump of money all at once.)

Does that help?

We’d love to have you man, so I hope you decide to join us! We can help you work out the ins and outs of a nutrition plan that works for you / pick out some equipment too, when the time comes 🙂


Thanks for the info Shane! I am preparing a community event that will happen in two months. Once I’m done with it, I will figure out if I go for the home gym or subscription. I should join your program around September.

Have a nice day!

Shane Duquette

That’s awesome man, we’ll see you on the other side! 🙂


All women are different…… My girlfriend likes that I have narrow shoulders. Also, I hope your not trying to say that women think physique and masculinity is more important than morals, personality, and intelligence?

Shane Duquette

Quite the opposite! I’m sorry if I implied that somewhere—we’re all very concerned with being good people and trying to inspire others to be the best they can be as well. Being fit and healthy doesn’t in any way mean that you shouldn’t have good morals, a great personal and be as intelligent and educated as you can be. (I’m hesitant to put intelligence there, as IQ is fairly genetic and therefore hardly something to judge someone on. Interestingly, exercising and eating well is one promising way to increase your intelligence. Jared’s in the midst of writing an article on how all this stuff affects our brains—more on that soon.)

Luckily becoming healthy and strong offers a great opportunity to become MORE moral, intelligent and vibrant. They’re all positively correlated.

If those three things are what you value most then it sounds like your girlfriend is a lucky gal 🙂

Shane Duquette

And yeah absolutely, all these studies are dealing with trends and tendencies. There are obviously exceptions to all of them—these are just what the studies found to be the most common.

As a guy with rather long hair this is good news, as studies also show that most women prefer men with much shorter hair. Were it not for exceptions to the rule I may have found myself in need of a haircut! 😉


I am doing a lot of “effective” training in the gym, Now my posture has gone bad because I (without checking for the consequences) trained my chest insanely for the summer. now my shoulders are too much to the front and not in one line with my back.
I’ve trained my shoulders and back now for 2 months with almost no result in getting it fixed!

I am interested in the posture building! you guys “sell” a piece of the program? I hope you do because I won’t buy the whole thing!

Shane Duquette

Hey Joshua, first of all props on building up a fearsome chest! It’s unbalanced … but at least you’ve shown yourself that you’re able to successfully build muscle mass. That’s definitely worthy of a solid congratulations 🙂

Your problem is a really really common one. Even guys who don’t hit the gym often wind up with it, since desk work involves spending so much time with your shoulders rounded inwards and internally rotated. Add to that that when you DO hit the gym it’s your chest muscles that we’re often the most pumped to build (we can see our pecs after all + the bench press is a devilishly fun lift) … and most guys wind up with your exact problem.

We don’t sell our program in pieces currently, although perhaps down the line we can make a little specialized posture program. That’s actually a pretty cool idea.

Let’s see what we can do for you now though. What lifts are you doing to correct the problem? Are you still managing to get the scale consistently moving up?


I work out but couldn’t care less about micromanaging my physique down to some golden ratios, being in certain weight range and how women will perceive it as there are more important things in your life to think about. You only need ONE woman in your life to feel happy and as long as you take care of yourself, you will find your better half. If your goal is to attract as many women as possible, then having a stereotypical cosmo guys physique might matter provided that your character is up to standard too but striving for perfect ratios, body fat percentages just to get women doesn’t feel right and manly at all. Work out and get stronger for yourself because it is fun and keeps you healthy. You will good, never mind perfect aesthetics, doesn’t matter for women – they are not perfect either.

Shane Duquette

I agree! Plus, women prefer men who enjoy being strong and fit too, not the ones who are doing it so that they look pretty. That’s one reason I think strength / athletics training causes guys to look better in women’s eyes than less functional / aesthetics oriented training – it just subconsciously LOOKS natural, athletic and healthy, not overly contrived. Kind of ironic that it’s often the guys who care about aesthetics less that wind up looking better.

Your approach sounds like a good one 🙂

Perhaps I’m a bit naive or disconnected for other guys, but I think most guys are looking for one AMAZING woman. I know that’s the case with Jared (who’s married), Marco and I, anyway. Being the absolute best you can be on all fronts I’d say is the best way to get/keep an amazing woman and then live the best life you can with her (and then any children that may or may not follow along). You’re right — being the best you can be applies to fitness, sure, but also every other aspect of your life, from ambition to smarts to integrity, honesty, liveliness, etc. I think being strong, fit, confident and healthy is a great tool to accomplish all of that, but you’re completely right — if that’s ALL you’ve got going for you you’re missing the point of it all!

Thanks for the comment man. Good luck finding your better half 🙂


Hey man,
There are very few resources on the web that actually details so much about male aesthetics and I think yours is probably the best so far I have ever read and you are spot on! I am a natural ectomorph myself everywhere except my belly. I have the dreadful east indian genetics predisposing my midsection to hold most of the fat. Here is my dilemma right now. My arms are just a little bit over 15 inches, my calves are 13 inches, forearms 12 inches, shoulders 48 inches, chest 42 inches and thighs 22 inches. Within the next year I should be able to attain perfect proportions everywhere EXCEPT my belly. MY midsection is 34 inches measured in the morning time and it expands by an inch through the course of the day. My dilemma is that if I cut I would lose some of the gains I made elsewhere. If I keep doing what I am doing (eating clean) I will just keep adding more to my belly (undesirable) in addition to overall musculature. I seem to have no choice other than getting a liposuction to balance my proportions as I have got everything in order except my belly. What would you do if you were me?

Shane Duquette

Hey Yogami thanks for the kind words!

The whole idea of this article is that it seems that health and strength are attractive. This is good news, as health and strength are pretty wholesome things to pursue.

You’d be missing out on that by resorting to liposuction because you’d just be disguising a symptom, not treating the underlying issue.

There’s no reason to think that by cutting you’d lose your gains. Most guys are able to burn fat without losing much muscle at all! Many guys are even able to build small amounts of muscle and strength at the same time.

If you continue to eat well and train smart there’s no reason that you need to be getting chubbier, either. Most guys are able to build muscle (especially if they do it slowly and steadily) while staying lean. Some are even able to lose fat while doing it!

Genetics certainly play a role, but hormones are also largely impacted by your diet and exercise. Perhaps there’s room for improvement as far as your nutrition plan / exercise plan goes!

For a lot of guys who store fat easily more exercise is the way to go. They respond better to plans with more of it, whether that’s HIIT on rest days or adding in sports, etc.

If you REALLY have a hard time with all of this and despite doing everything right you seem to be gaining weight you may want to ask your doc. You may be insulin resistant or some such. Not the end of the world, and it can be managed, but it’s best to know and follow the advice of your doctor in that case (as well as exercising like a beast, of course).

Does that make sense / help?

Don’t be discouraged man. It’s very very rare that a guy DOESN’T run into issues like this. In most cases the solution is elusive … but simpler than you think 🙂

My best,



Absolutely brilliant article, I spent about 40 minutes reading it and was worth every minute.

I’m now 22 and have been training for 3 years, and my main motivations came from having an extremely skinny frame, a lack of confidence and a lack of interest in the female department!

I have been able to put on a significant amount of muscle mass while my fast metabolism has given me a very cut, aesthetic look which I will continue to work on for years to come, as lifting weights has become such a passion.

My only problem though is that I fear I will eventually reach a point where I plateau endlessly, as with my metabolism I find it hard to put on weight (which in turn I intend to turn into additional muscle mass).

Needless to say I will keep at it and your article, to my pleasure, reaffirmed my assumptions about what bodybuilding can do for a man, so Thank you.


Shane Duquette

Our fast metabolisms and our perma-cut-ness is pretty sweet indeed! And you raise a really interesting question.

Everyone, ectomorph or not, will reach a point where they plateau endlessly. Even pro-bodybuilders with exceptions genetics and a boatload of pharmaceuticals reach a point where they can no longer grow. That’s why you don’t see 500 pound dudes at 5% body fat … ever.

The good news is that your potential is probably far greater than you think! There are a lot of debates out there about exactly how lean and muscular you can get before hitting your genetic threshold … and it’s actually quite large, even for us.

You’ll probably be able to bulk to upwards of 200 pounds at a very low body fat percentage. I know Marco lives at 210 or so and always has fearsomely impressive abs.

The difficult part for us is the amount of food that building muscle requires us to eat. At 200 pounds you may realize you want to ease back on the calories and relax into maintenance.

As for your strength, there’s a lot of progress that can be made RELATIVE to your weight, so if weightlifting is your passion there are always tons of goals left to pursue even when you hit your goal weight! You may decide to go after, say, a 2 or 3x bodyweight deadlift.

Congrats on your progress and happy lifting!

p.s. Never doubt your potential or you’ll never reach it!


Sorry that should have read
‘a lack of interest FROM the female department’ !! Not that I have anything against those who ‘bat for the other side’


Shane Duquette



This article is the most valuable information I have had in my hands in a long time. I have already used this info to my advantage, making a huge difference on me. Actually I will just buy your program as a way to say thank you for having the brains and wit to search all this out and putting it in an objective manner.

Shane Duquette


Glad we can help man, and hope to speak with you on the other side! Pumped to see what you can do 🙂


I’m also very impressed at the rounded balance of your writing here and in general, Shane.

I’m a new B2B member myself, and am in my first week of training. This time last week I stumbled across your blog after Googling “weightlifting for ectomorphs”, and after 20 minutes on your website, my body said, “Yup, this is what we need and this is what we want.”

The depth of your generalist approach speaks directly to my body beyond mere ego image.

For me, it less to do with how i look to others. It’s more about reaching my body’s latent potential for wholeness and balance through physical strength and health. At the same time, self-image is real too — and I dig how you naturally weave all the facets of experience together in your ongoing treatment of this subject.

Behind those shaggy lock and the 6 string, I detect a bit of the scholar as well.


Shane Duquette

Hey Fizay, glad to see you posting here too!

Never hurts to get a little public cred 😉
Thank you.

I read an interesting study the other day while doing more research on aesthetics (this time for women).

The quote said that men are actually incredibly good at spotting healthy women. We’ve evolved to become absolute masters at spotting all the signs that a women is in peak physical condition: posture, weight, hormonal balance, etc—right down to skin tone.

In that sense … figuring out how to look good for men (naturally—obviously I’m not talking about make-up or surgery or anything) is actually an extremely effective way of becoming incredible healthy.

Of course there are problems there, especially since a lot of mainstream female literature displays women marketed at women (very very thin, frail), not women marketed at men (average weight, very fit) … not to mention that it can lead to being overly concerned with appearances.

I say this because it sounds like you’ve found the absolute ideal. You aren’t overly concerned with your image … but you’re striving to look wickedly healthy too. Done with a mature and healthy attitude that can be a great tool.

Can’t wait to see what you can do with the program man!


p.s. get your before photos up!!


Man, I just have to say how blown out of the water I am by what you guys are doing here. After rounding out my first week, I feel incredible. I literally have more energy than I know what to do with — but not in a bad way…in a really, really good way, like solid reserves of energy waiting to be unleashed. In one damn week my body is saying, “Yeeeahhh, now we’re talking! This is how I was made to feel brah, thanks for figuring it out!”

Hats off to you guys, seriously. Oh — and my bad: looks like you’re wielding a bass of an axe, not a 6-string.

(My before photos are waiting and ready…but after observing my skinny-fat factor in all its glory, I gotta wait till I get my first gains up. I may not be concerned with my image, but I’ve got my dignity! Lol…)


Shane Duquette

Ah that’s awesome man! Keep it up!
That’s exactly how you should feel when training, so make sure to hold onto that feeling and stay in that sweet spot 😀

(Haha I’m a better – albeit still shoddy –guitar player than a bass player … but I just think that bass looks and feels so good! It’s big heavy and solid. Feels substantial.)


Interesting article, I enjoyed reading your analysis on all of the proportions and measurements. I’ve never been a big fan of waist circumference measurements when it comes to bodybuilding and proportions however. If you have very long and full muscle bellies in your lats (like me) you’ll notice your waist circumference increases over time even without gaining any fat or abdominal hypertrophy. As the biggest muscles on the upper body, and a wide array of high leverage heavy exercises they’re very easy to hypertrophy.

