The quest for the "perfect" body is almost as old as time itself.
Michelangelo's statue of David, for example, was once considered the pinnacle of the male form.
Though we now live in the age of "bigorexia" where so many guys want the biggest muscles they can possibly get, many of us chase something much more proportionate:
A lean, athletic, powerful, and chiseled physique.
So how do you get it? And how do you know when you've got it?
According to fitness and Hollywood physique expert, Greg O'Gallagher, the ideal proportions are:
- Waist – 45-47% of height
- Shoulders – 1.618x waist
- Arms – identical size of neck circumference
- Chest – 10-12″ greater than waist
Let's take a deeper look at the perfect male body measurements (according to height).
A quick note on being body positive:
There's really no such thing as the 'perfect body.'
You know that, right?
There is research that indicates what other people (and women) respond to in terms of physical attraction, and there are bodybuilding standards, but objective perfection is not a real thing.
Love your body the way it is, strive to improve, and enjoy the journey!
Okay, moving on.
Lean & tight waist (45-47% of height)
Waist size is the building block of a great physique. Too much extra padding around the middle, and the entire aesthetic suffers.
A waist size of about ~45% of your height indicates fairly low bodyfat percentage and an overall athletic build (also, probably a nice set of abs).
Example: If you're 5' 10", the 'ideal' waist size would be around 31-33"
How to get a lean waist: Diet! Men tend to store most of their fat in their upper body, around their midsection in particular, so you'll need to lose a significant amount of fat to get a tight waist and reveal your abs.
Here's the basic blueprint:
- Eat in a moderate calorie deficit to lose fat
- Lift heavy weights to preserve or build muscle
- Do some direct ab work for definition
(For an awesome diet and training program that'll help you drop about a pound of fat per week and get shredded fast, check out Greg O'Gallagher's Kinobody Warrior Shredding Program.)
Broad shoulders (1.618x waist)
Broad, powerful shoulders are a hallmark of masculine physiques. They indicate strength and confidence, along with an abundance of testosterone.
A shoulder width of just over one and a half times your waist size will make your upper body pop, and help give you that coveted v-shape.
Example: For a 5' 10" man, the ideal shoulder width would be about 51-53"
How to get broad shoulders: Unlike getting a slim waist, you'll have to build significant amounts of strength and muscle in your upper body to separate yourself from the pack.
- Get strong on overhead presses and other shoulder pressing movements
- Add in extra volume by isolating the front, side, and rear delts (shoulder muscles)
- Stay lean!
(I highly recommend the Kinobody Greek God Program and nutritional protocol for packing on muscle while staying lean.)
A highly overlooked muscle group for getting the perfect male body, the back is actually the true key to the V-shape.
Wide lats (the back muscles that rest under your rear shoulder) can give your torso a striking, powerful appearance. They'll also be super functional for keeping you healthy and strong in real life.
There's no specific proportion that can be applied to your back muscles, but they should be in proportion to your shoulders and help contribute to the overall wideness of your upper torso.
How to get a wide back:
- Build strength on vertical pulls (weight pull ups are best) to hit your lats hard
- Add thickness to your back with rows and horizontal pulls
Thick upper chest (10-12" wider than waist)
Big shoulders and a wide back are the foundations of the V-shape that helps make up the perfect male body, but without a powerful chest to go with it, the proportions will be all off.
Your chest won't necessarily give you a ton of extra width to your frame, but will give you thickness from the side and make your waist and stomach area look even smaller. The upper chest in particular forms a powerful looking shelf when built properly.
Example: For a 5' 10" tall guy, a chest measurement of about 42-45" is ideal, assuming a lean and tight waist in the low 30" range.
How to get a well-developed chest & upper chest:
- Build strength on the incline bench press to really target the upper chest and shoulders
- Flat bench and weighted dips can be used, as well
Well-developed arms (same size as neck)
Everyone wants huge, muscular arms, but your frame can only handle so much based on your height. A good number to shoot for, in terms of impressive and well-proportioned arms, is the same circumference of your neck.
You'll want your biceps and triceps to be equally strong and well-developed for the best results, as well as staying lean to reveal plenty of definition.
Example: For the average 5' 10" man, building his arms up to about 15.5-16.5" (typical neck size) should look great.
How to get great arms:
- Focus on building tremendous strength on the key compounds lifts already mentioned: incline bench press, weighted pull ups, and other major push/pull movements
- Add extra volume to your biceps with various curls, and to your triceps with pushdowns, skullcrushers, and other isolation moves
(The Kinobody Greek God Program handles this task perfectly and helps you stay lean while adding dense muscle to the exact right areas.)
The ideal male body doesn't have massive tree-trunk legs, nor does it have skinny, chicken legs.
There's no ideal proportion here, but the goal should be athletic legs with solid muscle size and explosive strength.
How to get well-developed but proportional legs:
- Hit lots of one-legged movements (split squats, lunges, pistol squats) to get well-developed quads
- These moves will also help your VMO (the teardrop shaped muscle above your knee) pop, which looks great
Once again, there's no true "ideal" body, but there are some standards based on scientific study of attraction, as well as general bodybuilding best practices.
Everybody's body and goals are different, so don't let these confine you. Hopefully these measurements will inspire you to reach your best physique possible.
(If you're not sure which strength training and nutrition program is right for you on your quest to the perfect body, try this quiz from Kinobody and get $20 off one the programs mentioned above.)