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Do Muscles Make Men More Attractive To Women


Do muscles really make you more attractive?

Do muscles really make you more attractive to the opposite sex?

Muscles Make Men More Attractive To Women?


(Do Muscles Make Men More Attractive to Women- updated January 2023)

As of the time of this article being updated, we had 2,230 respondents to our poll on whether or not people thought muscles made men more attractive to the opposite sex, and over two thirds of those responding believed that it does, with a little over 6% believing the contrary. (See our poll at the bottom of this post.) Numbers that ring true with my own experience over the past several decades as a natural bodybuilder and personal trainer in New York City. From movies to advertisements in today’s modern media, the “ideal man” is almost always well built. Past stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone still stand out decades after the zenith of their movie careers as the epitome of masculinity. As are the well-built and muscular images of almost all of the main characters of the superhero movies that are so much a part of today’s popular culture. Images that have prompted millions of men over the years to start lifting weights with the goal of improving their attractiveness, muscle size and muscle definition. In many instances driving them to extreme behaviors such as over training and or the use of anabolic steroids. All in the quest to achieve their goal of that well-muscled physique that they perceive as being more attractive to the opposite sex. Media hype aside however, is there any real evidence that having a well-muscled physique makes you more attractive to the opposite sex?

The answer is yes, and no. Yes, there is evidence that a moderately well muscled physique can increase male attractiveness among members of the opposite sex, but only to a degree. Wealth, as we all know, also increases attractiveness, but having one million or fifty million dollars makes someone no more or less attractive, as the degree of attractiveness remains the same as long as the individual is perceived as wealthy. Attractiveness to muscles on men, however, follows a different pattern, as there is evidence that a moderately well muscled physique is considered very attractive to the opposite sex, but women consider too much muscle as being less attractive.[11] The extreme degree of muscularity displayed by drug using bodybuilders, physique competitors and avid gym goers using anabolic steroids, and other performance enhancing drugs to the point where it is readily apparent that they are chemically enhanced, does not appear to be congruent with the majority’s perception of a male ideal, especially among females. Instead of being seen as an accomplishment, it is perceived as being “too much.” An aversion that transcends mere aesthetics as it has deep biological origins. While it’s hard to draw a line as to how much muscle is too much, it would appear that a more naturally (appearing) physique wins over an obviously over-sized one. A concept foreign to many Western males raised with social and media cues that being bigger is better. In this article we will take a look behind the science behind muscular attractiveness. Thanks for reading and as always, do be sure to share this article with anyone who might find it to be of interest.


Do Muscles Make Men More Attractive? Our Built In Body Image Bias


While we might like to think that our preferences are born solely of individual choice, the truth is that a preference for some degree of muscles on males seems to be hardwired into our genes. Studies show that children as young as kindergarteners, appear to prefer males with more muscular builds over those who are naturally on the heavier side, (endomorphs), or those with inherently lean and thin physiques (ectomorphs).[1] Young children in general have a slight aversion towards heavyset individuals and in one study children aged 10 to 11 years old related muscular mesomorphs as “all things good”, while attributing less favorable descriptions to ectomorphs and endomorphic body types.

Fatter children generally have a negative perception of themselves , which can lead to a generalized negative self image.[2] Negative reactions to overweight individuals are an undeniable fact of modern Western life. People that are obese are often discriminated against in obtaining life insurance, getting jobs, and gaining entrance to college education.[3] As much as we might try to ignore it, such discrimination, while not coming from a place of malice or prejudice, still does create serious and almost institutionalized problems. A study of 10,000 people aged 16 to 24 that spanned a seven year period found that being obese meant you were less likely to marry, more likely to have a lower income, and more likely to receive less schooling as well.[4] People in Western society also perceive the inability to lose weight as a character flaw, which is ironic given that obesity is a rapidly spreading epidemic that affects the majority of the population, with 63% of the American population categorized as overweight and almost one third of them can be termed as being obese.[5]


Do Muscles Make Men More Attractive? Prejudices Against The Obese

Do muscles make men more attractive
Numerous studies unfortunately show huge prejudices against the obese


