Illustration showing varying degrees of muscularity that women rated for attractiveness.

Survey Results: What Degree of Leanness & Muscularity Do Women Find Most Attractive?

We surveyed 423 women, asking them to rate varying degrees of muscularity and leanness in men, as well as asking them about their favourite muscle groups and ideal proportions. In this article, we’ll go over the results:

  • What’s the most attractive amount of muscle for a man to build?
  • Do women prefer more muscular upper bodies or lower bodies?
  • What muscle proportions do women find most attractive?
  • What’s the most attractive body-fat percentage?
  • Which muscles do women find most attractive?
  • Does neck size affect our appearance?

Here are the survey results.

Illustration showing a lean, muscular bodybuilder and an athletic, healthy man.

The Survey

We surveyed over a thousand people, asking them about which physiques they preferred. We focused entirely on mutable traits, such as muscle mass, muscle proportions, and body-fat percentage. We weren’t interested in things like height, bone structure, or muscle insertions, given that there’s nothing we can do with that information anyway.

In this article, we’re focusing on which bodies the 423 straight women rated as being most attractive. The bodies weren’t labelled or ordered. For example, we asked, “Which degree of muscularity do you find most attractive?” and then showed them this spread:

Illustration showing a spread from our attractiveness survey.

Note that we specialize in helping skinny people build muscle. Most women who filled out our survey are thin, exercise, and eat well. 76% of them are American, and 82% are between the ages of 18 and 39. This doesn’t line up perfectly with the general population. It could be, for instance, that because the average woman is heavier, she prefers heavier men.

Another limitation is that when men gauge their muscularity, they pose, making themselves look as lean and muscular as possible. Presumably, women aren’t judging men in their most muscular poses; they’re judging them based on how they look in everyday situations. Guys who look “too” muscular when pumped up posing with their shirts off might look ideal in a t-shirt. Guys with chiselled abs in the bathroom mirror might have a flat stomach when they’re on the beach. Still, I think we can get an idea of what kind of look women find most attractive.

We didn’t ask women to select all attractive bodies; we asked them to select the body they found most attractive. For all we know, women might have found all of the options attractive, just in varying degrees.

These are illustrations, not photographs. This is common with attractiveness studies, and it comes with some advantages, such as keeping all of the factors constant except for the one being voted on. However, it also comes with some disadvantages, such as a lower degree of realism.

Photo of Shane Duquette superimposed on the "strong" body type.

To test the accuracy of these illustrations, I had my wife guess which degree of muscularity lined up with mine. She said that I looked most like “Body 4.” She was right. “Body 4” is a tracing of mine, with the pose and symmetry slightly adjusted and the chest shrunk down a bit.

The Most Attractive Degree of Muscularity

When we asked women which degree of muscularity they were most attracted to, there was a fairly even split between the “athletic” and “strong” body types, with 51% of women voting for the athletic build and 43% voting for the strong build. (Note that I didn’t label the bodies in the survey. Women chose “body 1.” But I’m labelling them now to make it easier to talk about the results.)

Illustration showing varying degrees of male muscularity.

There were no votes for the skinny body type, and only 6% of women voted for the strongest body type. This lines up with our previous survey and with attractiveness research overall (study). However, there’s one notable exception. In this study by Dr. Sell et al., there was a linear relationship between strength and attractiveness. The stronger a man was, the more muscular he looked, and the more attractive he was rated. According to Dr. Sell’s results, we’d expect the most muscular man to be the most attractive.