Anyway, I definitely agree with your assertions about structural integrity and balanced musculature. A couple of years ago before I was training with the same volume that I am now, I used to blow off things like rear delt isolation. But luckily I’ve managed to fix all of the problems with my routine and now I’m looking and feeling bigger and better than ever. Ironically switching to a more bodybuilding type of routine with more emphasis on volume, individual muscle emphasis, form and “mind-muscle connection” was the best thing for me,

Shane Duquette

Ah that’s awesome! That long-latted look is badass. Big lats are usually heavier up top anyway, so the bigger and longer the bellies the more of a V you tend to wind up having even if they widen your waist at the same time.

Plus that’s not really anything to worry about anyway. Being strong and healthy will take care of all that stuff naturally.

That’s awesome man, really glad to hear your training is going well! Sounds like you’ve got a solid handle on it and you’re doing great 🙂


Hey I want to jump on this, but is there a payment plan I could do?

Shane Duquette

We can probably set something up! Let me shoot you an email.


An excellent list of how health, working out and mating all come together. My boyfriend I have been together for 2 years or so. He is a skinny boy, it used to not bother me because he treats me well and has a compatible personality. I just can’t help though in my decreased attraction in him. We are still young but he already has signs of health problems like back pain, vulnerable joints. As a woman, I find it natural to want a physically reliable man. He let himself go even more lately. I tend to correct his terrible posture and motivated him to go to gym together. Still results are slow, I feel I’m controlling him by reminding him what is healthy and what is not. He is losing me, honestly because I feel like I should not be the one telling him these basic things. It creates imbalance and I hate that. I have an urge to send him this link but I assume it will make things worse. It is not just about looks, it is being healthy and confident. Which woman would not desire that in a mate? I do not want a body builder all I seek is someone reliable and despite what others tell me it is not superficial to look for that in a mate. Thank you for the article!!

Shane Duquette

It’s very hard to be enthusiastic about overcoming shortcomings because, well, that involves spending a lot of time dwelling on those shortcomings.

That isn’t fun at all. Especially if you’ve failed at overcoming them in the past.

I’ve been the guy in the relationship where my athletic girlfriend, with the best of intentions, encouraged me to improve my health. All it did was remind me that I was too skinny. It made me want to avoid thinking about my too-skinny body even more.

Then I started dating this tiny intellectual girl from Guatemala. I was still super skinny … but she somehow thought I was big and strong anyway. (Or perhaps did a very good job of pretending.) She was 5′ tall, so maybe my height alone made me seem rather large.

That’s when I felt most motivated to change. As soon as my identity started to be one of the guy that COULD be strong, and who was ALREADY receiving praise for it … well eating better and lifting weights became a blast. It wasn’t a shortcoming anymore, so it wasn’t so painful to think about.

Ironically, she soon started telling me that I was getting TOO strong and that I should stop before I got too big … and I somehow found that motivating as well. :S

There are lots of different theories about the best way to encourage someone to change. I think you’re probably right—sending him this link might not be the best thing right now.

Maybe wait for him to express some interest in gaining weight, and then recommend ways to tackle it?

Don’t give up on him! I know what it’s like to be the guy who just isn’t ready quite yet. And then one day I was.

Be patient and positive 🙂

(And cook him very very large meals whenever you can!)


Thanks Shane, it’s interesting to hear from the other side of it. We like cooking together so I will amp up the portions even more!


The problem with a true ectomorph is proportion. Men who have good proportions looks great when they are fit (in the body fat sense), regardless of weight. The beauty is in the structure. not in the muscle, Most “ectomorphs” are not really ectomorphs, they have great proportions, they just don’t have the muscle. They can look great if they start working with weights. A true ectomorph on the other hand, will never look great, because one cannot change length of bones.

Your ideal numbers are about 5kg off if we take into account the female-adored hollywood type, and I’m not even discussing ectomorphs. They are impossible for them. Even someone like Hugh Jackman is thin by your numbers, although most female will say he is very built. The numbers are quite precise if attractiveness to gay males is the objective. They like more muscle. But again, they are impossible for true ectomorphs.

Shane Duquette

Hey Maria,

Hugh Jackman is apparently 6’2-6’3 or so and his normal weight is supposedly around 190-195. That puts him in the most attractive “strong” category, which looks about right, too. More impressively, he’s got a 400 pound deadlift (twice bodyweight) at the same weight and height as me, which is prrrretty badass. I’m just a couple pounds away from that myself (3×375). He’s got me beat!

I’d say most guys would say he’s pretty built too! (Unless perhaps you ask a bodybuilder.)

As for true ectomorphs never looking good, I can’t disagree with you more wholeheartedly! You are right – you can’t change bone structure, and some once-thin guys, like Brad Pitt, are actually pretty broadly built when it comes to bone structure. Even though he’s naturally thin he was always pretty wide across.

So let’s look at two female-adored Hollywood types with very very narrow shoulders and bone structures – true ectomorphs: Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling.

If you take a look at those guys you’ll see they’ve got small wrists, long limbs, and very narrow shoulders.

Both bulked up and looked totally rad though – think Batman and Crazy, Stupid Love.

(I never looked into what gay men find attractive, so I can’t comment there.)

My best,


Great website Shane; you are an excellent writer with a clear and concise writing style.

I just wanted to say I googled Jackman and I reckon if he is 6’3″ he is easily 210lbs.

I am 6’3″ 183lbs myself and still very scrawny. I would easily need to gain 25lbs to look like Jackman at his most jacked.

Of course, two people can have the same height weight and body fat and look very different, but still…

Nice deadlift stats – we are pretty similar, though I’ve only been lifting 4 months.

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words, Orkle 🙂

Hugh Jackman? If he’s 6’3 my guess would be a lot lighter than that. He looks more like 185 or so to me, given how lean he is (at least when filming Wolverine and whatnot). He isn’t so much huge as he is super duper lean, and I think that’s likely part of why his physique is so popular… except among bodybuilders, who find him little.

Congrats on having done in a couple months what took me a couple of years! That’s awesome, dude 😀

Keep up the great work!

Shane Duquette

(Yes, some people are naturally proportioned better than others – no argument there – but hey, what can you do! And lots of adored Hollywood types have become sex icons despite not being gifted with totally rad bone structures.)


Loved it, man! Great work. and I am not even an ectomorph, more of a meso/endo but regardless, this is a really good post- bookmarked it 🙂

Shane Duquette

Really glad you liked it man, thank you for the kind words! 🙂


Very good article, I read it with great interest. There are things I disagree with. But overall great work.
BTW Steve Reeves NEVER took steroids. We can assume all we want in order to dismiss his success and make us feel better but from his own mouth he has said many times he never did. As a matter of fact steroids are the reason he distanced himself from BBing.
BUT this is a great page and I would suggest anyone interested in proper proportion read it.

Shane Duquette

You’re right. Whether he used steroids or not is speculation. That was the norm back then among bodybuilders (as was saying you didn’t take them) so I’m not sure we can say for sure either way! He claims he didn’t, some of his colleagues went on the record saying he did. Who really knows!

I fixed that part – thank you for pointing that out! 🙂

Mr. J

Spectacular article. Stellar website. The program look just as amazing, I just can’t justify the $200 right now.
I know bulking would solving a lot of my problems with anxiety and confidence, but my wife has different goals from me as she wants to lose where I want to gain. I was wondering what kind of help you could possibly give so we may coordinate our efforts and accomplish this life changing goals together.
I have devoured so many posts and I will continue to devour the rest gratefully. All of this information is awesome.

Mr. J

Shane Duquette

Hey J, no worries – we’re going to continue putting out cool free content. Glad you’re enjoying it 🙂

Be sure to sign up to our newsletter!

As for balancing goals with your wife, that’s actually a pretty common thing in our community! (Not to mention Jared’s wife, Michelle, trains with us.) We’ve also had a lot of women asking us to make a muscle-building program for them … so we are:

It’s very new and still in testing, but there’ll be tons more information up there soon.

It’s very much a muscle-building program – weight GAIN focused … but a lot of our coolest transformations so far are from women who lost weight while building up muscle and strength. They come out fit, strong, slender and packing a booty rather then simply skinnier.

Obviously your efforts would be different in the kitchen. You’d be eating a lot more food than her and only a small part of your diet would be protein (about 20%, which would be around 1g protein / pound bodyweight / day). She’d be eating much less food and a very large part of it would be protein (around 33-50%, which would be around 1g protein / pound bodyweight). You’d often be full. She’d often be hungry.

Your training would be similar but not identical. Women can handle a little more volume, they respond better to training their glutes (butts) way way more often, and their hips are often far more mobile. Your back would be longer, stronger and wider and you’d be able to load your upper body more. Then there’s the whole fact that she probably wants to be slender in places that you want to be jacked and vis versa. So, while there’d be some real differences, you’d still be able to train together and everything.

Does that help at all?

I wish Bony to Bombshell was further along and there were some articles I could point you towards. All this cool stuff for women that we’ve been working on is still behind the scenes.


Great article, I always wondered why my chest never got bigger, I was neglecting my leg exercises (as a sprinter I’m sad to say). And also just noticed my disproportionate shoulders (I favor my right). But i was wondering, how does a body built by Crossfit exercises correlate? Is it more of a strong or fit body type?

Shane Duquette

Thanks man, glad you liked it 🙂

A body built by Crossfit could be anything. If you look at the Crossfit Games competitors they’re mostly pretty damn strong looking dudes in a fairly proportionate, fit, functional and sturdy way.

That’s obviously not a fair representation of MOST people who train using Crossfit, but rather the successful outliers. I suspect you see all sorts of body types and results in a Crossfit box.

I suspect the majority of fitness programs for men are designed to produce strong and lean looking dudes.

I think which ones work best at accomplishing that depends on a lot of factors. What works for a naturally chubby guy is very different from what works for a naturally skinny dude.

Crossfit isn’t something that’s designed for thin guys. I suspect it’s something designed for extremely athletic, adventurous, experienced and sturdy dudes who have a high risk tolerance.

I know a few really cool guys who do (or have tried) Crossfit and that tends to describe them pretty well.

(The nutrition side of it, Paleo, isn’t really designed for thin dudes either, but more so for overweight and/or naturally muscular guys who don’t have a particularly high tolerance or desire for carbs.)

If you’re going into as an ectomorph my guess is that you’d come out of it thinner, fatigued and perhaps with a sore back.

… but that’s just me guessing. Everyone responds to it differently.


I was wondering if you have a payment plan.

Shane Duquette

Yeah man – I’ll shoot you an email 🙂



First of all, I love the way you do your design works!

I am following you and your blogs since you started your works, I really thank you for convincing us, you made a great work for all of us.

I thought to buy your -pdf- several times but the fact that it is so expensive (with all my respect to you and your works).

I am pretty sure that you deserve more with your works but There are too many people in my region who can live with 400$ for a month.

Do you have payment plan for this stuff? Can you send me information about that please?

Thanks again for all the things you do.

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words Ergun!

For sure – I’ll shoot you an email with payment plan details 🙂


Hi Shane.

I really love reading this article. I just want to ask, whats the best way to build a aesthetic muscular jawline. I’m a rocker with long hair like yours who plays guitar and I have thin jaw. Any tips? Thanks!

Shane Duquette

That’s a really cool question.

Luckily, the best answer is also the simplest one: build muscle everywhere and you probably won’t need to worry about it.

We see guys gain a lot of weight in our program all the time … and their jawline usual changes fairly reliably along with their bodies.

Mine got a lot nicer, Jared’s got WAY nicer. I often find myself saying “dude check out how your face changed!” on the forums. (If you prowl around this blog you’ll see lots of examples of that.)

There are probably a few reasons for the that:

=> Eating at a calorie surplus will build muscle everywhere. Most of it will be in the areas you stimulate, but you’ll likely see gains everywhere.

=> Eating a diet high enough in protein to synthesize decent muscle growth will build muscle everywhere, especially when combined with the hearty amount of calories required to build hearty amounts of muscle.

=> Healthier hormone production may cause muscle to be built everywhere. If you can increase your testosterone production (exercise, eat well, eat big, lift heavy, fix deficiencies, etc.) you’ll likely build a little bit more muscle everywhere, including the areas you don’t train.

Can you train your jaw? Probably. I can’t really think of a reason why that wouldn’t work. I really doubt that’s necessary though.

Hope that helps!


Yeah, thanks. I will follow that advice. I notice you and your friends face on pics here have became a bit meaty based on the before and after.I really want to gain a nice jawline, meaty face and a thick neck, my neck is also thin. That’s why I grew my hair a bit long to cover the thin neck. My friends say I look like a dehydrated Justin Bieber . haha.

