Bombshell Aesthetics: The Perfect Female Body Shape (Full Article)

I figure there’s no sense denying that physical attraction plays a role in our relationships, especially at first. Whether that’s right or wrong, there’s no avoiding it. The research clearly shows that whether or not people say they value physical attractiveness, they still base their actions on it. Even the people who truly believe they don’t care about physical attractiveness still care as much as everyone else—they just don’t admit it (study, study).

Most studies show both men and women place a great deal of importance on physical attractiveness. We’ve written a companion article on male attractiveness, and that’s just as true there. That isn’t to say that physical attractiveness is all that matters, but it’s one of several factors that can have an impact on your life.

Some of our research comes from a survey we conducted. We’ll cite the other research as it comes up. Some of it might surprise you. Most people guess incorrectly about quite a lot of it.

On that note, this article is long. I’ll understand if you don’t want to read the whole thing, so here’s a quick and simple trick to make yourself instantly sexier: have a drink. It will boost your attractiveness (to yourself) by 50%. This is called the reverse beer goggles effect, aka, Beauty is in the Eye of the Beer Holder. (study) Best of all, you don’t even need to have a real drink – the placebo effect is more than enough – you only have to think you’re having a real drink. (The placebo group also experienced the benefit.)

If you’re looking for a more wholesome and longer-lasting aesthetic improvement, or perhaps an improvement that other people will notice too, don’t worry – that’s what the rest of this article is all about.

What is sexiness?

Before we start, keep in mind that most men don’t look at women critically, trying to find weak spots. Most men love how women look and are much more likely to focus on the best aspects of a woman’s body. In fact, one of the interesting things we found when surveying over a thousand men was that every body type had at least a few men who thought it was the most attractive of all.

The other thing to keep in mind is that sexiness isn’t just sexiness. Men tend to prefer women who look strong, fit, and healthy. So to look attractive, oftentimes focusing on getting stronger, fitter, and healthier is more effective than trying to improve your appearance in a more superficial way. Even having a big round butt ultimately comes down to being a health indicator. In fact, this is arguably why we even value physical attractiveness in the first place.

Sexiness is conspicuous health.

For example, regardless of their race, a healthy person’s skin looks a little more attractive. A higher intake of vitamins and minerals (good nutrition habits), higher levels of oxygenated blood (good exercise habits) and a healthy amount of melanin (exercise, nutrition, and sunlight) will turn your skin redder and yellower, giving you a healthier “glow.” It will probably go a long way to clearing up acne and improving your complexion, too. But even just that ever-so-slightly different colouring can make you look more attractive to others (study).

Now, on to understanding (and achieving) the most attractive female physique.

What’s the most attractive female body shape?

The short answer is that there isn’t a most attractive body type. Guys like all female body types equally. What’s going to have the biggest impact on how attractive you are isn’t your body shape. It’s whether you’re in good shape or not.

Most guys do prefer women who are strong, fit, and in good health. However, that has little to do with your bone structure or how naturally curvy or thin you are. As a result, it usually makes more sense to focus on improving your strength, fitness, and health, regardless of your natural body type.

However, every body type has different struggles as they try to get into better shape. A naturally thin woman will benefit from building muscle, and she’ll probably have trouble eating a weight-gain diet. On the other hand, a naturally overweight woman will benefit from losing her extra body fat, which can be equally difficult.

This means the path to building a sexy physique can vary quite a bit. One woman might build a sexier body shape by gaining weight. Another might become sexier by losing weight.

It’s also true that some women have an easier time building an attractive figure. Some women naturally have wide hips, small waists, and broad shoulders simply due to their bone structure, making it easier for them to look curvy even if they aren’t very strong and muscular. And some women naturally store their body fat in their breasts and butts, maintaining their hourglass figure even at high body-fat percentages. Some women have a much easier time looking like they’re in great shape.