There are a few possible explanations for why women chose the physiques that weren’t maximally muscular:

  • Women seem to assume that very muscular men are vain. But if the man isn’t vain, that assumption would disappear upon getting to know him, removing the disadvantage. Plus, when looking at shirtless dudes posing in trunks, they may appear especially vain, exacerbating the stigma.
  • The dominant evolutionary explanation for why women prefer stronger men is that stronger men tend to be more formidable—better at fighting and protecting resources. But if we look at top mixed martial artists, they aren’t anywhere near as muscular as top bodybuilders.
  • Dr. Sell’s study was done on college students. It’s unlikely that any of the guys in the sample had outlier muscle-building genetics, making them substantially less muscular than top fitness influencers. Plus, college men haven’t had enough time yet to reach their genetic muscular potential. It could be that the most muscular men in the stuy weren’t that muscular.
  • Some men are able to reach degrees of muscularity that didn’t exist up until recently. Up until the 1940’s, even the best bodybuilders in the world paled in comparison to modern natural bodybuilders, let alone the guys on SARMs, steroids, or TRT. There’s no evolved preference for bodies that didn’t exist in the past.

Finally, there’s another reason that men might be surprised that women aren’t picking the more muscular physiques: men prefer more muscular physiques than women do. When we surveyed men on which body they preferred, they preferred the more muscular “strong” body. Again, this lines up with the results of our previous survey as well as attractiveness research overall.

The Most Attractive Degree of Leanness

When we asked women what body-fat percentage they found most attractive, 58% chose the body with a flat stomach, and 39% chose the body with abs. The average man is overweight, but only 3% of women chose that body-fat percentage. 0% chose the obese body. What’s interesting is that when we surveyed men about female bodies, a small percentage of guys preferred women at higher body-fat percentages. Even the obese woman got 20 votes (out of 1,072). That wasn’t true here. I’m not sure why that is.

Illustration showing varying body-fat percentages in men.

Some guys with favourable genetics can maintain their general health and mood while having year-round abs (8–10% body fat). Still, it’s somewhat rare, and it’s common to run into issues such as low testosterone, fatigue, and perpetual hunger when trying to maintain a low body-fat percentage. Women preferred men closer to 13% body fat, which is still much leaner than average but tends to be healthier and more sustainable. This aligns well with our previous survey results and the overall body of research (study).

Men had a strong preference for having a lower body-fat percentage, with 74% of men saying they preferred the body with abs. So once again, men want a more extreme physique than women prefer.

The Most Attractive Male Body Proportions

Upper-Body vs Lower-Body Proportions

The next thing I wanted to look at was upper-body vs lower-body proportions. It’s common for men to prioritize their chests, shoulders, arms, and upper backs, building proportionally bigger upper bodies. But is that what women actually find most attractive?

Illustration showing upper-body vs leg proportions in men.

It seems that a slight majority of women prefer a balanced, athletic body. Some women, though, prefer when extra attention is given to either the lower or upper body. Nothing crazy here, but perhaps it hints that putting extra work into our upper bodies is misguided. (More on this in a second.)

Illustration showing that women rated men with bigger butts as being more attractive.

The next spread showed a side angle, this time comparing upper-body muscles against butt size. 55% of women rated the physique with the strongest butt as the most attractive. 38% chose the physique with a larger upper body and a slightly smaller butt.

Which Muscles Should Men Prioritize?

Here’s where things get interesting. The above photos suggest that women prefer a balanced approach to building muscle, right? It doesn’t look like women are choosing bodies that have any special emphasis on the mirror muscles: the chest, arms, shoulders, and abs… right?

Survey results showing which muscles women rated as being the most attractive on men.

When we asked women which muscles men should give the most emphasis, they chose arms first, then chest, then shoulders, and then abs. These are the exact muscles that men are notorious for prioritizing in the gym, and they line up exactly with what women say they prefer.

The thing is, women prefer a lesser degree of muscularity than men. When women think of “big” arms, they’re thinking of the 14-inch arms that Cristiano Ronaldo has. When the average man thinks of big arms, he’s thinking of the 15-inch arms that Brad Pitt had in Fight Club. And the average recreational bodybuilder is thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 19-inch arms. Everyone is in agreement that having big arms and a big chest looks great, it’s just people disagree about how big we need to build those muscles.

Shoulders vs Chest

The other thing I noticed in attractiveness research was that some studies used the shoulder-to-waist ratio as the most important aspect of attractiveness, whereas others used the chest-to-waist ratio. We compared them against one another.

