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Using the Golden Ratio to Sculpt the Perfect Body

There’s a reason most all humans find the bodies in Greek sculptures appealing. It’s because they were DESIGNED to be ideal. The sculptors actually used mathematical formulas to carve out bodies that were precisely the size and dimensions we find attractive and impressive. Examples of the Golden Ratio can be found throughout nature and has been a secret weapon of the best artists in the world for thousands of years. We too can use these formulas to determine the best proportions for our ideal body!

Steve Reeves Hey men, many of you are spending lots of time in the gym working out like wild men lifting dangerously heavy weights trying to transform yourself into the biggest baddest muscular monster possible. That’s great, and many of you have succeeded in looking like that massive monster you were chasing. Congratulations.

But there’s also many of you that want a sexy (yet muscular) body that women find attractive. I have never met one single woman that wants a man who looks like the massive monsters that are today’s modern bodybuilder competitors. Women want a man with the body of a Greek god. And for many men, this is exactly what we want as well. This is good, because reaching enormous bodybuilder status is impossible without a sweeping array of steroids and growth-inducing drugs. Attaining a Greek god body is still no easy feat, but it is very possible for every man. No drugs necessary.

Now, when trying to improve or conquer a challenge, it is imperative that you set a clear, solid goal. Working out to look better and attract the ladies is not a clear tangible goal. How do you know when you’ve successfully reached such a vague goal? How will you know what areas to focus on and how will you measure your progress towards that goal? Failing to plan is planning to fail, and if you charge ahead with an unclear objective, you will certainly waste your time.

You need specifics in your goals. Finding a picture of a fit person you wish to emulate is a good start, but even this can still be too vague. Variables like height and body type can make it difficult to determine how to calculate your success in emulation. This is why I suggest using the Golden Ratio to help you calculate precise target numbers that are perfectly customized to your exact body.

The Golden Ratio and Adonis Effect

There’s a reason most all humans find the bodies in Greek sculptures appealing. It’s because they were DESIGNED to be ideal. The sculptors actually used mathematical formulas to carve out bodies that were precisely the size and dimensions we find attractive and impressive. That’s right, the artists didn’t use fickle opinions to determine the measurements, but rather precise ratios that are unchanging, scientifically reliable standards of beauty.

golden ratioExamples of the Golden Ratio can be found throughout nature and has been a secret weapon of the best artists in the world for thousands of years. I will not go into the history and science of Phi and Golden Ratio in this article, but in a nutshell it is suggested that things with a ratio of 1 to 1.618 tend to be the most pleasing to look at. Human brains are programmed to look for symmetry and balance in everything, so we can use this clearly defined mathematical constant to our advantage in body sculpting.

The Golden Ratio already naturally appears all around your body regardless of your fitness level or health. If the length of the hand is 1, the length of the forearm would be approximately 1.618. If the distance from the floor to your belly button is 1, then your overall height from the floor to the top of your head would be about 1.618. There are countless examples of these proportions of the face and body, far too many to include here.

golden ratio body proportionsSince the Golden Ratio is already present in our skeletal structure, it’s time to apply the formula to our weight and muscles. Studies have already revealed that women are most attracted to men whose shoulders measure exactly 1.6 times the size of their waists. Impressive shoulders is the most important place to start, but it is only the beginning of the puzzle. Let’s begin defining our workout goals by determining our exact target measurements based on the Golden Ratio principle.

Using Golden Ratio Proportions to Determine Your Goal Measurements

Below is a simplified custom formula for determining the ideal proportions of your body. Since many of these measurements are related to each other, we want to find body parts that remain a constant size. For example, your wrists and knees remain fairly constant your entire adult life, so these will be used as our starting markers. Your waist measurement is another critical number for our formula, but the waist is also most prone to weight fluctuations. Fortunately, aside from fat gain, the waist doesn’t change size too much. Therefore, if you are not in peak physical condition just yet, you need to first determine the size of your waist in its most lean state that is realistic and comfortable to maintain.

Once you have the circumference of your lean waist measured, multiply it by 1.6 and the resulting number should be the goal circumference of your shoulders. These are the numbers that will create the most impressive V-shaped look for your body. Follow the formula below to determine the rest of your measurements.

