Article last updated: January 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
(1) The ideal shoulder-to-waist ratio for men is about 1.6. Anything way above looks “freaky” and anything way below looks “bulky” (if you’re big) or “feminine” (if you’re small). The closer you are to 1.6, the better. Why exactly 1.6? Because this is the golden ratio of aesthetics.
(2) Women should aim for a toned physique with strong glutes, strong thighs, a flat waist, defined arms, narrow shoulders and a small neck. (Note: As a woman you will never get huge from weight training since your testosterone levels are 12 to 17 times lower than mens’).
(3) The 2 guidelines above are “general”. These general guidelines apply to +90% of you reading this, but if they don’t, there’s nothing wrong with that. Each of us have our unique goals… Some of you want big arms, some of you want a big neck… Regardless of what YOUR goal is, there’s nothing wrong with it being different from “the norm”. If you want big arms, go ahead and do 12 isolation sets for arms. If you want big thighs, go ahead and squat 3 times a week. Nobody on the internet knows your dream physique as well as yourself. Ignore the people who try to force everyone into their own “box”, e.g. the people who say that lifting heavy on the compound movements is the only efficient way to gain muscle or the calisthenics people who say that calisthenics is the only functional training you can do.
(4) You have limited energy to train so prioritise your training sessions around your lacking muscle groups. If you have small shoulders, small arms, big thighs and big glutes and you want big shoulders and arms, don’t go into the gym 3 days a week and do heavy squats first thing in your training. Train the lacking muscle groups first, and then do a minimum amount of work for the muscle groups that are already at the size you want them.
(5) Most men have no upper chest and inner chest and a decent amount of lower chest, yet everyones’ chest training revolves around lower chest exercises such as the flat bench press. Do the opposite from everyone else and focus on upper and inner chest exercises such as diamond push ups from a bench, incline pullovers and low cable flyes.
(6) Your bone structure largely determines how big you can get. It also determines your “final look” once you transform. A guy with a narrow rib-cage, narrow shoulders and wide hips will never look the same as the genetically gifted guy with a wide rib-cage, wide shoulders and narrow hips. Just look up Ryan Gosling (narrow shoulders, wide hips) and Steve Reeves (wide shoulders, narrow hips) on google and see the big difference in bone structure. Does that mean you can’t improve? No, it just means that you have to tailor your training around your body structure to maximize aesthetics.
Be proud but stay hungry,
– Oskar Faarkrog