Illustration comparing shoulder-to-waist ratio against chest-to-waist ratio.

2/3rds of women chose the bigger chest over the bigger shoulders, even though having bigger shoulders has a larger impact on the v-taper of the silhouette. There’s quite a lot of consistency here, too. Women said the chest is one of the best muscles to prioritize (after arms), they listed push-ups as the best exercise for improving our physiques, and they chose the illustration of the man with the bigger chest.

It seems that when guys prefer the bench press and biceps curls, their preference lines up fairly well with what women prefer. Again, it’s just that men want to build a more muscular physique than women prefer. It’s a difference of degree, not proportions.

The Ideal Neck Size

This specific question is the main reason I wanted to do this survey. I couldn’t find any research on how neck size impacts attractiveness, nor about how big our necks need to be to look good. I have a naturally thin neck, and I’ve recently added a couple of inches to it. I feel like it’s had a great effect on my appearance, but my wife doesn’t seem to care. I was curious.

Illustration showing the most attractive male neck size as rated by women.

These results surprised me. It seems that most attractiveness research points to more formidable men being rated as more attractive. Having a thicker neck is an important part of formidability, so I had a feeling the athletic neck would be rated as the most attractive. And it was. It was rated as most attractive by 53% of women. But it didn’t win by as much as I expected it to. 42% of women preferred men with thinner necks!

Will Women Date Guys Who Take Steroids?

When we surveyed our male audience, 9% said they were considering taking steroids to help them build muscle. When looking at the most popular fitness and bodybuilding influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, many are taking performance-enhancing drugs, ranging from steroids to TRT to SARMs.

I thought this was an important topic, so I made a full video on it, going deeper into the results of the survey:

If you’d rather read, here’s what you need to know: 79% of women said if a man took steroids, they wouldn’t date him. 21% said it was unattractive, but they might still consider dating him. Out of the 423 women we surveyed, only two said it was attractive for a guy to stake steroids. That’s less than 0.5% of respondents. Overall, over 99.5% of women have at least a moderate preference against men who take steroids.

When we asked men what they thought of steroids, 72% of them said they preferred how natural lifters looked. (There’s a little bit of a false assumption here. Steroids make achieving any degree of muscularity and leanness easier. For instance, some guys use steroids or TRT so that they can get shredded without suffering from the symptoms of low testosterone. Plus, not all steroid users are bigger, leaner, or stronger than natural lifters.)

Also, all of the physiques rated as most attractive to women don’t require steroids to achieve, even for men with poor genetics. Even the bodies rated as ideal by men are naturally achievable by most guys.

Skinny vs Skinny Fat

The last thing I wanted to test was whether skinny or skinny-fat guys were at a greater disadvantage. I wanted to test this because many of our skinny clients are worried that if they do a poor job of bulking up, all they’ll gain is fat, and so they’ll wind up with a worse physique than when they started.

Illustration comparing skinny and skinny-fat bodies.

It turns out the vast majority of women preferred the skinny-fat body to the skinny body. When we asked men which body they preferred, they too preferred the skinny-fat physique. So even if a bulk goes disastrously off the rails, resulting in almost pure fat gain, it can still improve our appearance, both in the eyes of men and women.

This lines up with my own experience. As a skinny guy, I was teased all the time. But after a failed bulking attempt where I got a bit doughy, I became more similar to the average guy, and far fewer people bugged me about it.

For more on this, I made a YouTube video on skinniness vs skinny-fatness and what you should do.


Women tend to prefer men with fit, athletic bodies. These ideal male bodies are significantly leaner and stronger than average, but not as lean and strong as most men wish to be, and certainly not as muscular as most bodybuilders. Think of the bodies of soccer players, rugby players, and mixed martial artists.

Illustration showing the bodies rated as most attractive by women and ideal by men.

Men, on the other hand, prefer leaner and more muscular physiques. Most men preferred abs, which isn’t necessarily ideal for our health and is often tough to maintain year-round. Men also prefer a degree of muscularity at the upper limit of what’s realistically achievable as a natural lifter.