I read about testosterone, like what you said you need to eat big, train hard. I saw someone selling a testosterone injectable, do you think it’s safe?

Shane Duquette

Bieber’s a pretty good looking dude, I presume – he’s Canadian after all!

I would ask your doctor about artificially increasing your testosterone. He’d be in a better position to advise you there. It’s not something we’ve ever tried or that we’d ever recommend.

It’s also definitely not necessary when it comes to beefing up your physique and your face!


I think I’ll just stick with the natural, I looked at Wiki and It says artificial T can cause your testicles to shrink and other side effects. It’s not worth it.

Anyway, I just want to commend you for this awesome site. Based upon reading the comments here and on other articles and I conclude your an expert in bodybuilding especially in bulking the ectomorph. Very intelligent and sensible. Ectomorph Aesthetics article is very good I read it 3 times to absorb all the information.

I realized being in ectomorph is a blessing because we have the potential aesthetics for improvement. It really inspired me try to do my best to achieve all that was written above.

Again, thanks and more power, Keep up the good work. I’m so glad I’ve stumbled upon this site the other day. You Guys rock! \m/


Hi Shane,
I’m 17, around 5’11 and swim twice a week for 40 min sessions as well as cycle and run. I’m starting to notice a few results in the upper back area but the chest is still quite difficult to build and the mid back isn’t really responding to anything. I’m 145lbs, are there any exercises with dumbbells that would help these areas? I try to use them but am generally a bit clueless around weights. Great Article btw man, I love your site.

Shane Duquette

Thanks Neil 🙂

It’s tough to build muscle by doing more endurance oriented things, especially as a skinny guy / ectomorph … but it’s not like the goal of swimming or cycling is muscle or aesthetics anyway, so that’s certainly not to knock ’em!

You’ve got the right idea. When it comes to building muscle, weightlifting is definitely the most effective and efficient way to do it. It’s often the ONLY way for us ectomorphs to do it, since we don’t naturally have much muscle mass.

Check this article out. I think it’d teach you what you need to know about using dumbbells to bulk up a bit:

If that leads to more questions … just pop ’em in the comments there 😉

Shane Duquette

(I’m a huge fan of swimming too. With my big hands, long lanky arms, long narrow body, and small waist I wound up being built really well for it!)


Thanks, I’ve already got a pretty questionable bench and some weights, guess I’ll get started! I will probably join the program pretty soon, just don’t have enough cash atm.

Shane Duquette

Ah that’s awesome Neil! Definitely get started in the meantime. No sense waiting around until circumstances are perfect before even getting started.

I hope you do decide to join and that we see ya on the other side soon 🙂

Mark Bennett

Great info. Looks like there will now be more hot dudes for the ladies to choose from thanks to you. Women should thank you.

Question though–about which magazines have guys that women seem to go for. On one hand you say “women prefer a man who’s significantly leaner and more muscular than average, you know, like a man found in Cosmo. They found these physiques more attractive than the more muscular ones in magazines targeted at health conscious men, like Men’s Health…” Then later you say, “surprisingly, the physiques in Men’s Health line up pretty well with the physiques that women actually gravitate towards”. So which is it, Cosmo guys or Men’s Health guys?

Shane Duquette

Ahaha thanks 🙂

Both! When presented with photos women choose men about the size of a man found in Cosmo.

When looking at who women are attracted to in real life and who they end up with, it seems to line up more with the slightly stronger and more muscular men, like the ones found in Men’s Health.

Both are pretty universally deemed very attractive though, and depending on which study you’re looking at it can be hard to figure out exactly what size the guys are.

David E

I loved this article. But I must ask a question. What do you do if your short. Im 37 yo, 5’2, 135 lbs , about 18% body fat. Im the body type in the middle. I think its the mesomorph, I was told by a personal trainer. I ve always wondered if the attractive effect that all this information has ( such as working out and a good diet) becomes nulled and voided by the fact that Im so short. Is putting all this effort into my fitness for attractiveness sake just a waste of time for someone my height, or can it make an actual difference in my sex appeal even at this height?


David E, I think that even if your are not tall you should work out to your fullest potential. What’s more, you should be training to your fullest potential because you are not tall. There is nothing wrong about being short, but if you perceive it as a drawback then by all means try to perfect other áreas that you can. Don’t make an excuse out of your height. I used this article’s info to modify my training a while back, and it made a BIG difference on my life as a whole for many reasons. Try it and live your own adventure. @ManfredCaraba

Shane Duquette

Glad we could help Manfred!
Thank you for the kind words 🙂

Shane Duquette

Hey David, I didn’t really dig too deep into height in my research because it’s something that we can’t really change, so I figured there wasn’t much point giving it that much thought.

I’m with Manfred – height is just one factor among many, and certainly wouldn’t let it hold you back from maximizing on all the other aesthetic factors … and reaping all the health, strength and fitness rewards that come along with them.

If you can’t grow tall, perhaps it’s time to grow wide!
(Through the shoulders not the waist.)


I’m all the way with Breanna. I detest muscled up guys, PREFER the ectormorph type, like skinny men. I also like them with naturally (and bony) broad shoulders and narrow waists. The less overt muscle the better. In all of your samples the guys AFTER training up were less attractive than before. Often MUCH less attractive!

This, this and this is attractive:

Shane Duquette

As a rock ‘n roller I have to say I heartily approve of your choices.

I was raised on the Rolling Stones and Zeppelin, so looking like the thin/fit musicians I was listening to was my goal when I first started into this stuff. (All those guys were a couple dozen pounds more muscular than I was and a little leaner, but it seemed like an achievable goal.)

Also glad to hear you’re down with us naturally thin ectomorphs 🙂

Dart hopes

Where was the data gathered from for the survey? And what age group were these girls/women from? Finally, how big was the sample size?

Shane Duquette

Hey Dart, this data wasn’t coming from a single survey or study. There are a bunch of studies referenced here (many of them much better than surveys), and you can see them linked to add the end of the various paragraphs / topics. If you give ’em a read you can see the sample size, age group, methods used, conclusions that the researchers drew, etc.

Does that help?


I like how you emphasize posterior chain development, definitely something that is overlooked by many but can give you the best results, more deadlifts, chinups, rack pulls, and squats it is 😀


Great article. I stumbled on it by accident but I really agree with a lot of your points. Yes, females tend to be attracted more to the strong/fit types than over muscled or skinny guys. I think the bodybuilding industry has realized this too and that is why divisions like men’s physique and women’s bikini are so popular– because they offer people a way to compete by sculpting their body to the aesthetic appeal of most people.

I would like to see a similar article for females. Seems most women don’t have a clue how to. Workout and end up with a flat butt and doughy composition from too much cardio.

Anyway, thanks for the great info and interesting read.

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words Valerie 🙂

It’s already written! All the illustrations are done, too. It’s fully ready to roll. We’re just waiting to finish up a couple things for our women’s muscle-building / weight gain program … but look out for the women’s version of this article at in the next couple weeks (and maybe sooner!).

Shane Duquette

Valerie, we’ve got the women’s article up! I’d love to hear what you think, and I hope you like it 😀


what’s up Shane,

I noticed that even in your pictures from day zero of training, your chest was pretty well defined–it was still skinny, but I could clearly see the line between your two pecs. I’m having trouble with my chest right now. on the outside it looks normal and well-defined for the lifting I’ve been doing,but it gradually sloes inward to form a valley shape, so they dont really look full or defined on the inside. Do you have any tips for a lagging chest? I am trying to fix my form on bench so I can get a full range of motion, and with bench press I’m throwing in some dumbbell flys. I remember seeing Jared post a comment somewhere about how he used to have a lagging chest, but conquered that eventually. any help would be greatly appreciated. thank you!

Shane Duquette

Hey Eli, you’re talking about after I’d gained my first 20 pounds, right? The second photo here? I mean, my chest is super duper tiny, but you’re right, it’s not totally absolutely absent.

I had been doing martial arts and home workouts for years (on and off) at that point. Bajillions of push-ups. I’m also a guy who naturally presses with his chest, so if I do push-ups or bench presses my pecs – and only my pecs – grows. As a result I managed to get a 225 pound bench press with 11 inch arms 😉

My pecs are also the only muscles on my body with full muscle bellies. In my biceps, for example, the muscle bellies are very small and the tendons are very long. This makes it harder to get big biceps, since genetically they have little potential for growth. If you look at someone like Tom Venuto he has the same issue in his pecs. No matter how large he grows them they will never meet in the middle. If you look at someone like Steve Reeves, who has great pec genetics (and great genetics everywhere), you’ll see that the two pectoral muscles meet right at the base.

All of this lends credence to the fact that muscle-building anecdotes don’t mean much. If you did what I did you may wind up growing your anterior deltoids (fronts of your shoulders) much bigger because they’re more dominant muscles when pressing. Even if you DO hit your chest, it may come out a very different shape. This is why you’ve got to use research instead.

There are some things you can do. Oftentimes a dumbbell bench press works better than a barbell bench press for guys with lagging chests. Experiment with different degrees of elbow flare, too. Don’t go all the way to 90 degrees, as that will crank your shoulders, but maybe play around with some light weights and find an angle that hits your chest well. You’re also right that, like Jared, you’d want to add in assistance chest exercises to catch them up to your dominant muscle groups (just like I needed to add in curls and extensions to finally grow my arms). Flys are good for this. Use a variety of presses as well though – weighted push-ups, decline bench presses, incline bench presses, landmine presses, etc. You can experiment with higher rep ranges (10-18) and work to build up a mind-muscle connection too. Like a bodybuilder, work to “feel the burn” in your pecs as they say. Lots of tips and tricks and strategies, and certainly some trial and error and adjustments.

I hope that helps!

(Also I’d say gain 10-20 pounds or so to make sure you’re adding tons of muscle mass to your body.)


That, helps thanks!

I think I just need to build more muscle overall for my inner pecs to fill in, since you can’t target the inner pecs really.

Would you recommend doing dips, flys, weighted pushups etc. on the same day as bench pressing so they act as an accessory lift, like what you said you did for your arms? Also would it be wise to mix these exercises up or stick with one and bench press? I’ll do some experimenting.

Your articles rock, just saying that ectomorphs who haven’t necessarily bought your program are still being helped a ton. You guys are awesome.

Shane Duquette

That depends on how you’re programming your workouts! Some people do splits, where they like to blast a particular muscle group with several exercises in a row and then give it longer to recover. We like to use a couple lifts every workout, so we’d program more along the lines of doing a couple heavier sets of dumbbell bench presses and then some lighter flys or landmine presses or something.

Really glad we can help 🙂


hey Shane,

I’ve always been a true ectomorph, just like the other members of the B2B team before you guys got really muscular. I do have a question about nutrition– how can I maximize muscle gains while keeping fat gains as low as possible? I’m eating a 250 calorie surplus on training days, and I have seen some muscle gain…but also fat gain. I know that gaining some fat is inevitable, and I’m totally ok with that. However, the fat gain/muscle gain ratio seems larger than what would be normal.

I can’t say my diet contains very processed, fatty, or sugary foods. I don’t drink soda or eat cakes, pies, the like. If I do, I feel unhealthy and it just does not feel good. The only food I’d consider “fatty” that I eat right now is nuts– cashews and almonds mostly. Is my problem the diet? I’m conscious of what I eat and I wouldn’t call it unhealthy at all.

I can’t call myself fat either– I may just be thinking it’s worse than it actually is. I still can see my abs in a mirror, so I’m still relatively lean (6’1″ at 145 lbs) but there is more fat on the sides of my midsection.

Do you have any experience with this? It’s pretty confusing for me, so I was hoping you guys could help. Thanks!

Shane Duquette

Hey Dave,

I wouldn’t say fat gain is inevitable. Oftentimes it comes along when you’re trying to build muscle as rapidly as possible, and that’s okay – it’s pretty easy to get rid of – but you don’t really NEED to gain fat. Your approach is a pretty good one. Sounds like you’ve got a modest calorie surplus and you’re going for lean and steady gains. You can probably get them fairly lean, especially if you aren’t super duper muscular yet 🙂

It’s a bit of a myth that processed, fatty and sugary foods lead to fat gain. In some cases this can be true – there are generally more bioavailable calories in processed food for one – and with a diet overly abundant in them you risk not getting in all the fibre, vitamins and minerals you need … but you can build muscle quite leanly with or without junk food.