Waist Size = your determined lean waist measurement
Shoulder Size = 1.6 x your lean waist measurement
Arm Size = 2.5 x wrist size
Neck Size = 2.5 x wrist size
Calve Size = 2.5 x wrist size or 1.9 x ankle size
Thigh Size = 1.75 x knee size

This will provide you with the ideal proportions for an impressive sexy body. Now you have actual measurements to use as your goal which means you can craft a workout program specifically tailored to your needs. You have now just taken the guess work out of setting a precise goal towards obtaining your sexy Greek god body!

Related Reading

For additional information about attaining the perfectly sculpted body based on ideal proportions, check out the book The Adonis Index. Click here for more info.

33 replies on “Using the Golden Ratio to Sculpt the Perfect Body”

as an engineering major with a fascination for the fibonacci sequence, this post was excellent. i’m glad to see this type of design implementation cross over into different fields, such as bodybuilding. nice post.

Meh, drug-free bbers don’t need to worry about that – get as much lean mass as possible without ignoring body parts and you’ll eventually look like a Greek god.

This is almost true, but what about leg circumference? Aren’t they capable of growing far for than 1.75 times your knee circumference?

it’s true, however some people have problems with certain muscles growing faster than others. For example, my shoulders have the adonis ratio with my waist, however my arms and calves both need an extra two inches. My thighs are about one inch off as well.

Actually, Craig R, you’re both partly correct and partly incorrect about drug-free bodybuilders not needing to worry about the ratios.

I’m 59, been a lifelong-drug-free bodybuilder since i began in 1972 at age sixteen.

You’re correct if you mean that all anyone can achieve naturally (that is, without steroids and other growth drugs) is what their genetics allow. Each of us is born with genetic “ceilings” on how much lean mass each of our muscle groups can build. Whether it’s your calves, your triceps/biceps, your deltoid, your hamstrings, or any other muscle, your genetics will permit an increase in size to only a certain point, and that point varies from person to person, and, is essentially set at birth. A bodybuilder can fail to gain as much size as his genetics allow, but a bodybuilder can never exceed the size his genetics allow (unless drugs are employed). So, you’re correct that all a drug-free can do is work hard toward reaching his genetic limits then let the results be whatever genetics allow him to be.

However, you’re incorrect that a bodybuilder doesn’t have to worry about the ratios, that is, if his goal is to look as optimal as he can (and also if physique competition is a goal).
If, for example, a 5′ 9″ tall man is born with wider-than-average pelvic width but narrower-than-average clavicles (shoulder bones); and 6.75″ wrists but only 8″ ankles (this is a real-life example, by the way), then even after adding as much mass as his genetics permit and becoming lean, his physique will not be proportionate. Even after adding mass on his deltoids, his shoulders will always be too narrow in proportion to his waist (since his wider hip bones will make his waist look wide even when his waist is free of bodyfat); and, since upper arm and calf size are directly dependent upon wrist and ankle size (thicker bones are able to carry more muscle mass, and, for his height, an ankle 8.75″ to 9″ is needed to be proportionate), his calves always be substantially too small in proportion to his arms and upper body. Visually, even when lean enough to have washboard abs, he’ll always appear disproportionate. He can become the best he can for his bone structure, but he can never look as proportionate as someone the same height born with that better shoulder-to-waist proportion and better ankle-to-wrist proportion.

…my thought being that, yes, physique proportions equaling the Golden Ratio establishes a desireable goal for a “no-steroids nor growth drugs” bodybuilder; however, regrettably, with genetic potential for attaining proportionate muscle mass and leanness varying so significantly between individuals, attaining the Golden Ratio-derived formulas in the article doesn’t, alone, ensure ideal proportions.

Overall proportionality depends not only upon each bodypart being proportionate within itself (as in, calf to ankle; knee to thigh; shoulder-width to waist; wrist to upper arm, etcetera) but also upon each bodypart being proportionate to every other bodypart (as in, wrists to ankles; calves to upper arms; thighs to waist; shoulder-width to upper arms; neck to waist, etcetera). A person might have, say, calves which are exactly 1.9 times ankle size, and thighs which are exactly 1.75 times knee size; but, unless the ankle and knee sizes are in correct proportion to wrist size, and, in that proportion correct for bodyheight, the physique will appear disproportionate.