Overall, though, the bodies that women find most attractive are similar to the bodies that men want to have, even down to the muscle proportions that men tend to emphasize in the gym: arms, chest, shoulders, and abs.

Illustration showing the Bony to Beastly Bulking Program

Alright, that’s it for now. If you want more muscle-building information, we have a free muscle-building newsletter. If you want a full workout and diet program, including a 5-month customizable full-body workout routine, a diet guide, a recipe book, and online coaching, check out our Bony to Beastly Program. Or, if you want a customizable intermediate muscle-building program, check out our Outlift Program.

Shane Duquette is the co-founder and creative lead of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, and has a degree in design from York University in Toronto, Canada. He's personally gained sixty pounds at 11% body fat and has nine years of experience helping over ten thousand skinny people bulk up.

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  1. Tim S on September 10, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Hey! Love the article. Well written and informative. Thanks for that read!

  2. Neil Santos on September 10, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    Exceptional article. Thank you for the results (and analysis) of the survey!

  3. Phil on September 10, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    One thought about the “THE MOST ATTRACTIVE DEGREE OF MUSCULARITY” and why women don’t prefer maximum muscle. I think women unconsciously associate large muscles with other high-testosterone traits, like agression. My wife HATES the look of bodybuilders, but one of the things my wife said first attracted her to me was my “kind face”. I would guess evolutionarily, women are attracted to men who men who can protect them, but too much aggression also makes for wife-beaters. Some women probably are more toward the I’m-attracted-to-power-that-might-kill-me and some are closer to he-looks-safe-to-me.

    • Shane Duquette on September 10, 2021 at 4:39 pm

      Hey Phil, yes! My guess is that you’ve got it right. It seems the middle-ground is ideal on average, but, as you said, different women favour different degrees of masculinity, muscularity, leanness, and formidability.

  4. Shauqse Lijiye on September 11, 2021 at 2:42 am

    This was great! Will you do surveys for women-attractiveness too? straight and gay? That would be so cool (and needed)!

    • Shane Duquette on September 11, 2021 at 7:02 am

      Hey Shauqse, thank you so much!

      We’re thinking of doing one for women, yeah. I’ve already got the illustrations done 🙂

  5. Alan on September 11, 2021 at 6:20 am

    Thank-you so much for all the hard work in conducting and analysing the study. Your dedication and passion really shines through!

    In terms of informing your programs, the above information seems like it would be invaluable. Are you looking to inform future programs/adjust current ones based on this information?

    Keep up the amazing work!

    • Shane Duquette on September 11, 2021 at 7:10 am

      My pleasure Alan, thank you! And yes, totally! We want to learn what our audience is aiming for so we can better align our programming with their goals (the male responses). And if a client’s goal is to build an attractive physique, have the knowledge to help them build it (the female responses).

      Another thing we might want to do is slim down my illustrations a bit. Our avatar/mascot illustration is more muscular than what guys want.

  6. AB on September 12, 2021 at 10:47 am

    Hey Shane this was a great article and it’s really cool that you are probably the first person to look at the attractiveness of different neck sizes with a fairly large sample size!

    I have a question though regarding what the weight/dimensions mean to be in the Athletic or Strong category? For example is someone at 6 foot, athletic or strong at like 175Ibs given they are lean? Or is a given neck size athletic if it doesn’t look too skinny?

    I think you have touched on this stuff in the past with your older articles but would you draw similar comparisons/conclusions here?

    • Shane Duquette on September 12, 2021 at 6:45 pm

      Thank you, AB!

      You’re right, yeah. We cover the most attractive/aesthetic body weight in our aesthetics article. It seems that women prefer a BMI of 24.5, so for someone who’s 6 foot, his most attractive weight is 180 pounds with a flat stomach. Men would think he looks better at 190 pounds with abs, so maybe an extra 15–20 pounds of muscle.