There are many ways to get your body partitioning surplus nutrients a little more favourably – more towards muscle and less towards fat. First is to make sure that you’re training optimally for muscle growth. A great training program will get your body very eagerly trying to build muscle as quickly as possible, and this will mean that more of your surplus will be invested in building muscle. Check this article out.

With nutrition you want to work backwards through the fundamentals, going from most important to least important. So first you’d optimize calories, then protein, then the other macros (carbs/fat), then assure you’re getting enough whole foods / fibre / etc. That’s a bit beyond the scope of what I can answer here, especially since it can vary depending on your circumstances, but it’s fully covered in our program and we’ll be writing about that more in the future on the blog!

I hope that helps!


Hi Shane,

A question on the one of the pictures here. In the very first picture where the most attractive proportions were shown, the measurements of biceps – do you mean when they are flexed or just in a relaxed state?



Shane Duquette

Flexed, as that’s how most people measure their arm girth.
We’ll get ya there 🙂

Good Looking Loser

Nice post, well done, it was mentioned on our forum a couple of times.

Oftentimes, and you may know as well as I do, these nerdy “lets discuss aesthetics and body image” posts offer little value because it’s just a debate between a bunch of intellectuals that complain about their genetics.

I thought this was really really well done and the best I’ve ever seen on this subject.

Chris (GLL)

Shane Duquette

Thanks Chris, really glad you liked it and that it could help!

We’re all about self-improvement around here, and this isn’t the type of blog where genetics are any kind of excuse (as I’m sure is true with yours as well!).


Hey Shane,

Do you have any tips on progressing on the overhead shoulder press? I find it very hard to actually put heavier weight on the bar… maybe I’m lifting too heavy–what do you recommend rep-range wise?

Shane Duquette

Oo that’s a good question. That lift is unbelievably notorious for causing lower back injuries. As ectomorphs we often have long slender torsos and bone structures, and most of us, perhaps given our longer limbs and spines and such, also rock pretty shoddy posture. This can set us up for pretty brutal difficulties with the overhead press, and progressed over time that can eventually lead to herniated discs and all kinds of unpleasant things.

We don’t use an overhead barbell press anywhere in our program. It’s easy to sub into our program for the guys who can do it well and want to be able to compete in the classic lifts, but by default we work on a variety of regressions to build up the core strength/stability, posture, shoulder strength/mobility and lifting technique that will allow us to overhead press in the future.

What you’ll want to watch out for is rounding in your lower back / flaring in your ribs. If you can’t do the lift while maintaining a neutral spine then you probably aren’t ready for it. A good test is to stand up against a wall, lock your core down (ribs not flaring at all) and try to lift your arms overhead, touching your thumbs to the wall behind you, without flaring your ribs or losing your neutral spine. With your arms overhead like that there shouldn’t be a big gap between your lower back and the wall. Perhaps a little bit of space will be there, but not enough to fit your hand.

At this point it’s probably obvious that if you suspect you’re lifting too heavy my suggestion would be to ease back on the weight (or stop doing the lift entirely!).

I prefer landmine presses. Even dumbbell overhead presses are a little safer (especially when seated or kneeling), and they also offer the benefit of being a better lift for building muscle mass in your shoulders! The barbell variation is the dangerous competition/strongman lift that carries a lot of the risks … along with fewer muscle-building rewards.

Does that help at all?


Great article! After recovering from a nasty sickness that took me from 150 to 130 I’ve been on the road to recovering my physique. I decided not to return to the gym and instead started to focus on gymnastics bodyweight training (rings specifically). Was wondering if there’s anyone else traveling the same road as me?

So far it’s been pretty good. It’s been a little over a month and I’ve reclaimed 10lbs so far. Can’t wait to do iron crosses and stuff.

Shane Duquette

10 pounds in just a month?! That’s awesome man, congrats 🙂


This all sounds pretty silly to me. Perhaps you’re coming from the straight male perspective and that’s all you know, but as a guy who’s attracted to guys this article just hits me in an odd way.

There’s nothing about women being women that makes a more powerful muscular man more attractive. Guys who are looking for guys seem to have the exact same kinds of preferences in general. And there’s nothing about levels of femininity that determine how attracted to muscles a person is. Go to any gay area and you’ll see equally masculine men and couples all over each other.

I want to beef up and get bigger but I have no desire to “pick women up over my head and throw them onto furniture” like 75% of your articles seem to mention. I have to just let out a sigh and translate that to “pick up other men”.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that you’re writing only to straight guys assuming they are your only readers, as well as saying things about women specifically that are just as equally the same for guys who are attracted to guys.

Shane Duquette

Hey Miles, that’s a really good point!

You’re exactly right about the reason behind it. Being a straight guy is all I’ve ever known first hand. We do intentionally try to write strictly to skinny males, since that’s our specialty, however writing from a strictly straight perspective is totally accidental. I’m sorry about that. It’s something I’ll try to be more mindful of in the future.

I also think you’re right that most men, straight or gay, want to be muscular and strong. In all the research I was reading while writing this they made either no distinction or they pointed out that there was little difference. Most men, regardless of sexual orientation, want to be lean and muscular. (study, study, study)

I did a little more digging now, and a couple studies seem to show that gay men may care even more about being muscular. (study, study)

I haven’t found anything to suggest that gay men and women are necessarily attracted to the same degree of muscularity though. As with all of this stuff I’m sure there’s lots of room for different sizes, shapes and degrees of muscularity while still being considered optimally attractive, so I suspect there’s a ton of overlap, but it seems that men want to be more muscular than women want them to be. Muscle is masculine and men like having it in excess. That excess muscularity guys like in themselves seems to be what gay guys find most attractive in other men. (study)

Women, on the other hand, seem to prefer guys who are strong and muscular but not that muscular. (study, study)

So I think the first section of the article best describes what women find optimally attractive. The second section (The Bodies Men Respect and Idolize) would probably be more in line with what men, both gay and straight, find optimally attractive?

What do you think?


Hi Shane,

I appreciate the response. Your apology is accepted and I think you’re a really cool guy to respond in the way you did. Like you said, the desire to be attractive and muscle up /is/ shared amongst many guys, regardless of preference. (One might argue that it’s even more competitive in the guy-for-guy space.)

Writing with all of us guys in mind will likely make a large portion of your potential customers feel more included ( or not excluded ), which I hope can increase your sales too.

You seem to have read through quite a bit of research so I’ll let your conclusions stand where they are. I hope I wasn’t too harsh. I just felt the need to point something out.

All good?

Shane Duquette

I think you’re right – that if anything it’d be more competitive there. At least your own goal is consistent with what’s optimally attractive to the people you’re trying to attract though, so, while certainly more difficult, at least the path is clear! 😉

I didn’t find you too harsh at all, and I actually really appreciate your pointing it out. I likely never would have realized otherwise.

And I see you signed up! Really glad to have you Miles, and stoked to see what you can do! 🙂


I find a deficit of sufficiently nuanced analytical paradigm in your blanket generalizations that look only at averages (in studies of mostly poor sample size) and not at the distinct and recognized clusters of exception to the average, which exceptions form a fundamental part of our social and psychological experience…even among those whose tastes and self-concept fit the average.

Example: while I fit the stereotype for the average gay male, straight male or heterosexual female’s taste in musculature and bodily proportion, there are distinct and sociologically necessary groups of men, both straight, gay, bi and other who do not apply such [Tom Cruise in Top Gun but a bit taller] standards of taste to themselves or other men. Take for instance, the stereotype of “twinks” or “femmes” in “developed world” urban homosexual subcultures, in contrast to the “butch” or “jock” or “bear” trope. The common pairing of oppositional types in relational and sexual bonds – the muscular jock or butch type with the slender, young man/late teen look – comprises a likely minority of pairings, but is notwithstanding a significant enough minority to have a collective cultural impact among the subculture and be a recognized trope and common inter-personal desire arrangement. Many examples exist of this in other sexual demographics. For instance, the “nerd” or the “skinny artsy” type holds great currency among a recognizable minority of industrialized, petit-bourgeois, professional class women. This prevalence of this trope – though not as common as the typical ones discussed in your article – is common enough to play a symbolic role in the semantic schema that individuals within the sexual community at hand develop about interpersonal sexual bonds.

Sometimes, shooting for a niche in which one can excel is better than trying to conform to the largest market already dominated by megafauna. Case in point: a straight man may have better luck meeting a securely beddable straight woman at a gay club because he will suddenly be a big fish in a small pond of applicants, regardless of the prototype status or idiosyncrasy of his body taxon.

Another instance: one will commonly find the following logic expressed among young urban homosexual men (probably a minority of them, but a recognizable and functionally integral minority): I have to play up my cuteness and youth, remaining skinny, soft skinned and perhaps more effete than ‘beefed up,’ in order to attract the “doms” (or more rarely “daddies”)…at least until I’m 25…then, once I start showing signs of initial hair thinning or age, I’ll have to transition to a gym-cooked butch guy, so as to maintain respectable market appeal as a “Mr. Clean”/ “Capt. America” (as opposed to “Justin Bieber”).

This ethnographic lens – even an informal, ad hoc one like the one I illustrated – could be helpful in painting a less hokey and pantomime picture of the sexual dynamics within communities as pertains to body image and the desire of the significant subgroups for a particular musculature or proportionality.

Any familiarity with structural sociology (of any variety) might also be useful in understanding the essential role of non-majorities in shaping the shared symbolic paradigms within which our individual sexual perceptions, expectations and goals are defined and expressed.


Hey Shane,

Hey Shane

I really started to get serious about working out this summer and have seen great improvements. I think the weakest-looking part of my body (to me at least) is my chest. Do you guys incorporate any upper chest exercises into your workouts? For me that seems to be the part that’s lagging behind. The outside of my pecs look nice, but they kind of slope like a valley into my sternum and there’s virtually no muscle on my inner chest (especially the upper part), and that bugs me a lot.


Shane Duquette

Of course! The upper chest and lower chest are made up of different muscle fibres, so it’s relatively easy to grow them at their own paces. The inner and outer parts of your pecs are made up of the same muscle fibres, so it would be more of a struggle there. Some new research shows that it might be possible to affect muscle shape to that degree … but the effects would be smaller (if it’s possible at all).

So yeah, I’d definitely put in some upper chest lifts 🙂


For a male who is between 5’7″ and 5’9″, what weight would you consider to be skinny (as defined by the first degree of muscularity in the third section of this article)? Anything under 145-150? And the fit category would be like 150-165?

Shane Duquette

I think your guess as far as weight goes is probably pretty spot on.

It’s possible that a certain degree of attractiveness / dominance comes from mass, and not just proportions. As someone who’s 5’8 it may help to be a little more proportionally muscular than someone who’s 6′. That’s just conjecture though.


Makes sense. As I’ve given this more thought, I think relatively small changes in body fat percentage (8% vs 13% for instance) can become more significant in appearance. I saw a picture of an ectomorph guy who is almost ripped at 5’7″ 150 lbs, but I think that’s more so because his body fat is likely single digits. Whereas, someone else that same size at 13% body fat is still going to look fairly muscular, but not quite as ripped due to the extra 6-8 pounds of fat.
Although I like the idea behind the program you guys have created, I can understand why some people think the extent to which you are promoting muscle development may be just a bit much. The lower the body fat (I think even from 12% to 8%), the less muscle it takes to look very impressive. I think this effect is pronounced even more for us ectomorphs who have smaller bones (and hence less weight from bones).

Shane Duquette

I probably agree with you more than you think 🙂 Hehe I think we might be coming from slightly different places is all. I started at 6’2 and 130 pounds. By the time I made it to 150 pounds I felt really great about my body and was no longer being teased about it. That got me really excited to train, because I finally liked the body I was in. Eventually I made it to a lean 185—as lean as I was at 130. For me muscular development was everything. For a lot of our members the same is true. Yes, sometimes some fat needs to be lost as well—that’s very common—however most people join our program because they want to be bigger.

But for the purposes of this article I’m not really trying to promote anything, I’m just trying to objectively look at the research. In fact, if smaller is better I consider that fantastic news, since I’m naturally small, and our members can reach their goals more easily and more quickly.

I agree with what you’re saying too. If a 5’7 man goes from 13% body fat to 8% body fat at 150 pounds he will have lost seven pounds of fat and gained seven pounds of muscle—that’s huge! Both the fat and the muscle will be very very noticeable.

Moreover, when I went from 200 to 180 pounds a little while back everyone thought I’d GAINED weight because my muscle definition had improved by so much. Body fat percentage is a big deal. I tried to include that in the article.