Fatter children generally have a negative perception of themselves , which can lead to a generalized negative self image.[2] Negative reactions to overweight individuals are an undeniable fact of modern Western life. People that are obese are often discriminated against in obtaining life insurance, getting jobs, and gaining entrance to college education.[3] As much as we might try to ignore it, such discrimination, while not coming from a place of malice or prejudice, still does create serious and almost institutionalized problems. A study of 10,000 people aged 16 to 24 that spanned a seven year period found that being obese meant you were less likely to marry, more likely to have a lower income, and more likely to receive less schooling as well.[4] People in Western society also perceive the inability to lose weight as a character flaw, which is ironic given that obesity is a rapidly spreading epidemic that affects the majority of the population, with 63% of the American population categorized as overweight and almost one third of them can be termed as being obese.[5]

muscular man attractive to woman
There is evidence for an ancestral logic to women seeing more muscular men as being more attractive


Evolutionary Reasons For Muscles Being Attractive To The Opposite Sex


One of the evolutionary reasons for perceived attractiveness is the male’s ability to successfully reproduce and bestow some genetic benefit upon their offspring. In all species, it is important that the female selects a healthy mate, and some of the factors for physical suitability are called, “fitness cues” which demonstrate that the male is in good physical condition. Some scientists see organisms as entities that capture energy from the environment and then use those energies not only for survival but also for enhancing their potential for reproductive success by developing “metabolically expensive” physical features that are attractive to the opposite sex. [7]For example, the larger sized tail and plumage of the male peacock requires a notable amount of energy to produce and maintain, and it is precisely because the tail is so metabolically costly that it makes it attractive to female peacocks.[8] As it demonstrates that the male with such endowment must be in good physical health. The same applies to well muscled human males. Lean muscle tissue requires more calories to be built and maintained than any other form of tissue and thus it signals to females that the male is in good physical condition.

Females mating with such a male would also have a greater likelihood of passing on these attractive traits to their offspring and thus increasing the female’s reproductive success in later generations since the ability to add muscle mass over one’s baseline is indeed heritable.[9] Some other evolutionary cues may have also played a role in shaping women’s preference for muscularity. A well muscled body would be useful for gathering of resources and providing protection and so a preference for muscularity may have evolved in women partly because of the direct benefits a muscular mate could provide. [11] Benefits that would increase the female’s chances of survival and pass on traits that would increase the chances of survival for her offspring as well.

So, given the fact that muscles are a fitness indicator and a muscular physique would provide heritable and direct benefits to females from an ancestral point of view, it would be tempting to extrapolate that the more muscles a male has, the more attractive they will be to the opposite sex. In reality, it does not play out that way as human mating behaviors are far more complex. According to strategic pluralism theory, men have evolved in such a way that their reproductive behaviors are based on their value in the mating market. [10] So more attractive men increase their reproductive success by investing more time in seeking multiple partners and less time devoted to raising offspring. Less attractive males who do not have the same mating opportunities will invest heavily in their mates and the raising of offspring and spend less time seeking other partners. From the female point of view, the ideal scenario is to attract a mate who will invest in them long term and pass along genetic benefits as well. However, not all women would be able to attract long term invested males who could pass on favorable fitness cues, and so there is a trade off between choosing males who have good fitness indicators and those who will be better long term partners and invest in family life.[10] As such, for short term relationships, or when the male contribution is only genetic, do women tend to prefer more muscular males, but for long term relationships it becomes a bit more involved.


too much muscle can be unattractive to the opposite sex
Too much muscle can be seen by women as being just as unattractive as being too skinny and slender.



Do Muscles Make Men More Attractive? The Downsides of Too Much Muscle


While studies overwhelmingly show that women rate muscular men as more sexually desirable than non muscular men, there is also an “inverted U” when it comes to muscularity. Very slender men are considered less attractive, as are chubby and “typical” sized males, while toned men are deemed the most sexually desirable, with built men being seen as less desirable and brawny or heavily muscled men even less so. To the point where heavily muscled and slender or skinny men are considered equally less attractive than those with more proportioned and natural looking muscular builds.[11] Which is ironic, given that one of the reasons many men use anabolic steroids for physique enhancement is as a result of being naturally skinny and feeling unattractive to the opposite sex. In the West, men generally believe that the more muscles you have, the more attractive you will be to the opposite sex. [12,13,14,15] However, this does not seem to be the case, and anabolic steroid usage almost always results in a body that most women would refer to as overdeveloped.