      For neck size, I think the idea is to build a neck that’s strong but not musclebound. For that same 6-foot guy, I’d guess a neck circumference of 15–16 inches at the narrowest point would be great.

      • AB on September 13, 2021 at 10:33 am

        Thanks I appreciate the feedback, and it’s cool to see you are still updating past articles with new info!

  7. Alex on January 22, 2022 at 7:53 am

    What’s the lesson here?

    Build the maximum amount of muscle you can NATURALLY while staying within 10-15% body fat range.

    • Shane Duquette on January 23, 2022 at 11:33 am

      I think that’s about right, yeah. I don’t know if we need to STAY under 15% body fat, though. Remember that skinny-fat guys were rated as more attractive than skinny guys. If someone pops up to 20% body fat while bulking, they might look better than the guy who’s struggling to bulk up because he’s not gaining enough weight.

      So if someone were looking for advice about how to improve their appearance, I’d recommend getting to the right BMI first. If someone is overweight, get rid of the extra fat first, getting down to a healthy weight. More people know that intuitively. But if someone is skinny, get up to a healthy weight first, even if that means going over 15% body fat. The goal isn’t to gain fat, just to put more emphasis on gaining weight and muscle. From there, yeah, work on getting to 15% body fat or lower.

      I say this because it’s super common for skinny guys to hamstring themselves by focusing on staying quite lean. It usually works a lot better if people relax about it a little bit, putting more emphasis on gaining size and strength first. I’ve been over 15% body fat a couple of times. I never worried too much about it. I think that attitude is one of the main factors that helped me gain 55 pounds in just a couple of years. It’s something you’ll hear from almost every naturally skinny guy who succeeds at gaining a large amount of muscle.

      • Alex on January 23, 2022 at 8:58 pm

        According to the research, 24.5 BMI tends to be the most attractive to women correct?

        • Shane Duquette on January 24, 2022 at 9:24 am

          Yep, exactly 🙂

          • Alex on July 3, 2022 at 8:36 am

            What are your thoughts on the idea of your height in cm – 100 = your ideal weight in kg?

            It seems to be a decent and simple estimate for the common man trying to determine a good “attractive” weight to hover around. For example, I’m 173 cm tall. 73kg happens to be a BMI of 24.4. Just .1 off from the ideal attractive BMI of 24.5.

            Obviously this is just an estimate as some people will be naturally have slimmer or larger builds than others.

          • Shane Duquette on July 8, 2022 at 5:03 pm

            Yep, that’s fine! That puts my ideal weight at 88kg. Works out for me, too. That’s a good weight for me.

            And then, as you say, it’s just a loose rule of thumb. You could be a few kilos above or below and that would be fine, too.

  8. AF on February 27, 2022 at 11:33 am

    This is a really interesting article!!

    A weird question: how big are those butts? It’s hard to tell, they seem pretty subtly different. Do you have a guess at what range of hip/waist/thigh measurements are represented there? I guess the main takeaway though, regardless, is that women often prefer *some* amount of butt muscle?

    • Shane Duquette on March 1, 2022 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks, AF! Yeah, I think you’re right. It’s less about your hip measurements, especially since so much of that measurement is determined by your bone structure. It’s more about building a strong butt. Think about getting strong at squats and deadlift variations. That should give you a great pair of glutes. You’ll also build great legs and a strong back that way. Your physique will look sturdier and more athletic.

  9. A Singh on March 31, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you so much for this! I am new to bodybuilding. I know I should learn the basics, but I want to ask a question. What tasks would you assign to look fit and naturally lean and strong.

    • Shane Duquette on April 1, 2022 at 6:07 pm

      Hey man, my pleasure!

      First, start with resistance training. Most people prefer lifting weights, but you can even start with body weight. Make sure you’re pushing yourself, bringing your muscles to the cusp of failure. You can train 3 times per week, leaving a day or rest between each workout day. Train every muscle every workout. And every workout, try to do more than last time. Try to add a bit of weight or get an extra rep.

