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The Perfect Body.
I may be opening a can of worms here, but I think this is an interesting conversation.
We’ll delve into history a bit, divide the discussion between men and women, and then discuss the exercises you should be doing to achieve the perfect male body.
Let’s get started!
Everyone Has An Opinion
There will be as many opinions as there are people willing to express them. The discussion of the perfect human body is not much different from the perfect car. Everyone has their own opinion, and no one is wrong.
Some people will say that the 1932 Duesenberg Model J is the most perfect car ever.I am not going to disagree that it is a beautiful car, but for me, it is not the perfect car.
Others may be less specific and stick with a brand. You will find your Ford people and your Chevrolet people, and every once in a while you’ll find a Dodge person. You may even find an AMC lover out there.
If we ask more specific questions about cars, say, “What is the perfect muscle car?”, there will still be controversy about the “perfect” muscle car. For me, and this is my opinion, the perfect muscle car is the 1968 Hemi Dart.
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me perfection. Fast, uncomfortable, rare, beautiful.
But I digress. The perfect body.
If you google “the perfect body” (after all, Google is the ultimate source of information, right?), here are the results:
3.6 million results to choose from. That is good, because then we can find a reliable source to back up our own opinion on what the perfect body should look like.
Over the years, the ideal, or perfect body image has changed. Let’s take a look at that changing perspective for both women and men.
A Moving Target
A quick look through the history of the perfect body for women will show an ideal that changed from era to era.
Starting thousands of years ago, the earliest image of a woman is a statue created sometime between 24000-22000 BCE. The Venus of Willendorf shows a rather large woman with no face. This was the shape of a woman who could easily bear children, the most sought after characteristic in that historical period.
Keeping in mind that artistic expression is just that, one person’s expression of the subject at hand, let’s move further along in history and see how the artists interpreted the ideal shape of women.
The Ancient Greeks started to formalize beauty, thanks to their love of math. Symmetry became a thing. Any depiction of a woman would show symmetry in their faces and being born beautiful (symmetrical) was actually a curse, as it was thought to be evil. Other from the symmetry, perfect women were depicted with larger hips, full breasts, and a stomach that was not flat.
Not much changed over the next few hundred years when it comes to the ideal woman. From the 1300s to the 1500s there was a lot of painting of naked women. Curvy bodies, round faces, and flushed cheeks were the common traits.
Into the Elizabethan Era, the artists’ depictions became more modest, and fair skin was deemed more beautiful, some the women had very white faces. This showed they were elite, as they stayed inside and avoided working in the sun.
After the French Revolution in 1789, men stopped wearing makeup. Makeup was equally popular among the sexes before then, but it became a spectator sport for the elite women, who would invite guests to watch them prepare themselves for the day. Dressing up and being “perfect” in that era was based on clothes and makeup much more than on body type, although art of that time depicted the women as thinner.
As we headed into the Victorian Era, the pail and frail look was all the rage. The art depicted no particular body part or tend, as long as the women didn’t look too healthy or strong. The makeup of the time was actually poisonous, so the frail look, which was considered beautiful, was, unfortunately, easy for women to achieve.
The turn of the century brought us the Gibson Girl, a drawing of what a man perceived to be the perfect woman. Not based on a real woman, but what a man thought a woman should look like. Tight corset, large breasts, thin, and pale. Not realistic and highly unachievable, but again, a moving target. Many women tried, but few succeeded to match this look.
One of those who tried and succeeded, was Evelyn Nesbiit, often considered the world’s first supermodel.
The 20s brought us the flapper, a more boyish figure and shorter hair. The 20s also brought us affordable full length mirrors and bathroom scales; the birth of the thin body obsession for women.
Unfortunately the 20s didn’t end well (The Great Depression), and fashion and beauty took a back seat. Women’s figures became fuller and clothing more practical through the 30s and the 40s.
The 50s and the 60s was the era of the sex symbol, and these women were thin, by the standards of the day, but they had boobs. By today’s standard (that ever moving target), the sex symbols of the 50s and 60s were larger women. They were curvy and, ne might say, voluptuous.
By the 1960s, thin was back in. Twiggy was the ideal.
The 70s saw much of the same. The breasts may have been bigger on the ideal woman, but she was still petite.
The 80s ushered in the Supermodel era. Hips got smaller, breast got larger, and the target got harder to hit. These women were much thinner from the average woman of the time.
The 90s saw the ideal getting even skinnier. What? How? Not sure. In my humble opinion, the ideal was way too thin, and not realistic (as it was in much of the last 50 years).
Luckily for everyone, the world and the media has moved into a place of diversity and acceptance of all body types. Finally, the target has stopped moving and become larger and easier to hit.
Healthy is more important than skinny. In fact, healthy is beautiful, in my opinion. All the girls in this picture are healthy and beautiful, as it should be.
No height, age, color, or size distinctions needed. They are all beautiful!