Women also perceive muscular men as being more dominant, volatile and less committed to relationships and the more muscular a man is, the more such qualities are perceived. That said, muscular men tend to have more lifetime and short-term sex partners, and reportedly have more affairs with women in relationships when controlling for other variables. [11] Studies are unable to tell if toned men in the middle of the inverted U curve have more lifetime partners than highly muscular men, perhaps because of the difficulty in finding a large enough pool of extremely muscular men. Another explanation might be that although overly muscular men might be less attractive to women, they also tend to be more dominant, volatile, persistent and narcissistic, which could lead them to have more lifetime sex partners.[11] But would also predispose them to more relationship related problems as well.


The Muscle Man As An Ideal Mate- In Theory More So Than Practice

 Is a well muscled body a template for the ideal mate


So, is a well muscled body a template for the ideal mate? A simple yes or no answer is difficult to come by and in the real world today it might not be as important as many might like to think. Researchers find that women who see themselves as conservative and feminine tended to favor ‘muscle men.’ While more ‘liberated’ women lean more towards thinner and more linear bodies. Big women tend to prefer big men but again these are all rather abstract ratings. When researchers looked at the actual choice of mate for women surveyed it was a very different story. Overwhelmingly bodies of research have shown that the best clue to a women’s favorite male physique is the type of physique belonging to the man who is ‘the most important to her at that time in her life.'[6] The fact that women prefer the physique of the man who is currently important to them, confirms that partners are selected for many reasons besides physical attractiveness, and that people can favor an ideal body type but still not be happy with someone who fits that ideal.

Now there are sub groups of women who find extremely muscular men incredibly attractive, and some go so far as to only date men who are very well muscled, however these women are very small in number relative to the size of the female human population. I myself started out at 125 lbs and did indeed see a tremendous difference in the way I was treated by the opposite sex as I slowly transformed into a 200 lb plus natural bodybuilder. It was a fascinating study in human behavior during my teenage years to go from being almost completely ignored by the opposite sex to a center of attention, which was interesting experience to say the least as I honestly didn’t expect it. Bodybuilding for me was a very personal undertaking and the realization of a childhood dream, and frankly I was surprised that it changed my interactions as much as it did. I do believe that muscles can give you the advantage of a good first impression- but after that, character, integrity, personality and a host of other factors will always be more important in terms of long term attractiveness. It might sound strange coming from me, as I am in fact a bodybuilder, but I do believe that men, like their female counterparts, should focus more on being themselves rather than trying to fit an ideal. So many men destroy their health and lives trying to fit the muscular ideal and so many women do the same not realizing that being skinny isn’t healthy. The desire for a well-developed body should spring from a sincere quest for self-improvement and overall health, and certainly not just as a way to pick up women. Besides, as the research overwhelmingly shows, muscles aren’t always everything.


High Intensity Bodyweight Training: Ballistic Pushups & Dips!

This was a tough one!

Starts out with ballistic push ups (like clap pushups but without the clap as my wrist is still not 100%) nonstop for 20 reps, then all out on dips for 10 reps.

To say it was painful would be an understatement, but you just have to push through and keep on going.

Still training, hope you are too and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #chestday #chesttraining #naturalbodybuildingtips #pushups #dips #bodyweighttraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #calesthenics

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Kevin's Unconventional Biceps Training- 3-6 Minutes a Week!

In this video I go over my biceps training using the Naturally Intense High Intensity Training protocols that helped me go from having arms measuring 11.5 to 12 inches to 18 inches drug free!

It's an unconventional approach for certain, but it's one that's helped my arms grow and the hundreds of men and women I have trained over the past 30 plus years.

Now, my success isn't due to being genetically gifted, as it took me the better part of 11 years to get my arms up to those measurements.