      Once you’ve started working out, start eating more food. You need to eat enough food to gain weight. Weigh yourself every week. If you’re gaining less than 0.5–1 pound, eat even more food next week. If you’re gaining more than that, eat a bit less. Keep weighing yourself and adjusting your intake week by week.

      You can also try to improve your sleep. Make sure you have enough time in bed. Go to bed early. And other types of physical activity are great, too. For instance, on your rest days, you can go for walks.

      That will help you build muscle. If you want to focus on losing fat, do the exact same thing except eat less food to lose weight instead of eating more food to gain weight.

  10. Sean McBride on September 26, 2022 at 1:08 am

    Nicely done. As an evolutionary anthropologist I looked into this for many years and wrote articles for cosmetic surgery magazine and others. For a long time I was pushing the shoulder to waist ratio (which I still think makes sense from the v-taper and having a bigger upper body point of view) but your finding of the greater appeal of the bigger chest compared to shoulders was very interesting. It also make sense (probably more sense) from the point of view of upper body strength and being more formidable in hunting and fighting (or at least appearing so).

    Great article

    • Shane Duquette on September 26, 2022 at 8:18 am

      Thank you so much, Sean! I’ve been thinking about the shoulder-to-waist vs chest thing for a little while now. I wonder if it’s a Goodhart’s law sort of issue, where having broad shoulders is typically a good indicator of greater upper-body strength, and having a narrow waist is typically a good indicator of being healthfully lean, making it an attractive ratio. But then once we start optimizing for that specific metric, it stops working as well.

      So, for example, if someone had a strong upper body but didn’t train their side delts, they might be much bigger and stronger than the guy who ONLY trained his shoulders. He better embodies that trait that the ratio is supposed to indicate.

      Same with waist size. Someone can minimize core growth by only training with exercise machines and never training their abs, obliques, or spinal erectors. Their core could be a few inches smaller. But it isn’t smaller because of less fat, it’s smaller because of less muscle. It’s not representing what the ratio is supposed to represent.

      I think that might be why we could get a muscular guy with narrower shoulders and a blockier waist looking more attractive than an out-of-shape guy with wider shoulders and a thinner waist.

      Mind you, we aren’t just shaped by muscle. Some guys have structurally broader shoulders and narrower waists. That could represent an attractive degree of masculinity. We can’t control that, though. All we can control is our muscularity, proportions, and body fat. And I think it might be wiser to aim for a strong, lean, muscular upper body, including a strong core, rather than striving for a certain ratio.

      What do you think?

  11. Thomas on November 27, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    Great work!

    There’s obviously a lot of ways to contextualise the data, but you’ve done a good job. Two questions:

    1) Are the pictures the one used in the survey? They might be a little too similar to accurately assess the differences.

    2) I think the butt thing is the one that seems most off. The picture of the gradually increasing buttocks was preferred in a “dose-response” type of way and in that picture there was no mistaken what was being enhanced, yet women had butt second last when they had to name body parts. Do you think there’s a bias there in regards to what someone would assume they want, and what they might find attractive more instinctively? It seems to me that almost everyone appreciate a nice backside.

    • Shane Duquette on November 29, 2022 at 8:32 am

      Hey Thomas, great points!

      1) Yes, I used these illustrations for the survey. I drew them to be more realistic on purpose. If I exaggerated them, We’d get people who looked much too skinny or much too big. The difference between each of the main illustrations is supposed to be around twenty pounds. I’ve seen thousands of guys gain twenty pounds. I tried to make it as realistic as I could.

      2) When I conducted the survey, the order of the illustrations was randomized. It wasn’t a gradient from smallest to biggest. The order of the questions was randomized, too.

      I think women do prefer men with athletic butts. I just don’t think it’s a huge priority. If you wanted to min-max your attractiveness, and if you could only train three muscles, you’d probably do best by picking your chest, shoulders, and arms. But if you can train more than three muscles, absolutely include your butt. Include your other muscles, too.