I also agree that as ectomorphs we need to play to our genetic advantages! We are often somewhat resistant to fat and capable of being very insulin sensitive. We are the body type that can often enjoyably rock impressively/aesthetically low body fat percentages 🙂


This question/thought is unrelated to my first one, but I was just doing some thinking about the masculinity section. As you probably know, some ectomorphs walk around with 8-11% body fat while others have 15%+. I was thinking, skinny ectomorphs with low body fat who eat at least somewhat healthy and get some exercise may have a relatively high degree of masculinity. My thinking was that (in the absence of medial issues and assuming that diet is adequate) testosterone would tend to be higher in those who are leaner. Having low body fat would mean a high degree of muscle to fat, regardless of overall amount of muscle mass.


Thank God for this article, I’ve been benching since a year and barely gained any pecs not to mention that lately my shoulders have been killing me, was on the verge of going into a depression and quitting the gym. Hopefully the bench will work I’ll try it tomorrow 🙂

Sabat Akhtar

Hey guys, I am from Karachi, pakistan. i don’t know how i landed into your website but your website is the only thing i visit almost every day at university and home. I was in a relationship with a girl for the last four years, i am 5″6 having an ectomorph body. The girl used to insist me that you should gain weight and muscle and i used to keep on saying that darling i have an ectomorph body i cannot build big muscles like mesomorph guys. Our relation kept on going untill her father came to know about me, he said i dont look good when i stand next to her daughter. He said he will divorce her mother if she continues to talk with me. My girl friend left me and my life has become a hell. i face depression day and night , i bought whey protein but didn’t have any proper program. I love her so much and i cannot lose her like this , i read your article about ECTOMORPH MUSCLE-BUILDING SUPPLEMENTS and it was a light of hope for me. I belong from a middle class family where my father earns 25,000 PKR monthly (around 250 dollars monthly) but i told a friend living in danbury,conneticut USA about the supplements you guys recommend and she’s ready to send me the supplements. All i want is a proper work out program. I see you guys charge for work out programs but i don’t have enough money to pay for it. I will be really thank ful to you if you guys send me a proper program, i am not a rich man to give you guys money but i can pray for you guys in front of Allah (GOD). May you guys have best of both the worlds. This is my number with pakistani code you guys can call me for verification 00923322286415.
i am so helpless right now , please help me guys :’(
I’d love to talk to you guys or if you guys can email me your cell phone number, i look out with only you guys being my hope. Trainers here in Pakistan are not educated. They treat ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs equally.

Shane Duquette

Hey Sabat,

I’m so so sorry to hear about your girlfriend! That situation sounds like a true nightmare. I can only imagine what that must have been like.

First, it’s horrible that they’re judging you based on your body. I know that sometimes we need to see the world as it is, not as we want it to be. And I know it’s important to realize that people will make inferences based on our size and physical fitness. Being skinny is not any kind of failure though—that’s just our body type. In fact, I’d say it’s a pretty damn good body type! Regardless, they have no right to treat you that way.

Second, there’s no need to spend money on supplements. Did you read the introduction to the article, where we strongly recommend that you focus first on training and nutrition? If those things aren’t in order supplements won’t help. I would first buy yourself a whole bunch of rice, yoghurt, legumes, etc. Those will get you far further for a cheaper price!

Third, while our program isn’t free, our blog always will be! We’ll keep putting out in-depth free articles for as long as we can, and we’ve got no plans of stopping. Moreover, member or not, we always answer all comments 🙂

Fourth, we are not your only hope. We put a great deal of effort every day into creating the best program and community for ectomorphs, and we try our best to nerdily optimize every single factor… however there’s a lot to be said for just getting out there and doing your best! If you can’t afford a top notch program, just start lifting weights and do the best that you can. If you don’t thoroughly understand nutrition, just eat more and do the best that you can! I’ve linked some articles there to get you started 🙂

I hope that helps, and good luck!

Sabat Akhtar

Thank you so much shane for such a quick reply.i am feeling motivated after going through your comment.
See the situation is here in Pakistan you won’t find good nutritions, i mean we cook food in oil , i dont think so the end product that we eat after several hours of cooking is nutritious and helpful. Secondly i don’t like eating too much , if had breakfast around 9 in the morning i will have lunch around 3 and then dinner around 11. i also dont like to eat like an animal that’s why my tummy gets full after eating a little.
There are my class fellows who always keep on eating after a specific period of time and i understand that’s what i have to do because i am an ectomorph and i have a very fast metabolism. i need calories after every hour if i want to put on some weight. i cannot eat chicken and fish everyday but yeah if i have supplements like carbo gain , whey ( i already have it 🙂 ) , creatine and that fish oil i am pretty sure i’ll be getting enough amount of calories and proteins because liquid nutrition is very easy as compared to food (which i dont like to eat ).
One more thing how much your program costs? is it possible my friend living in US can pay you guys through her credit card and i will get the program here.?

Shane Duquette

Just because the food you eat doesn’t look like the food you see in the American/British/Australian muscle and health magazines and blogs, that doesn’t mean it isn’t nutritious! Most cultures have a healthy way of eating, they’re just all very different. So long as most of your meals are made up of minimally processed whole foods you shouldn’t need to stress too much. I love clumsily trying to make spicy curries out of Pakistani masalas. I can only imagine how delicious the authentic stuff is!

If you’re struggling to eat enough that’s totally normal for us naturally skinny ectomorphs. You’re right—the supplements and focusing on snacking more, consuming liquid calories, etc should all help. (Check out that just eat more article I linked you to for more, and there are even more tricks in the actual program/member’s area, since we all struggle with that!)

The program is all digital and we have guys from all over the world, including your neck of the woods! You’ll fit right in. Your friend can definitely buy it for you. Just have her put in your email, name and information. (The program is 197.)

I hope to see you in there! 🙂


This is the best, most comprehensive and well written article I’ve seen on this subject! Very interesting and informative, it’s made me realise (at ~220 pounds and 6 “) that I should probably focus on getting slightly leaner rather than adding more mass to my frame! Many thanks

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words, Ali! Glad you dug it.

6′ and 220? That’s badass, man 🙂 Good luck leaning out!



Nice article! But shouldn’t the shoulder circumfirence also be compared to one’s height? For example, doesn’t one look weird having 48″ shoulder and 30″ waist with like 5.7ft height or less than that?

Shane Duquette

While doing research for this post I came across some people speculating exactly that, and it definitely makes sense. I didn’t come across any actual evidence of it though, so I just left it to averages and tried not to toss my own views in there.

(On shorter guys especially broad shoulders seem to look especially badass though.)

Shane Duquette

And thank you, Joonbug 🙂


Hey I was wondering if you guys are still looking for more people to try the program for free and to send you guys weekly progress pictures. I’m 18, 5’8″ and I weighed 110 six weeks ago and 117 now and I’ve been working out for a consistent 6 weeks and have been eating my big meals along with a weight gain shake every day.

Shane Duquette

Hey Daniel, props for eating big and training hard for the past six weeks. That’s awesome. I hope you’re already seeing results from your efforts, too 🙂

We finished up beta testing a few years ago now, and the program has been in full swing for a little over two years. All the transformation shots you see nowadays are coming out of the member community. That’s where we’ve been beta testing new stuff too. However, we’ll always be putting up tons of free content on the blog, and if you ever decide to join us we’d love to have you!

Keep eating and training, man—good luck!


Well despite what some people say about “not every women agrees with it” etc the golden measurement of waist to shoulders of 1:1.6 is a golden universal ratio that cannot be denied. it’s not for debate. It’s perfect symmetery. Just like a slim women with large breasts and a perfect hour glass figure will naturally get many glances and desires so will a man with the golden ratio. It’s all mathematical. Like it or not.
What makes a handsome face? Perfect measurements. It’s a fact. No dispute despite people saying “it’s in the eye of the beyholder..” It isn’t. Other factors are.

Like you say, it isn’t everything. A douchbag with a golden ratio is still a douchbag. But it won’t do you any harm at all.

Since i focused on heavy lifts on the compound exercises,getting my fat levels down to about 12% and i am very close to the 1:1.6 golden ratio is the amount of glances I get from men and women. Every-where I see people glancing. Some look pleasently, others look annoyed (maybe jealous?) When I go swimming..I feel like a movie star. Surprisingly as many men seem to look as women. LOL.When I am in the gym i feel like asking for tickets to watch me lift. But those muscles do pop out under heavy weights.

Not to boast but to prove it really is the golden ratio. I do not like the bodybuilders physique but i love being atheletic and strong with low body fat %. In pictures I can look a bit thin on the body (31″ waist) but i can see the V taper and broad shoulders now.

i have about 1-2″ to gain on the upper back/shoulders and i want to get my fat down to 10% and then it’s done. i will then try to maintain it the best i can.

Your article is 100% spot on. It can’t be denied.


Froim what i understand there is a golden ratio

it’s shoulders 1.6X your waist…

Now what is the ideal waist measurement? for men it’s 30-34″ depending on height. It’s surprises a lot of bigger men to know Arnold Sch. was only a 34″ waist. They naturally presume he was about 38″+.

I know for my height 5ft 7″ 31″ waist is the ideal size. There is a site that gives you the ratio. Google it. Once you have your ideal waist then it’s simply (mean cutting bod fat % <11% and broadening upper back/shoulders…could be a lot of effort) a matter of getting that ratio of 1:1.6 and then see how you look.

I know one thing for sure, a big fat beer gut looks absolutely terrible on any-one.I don't what anyone says this is a huge turn off and should be tackled above all else. You can't be classed as desirable with a huge bursting stomach.

Nice article! But shouldn’t the shoulder circumfirence also be compared to one’s height? For example, doesn’t one look weird having 48″ shoulder and 30″ waist with like 5.7ft height or less than that?


I’m about an inch taller than you but only have a 28″ waist and 8% body fat. I’m not lifting for aesthetics, but needless to say I don’t need to worry about dropping body fat, but only broadening my upper body.


Hey guys,

I have a unique problem…I used to have no muscle mass whatsoever and was classic skinny-fat. However, I also have very wide shoulders naturally. I had 19 inch shoulder length and 29 inch waist, and it was close to the 1.6 golden ratio. At the same time, I had no chest and arm muscles, so I’ve been working out for the past few months, eating big, etc., and my waist has stayed the same, but my back and deltoids have gotten a lot bigger. They also have a rounded appearance. As a result, my shoulder-waist ratio has become way too HIGH and it just doesn’t look aesthetic anymore. I’m actually getting LESS attention from girls now.

Is there a way to reduce my shoulders and back, get back to the golden ratio, get a less rounded appearance, while still continuing to work out my chest and arms? I also have a gut that I still haven’t eliminated, so I want a flat stomach as well. My legs / butt could also get smaller, ideally (they were kind of big to begin with). Is it even possible to have a workout program that achieves these goals?


Shane Duquette

Hey Jay,

Have you considered training all the muscles in your body, letting your body grow stronger everywhere? You may find that as your lower back, obliques and core muscles (and legs) grow along with your chest, arms shoulders and back that you’re much more happy with your appearance! I think you’ll like the other benefits too: health, performance, overall strength, the workouts might be more fun, etc.

As for how to reduce muscle size… just reduce your calorie intake so that you’re losing a little weight each week (a pound or two) and stop training those muscle groups while you do it! This will help get rid of your gut as well, since you wouldn’t just be losing muscle, you’d be losing fat as well.

Still, I think the first option would be better (perhaps combined with a cut, if you want to ditch the gut).

And yeah, you can really tailor a workout program to do ANYTHING. That’s one of the cool things about weightlifting, I think 🙂

I hope that helps, and good luck, man!


Thanks! I think I’ve figured out what seems “off” about my upper body…it’s not that my shoulders have gotten too big. But my traps have gotten so big they’re creating this sloping rounded appearance that’s making my shoulders LOOK narrower. I talked about this with a couple friends and I’m pretty sure this is why I’m getting less attention from girls now (they used to compliment my broad shoulders all the time)

I think I’m going to continue training everything but my traps. My shoulders were kind of sloped to start out and I just don’t like the way traps affect my appearance. Are there any major exercises to avoid if my goal is to stop training my traps?

Shane Duquette

Traps can grow disproportionately for a few reasons. One reason is steroid abuse. there are a lot of androgen receptors in the traps, so sometimes drugs can further emphasize large musculature there. This may be true of people who naturally have higher levels of testosterone too, although to a lesser degree.

