I’ve never understood why guys try to bulk up in hopes of attracting more women. The young women I have worked with are turned off by bulging biceps and popping pectorals. Yet guys with that kind of physique strut like peacocks.
Not long ago, when dadbods took the internet by storm, I ran a poll to see which type of male body type most women prefer. Across the board women were attracted to “muscular but lean” men (think runner’s body). “Dadbods” got some support, though women were clear to say that they prefer “normal” rather than a beer gut. The “body builder” physique was generally unpopular and even ridiculed.
Why the disconnect between what women want and what men believe they want? Could it be that men are getting jacked for each other, with female attraction a mere – and unreliable – by-product?
I was immediately reminded of Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston, the narcissist who attempts to woo Belle with his “biceps to spare.” Scriptwriter Linda Woolverton based the character on previous unsuccessful relationships and referred to Gaston as a “blockhead.”
That’s brilliant! Men are focusing in on what it takes to physically dominate other males – brute strength.
In Max and Miller’s terms, “pro athlete shape” would be the top of the curve. Going from that to bodybuilder reduces attractiveness. Why? Because that kind of obsession with one’s physique says a lot about a man’s personality traits, and women dislike it
This is borne out in the media. Films made to appeal to young men, like superhero flicks, often have a bulked-up dude kicking ass. And he gets the girl. But romantic comedies, which are made for women, never feature these characters. They’re more likely to feature Jimmy Fallon (Fever Pitch), Hugh Grant (Bridget Jones) or Justin Timberlake (Friends With Benefits). And the same holds true for sexy leads, e.g. Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey or Robert Pattinson in Twilight. In the Terminator movies Arnold Schwarzenegger is the monster, not the romantic lead.
A recent Chapman University study (9/15) of body size in the mating market includes the following observation, echoing Max and Miller on men competing with each other
Strength training is important to health for both men and women, but lifting while ignoring overall cardiac fitness produces an undesirable result, at least from a female standpoint. Women want men who display energy, stamina and endurance. To provide the kind of protection we have evolved to desire, you need to be nimble and quick, not bulky.
And we really do assume guys obsessed with lifting weights are spending a lot time pumping at the gym and taking bathroom selfies. Repulsively vain indeed.