Steve Reeves (the pre-steroid-era world-champion bodybuilder in the photo) provides an near-perfect example of all-around correct proportions. He looks “great” to most people because his wrists, ankles, clavicle(shoulder)-width and waist-narrowness (waist-width being controlled not only by staying lean, but also by the unchangeable genetic trait of pelvic-bone width) are aesthetically ideal for his height and in near-perfect proportion to each other. Even before he built his muscle size, Reeves had pleasing body proportions because of his skeletal frame.

Upon that near-perfect-proportioned skeletal foundation, he then built each muscle group to its genetic limit, attaining Golden Ratio proportion both within each bodypart and, as importantly, between each bodypart.

But, regrettably, unlike Reeves, NOT everyone can achieve Golden Ratio proportion even within a bodypart, no matter how many years of intelligent, intense, consistent progressive bodybuilding they employ. A person’s muscle-building genes have to permit that for a person to achieve the Ratio within each bodypart.

The maximum possible muscle size of each of a person’s muscle groups is genetically set by several variables, one of which is how long a muscle itelf is between the tendons which connect it to the joints it flexes. The length of the muscle — its “belly” — is fixed at birth.

An easy place to visualize this is at the arm biceps — notice how some people have biceps that extend right into the elbow yet others have a “gap” between the bicep and the elbow. That gap is filled by tendon (which does not substantially thicken so cannot increase in size as does muscle). Longer muscle bellies enable more size and therefore better proportions. Despite what some claim, no one can increase the length of a muscle belly — a person can maximize the muscle belly length he’s born with, yes, but no one can convert tendon to muscle.

Notice how Reeves has long “bellies” everywhere — his biceps have no gap at his elbows, his pectorals have no gap beween them (where the pecs attach to the sternum) but attach directly against each other, his calves attach low near his ankles due to short tendons. He was able to develop near-perfect ratios because, not only was he born with an optimally-proportioned skeleton, but he was also bornwith near-perfect muscle bellies which enabled him to attain the “golden ratio” within each bodypart.

If 1.6 is the Golden Ratio, where does the 2.5 come from that the author uses for other ratios?

I thought it might be, but then I thought he won’t make a rounding error if he cares about numbers enough to write this article.

I know, but it doesn’t matter where you round, it should be 2.6. 1.6 * 1.6 = 2.56, round to 2.6. If you take more digits after the comma, it comes closer to 2.6 and even exceeds it, but still rounds to 2.6.

Sorry for being a pedant. I’m not even discussing content, just bitching about math. šŸ™‚

Eugan Sandow- referred to often as the father of bodybuilding- based all of his goals on this.

By these calculations i need
+3″ on my shoulders, +3.5″ on my arms, +2″ on my neck, +3″ on my calf’s, and +4″ on my thighs
not too bad haha

there is a ratio for muscle proportions, it’s called the Adonis index…Think about it…every great sculptor ever has always made similar bodies in all their pieces…This is because there is a natural appeal to a certain body look….It’s the look of Adonis, the god of beauty and desire.

I found this post to be quite interesting. I did my calculations and it seems the golden ratio has put me into my own personal challenge. Upvotes baby

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By this rate, I’ll need 5.2″ on my shoulders, 6.25″ on my arms, 3.25″ on my neck, 3.75″ on my Calves, and 5.25″ on my Thighs. That’s a loong way to go, but I’m still young, and I suspect a bit more growing to occur before I can make relatively stable measurements haha. Still wouldn’t hurt to get strength training for me.

Damn, I need 2.5″ on arms, 2″ on forearms, 2.5″ on shoulders, 8″ in shoulder circumference, 1.5″ on my neck, 2″ on my calves, and 2″ on my thighs. I wonder how long that’ll take?

I found this this to be vey helpful in determing my goals going forward. I will achieve the golden ratio once an inch has been added to my arms. I do feel the need to voice my opinion on the fact that the chest is left out. The chest, in my opinion, is a very big part

I think it is very important to have goals in mind when training. Too many people go to the gym and they don’t strive towards an esthetic and proportionate physique. How proportionate your physique is makes a big difference, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about Steve Reeves and Frank Zane.

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