Another reason is doing a balanced routine and then adding in extra trap exercises. For example, you might be doing a fully balanced back routine AND shrugs. The extra volume shifts more muscle-building priority to your traps and voila—huge traps.

Perhaps the most common reason of all is pulling with your traps instead of your back in its entirety. A common cue to prevent this is keeping your shoulders “down and back”. The cue has its limitations, but it’s so popular because it’s so common to let your shoulders drift upwards when pulling, turning essentially every pull into a trap-dominant lift. (People often do shoulder raises and presses and such with their traps as well.)

Another possible reason is that it’s not to do with the size of your traps at all, and rather your posture. Large traps often look pretty decent if you’ve got great posture, since your shoulders sit nicely in place. If your shoulders appear to be sloped forward it could be because your mid back isn’t strong enough, or your chest is too tight, or something causing your shoulders rotate internally. Virtually everyone has this by default, so a good training program will often start with a lot of emphasis on the mid back. Sometimes chest exercises may need to be somewhat avoided as well.

Or it could be something I’m less familiar with! Could just be genetics, and you need to train a little differently to best rock what you’ve got.

I hope that helps!


I love what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and
reporting! Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve included you guys to my own blogroll.


Okay, there’s just one thing I’d like to point out about this article–from the perspective of a woman, specifically. I mean, it’s not surprising, since this article was written by a man, and how does one man assume to know about all women? I’m hoping it’ll benefit any men out there who might be feeling a little insecure about their shape.

This article generalizes a LOT. Way too much, about what women like in particular. Statistically, a lot of women are more likely to marry an average-shaped man. Experience-wise, when I’m at work (and I work at a theme park), a lot of women are with guys that have a bit of pudge, and they’re fine with it. Women aren’t as shallow as this article makes them seem. Some women like guys who are muscular, yeah, but some don’t. Amazingly, women are not a hive mind, women are individual people with individual tastes.

Personal preference-wise, chubby men are where it’s at. I know a lot of other women who agree with this too–soft tummies are amazing and comfy and great for snuggling up to. Any big guys who might read this, don’t think you have to go and get super ripped for women to find you attractive. It’s not necessary.

(Honestly, this article puts a lot of emphasis on hyper-masculinity and what men HAVE to be in order to be appealing and what makes them desirable and it’s a really, really unhealthy way to think. Be fit and muscular if you want to, but don’t think it’s a necessity for happiness and romantic relationships).

My name is Kit, I am 21 years old, and I think it’s sexy when boys get fat. My aesthetic? Someone tall (since I’m a tall woman myself), dark hair, light eyes, and FAT. Chubby hips are a plus, and if you got thick thighs, I got heart eyes. Lovehandles look amazing with hickeys. A very large community of people agree with me. This has been a Public Service Announcement, good day.

Michael Dunn

I used to be incredibly lanky and thin (6’6″ @ 199lbs). Then I filled out a bit (6’6″ @ 244lbs). Some muscle, but mostly fat. Then I started lifting. I weighed 242lbs with a BF% of 24.8% (digital Omron, inaccurate, but good as a reference for change.) I am now 225lbs, still 6’6″, with a BF% of 11.5% (digital) and/or 7.8% (skin fold caliper). I am curious… Am I an ectomorph? I am still looking to put on more muscle. I still cannot see my abs. The little bit of visible fat that remains is lurking over my abs. Very frustrating. Any tips for ridding my midsection of the cursed belly flab?

Shane Duquette

Hey Michael,

Sounds like after all of this you’ve gained a good 26 pounds of muscle and come out fairly lean! Congrats 🙂

It sounds like you’re an ectomorph, yeah. I’ve actually been through a similar process. I started out incredibly skinny, I tried to gain weight and became skinny-fat, I lost the fat, and then I finally had success building muscle more leanly and became more muscular. That has me starting as an ectomorph, becoming an ectomorph/endomorph, then becoming a mesomorph? Things can get weird that way.

Sounds like you’re a naturally thin guy who struggles to build muscle though, and that’s the type of guy we’re writing to. We call them ectomorphs, but it’s an imperfect term.

As for what to do when you’re tired of being skinny and a tiny bit chubby, we just just published an article on that 🙂


What a grand display of superficial bull@#$!!!
Particularly these two quotes:

1-“as men sometimes we tend to think attractiveness matters less than it actually does.”

2-“It’s not about women being shallow and judging you just based on how hot you are, it’s about women being extremely perceptive and using your physique to give them clues about your genes, your lifestyle and your character. Will you make a good breeding partner? A good husband? A good father?”

Physique has ZERO to do with a man’s personal value or living up to the role of “husband” or “father”. The all-to common hunt for a muscle-@#$% guy is purely superficial and ALWAYS about the woman’s shallowness and showing off to her fake-ass friends. Seriously… No other reason.

The “ideal” masculine form is a society-created poison. Unfortunately, it goes back a long way, and is very damaging to many people’s perception of themselves, others and what is ACTUALLY IMPORTANT in life! Plus, it certainly helps roll in the money to all the gyms and energy drink companies, doesn’t it??? All just a big deception, masked as something meaningful.

What better way of making people feel inferior than to convince them that they were born with universally unattractive bodies? Did any of you idiots know that there are actually men and women who find MUSCLES ugly and unappealing? Wow! So much for universal viewpoints. Did you also know that there are great friends, lovers, husbands and fathers who aren’t muscular? Yeah. Some of them are skinny, fat, even short too. And can you imagine… Many of them take care of themselves and are actually healthy. Oh boy!

Let’s get real: This post was made by shallow, talentless men who have been bought by a dumb perspective. They have no value or self esteem, and they and compensate by being (or trying to be) BIG! …Absolute @#$%!

Michael Dunn

Tell us how you really feel… LOL!!!

Shane Duquette

Hey Classified,

For the sake of anyone else reading, I agree that men can be wonderful fathers and husbands without being healthy, fit and/or muscular. I never meant to imply otherwise.

However, I disagree with most of the rest of your argument. I don’t think it’s shallow to look for clues to someone’s character and wellbeing in their appearance. There are limits to this of course, and I’m not recommending looking down on those that don’t look like fitness models—far from it—just that being a fit and healthy dude says many good things about a guy, and that others will take notice of that 🙂

(Note: I edited out one slur in your comment that I found to be mysoginistic.)


Classified you are full of hatred and selfishness. Don’t dare to talk to Shane like that. You can disagree but you don’t have to swear and before you swear at me remember that it’s not helping you at all.

Hassan TQ

This is the best Article I have read about male aesthetics. Fully detailed and help us guys set realistic and easy to maintain aesthetics goals.

If you add an ideal greek body proportions calculator which inline with your STRONG catagory. Also, emphasis on the danger/unnecessity of steroids use when attracting opposite sex is the goal.

Thanks you so much

Shane Duquette

Really glad you dug it, Hassan!

That’s a cool idea about adding an automatic calculator. I’m going to talk with Jared about that—I think everyone would really like that 🙂

I can certainly say that steroids aren’t necessary. As far as the dangers of steroids go… I really wouldn’t want to go outside of my realm of expertise. I really have no idea what the dangers of steroids are, I’ve never tried them, I’ve never even really done much research into them. I know they’re relatively common in strength sports and bodybuilding, but this isn’t really the steroid savvy kind of site, so people interested in that kind of thing are best getting that info from people who know more about them.

(We do have a urologist in the program though—a doctor who specializes in male hormones—and he’s one of the most active and helpful guys in the community. We don’t much talk about artificially boosting testosterone though, just wholesome ways of getting it into a nice healthy natural range.)

That Guy

I have a question about body symmetry. What about crooked abs? Is there any way to fix them or is it completely up to genetics? Also, is 6-pack vs 8-pack abs also genetics or is it dependent on diet and workout?
Thanks in advance for all the help!

Shane Duquette

You can change the size (and thus to a certain extent the shape) of your abs and you can remove the fat covering them, but you can’t make them grow more numerous or switch location.


Heterosexist much?
The bodybuilding world is filled with homosexual and bisexual bodybuilders , why are they constantly invisibilized?

Michael Dunn

Invisibilized? That’s a new one… Most men prefer women. Most men wish to be desired by women. Someone who caters to this fact, is not a ‘heterosexist’. They are just catering to the largest market. Don’t be so easily offended. The information on this site was acquired from asking women what they prefer in men as far as body types go. I don’t think there is much data to support what a man desires in another man. Though it may be similar to what a woman wants in a man. Quit looking for things to be offended by. Just live your life.

Michael Dunn


How about male bodybuilders who wish to be desired by men and female bodybuilders who wish to be desired by women? Wouldn’t that make your article richer and inclusive?

Come on, we are talking about bodybuilding, at least 60% of them are homosexual and bisexual. The whole industry explicitly caters to gay males and survives thanks to them.



If the industry survives thanks to homosexual and bisexual people, how are they “invisibilized”? And right now I recall Bob Paris from back in the day, gay bodybuilder, we all loved and admired the guy. Shut up about invisibility and stop trying raise hate.

Michael Dunn

Dear Troll,

That is what you’ve become here. I recognize that. First off, I am a mere ‘commenter’ on this site. I do not own this site, I did not publish any of this information. This site is for lanky, skinny, ectomorph men. Not body builders. Sure, building muscle is technically considered bodybuilding. You are referring to a ‘pro bodybuilder’. People who have zero use for this site or the information that in contains.

You said, “…stop trying to raise hate”? Are you serious man? For real? Hate? No one said, “down with homos!!!” “No one said, “We hate ___!!!” No one said, “Gays are less than human!!!” No one.

THAT, would be trying to raise hate. Like I said before, stop looking for things to be offended by and live your life. Live it how you please.

Have a nice day,

Michael Dunn

Shane Duquette

Hehe yeah, it seems like I’ve successfully been trolled. Whoops 😛

I think I need to read a little more Alan Aragon to better learn how to troll trolls.

Thanks Michael. I appreciate the support, and you’re spot on with the subject and intention of this post. Comments like yours remind us about that, and inspire us to keep putting out good stuff 🙂

Michael Dunn

I just realized that I misread the two posts above my last post. I don’t know if I can edit it. I realize now that Manfred commented to Fero. Please disregard the last portion of my above comment.


No problem Michael Dunn, shit happens haha.

Shane Duquette

Ah no way! Bob Paris is awesome. Great example 🙂

Thanks for the kind words, Manfred. I really appreciate the support. And you’re exactly right. We need to respect the reason that you guys are here. We’ll get back to talking about ectomorph aesthetics. On that note, because of how well this article has been received, last week we recorded a podcast on it, and we’re about to buff up this article with some sweet new content.

Talking about the most attractive BMI, some cool info on how the weight you list on an online dating website affects how many responses you get, more specifics on ideal proportions, etc.

We’re determined to make this article the best on the web on this topic 🙂


I can’t believe this. Not everything has to be pro-gay you know? We all have to be tolerant but not necesarily pro-gay. And that means you have to be tolerant too to us heterosexuals. If you don’t like the site because it doesn’t cover your interests keep surfing, you will eventually find something of your liking, meanwhile show some respect and let us talk about our matters.

Shane Duquette

Hey Fero,

It was never my intention to exclude anyone when writing, and I’m sorry that I did that to you. I hope there are some things here that you found interesting, but I know that there may not have been. As a skinny guy trying to do research in a world where most research is conducted in the interest of helping overweight people, I know how frustrating it can be to search and search for something relevant only to realize that it doesn’t even exist.

A lot of our passion was born from trying to solve our problems for ourselves, and then discovering that we could help other people struggling with the same thing. That’s why we created this program. To help the very small percentage of skinny / ectomorph / hardgainer guys who want to build muscle that we noticed weren’t being served by the mainstream.

I never meant to make other people feel frustrated at being excluded though. And I know that this isn’t everything for everyone. Very far from it. A lot of people are excluded in this article. 50% of the population is female, but we’re only writing to the 50% who are men. According to a quick Wikipedia search, only 5% of the world speaks English as a first language, but this article is written in English. 97% of the population isn’t trying to bulk up, but we’re only writing to the 3% who are naturally skinny (Centre for Disease Control). According to Statistics Canada, just 0.8% of couples here in Canada are same-sex (data), but we wrote this article for the 98.2% of couples who are heterosexual (and did try to be upfront about that, since same-sex attraction is so so different, it’s not covered in a lot of the studies I researched for this article). By my rough calculations, this article is for less than 0.01% of the world.

