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In Pursuit of the Golden Ratio

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In Pursuit of the Golden Ratio

While there certainly is no true “ideal” that captures what 100% of people will admire, there are some guidelines that will guarantee you to look more masculine and healthy, and therefore attractive.

You won’t have to bulk up to a pro bodybuilder’s size, but the vast majority of men will need to add mass in the upper body, particularly the shoulder girdle and lats, while being careful not to over bulk their legs and midsections through tons of squatting and deadlifting. Remember, the shoulders make the man, or at least the physique (but legs are MUCH more beneficial if athleticism is your goal).

So without rambling on, here are what could be considered “ideal” circumference measurements for most men.

  • Waist – 45-47% of height (around the navel)
  • Shoulders – 1.618 x waist (around the top of the crease of the armpit when your arms are at your side, basically the widest part of the upper body, upper chest area)
  • Arms – identical size of neck circumference (contracted bicep)
  • Chest – 10-12″ greater than waist (around the nipples)

For your typical 5’10 guy, that produces these measurements:

  • Waist: 31.5-33″ (45-47% of your height)
  • Shoulders: 51-53″ (waist x 1.618)
  • Arms: Same as Neck (roughly 15.5-16.5″)
  • Chest: 42-45″ (10-12″ bigger than waist)

Notice that measurements are the most important stat here, not bodyweight. This ensures that proper body proportions are maintained, and that’s what makes us look good at the end of the day.  The number 1.618 is what is found in nature consistently as an aesthetically pleasing proportion, and even was used in the design of our logo.  That is why is also called “The Golden Ratio”

That said, it is important to set some realistic, yet still lofty guidelines on what you can expect for a good lean bodyweight. Too many people obsess over the scale and don’t even know their own measurements or body composition. This is why you will meet many gym goers that are 5’8, 205 lbs, with a 40 inch waist claiming to be “all muscle”. Try not to fall into this trap of perma-bulking your way into looking like a fire hydrant. There is a link to a calculator below that can give an idea of what your muscular limit is based on your frame size assuming you do not use performance enhancing drugs.

For a good long term bodyweight goal, we like to look at the base model according to Steve Reeves (an old time bodybuilder heralded for his insane proportions and natural physique).  His prototype is 6’, 200 lbs at about 10% body fat.  For each inch away from that base, just add or subtract 5 lbs.

So for the same 5’10 example guy above, that would be 190lbs at 10% Body Fat. This is a tall task for the vast majority of natural lifters, and our eventual goal (53,33,190). But we are talking about ideals here, so it is nice to aim high and see what you can achieve.

Remember, these are just guidelines and our opinion of what a natural male lifter should shoot for to LOOK his best, you may have different goals that would pull you away from this particular ideal.

So take your measurements every month or so, and track your proportions. It is not necessary to even do body fat tests if your waistline is in check.  Some initial health markers to shoot for are getting your waist measurement to under 50% of your height, and then you can worry about trying to hit a shoulder measurements that is 1.5x or higher than the waist measurement.

As for lower body, we still find it very important to train, and do so in our programming.  We typically follow an upper-lower split, and focus on strengthening the hips, knees, and ankles, from the ground up and in proportion for longevity and performance benefits.  We strive for balance and proportion with numerical goals and standards to hit in just about any are you can think of!

For a workout routine directly pursuing Golden Ratio, consider trying our strength through length program, which focuses on improving strength to weight ratio in key lifts to guarantee an upgraded physique.

Also see our dietary recommendations article if you’d like some general guidance in nutrition as well.

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