That was quite a roller coaster journey to the perfect female form. And we are not there yet. There is still a lot of body shaming that takes place on social media, regardless of the body shape. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
For men, the journey was easier. Let’s take a look.
The Greek God
The idea of a perfect male body has not changed much over the years. If we start back in Ancient Greece, the artists depicted the perfect male as muscular and strong.
This didn’t change much throughout the ages. Men who were considered ideal were strong and able to defend and look after the village and the villagers. They would need to hunt and fight and be fit.
As the years went on, and men no longer needed to fight and hunt and protect, the male figure, in real life, grew heavier and fatter, but the ideal body didn’t change, and men have been inundated with that ideal ever since.
The perfect male is tall, beautiful, and muscular. Hollywood has made sure we men don’t forget what the perfect male looks like. The perfect male will get the perfect woman. Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, Rock Hudson, Elvis Presley, Tony Curtis. These were the leading men of the 30s, 40s. and 50s. Not huge and muscular, but manly men. Solid. Brave. Strong. Sexy.
If we throw Charles Atlas into the mix, we start to get the muscular portion of the perfect man. Charles Atlas wanted us to be sure that sand wasn’t going to get kicked in our face at the beach, so the whole era of body builders began.
The ideal male body became more executive and formal in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but he was still lean and confident. Perhaps not as muscular, but still fit.
As we reached the 90s and into today, the ideal male body is once again becoming more muscular. Perhaps we have Superman to blame for this trend. Or maybe the Rock.
One thing is for sure. Even though the perfect male body has been more of a stable target over the years, it may still be hard to hit for most men.
The Perfect Body Exercises
Well, guys, there is hope. The “V” taper body shape that is linked to the perfect body is attainable. The broad shoulders tapering down to a narrow waist is something that is attainable for most men.
I am not saying that we all need to look like a bodybuilder to have the perfect body. Again, the key here is healthy bodies.
If we watch what we eat and exercise regularly, we should be able to get rid of any excess body fat that we don’t want. That is the key. If you feel healthy and are happy with the newly trending “dad bod”, then I am happy for you. Be happy in your own skin.
If you eat everything and do everything in moderation, and you can function in your everyday life with ease, that is you aren’t short of breath doing your daily tasks, AND, your doctor says you are doing fine, then be happy and go on your way.
If you would like to eliminate some of the excess fat and sculpt a bit of muscle, then here is the plan.
Start a keto lifestyle supplemented with some weight lifting to quickly rid your frame of the extra fat. Then find an eating regime that is comfortable for you and includes all the macros in suitable amounts, and continue to exercise.
You will find lots of information and articles on this site to help you along the journey.
If you desire the V-taper shape, you will need to build muscle in your back and your shoulders. This along with narrowing your weight by watching what you eat, will give the desired shape. So watch what you eat and do these exercises.
I would like to add these three staple exercises to the mix. By doing these, you will look wider in the shoulder area. That added to the perception of a smaller waist (from the fat loss) is all that is needed.
Exercise #1 – Weighted pull ups – this exercise will build your lats and make you look wider. This is a difficult exercise, to say the least. Most of us can barely do one or two properly formed pull ups, let alone repeated sets with added weights. All I can say is start where you are and build up from there. Do as many as you can safely, and then rest. Keep going until you are ready to add weight. Then add the weight and watch the lats grow.
Exercise # 2 – Overhead Press – great for building muscular shoulders that will make you look wider. This exercise can be done seated, standing, with dumbbells, or with a barbell. All the variations are great and will work to grow the shoulders, hence making you look wider. It is important to use progressive overload when working the shoulders (start lighter and then add weight as you are able to get to the heavier weights), so the standing barbell version would be the best.
Exercise # 3 – Lateral Raises – this is a great exercise to target the mid delts, which is the most visible shoulder muscle. It is important to raise the dumbbells directly out to your side while externally rotating the shoulder and leaning forward a little to take the pressure off the shoulder joint, thus reducing the chance of injury. Adding a leaning cable or dumbbell version of this exercise is a great idea to keep pressure on the muscle through the full range of motion.
These three exercises will add to the width of your upper torso and you should be sure to include them in your workout at least twice a week to ensure that classic V-taper look.
So there you have it.
The Perfect Body. Not as simple as one might think.
Oh how the world changes. Social media has sure changed how we see perfection and ourselves.
Please remember that you are unique and no one else is like you, or has gone through your life. Be happy with who you are, but also, be healthy. It would be reckless for me to say just eat whatever you want and be happy. YOLO!
We also need to be wise and live for longevity. Happiness can be found in a healthy lifestyle.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I am not a doctor or a professional and I am only offering my opinion.
As always, if you have questions or comments about my opinions, please leave them below.
Also, if you are a father (or mother) (or anyone for that matter) who would like an easy to follow program that includes a menu and work out information, check out this article from a few months ago.
See you in the next post.
Have a great day!