It’s not everything for everyone. Just for the tiniest of fragments, but a fragment we try to represent as well as we possibly can. In some ways that’s good—for the 0.01% of people who are on the internet looking for us, who finally find us, and are finally being written to on a personal level, it’s amazing! But in many ways it’s bad. 99.99% of people would read this post and feel excluded. They read this and feel like you feel—like they’re being left out. Admittedly, some types of people wouldn’t care. Overweight guys already have a bajillion articles for them, so it hardly strikes a nerve.

We’re taking steps to fix it for the people who do care, and who are underrepresented—at least where we can. I’m going to translate one of our graphics into Portuguese because a reader thought it might be helpful in Brazil. We recently developed a program for naturally skinny women who are interested in bulking up (after receiving hundreds of emails asking for it). We just got an email asking us to create some introductory informational content for guys looking to bulk up in India, since trying to build muscle as a skinny guy is so common there (and we appeared in a newspaper there last year).

It’s not our expertise, but I think that an aesthetics post for same sex guys (who are interested in professional bodybuilding?) could be incredibly helpful to a great number of people spread out all over the world. While doing research for this post, I did stumble on a couple studies looking into same sex attraction for men. At first glance, it seems quite different from what women find attractive, and more similar to what men find attractive for themselves. A little bigger, more muscular, more lean. But I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth—I didn’t research it that thoroughly, just in passing. For all I know, that could be wrong. I remember hearing that there were lots of different categories of body types or something? Like bears and stuff? I was listening to a feminist podcast the other day and they were saying that gay men had the most thorough way of breaking down body types, and that numerous types were considered attractive in different ways for different reasons.

I could send some studies (not the pdfs—I don’t think that’s legal—but links to abstracts) your way too, if you’d like! Would that help? And again, I’m really sorry I couldn’t be of more help. It’s a very fascinating and very important topic, just not one that I’m well versed in or that suits me personally.

Shane Duquette

Regarding your other comment, I’m not aware of any data suggesting that the majority of pro bodybuilders are gay. Do you have a reliable source for this? (I should also point out that this isn’t an article about professional bodybuilding. We only briefly touch upon it to point out that it’s not optimally attractive to women.)

Steve Reeves, pictured in this article, was happily married until his wife’s death. Jay Cutler, also pictured here, is also married to a woman. Zyzz, perhaps the most famous modern pop culture bodybuilder, was notorious for always doing everything he possibly could to attract women right up until his own death. Arnold, perhaps the most famous bodybuilder of all time, recently got into trouble for stepping outside of his marriage with another woman. Seems like he may like women a little TOO much… 😉

I’ve read studies showing that guys who get very into bodybuilding—professional bodybuilders and such—score higher in stereotypical masculinity, since manly men love muscle so much. Some guys love it so much that they want to spent a great deal of energy building muscle. I haven’t ever heard of this being linked with sexual orientation.


Same could be said about heterosexual bodybuilders, is there any evidence the majority are heterosexual?

If you have read articles regarding sexual orientation you will know know that most of the human population shows some degree of bisexuality.

And when we discuss bodybuilding, there are lots of books and studies regarding the contradictory behaviour of male bodybuilders who usually identify and try to project and aggressive heterosexual identity but end up engaging in same-sex activities, let alone the fact that the nature of bodybuilding is homoerotic which very much helps sublimate homosexuality in those men who have issues with accepting their non-heterosexual sexual orientation both fans and bodybuilders themselves.


By the way, sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender expression. Your average gay guy is not your stereotypical gay male. Gay guys are just like the average guy on the streets; you don’t notice them because you assume a certain behaviour about them.

In ancient times, the stereotype about effeminacy was attributed to heterosexual men of whom it was said they spent so much time around women that they ended up acquiring feminine mannerisms because of theri obsessive love of women.

Allan Klein wrote an interesting book about the bodybuilding subculture in which he addresses the topic of non-heterosexual orientation many bodybuilders show but try to hide with the exaggeration of masculine behaviour (hipermasculinity), offensive homophobic language, etc. If you are interested the book is called “Little Big Men”.


Fero, why if there are specialized publications regarding gay issues do you want us to turn this into a gay conversation? Down the toilet goes your argument about being “invisibilized”, since you acknowledge the existence of publications that address your interests. We are not gay, we are not gay.Can you respect that? It used to be fun and interesting every time someone posted in here because they stuck to matter of the article, now you are trying to tipify it as sexist and trying to turn it a gay conversation. Now the author has has been forced to write apologetic material explaining that this article is not directed to gays INSTEAD of addressing the topic of the article which is Ectomorph Aesthetics.


Conversations don’t have sexual orientation; people have a sexual orientation. And I was simply asking why ignoring gay people in general, especially when it comes to things related to bodybuilding.

When it comes to the article, I find it very laughable. For example, it says that the more feminine woman is the more she is attracted to masculine men, is the aney evidence of that? There is evidence, however, that heterosexual women prefer non-stereotypical masculine heterosexual men because what the West defines as masculine (cultural construction, by the way) is heavily related to aggressiveness. Most women, almost by instinct, prefer less aggressive men because, to them, a less masculine man may be a better father, more protective and caring than a stereotypical masculine heterosexual man who usally shows signs of authoritarianism among other undesirable traits that end up causing trouble to their children.

Generally, men who are overpreocupied with masculinity and start giving rules and norms about it are the ones who feel they are not masculine enough. If you look at it from other perspective, it is very much connected to a homoerotic desire with masculinity.

Shane Duquette

Fero, if you’re looking for hatred here you won’t find it.

Yes, there’s evidence of more feminine women liking more masculine men. There are links to the studies right there after the statement. You’re welcome to read them and come to your own conclusions.

I never made any mention of gay or heterosexual men being more or less masculine. Rather, I mentioned that some studies have found that bodybuilders tend to be more masculine, which is perhaps why they’re interested in building muscle more than the average guy.

I have no idea about professional bodybuilders’ sexual orientations. It’s really not my business, but even if it were, I wouldn’t really care one way or the other. Professional bodybuilding is not my area of expertise, it’s not one of my personal interests, and a guy’s sexual orientation really doesn’t affect me (or my opinion of them).

Mostly though, we’ve wandered way off topic here. This isn’t an article about professional bodybuilding or sexual orientation. Both are topics that could be very interesting to discuss, but they’re not relevant here.


Women prefer gentle men; not stereotypical masculine heterosexual men. Women will usually look at the stereotypical masculine men for sex but not to form family. In this sense and, just like bodybuilding exploits men, they see them as objects for their sexual needs but not so much for serious purpuses in their lives. Wonder why so many bodybuilders are alone?

It s not that bodybuilders tend to be more masculine; it is that most bodybuilders, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, usually feel they are not masculine enough and engage in bodybuilding (among other reasons) to create the image of masculinity they feel they lack, a feeling of inadequacy to things deemed masculine, but as Allan Klein wrote in his book about the bodybuilding subculture, the masculinity they crave is very much visual, they still retain their insecurities in their minds.

That is the reason why bodybuilders are overpreocupied with things our culture defines as masculine. That is also why bodybuilding tends to attract the closeted homosexual guy who is uncapable of accepting his sexual orientation. He thinks that by building a muscular body he will cause people not to think he is homosexual. This is also why bodybuilders are known for being homphobic and, as many might already know, homophobia tends to be linked to repressed homosexuality.

Shane Duquette

You’re right that a pro bodybuilder physique wouldn’t optimally attract most women, but a “gentle” looking man wouldn’t be optimally attractive either, depending on what exactly you mean by gentle. Looking at the research (linked to in the article), it seems that somewhere in the middle is best. Looking remarkably fit, healthy and strong, rather than weak or steroid-y.

Again, we’re totally on the same page that women don’t find pro bodybuilders optimally attractive. Regarding the other stuff, you’re talking about the work of Alan Klein, who did research on guys with body dysmorphia disorder who were trying to become Mr. Olympia. He said they were not only buying a cornucopia of prohibitively expensive illegal drugs in order to accomplish that, but that the poorer ones (and only the poorer ones) were also engaging in illegal activities (e.g. prostitution) to be able to afford those drugs. He’s talking exclusively about professional competitive bodybuilders. This was also taking place in a time where bodybuilding was considered a “deviant” sport. Where guys like Arnold weren’t movie stars, but rather seen as narcissistic social outcasts. Klein also mentions that even at the time of his research (60’s—80’s) the opinions towards the sport of professional competitive bodybuilding were already changing.

If you look at guys who use steroids in more recent studies they seem to be doing just fine in terms of confidence, not just compared to non-using weightlifters, but also compared to athletes and non-lifters. The 2014 study linked there goes over all the previous research done into this, and they found that weightlifting and muscularity—steroids or not—was linked to improved confidence, self-esteem, and “positive feelings.” Klein predicted this, so I doubt it’s even a surprise to him.

Anyway, we’re off topic again. Thankfully, I really don’t see how it in any way applies to the skinny (or average) dude who lifts weights to be bigger, healthier, stronger, and/or more attractive. It’s like comparing a guy who bikes to work for his health with Lance Armstrong… if Lance Armstrong were poor and needed to rob banks to keep up with his blood doping routine.

balan k nair

Ian having a narrow shoulder. My dad too.. Can I make it bit wider and can I strighten my back? Ples help

Sanat Kumar

I am little confused about your gender….U look like a masculine female (due to gorgeous girly hairs).The narration is good but is more towards what female wants not what we want, means men like women but we want to look good in mirror than in women’s eyes (important but comes after it)…and lastly but most importantly is there any video on youtube about this including what exercises and how has to be done….nutrition…psychological stuff…

Shane Duquette

Hey Sanat,

Some things are innately masculine and feminine. Men are on average larger, stronger, hairier, broader shouldered, less busty, etc. Looking “manly” will probably always involve a certain amount of those things. However other things are cultural. Here in Toronto men can have long hair without it being considered feminine. I remember hearing Russell Peters say that in his culture men can wear dresses and hold hands while simultaneously being very classically masculine and heterosexual. Pink used to be considered a very masculine colour. These things depend on the culture. Perhaps we’re of different ones.

Anyway, we do briefly mention though that most guys like to be a little more muscular and a little leaner than women want us to be, but you’re right, this is a post primarily about what women find the most attractive in a man. Looking the way that you want to look in the mirror is definitely incredibly important, but you may not need an article to tell you you’re own personal preferences 😉

Making a YouTube video about this stuff is a great idea.

I hope that helps!


Enjoyed the information … having dabbled in this area as best as I could from the web over the years I always found it interesting that the single quickest thing I could do is lose my gut in the sense that it’s a lot easier to lose a few inches on the waist than add to the shoulders.

(but I need to do both)


Hey guys,

Again, great article!
I’m wondering if you guys have done any research on shoulder/height ratio. I’m 5ft8, currently weighing only 134lbs, and my shoulders are only 44inches in circumference. I can see that I gained some mass on my shoulders since I started (gained 16lbs from the start, I was really skinny). So I guess they must have been less than 40inches or so.

I’m really striving for the golden ratio but I don’t see my shoulders getting 49inches ever. Is this because of my height? Or are my shoulders just genetically verry narrow?

You think lateral raises would help? I’m doing them twice a week for the last few months. Or is the gain in circumference more a thing of thickness (back, chest, front delts…)?


Shane Duquette

Hey Vincent,

The shoulder numbers we gave were just an example for someone of that height. To figure out how you would get to the golden ratio, measure your waist and multiply that number by 1.618. And yep—lateral raises are great for making your shoulders wider 🙂

I hope that helps, and good luck!


Female here. I both tend towards the masculine (thus according to theory would prefer a more feminine man) yet also consider myself very attractive (thus according to theory should prefer a more masculine man). Sexuality is interesting. I was thinking as I walked down the street after reading this article that these are very biologically/evolutionarily logical arguments; yet largely ignore psychological aspects of sexuality and attraction, which not only play a large part in evolved humans’ sexual identity and preferences but also contributes to the wide, wide variety that we see in modern human sexuality as opposed to our ancestors, who did not make love but procreate (likely in a fairly predictable manner).

Shane Duquette

Hey Jane, thank you for your thoughts 🙂

These are all generalizations, and not necessarily generalizations that we believe in, but rather generalizations that have been discovered by studies. There are certainly exceptions to everything.

I don’t think this article ignores human psychology, which is one of our favourite research topics. I’m always game to try and learn more and improve this article though. What do you mean by that exactly?


Great site and info. Only but is that the GK guy before and after shots look very fake. Notice the differences in the freckles on the torso. Can you comment on that? Do you verify these shots?