Which is significant as it works and been been proven time and time again to work for the average man or woman trying to grow their arms without drugs.

It's my hope that these high intensity training protocols can help you as much as they helped me!

Click on my bio link to see the full video on my YouTube channel and thanks as always for taking the time to look at my work!!! Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #armworkout #bicepsworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #biceps #armtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #barbellcurls

55 8

At the Lancaster Classic Day 2 Elimination Rounds Against European Champion, and World Record Holder Leo Pettersen @leo_barebow_archer

I don't talk much about it but I'm also a competitive barebow archer (surprise!) and last Saturday I had the honor of making it to Day 2 at the Lancaster Archery Classic in the Barebow Division, as I made the top 64 out of 267 competitors and had a chance to shoot with some of the greatest barebow shooters on the planet!

I didn't make it past Leo, but it was a real rush to be there and a huge thanks to my coach, Joe MyGlyn @prolinearchery for helping me get there.

Thanks as well to my good friend @sean_chan33 for all of his help from the very start, to my line buddy Aaron Shea for taking the shot and showing up to support!

My thanks as well to rob_kaufhold for putting on and promoting one of the best archery tournaments on earth!

Thanks also to to everyone who took the time to send a supporting word and I am looking forward to next year!!! #naturallyintense #barebow

#lancasterclassic #lancasterarcheryclassic2024 #lancasterarchery #archery #fitover40 #barebowrecurve #targetarchery

38 9

Dumbo, Brooklyn circa 2004

This shot was taken as part of the promotion for my Naturally Intense DVD and was about a year after my last bodybuilding competition.

It was a grueling photoshoot.

We started at about 10 am and finished around 4pm and I was completely spent, but the more we shot the sharper I looked, so we kept on going.

It's nice to look back from time to time and as tired as I was, we all had a blast!

My thanks to @stephanie_corne_artwork, @https://pulse.ly/itgnag2dec and @ftaz1 for taking the shots!!!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #throwback #fifthavenuegym #5thavenuegym #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildinglifestyle #gymlife #gymmotivation #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #bodybuilding #blackandwhite #instablackandwhite #bnw

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Can You Build An Impressive Physique Training Only At Home?


I stopped training in commercial gyms as of March 2020 and have been training at home ever since.

Initially I was admittedly worried that I might lose some of my gains or not make as much progress, but that certainly wasn't the case.

I've consistently continued to improve with my high intensity workouts and muscles have no idea where they are training.

As long as the criteria of adequate intensity and overload are met, there will be an adaptive response and your muscles will get bigger and stronger.

So don't worry at all about where you train, focus instead of what will be the best way for you to always be training!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

97 3

Kevin's Three Day Training Spilt!

For the past 33 years I have trained three times a week with Naturally Intense High Intensity Training workouts lasting 10, 15 to 20 minutes max.

It's a training split tried and testes not only in it's helping me realize my goal of becoming a successful natural bodybuilder, but it's also helped hundreds of men and women over the past three decades.

I have tested just about every possible training split imaginable and for this particular style of high intensity training, this particular grouping consistently yields fantastic results.

I hope it helps you as much as it's helped me over the years and thanks so much for taking the time to look at my work.

Keep training hard and Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#trainingsplit #3daytrainingsplit #threedaytrainingsplit #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #bodybuilding #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips

147 26

405 Stiff Leg Deadlift for 7 Reps! High Intensity Training.

First leg workout of the year and already pushing it!

I haven't done a stiff leg deadlift over 315lbs for about 3 years at this point, and I did my last set with 315lbs and comfortably got to 10 reps and decided I had far too much gas left in the tank and that I should go up in weight.

So I did.

I figured I might get a solid 6 reps in, but I made it to 7 and I think I could have gone on to get a full 10 reps BUT that's when good judgement prevailed.

As a bodybuilder having not trained this heavy for so many years, the shock of this much weight would be more than enough to stimulate muscle growth, and doing more reps wouldn't yield any greater returns, only increase the likelihood of injury.

It's not about the numbers, it's about training to a point where you achieve your goal, and it's important to have a goal in mind as a bodybuilder based on increasing muscle mass rather than hitting a particular number.

