Do You Need Six-Pack Abs?
Are you trying to swoon women with your great washboard abs? Not so fast, Mister! You may be on the entirely wrong track!
What Women Want
“Six-pack” or “washboard” abs, visible abdominal muscles, are probably the No. 1 thing most men getting into bodybuilding and fitness strive for, closely followed by huge muscles in general. And why? To impress women, of course! But do women really love men with a six-pack and big muscles?
You may safe yourself the trouble of laboriously trying to get your body fat percentage low enough, if getting female glances is your reason for trying it. Not only is your mid-section covered with clothing most of the time, anyway, but clearly visible “washboard” abs actually aren’t that high on women’s judgment scales.
Already in 1981 a study had participants look at pictures of males and grade their attractivity. And what came out as being the most crucial factor in determining what a good-looking male body is? Not the six-pack, it was broad shoulders. Or, more accurately, broad shoulders and a slim waist, giving the male body a v-shape. Since then more research confirmed these findings and in 2003 another study gave us even the waist-to-shoulder ratio judged most attractive: 0.6.
Anthropologist David Givens summarizes this in his book about human courtship, Love Signals, with the help of Michelangelo’s David:
His wide shoulders, narrow waist, and essential wedge shape suggest strength without the intimidation of a larger Hercules, Atlas or Incredible Hulk frame. David’s abdominal muscles show the softer definition women prefer to the harder washboard abs featured in men’s magazines. David’s is the quintessential masculine shape, lean and strong – yet neither too lean nor too strong for comfort.
A woman’s comment on Digg about a Times of India article with the same subject confirms this:
I would rather take chubby over a six-pack. Something about how the abs look when they’re defined like that creep me out.
And if you search around the Internet for more female opinions on this, you will be surprised how many women have similar sentiments. But rarely do any complain about a man with broad shoulders.
The whole “a six-pack is the biggest sign of male attractiveness” thing is a fairly recent invention we have to thank the advertising industry for.
Thirty years ago it were mainly women who had their attractiveness dictated by advertisers, but in the last decades men became a target as well. But the looks of male models don’t quite represent anymore what women judge as handsome, just like the looks expected of female fashion models at some point stopped to represent what men really see as most attractive – the majority of men find the typical underweight model of today less attractive than a woman of normal weight.
If you therefore try to get that six-pack just to impress a woman, you may want to rethink it. If she isn’t a fitness fanatic herself, it most likely will impress her a lot less than you think.
If you would like to calculate your own waist-to-shoulder ratio, please see this article.
Picture courtesy of David Gaya.
Introducing the all new deluxe waist trimming shoulder builder chair….. but seriously, waist and shoulder width is generally based on bone structure(give or take a couple of inches of muscle/fat, so there is not much hope of improving that. A 6 pack is achievable and fairly easy to get one(with the right knowledge), and would still have a positive effect on the opposite sex’s opinion on your appearance.
But I like my fat, it’s cold here.
A couple of inches more there and a couple less there can make a huge difference. However, all in all this torturing for the six-pack makes a lot less sense than some guys think.
I could not agree with you more. However this is assuming men are doing it for others benefit. I have to believe some of us are doing it for our selves. We have been obese and want to shed the fat and guess where the worse fat is. The mid section. Seeing abs would be conquering the fat and taking control.
Just a though.
I think it’s a matter of age. When you hit 30 perspectives change a little 😉
I’m off by .1111111111111 d word
Well, didn’t we all know already that Moon is almost perfect? 😉
I’d say it’s older than that. I liked the G.I. Joe-comparison in “Bigger Faster Stronger” (pretty sure it was there at least). The early G.I. Joe was just an average Joe, then they bulked him up more and more, and gave him more and more defined abs.
However, considering how much twilight is pushing abs, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coming generation of 20-year old women are all about the 8-pack…
I actually tried to pinpoint when the six-pack made its move from the bodybuilding community into the mainstream, but couldn’t find it. Would be interesting to find out what exactly set it off.
Ah It’s a good thing my family has broad shoulders 🙂 Funny thing in Spanish ‘shoulder’ is ‘hombro’ and MAN is ‘hombre’
Wow, this is rather interesting! And be praised those that have those shoulders naturally. Oh, and envied! 😉
Evil, now I’ve to curse myself for having narrow shoulders genes. 🙁
You really are evil!
Don’t despair, Jul, you can still influence this through working out your shoulders and keeping a slim waist. And it doesn’t have to be 0.6 exactly; according to the study anything this side of 0.75 is judged attractive.
Excellent post! I always thought women were after big muscles and visible abs. Thats what some of them talk about constantly, but perhaps its just part of the media-culture – how it is promoted in movies and tv shows (like in Twilight) and magazines etc.
I think generally that one should not begin fitness to impress womens SOLELY. It can be a boomerang. When you one day achieve that explosive/desirable look, you might not still be successful with women. It all comes down to personality. You might be more appealing to them with a great body, but what happens when they discover that you are a shy unpopular guy? Then all the tough fitness-diligence is partly wasted.
Thinking that achieving a great body through fitness can increase success with women is a popular thought, but unfortunately I think it is note entirely true.
I agree: Good looks will only get you an audition, but nothing more.
I wouldn’t even look at women liking only the look of me.
You can’t build a relationship on just looks!
If I’d be a model,callboy,table dancer I surely would care!!
Tommi, I just tried to imagine you as a table dancer! I think that’s just not you! 😉
Very cool article, with me happened somehow like that, i wished a lot that cool looking , but then i started to realize that i wasn’t enjoying the process to adquire the look, i was going to the gym tired, then I got out.
Some may think I’m lazy, but i thank a lot for that to happen because I discovered what is my favorite workout, and it’s simple, calisthenics(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calisthenics), it’s strange, but i love to do pushups, pullups, crunches, i just don’t run because i don’t want to lose weight(62kg for 1.81m)
It may strange like better this exercises than gym, maybe, but i’m doing what I like and I know it can make my body shape, maybe not sooo shape like a gym or weight exercises, and other, calisthenics look like if I were on the army, and the army maybe is the last goal for most of us.
I’ve been searching a lot about calisthenics and you may really get a nice body too, there’s much we can do with our weight and a pullup bar, and it is good too because you can do at home, or at the beach, lots of place, and it makes me feel good.
Sorry the long type,and my bad english, I’m brazilian, I wish luck to all and that God may guide us all =]
I agree, 6 packs can be a bit of a vanity statement.
Men look perfectly well with just a good level of fitness but once they get too ripped, it gives the signal that they spend more time in front of the mirror than anything else.
I read a library book called ‘beef it’ which was all about body building and that had some interesting pictures defining the newer ripped look and the older fit look.
Women body builders have the same issues in my opinion. The females who become too ripped, look like males in female clothing. The less ripped ladies, look shapely and still quite pleasant.