      If we look at how the results of the survey line up with what we see in real life, I think it makes sense. Look at what people post online. Guys show off their upper bodies. Women tend to show their glutes. I think there’s intuitive wisdom there. If we look at the guys who are famous for being attractive (Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Goslin, Brad Pitt, Harry Styles, and so on), I don’t think any of them have particularly huge butts. Or look at movies made and marketed to women. No huge butts, no huge emphasis on butts. Or take a look at romance novels. The covers tend to be of guys showing their chests, shoulders, and arms. Here’s an example.

      My glutes are perhaps my most developed muscles. I wish they were a higher priority. They don’t seem to be, though. Where the glutes really shine is for general strength and athleticism. They help us squat, deadlift, and sprint. They also seem to help protect our lower backs. And their growth potential is HUGE, allowing us to add a ton of healthy muscle mass to our frames. Definitely worth developing. You could make a similar argument for quads.

      • Thomas on December 4, 2022 at 12:05 pm

        Thanks for the well thought-out reply!

        I’m sure I am biased, because as someone who also has well developed glutes, I’ve found that partners have consistently appreciated them. However, that is likely a “selection” bias, so to say. I agree with you that chest, arms and shoulders are probably the biggest bang for your buck if you want to increase your attractiveness to most people, which is in line with your findings. Well, that and having a well proportioned and athletic build with a low-medium range bodyfat.

        One thing though, it would be interesting to hear your comments on is this study: Men’s Bodily Attractiveness: Muscles as Fitness Indicators

        In line with your results, they found that, as a group, upper body muscles were more important for attractiveness. Also, that men tended to prefer larger muscles compared to women. However, in contrast to your results, the women ranked obliques, abs and, coincidently, glutes as the most attractive muscles (granted obliques, abs, arms, shoulders, chest and glutes were close). Any thoughts on that? I’m thinking cohort (Spanish) and sample (recruited from soccer radio station) might have something to do with it, as well as perhaps differences in methodology (although they, similarly, used drawings which are shown in the supplementary material). Still, it’s noteworthy.

        Btw, as someone who has a science background, using data to suss out attractiveness is a lot of fun, so thanks again for the great work! Hopefully there is more to come (perhaps including some waist-to-shoulder/chest/hip ratios?)

        • Shane Duquette on December 5, 2022 at 10:03 am

          I find this stuff interesting, too 🙂

          I think what you’re noticing is that bigger muscles look cool. If you have a big muscle, whatever it is, people will tell you it looks cool. Let’s say that quads are only the tenth most attractive muscle, right? If someone had a proportional physique, they might not get many compliments on their quads. But if they’ve got quads like Tom Platz, they’d get hundreds of compliments on their quads every day because they’re far more developed than anyone else in the world. That’s true even if their quads are much “too” big. It’s remarkable, so people remark on it.

          You’re right that people who love soccer might prefer soccer physiques, which tend to have smaller upper bodies and more muscular lower bodies. I’m not sure that’s what’s going on here, though.

          The study you linked used a single sketch of a guy, had arrows pointing to his different muscles, and asked people what size they preferred that muscle. The sketch was considered the most muscular rating. So what the participants were doing was saying whether they liked the muscles at that size or whether they would prefer the muscles to be smaller. If you look at the size of the various muscles, you’ll notice that some of them are much more developed than others. For example, his arms look enormous. Maybe eighteen or nineteen inches in circumference. That’s much larger than is naturally achievable by most men. If women prefer large-but-natural arms, they might say they prefer smaller arms than that. Compare that to his quads, which are fairly average in size, or his glutes, which are quite small.

          When women said they preferred highly muscular glutes, they were saying they wouldn’t want a guy’s glutes to be any smaller than the small glutes shown in the picture. It doesn’t tell us how they value glute size compared to the size of other muscles, and I suspect they rank lower. It also doesn’t tell us whether they’d prefer even bigger glutes, which I suspect might be the case. This guy’s glutes aren’t much bigger than his biceps.

