There’s been some discussion in the Manosphere about muscular power as it relates to female attraction. Lifting weights has been a longtime tenet of the game lifestyle from many sources. Athol Kay has weightlifting as the first item in his book’s Ten Steps To The MAP appendix. The more youthful gamers push it hard as the key to maintaining a body that will provide value in the SMP for decades to come. Lifting is critical to maximizing your sex rank, and as you get older and your status and income become more difficult to change, physical fitness can become the most mutable attraction trigger you possess.
My aim in this post is to emphasize a key point about weights: lifting is not just about improving how you look, it’s about improving your fitness and the social and hormonal signals you send to the opposite sex. Thus, lifting is about more than getting ripped muscles that look good in the mirror – even if you’re not getting giant biceps and a six-pack, weights are improving your body.
There certainly is an aspect of being fit that is just aesthetically pleasing to eye – the ripple of muscles, the taper, the lack of a gut. But there’s a reason I put looks and physical fitness in two different categories of my list of attraction triggers. A fit man also indicates good mating potential in more practical ways: he signals good genes to give to the woman’s future child, and portends the ability to provide for, construct for and protect the child (and its mother). In addition, a guy who is in shape and in good athletic control of his body is going to have a better social profile, because people subconsciously respect his improved physical stature and he’s probably giving off direct hormonal messages that he’s virile and ready to get the mating job done. Frost of Freedom Twenty Five put it simply: “you smell like testosterone.” There’s a phenomenon among women called “sexy ugly,” a guy who doesn’t have an alluring physical look but is attractive to women. Social behavior – i.e. game – explains a lot of it, but it’s not all: even an aesthetically unremarkable man can earn points with the hindbrain with his fitness.
The reason I emphasize this difference is that whenever this topic comes up around women, the discussion usually trends toward “how does your body look in a photograph.” Much attention is paid to celebrity photos as examples of what they like (which are prone to mis-attributing personality or status traits to physical ones). A great cacophony ensues as a subset of women insist they don’t like “muscles” and go for “skinny guys.” Part of the debate is just plurality – there is indeed a spread of what women find attractive. But there’s also a bit of wordplay going on. I find when I dig into these discussions, by asking for examples of who they find attractive, that the “skinnylovers” almost always prefer slim-built guys, yes, but slim guys who are strong and hard. Pasty men are not on anybody’s hitlist. What I don’t think women realize is that when meeting men, in the flesh, they are responding not just to his aesthetic look but to his signals of fitness. Thus an “uglier” guy can be more of a turn-on if he’s more fit.
MAY PRETTY LIES PERISH
I am concerned that men will hear this discussion and internalize one or both of these two false messages:
- Women don’t like muscle-bound men, so you should run or bike instead of lift and try to be as lean as possible
- You’ll never get to Mr Universe levels of muscle mass, so don’t bother lifting at all
We see both of these messages in game, as well: “game doesn’t work, women would never fall for that crap,” OR “even with game you won’t bang supermodels so why try to improve at all.” The former is simply mendacity; the latter is a defeatist straw man.
This confusion is an occupational hazard of interviewing women about their attraction triggers; not only do you have to deal with rationalization hamsters, you have to deal with vocabulary that doesn’t compute and also with false dichotomies. Lots of women (and some men) regard any discussion of weightlifting to mean bodybuilding and powerlifting, of meatheads throwing fifty-pound dumbbells around a stinky ass gym that doubles as a frat house where pussies who can’t bench their own body weight aren’t welcome. (GLPiggy wrote of Planet Fitness’ strategy to market directly against that stereotype, and how it partially reflects a feminine tactic to run away from and shame uncomfortable social friction. On the other hand, there are some really annoying gym guys.)
Over on the Alpha Game thread, one self-righteous commenter/blogger under the nom de guerre Bob Wallace bleated the following:
Almost all body builders are homosexual, and they do it because they are narcissistic and they do it for each other. Then you have the short guys with the Little Man Complex. Lots of women don’t like muscles and I’ve met many who prefer tall slender guys.
Classic example of the false dichotomy, this was in a discussion about fitness, not about “bodybuilding.” It’s akin to interrupting a discussion about which passenger car has the best gas mileage by saying “those big semi-trucks are major gas guzzlers, you should bike around town instead.”
By the way, the stereotypes of “weights culture” are a important issue in fitness, because the lunkhead stereotypes drive women away from weights, and weights are critically important to both genders’ fitness plans, not to mention much more effective than those stupid elliptical machines. Women need to know that plenty of men lift weights without a grunting hypertrophic approach, and that women can lift weights without engaging in any of that either. Women say “I don’t lift because I don’t want to get big.” It’s just not a real risk for regular women in regular workouts.
Back on the topic, a photograph of Orlando Bloom was floated as an example of a “skinny” guy:
No man versed in athletics would describe him as skinny. I would say he has a slim build and is in good shape. Extremely good shape. Look at the way his deltoid folds into his torso and the complete lack of a gut. He looks like he could play safety.
I think it’s as universal a rule as we can come up with that whatever body type they prefer, women like fitness and tone on a man.
FIT OR FAT, FOR YOUR TYPE
To cut through the vocabulary, I view the issue like this: there are a certain number of basic male bodytypes (the ecto/endo/mesomorph types are one way of indexing them). each woman is programmed to dig certain body types, among the other traits she’s interested in. Within those types, a woman will almost always prefer the fitter example of the type.
If you’re a big guy who puts on weight easily (big bone structures tend to do that), being “not fit” is probably going to mean being chubby. When he eats right and gets in the weight room, he can put some real definition on his very large muscles and look classically “ripped.” Conversely, a slim-build guy may not get a bulging muscular look when he’s working out, but he will be toned and fit, which can certainly be felt if not seen. However, when he’s out of shape, he won’t look any bigger, but he’ll have a pasty “skinny fat” look and feel that will disgust most women on contact.
GIVE THE BODY AGENDA A HAND UP
Finally, you never really know until you try which of these levels is going to operate on a particular girl (or guy), whether you’ll be judged “sexy ugly” or a “pretty beta.”
Sometimes the body agenda doesn’t kick in until close contact. As I wrote here, I recently dated an attractive, very intelligent, very interesting woman who had one fatal flaw – every time I touched her, my body agenda induced a sense of cum-curdling disgust. It was completely unexpected; I could fantasize about her in my own mind, but when I went to I felt an unshakeable sense of disgust. It felt bad to tell her we should stop dating; it must be what women feel when they have to dump their smart, hardworking, nice, but ultimately non-dominant and unattractive beta male.
Then on the other hand, often I’m drinking casually at a bar or pub, and a girl who was otherwise unremarkable to me will walk past and accidentally bump me, and this tingly shiver will run up my body from my junk to the top of my head. Putting aside the portion of bumps that are not accidental (it’s a key insight of game to realize that so much of the thigh-bumps, boob-rubs, and casual eye contact of women are not accidental at all), it’s a great anecdotal example of the localized nature of attraction – it can get triggered at any point in the entire process.
I find the same thing when women touch me when I am toned and in shape – once they cop a feel of the muscles, their eyes pop out of their head and they’re hooked.
As does another commenter at the Alpha Game thread:
From my experience, women say negative things about muscles until they are able to touch them and feel them from men.
Much more if they experience sex with a muscular guy.
When it’s you who is hoping for that positive reaction up-close, you want to give her body agenda a hand up by being a body her body would want.