Shane Duquette

Thanks, Charlie. Glad you dig it 🙂

We’ve had a couple guys say that about that particular photo. He’s facing the other way and flipped the photo around so he was facing the same way in both photos. In the un-cropped version it’s very obvious because you can see that the bathroom he’s in is flipped around too. Maybe I should flip the photo on the right so that people can tell it’s the other side of his body.

We saw the transformation unfolding in real time. We recommend that our members weigh themselves every week, take measurements and progress photos every 5 weeks. GK checked in every 5 weeks with his progress photos. (And his thread is still up in the community for all members to see.) They’re real.


Thanks Shane. Any article on the jointo of ectomorphs and how they suffer, also squats and heavy lifting after 35 yo? C

Shane Duquette

Most powerlifters and guys who are really into heavy strength training will suffer from some joint pain, just like someone who’s really into football may struggle with concussions. There’s definitely a risk:reward ratio there, but some guys really love these higher risk sports. CrossFit is one of the most popular styles of lifting these days despite it being one of the most dangerous things you can do in the gym.

So it all depends on your goals. It’s definitely possible to lift to improve how you feel, and certainly the goal of our program is to have guys coming out with better posture, better health, less chronic pain, less risk of developing chronic pain, etc. But we don’t take an extreme sport sort of approach to it.

Can you squat and deadlift heavy at older ages? Absolutely! But you may want to limit the number of extremely heavy sets you do per week, or even per month. You also might want to introduce lots of variety, alternate between front and back squats, stay a rep or two away from failure most times, use different stance widths, alternate between conventional and sumo deadlifts, be smart with your assistance lifts, make sure that you’re recovering enough between workouts, introduce deload weeks every several weeks, etc.

If you’re lifting to look and feel good (as opposed to lifting as a competitive sport) then you can aim do this in a way that gives you a good chance of happily lifting in your 80’s 🙂


Nice article and somewhat surprising. I guess thick and strong build (=me) isn’t the optimal according to female opinions but it surely gains me respect among other men strength-wise 🙂

Btw Shane, I’m so jealous of your “natural” shoulder-waist ratio. I’m pretty muscular guy but it is really hard for me to build up shoulders even though I’ve been concentrating on them more and more. My chest circumference is about 44 inches but my shoulder circumference is only 49 (while waist being about 35,5 and my weight 225). It’s funny how your shoulder width is almost the same even though you are much lighter in the “measuring picture” of this article.

Shane Duquette

Hey Zec, glad you liked the article!

Keep in mind that all of these fit and strong physiques are considered extremely attractive. I’m sure you’ll have no problem earning the respect of men or the desire of women because you’re a little thicker and stronger 🙂

Ahaha yeah all my bones are long and thin. Fortunately, that includes my clavicles, extending my shoulders out a little wider.


Shane. You are long overdue for some progress pics and stats. Now that you are 190+ of lean muscle, what are your measurements and lifts? Your body seems very well proportioned for an ecto. Great gains.

Shane Duquette

Hey Chad, thanks for the compliment, man!

Ahaha I don’t post progress pics anymore because I’m not transforming anymore! I know that guys who get into this stuff oftentimes keep trying to get bigger, stronger, leaner… but I’m actually pretty stoked with what I’ve already done! I’ve never been that interested in competing in powerlifting or bodybuilding competitions or anything. I’m not a really sporty guy either. I’m the nerdy designer dude who likes to chill on the couch drawing, playing video games with my girlfriend, or hanging out in online forums with you guys.

My body used to be a source of grief. Something I felt uncomfortable in. Something that I was desperate to change. That’s no longer the case. Now it does everything I want it to better than I ever thought it could. I got a fitness (V02 max) and body composition (DEXA) analysis and was in the ideal brackets for absolutely everything—cardiovascular fitness (very healthy), bone density (very high), body fat percentage (10.9%, which is 0.1% above the minimal recommended amount for general health), symmetry, body fat distribution, muscle distribution, etc. My girlfriend seems to love how I look too, and she comes to the gym with me, Jared and his wife.

So you may not see many transformations coming from me. My goal these days is to help as many other people feel as comfortable in their bodies as I do.

I do want to deadlift 405 and bench 315 though at this bodyweight. You may see those lifts posted on YouTube soon 😀


Hi Shane Duquette
I am really glad to come and visit your page. I was looking someone to help me build my physique. I am ectomorph and my weight is about 52Kg and 180cm height i look so skinny. this year I want to change and get weight of almost 20kg please give me your advise and what to do to transform my body from bony to beast.

Shane Duquette

Hey Abdul, glad you like the site! Every article will give you free tips and tricks that will help you build muscle, and if you’d like a full 5-month workout routine, everything you need to know about nutrition, instructional videos teaching all the lifts, a yearlong membership in the community, and coaching from us along the way, check out the Bony to Beastly Program. I hope that helps, and I hope you decide to join us!


A swath of tough guy bias peppered with occasional facts.
Useless unless you’re already in that mind set and need egging on.
Think of those who aren’t trying to compete but just be healthy.
Thanks awfully.

Shane Duquette

Strongly disagree. Given that attractiveness and health are so closely related, training and eating for attractiveness is a fantastic way to improve your health (so long as you go about it in a healthy way). Attractiveness is in many ways conspicuous health.


Women are willing to trade an unattractive physique for status. High status is what women are looking for. Sexism or not doesn’t matter. You can not reform biology, sorry to tell you that.

So, yes, you still can get away with quite something.

Shane Duquette

Sexism matters. It’s important not to be a misogynist. But the truth also matters, and it’s important not to twist science around just for the sake of being politically correct. Research—especially modern research in Western countries—is showing that what you’re claiming is not in fact the case though.


I would like to mention something that is usually ignored. The muscular body as the ideal for men is a homosexual concept that Greek men created in ancient Greece when homosexuality was looked up to and even thought as higher than attraction to the opposite sex. The admiration of a muscular body was seen as both an athletic endevour most men had to engage in and as a symbol of male eroticism. Masculinity was linked to homosexuality and attraction to men was seen as the supreme expression of masculinity. Because of this it was common for homosexual and bisexual men to form strong brotherhoods that encouraged them to build their bodies and share concepts of masculinity. Being men attracted to men it is easier to find a partner that will share the same interest in physicality.

Shane Duquette

That could very well be true, and the most muscular bodies nowadays still appeal more to gay men than to women. However, this article is based on studies looking into what women find the most attractive in men nowadays.

(To become too muscular for a woman’s preference most guys would need to use steroids. This is especially true for ectomorphs, who can usually get right up near their genetic potential before becoming “too big.”)


Hi Shane could you please draw a mass monster bodybuilder? That would be amazing!!!! You’re very good at drawing.

Shane Duquette

I think I can, yeah 🙂


A Phil Heath look? You rock!!!! Plus, how to tell the difference between fit,strong, and jacked? When I look at people I just can’t tell the difference.

Shane Duquette

How good you are at estimating a guy’s muscle mass will depend on how experienced you are with this type of stuff. You’ll get better at seeing the distinctions over time.

Keep in mind, though, that these are generalizations. If you can’t tell if someone is more strong or more jacked, maybe they’re in the middle. Or maybe a mix. A David Beckham type of guy might have strong legs and a fit upper body whereas an MMA guy might have fit legs and a strong upper body.


I don’t like disproportionate physiques. I mean all I know is you would be considered strong had you been below 10% fat but I want to be able to figure out once I look at it.

Shane Duquette

You don’t need to be under 10% body fat to look strong. Anything under around 15% is pretty ideal, actually!


If you look closely my question was what’s the difference between fit,strong or jacked? But my definition of strong is below 10% body fat. I also need help on how to gain weight. I’m 7’2 and 170 pounds. And I want to become jacked like Lazar Angelov; please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hi Shane, sorry if I’m bothering you(I have a lot of questions). Does strong mean a Rob Riches body; in the sense dose it mean lean fitness model?

Shane Duquette

You could think of it this way. If he’s a professional fitness model or bodybuilder or powerlifter then he’s probably jacked (including Rob Riches). If he’s an NFL quarterback or actor who women find attractive then he’s probably strong (think Daniel Craig, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, etc—not Schwarzenegger and Dwayne Johnson).


Thanks for answering you are the best! I’m 7’2 170 lbs and i am a promising athlete and want an athletic body but should I be fit,strong, or jacked? You are the true best!

Shane Duquette

Maybe start by trying to bring your BMI up closer to 23 and then go from there. Unless, of course, the athletics you want to pursue favour a different body type.


I’m mostly into soccer so which body type would that favor? I want to also be aesthetically pleasing too.

Shane Duquette

That would be a “fit” body. And those are aesthetically pleasing, too. You’d be looking like David Beckham.


I want more of a Cristiano Ronaldo body what body type would that be? I want abs but David Beckham doesn’t have abs.

Shane Duquette

Ah, nice! He’s more of the strong body type.


So he pops in the strong category. If Cristiano Ronaldo is not the “fit” body type, then I don’t need to become like him. Do you know of any “fit” guy that has abs. That’s my goal physique.


Is fit an attractive body type like Marlon Teixeira? I want to have the strength and endurance for soccer but also get attraction from women.

Shane Duquette

That’s a great example, yeah 🙂


So I have created a sort of scale to differentiate fit, strong, jacked. A BMI that is below 20 is skinny
FIT:20 to 23.7
STEROIDS:30.6 and more

Shane Duquette

That’s awesome! I love it.

These terms are subjective, but if got to pop in my 2 cents, I would say:

FIT: 20–22
STRONG: 22–25
JACKED: 25+ (including the steroid-y look)

My reasoning is that 20 and above wouldn’t look at all underweight (assuming good body composition). Then about 23 is considered the height of attractiveness, which is what we used the word “strong” to describe. That “strong” natural and athletic look doesn’t fall off until past 25, when the guy might start to get described as “bulky.” So this slight adjustment to your scale would align a little better with the research that we meant to communicate.

Worth noting that a guy could be at a BMI of 23 and not look strong because more of his mass is fat, less is muscle. But at a good body composition, this should ring true.


Thank you so much I’ve been looking up these fitness model and saying, “How are these fitness models fit?” You have helped me so much!


According to you, you say that Brad Pitt in Fight Club is extremely attractive. However his BMI in fight club was 21.6 so he was fit. Am I correct?

Shane Duquette

Yes, and with a very particular look. Smaller in the legs, bigger in the shoulder girdle. Sort of a strong/fit blend, but yeah, I’d say that’s a good example of someone with a “fit” BMI overall.


But I don’t like this idea about a mix between fit and strong. I think everyone should pop into a category. So Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” was fit. For soccer you say that “fit” is the ideal body type for soccer but also attraction from women. I also want to state that “fit” is the most attractive physique to women. All of them prefer “fit” and say that “strong” is way too muscular and that they don’t like how “strong” guy’s abs pop out and prefer a flat stomach with abs which is “fit”. To women “jacked” is absolutely terrifying and disgusting. I really like your articles and your patience with haters. I’m a huge fan of you!


I don’t like this idea about a mix between body types everyone should pop into one. I’ve asked women and they say that “fit” is the most attractive body type rather than “strong”. Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” was “fit” and women find it most attractive with Marlon Teixeira. This is not hatred simply just helpful advise. I’m a huge fan of you!

Shane Duquette

I’m not saying you should like it, I’m just saying that people don’t fit neatly into categories.

Shane Duquette

(Marlon Teixeira is a good example of someone who fits neatly into the fit category, though. A way better example than Brad Pitt in Fight Club.)


Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” is totally fit except from the angle it looks like his biceps and shoulders are big. I think he is totally “fit”. Marlon Teixeira too. Everyone fits neatly in categories. As I think you may think differently.


Is Men’s Health fit, strong, or jacked
Is Cosmopolitan fit,strong, or jacked?

Shane Duquette

That image was showing Cosmopolitan being fit, Men’s Health being strong, Men’s Fitness being jacked.


Ah! I see. It wrote 175 lbs next to the Cosmopolitan which meant it would be strong. Men’s Health would be jacked according to BMI.

Shane Duquette

The article could probably use an update with the newer BMI research.


Good observation skills! This article should be updated with the new research.


Is Aljamain Sterling fit,strong, or jacked?

Shane Duquette

Hard to say. Aljamain Sterling Looks to be on the strong to me, although on the lighter side because of his very low body fat percentage.


His BMI looks fit to me but he might be strong.

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