          I think the study is making a bit of mistake when trying to determine the usefulness of the various muscles, too. Biceps can be useful when fighting, sure, but the authors are assuming they’re more useful than our core muscles. A lot of our punching, grappling, and weapon-swinging strength comes from the core. If the hypothesis is that formidable men are more attractive to women and more idealised by other men, you’d expect a strong core to be highly prized.

          And again, just to be totally clear, I think that for natural lifters, having bigger muscles tends to be good. If those are “low-priority” muscles, no matter. It’s still good. Bigger calves, still good. It’s just that it might not have as much impact on your attractiveness as building a bigger chest or bigger shoulders.

          What do you think?

          • Jason k on February 8, 2023 at 3:52 pm

            Skinny guys with fat wallets win in the end.

          • Shane Duquette on February 8, 2023 at 5:27 pm

            Sort of a duck physique, I suppose, with skinny legs and protruding rear.

  12. jan on January 27, 2023 at 9:04 pm

    What year were these results collected in and was the sample entirely American?

    • Shane Duquette on January 31, 2023 at 9:09 am

      Hey Jan,

      The results were collected in 2021. We surveyed readers of our blogs. A little over half of them are American, but it also includes people from Canada, the UK, Australia, India, Latin America, and so on.

  13. Genius on February 11, 2023 at 2:59 am

    You knuckleheads dont realize that surveys are always very wrong, especially those taken by women. It’s a game of lies to them. Having said that, anybody praising this thing is likely fat and not sure what a bicycle is. I’ve been six foot and a buck 40 my whole life or under. I get looked at by very hot girls, very fat girls, very stupid girls, very christian girls, etc etc etc and I’m a damn freak-in-the-face in Wisconsin who has no money, no values, no friends, and shuns society in general. I wear a damn black monosuit liner instead of clothes, then just shorts and nothing else. I’m brown-haired, black hairs everywhere else, big nose, long face, tight lips, sunken cheeks, flat stomach, not ugly…..but if you’re reading this…..dood, pay no never mind to it, it is rubbish. You do what you wish with your body, your body is yours. Women like reputation. If you’re a mean bitch that say “ef all”, shake em down or up, they really like that, and like you for having fame or infamy, and known for new things. Reputation. Life is a dream after all. NOTE: You are not authorized to edit, delete, or change this content herein per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights following the millions who sacrificed all for freedoms in World War II. Doing so will illicit a response.

    • Shane Duquette on February 14, 2023 at 1:01 pm

      Being free to express ourselves doesn’t mean we’re free from being judged. If I understand it correctly, this blog is our platform, and so what we’re supposed to do is make sure that all of the content published on it is up to our standards. If someone posts insults and curses, that brings down the overall quality of our blog.

      I personally don’t like the idea of censorship, so my tendency is to leave all comments up, even when they’re critical. But your comment is somewhat misanthropic, and I don’t think Google will want to direct people to content like that. I’ll leave it here for now in case you want to respond, but I’ll probably get rid of it later. If you want to write another comment, this time getting your message across more civilly, I’ll gladly leave it up, however critical it is.

  14. straight female on February 13, 2023 at 4:26 am

    #2 and #4 over the other two choices any day…survey is BS

    • Shane Duquette on February 14, 2023 at 1:06 pm

      The survey acknowledges that some portion of the population has different preferences. That’s reflected when we say things like 80% voted for this and 20% voted for that. If you’re in the 20%, that doesn’t invalidate the survey, it just shows that your opinion is a minority one.

      On the other hand, the survey is far from infallible. I hope it didn’t come across as if we thought this was the truth of truths. It’s just some information to consider.

  15. S-- on March 6, 2023 at 5:27 am

    Funny thing is, most women also prefer the thin, cute males. Women are nurtured to be “the prize” and so many may claim otherwise. Toxic masculinity is also to blame. Probably only to blame. Overall, thin, healthy looking body types are also very attractive to both men and women. Probably even most attractive. It just looks “cute”.

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