Besides, if in my 20's I never did more than 405lbs on a stiff leg deadlift, it doesn't make any sense going heavier than when I am almost 50!

Could I deadlift more at this point?

Absolutely but just because you can doesn't mean you should!

So keep those weights in a good working range, keep it safe and as always Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #roguerack #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #backworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #backtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #fitoverforty #deadlift

71 20

Turning 50 in a few months...

Not much of a big deal for me as I still feel pretty much the same but I hope that my example helps show what can be done with a lifetime commitment to eating well and training consistently!

Thanks for coming along on the journey and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #healthylifestyle #fitover40 #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #natty #fitness

242 41


Please note that all material is copyrighted and DMCA Protected and can be reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the author.

Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, Kevin Richardson’s Naturally Intense High Intensity Training have helped hundreds lose weight and transform their bodies with his 10 Minute Workouts. One of the top natural bodybuilders of his time, Kevin is also the international fitness consultant for UNICEF  and a 5 time Best Personal Trainer NYC Award Winner.

Related Articles:

Skinny Isn’t Attractive – The Evolutionary Argument Against Being Thin

Why People Store Fat In Different Parts of The Body


References for Do Muscles Make Men More Attractive To Women

1. Johnson & Staffieri, 1971; Learner & Gellert, 1969, Learner & Korn, 1972; Learner & Schroder 1971; Staffieri, 1972.
2. Portnoy, 1993
3. Channing and Mayer, 1966
4. Gortmaker et al., 1993
5. The National Center for Health statistics
6. Beck, Ward-Hull, &McLear, 1976; Lavrakas, 1975; Pertschulk, Trisdorfer, & Allison, 1994; Wiggins & Wiggins, 1969.

7. Kaplan, H. S., & Gangestad, S. W. Life history theory and evolutionary psychology. In D. Buss (Ed.), The handbook of evolutionary psychology. New York: John Wiley 2005
8. Zahavi, A. Mate selection—A selection for a handicap. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 1975
9. Thomis, M. A., Beunen, G. P., Maes, H. H., Cameron, J., Van Leemputte, M., Claessens, A. L., et al. Strength training: Importance of genetic factors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise,1998
10.Gangestad, S. W., & Simpson, J. A. The evolution of human mating: Trade-offs and strategic pluralism. Behavioral & Brain Sciences
11. Frederick, D.A. Haselton, M.G. Why Is Muscularity Sexy? Tests of the Fitness Indicator Hypothesis Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2007
12.Yang, C. F. J., Gray, P., & Pope, H. G., Jr. Male body image in Taiwan versus the West: Yangghang Zhiqi meets the Adonis Complex. American Journal of Psychiatry 2005
13. Lipinski, J. P., & Pope, H. G., Jr. (2002). Body ideals in young Samoan men: A comparison with men in North America and Europe. International Journal of Men’s Health 2002
14. Campbell, B. C., Pope, H. G., & Filliault, S. Body image among Ariaal men from Northern Kenya. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 2005
15. Frederick, D. A., Fessler, D. M. T., & Haselton, M. G. Do representations of male muscularity differ in men’s and women’s magazines? Body Image: An International Journal of Research 2005

16. Olivardia, R., Pope, H. G., Jr., Borowiecki, J. J. III, & Cohane, G. H. Biceps and Body Image: The Relationship Between Muscularity and Self-Esteem, Depression, and Eating Disorder Symptoms. Psychology of Men & Masculinit 2004


Kevin Richardson
Kevin Richardsonhttps://www.naturallyintense.net
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, celebrity Personal Trainer NYC and with over 2.6 million readers of his blog, Kevin Richardson is the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, one of the top lifetime drug free bodybuilders of his time, the first International Fitness & Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF, 2020 and 8 Time Winner of the Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training and a world recognized authority on high intensity training. Kevin has helped thousands, from celebrities to CEO's over the past 30 years achieve their fitness goals with his 10 minute high-intensity workouts done just three times a week in conjunction with his holistic nutrition approach. You can learn more about about his diet and training services at www.naturallyintense.net

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