For a large percentage of guys the fitness ideal is the natural bodybuilder, the guy who uses the lastest training techniques, is in good shape and eats relatively healthy and naturally. I mean who doesn't admire someone who could bench a Z4 without resorting to steriods? He looks good, feels good and undoubtedly has women right and left tripping over themselves to meet him.
Well, I want to challenge this ideal. First of all, women do not, in general, like bodybuilding levels of muscle on a guy, be he natural or be he freakish from steroids. Massive muscle mass-building - say that three times fast! - is almost entirely a male-driven phenomenon.
Consider these results from a Psychology Today study:
Men and women also parted company in the domain of male muscle mass. Men value muscle mass, while women are less interested in oversized biceps and pecs. In ranking male body types, women gave first place to medium with moderate muscle mass while medium with competition muscle mass came in a lowly fourth. When men estimated women's preferences, however, competition body build narrowly missed second place. We asked women directly, "how important it is for you that [a man] have noticeable muscles," and we asked men how important muscles were to them. The differences were striking: twice as many women as men said that male muscles did not matter at all.
That's right - competitive muscle mass is a negative with most women. Guys, let's be honest: if you're not lifting for the women, then who are you lifting for? Let me be more blunt: why are you pursuing something that is an actual turn off for most women? When I first read this, it hit me like a ton of bricks. All those "curls for those girls" that I was doing was nothing more than narcissistic madness.
Yes, a certain amount of muscle mass is important for your metabolism, weight control, bone mass and other health factors. Furthermore, a youthful amount of muscle mass makes you look much younger: we all know one of the best signs of middle age is a flat butt and flabby arms. But, that said, why do we guys do what we do to ourselves in the gym? It just doesn't make sense!
Let me give you just a few examples of how Muscle Madness actually can hurt or even kill you:
So, in my opinion, you should seriously re-think trying to go the speed of light, that is you should reconsider your desire for infinite mass. It's not worth the price. Besides, women would much rather see a six pack on your abs. And well-trained abs will do a lot more good in the bedroom than 20 inch biceps anyway. Think of some of the greatest athletes in the world right now - guys like Federer and Phelps - and they are much more the physically ideal of women around the globe.
I want to emphasize that I am NOT trying to talk you out of weight or strength training nor am I going to the extreme of saying that muscle is not good for you. If you've poked around my site at all, you know that I emphasize the slow build up of Muscle Mass for many reasons, including the fact that it burns fat, builds testosterone and helps you look decades younger for starters. But I encourage you to reconsider the traditional body building hype that is so often promoted on the web and in the mags: it is probably just plain dangerous for your long term health.
I also want to point out that I tried an Ornish Diet, which is a quasi-vegan diet that actually reverses arteriosclerosis, and found that I put on several pounds of muscle while building a six pack on my abs! I had not seen that since my college days. Again, this kind of healthy lifestyle is what you need: building muscle, lowering fat, getting good abs and cleaning out your arteries! So put on some muscle and get in shape and don't kill yourself while you're at it! (For more information, read my link on the Great Diet Smackdown (Part II) and how the Ornish Diet appears to stop Prostate Cancer dead in its tracks.)
CAUTION: New research shows that aerobics/cardio should always be done after weight training. Please read my link on Weight Lifting and Arterial Stiffening for a detailed analysis.
1) Arch. Path, 1968,85:133-137;J Nutr,1972,102:53-60; Biochem Pharmacol,1973,22:1005-1014; Life Sci,1976,19:1191-1198. There are about two dozen more studies documented on p. 372-373 of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, Benbella Pub., 2006.
2) Adv Nutr Res,1979,2:29-55
3) J Natl Cancer Inst,2002,94:1099-1109; J Am Diet Assoc,1999,99:1228-1233; Am J Nephrol, 2001, 21:331-339; Brit J Cancer,2000,83:95-97
4) Science,Jan 23 1998,279:563-66
6) Experimental Physiol,2005,90(4):645-651
7) Experimental Physiol, 2007, 93(2):296-302
8) Angiology, 2000, 51(10):817-826