Much of what appears to be genetic could also be due to lifestyle. Most people know that women who exercise more and eat better diets tend to be leaner and more muscular. However, it goes deeper than that. Some research shows that exercise and diet can result in different proportions of visceral fat gain, causing less fat to be stored in your waist, and more fat to be stored in your breasts and butt (study, study). Stress can also play a role in how a woman builds muscle and store fat. So can birth control pills. However, even with all these factors accounted for, there’s still a large genetic component to body shape.

So although all female body types are equally attractive to guys, and even though all of them can get into great shape, just keep in mind that it’s more difficult for some women than others.

Female Body Types

First, let’s take a look at a few everyday female body types. The vast majority of women fall somewhere on this spectrum:

The Most Attractive Female body – Body Types and Body Shapes

None of these women look morbidly obese or like they’ve been in a starvation experiment or anything, and these aren’t unhealthy or unattractive body types—far from it. These women all look at least somewhat healthy. However, they don’t necessarily look remarkably healthy.

The funny thing is, they may actually be remarkably healthy. For example, the thin gal may have a slender bone structure, have a naturally small appetite, eat lots of nutritious foods, and really enjoy forms of exercise that make her smaller—jogging, yoga, aerobics, etc. She may be in amazing shape even though she doesn’t look that strong. This is common for naturally thin women.

Similarly, the naturally heavier woman may be a professional rugby player who exercises for several hours each day. She may be in excellent shape and excellent health, just with a higher body-fat percentage.

Or they may not be.

The thin gal might be someone who doesn’t eat well enough to support muscle growth. She might be someone who doesn’t exercise at all. Furthermore, since muscle size is so closely correlated with strength, she surely isn’t as strong as she could be. And the curvy woman could be someone who eats too much and doesn’t exercise. And even if that’s not the case, since excess body weight is so closely correlated with heart disease and diabetes, she may not be as healthy as she could be.

Now, these girls may be healthy, but they aren’t conspicuously healthy. Whether our instinctual judgements are fair or not, it’s just too hard to tell.

The benefit of looking extra healthy

There’s nothing wrong with looking like a gal of average health who’ll live till she’s 81, but looking like the national average sure won’t get you noticed. If you want to get noticed, better to build a remarkable physique that look like it’ll survive until 120:

The ideal female body / physique, as far as muscle tone, body fat percentage and size goes

Now, obviously, what size you’ll look and feel your best at varies depending on your body type and bone structure. Girls who are naturally thin are often able to build up enough muscle to look “slim & fit” very quickly (and here are some examples of that), then could gradually work their way up to looking “strong & toned.” However, simply due to their bone structure, it may be nearly impossible for them to rock the “strong & curvy” physique shown on the right.

Similarly, someone who’s naturally voluptuous can usually become “strong & curvy” fairly quickly just by losing a bit of body fat (and here’s an example of that). However, because of their body type, they may never be able to rock the very slim physique shown on the far left.

Your body type isn’t really going to have a huge effect on your attractiveness, though. What matters more is being lean enough, strong enough, and healthy enough. Every type of body can accomplish that. It’s going to look a little different for every woman (and every man). Everyone can get there.

Regardless of your body type, when you get into great shape, what men see is someone who only needs to make one trip with all of the grocery bags, someone who will make their best friends a little bit jealous, and someone who can easily muscle open up an old jar of honey with a sticky rim that’s keeping the damn lid glued on. Men are seeing someone who can pick them up and carry us to them to the doctor if they get the flu, someone who will live long enough to keep them company as they grow old, and someone who will surely pass all these impressive traits down to the next generation.

And all of a sudden, men are struggling to get their hearts out of their stomachs. It’s also rare enough that it stands out in a crowd. 

Men and women have different body preferences

According to women, the ideal female body tends to be quite thin. Most women have a preference for thinner body types, less muscular development, and less body fat. With lots of media exposure—a passion for fashion, say—some women have a preference for even thinner body types than we’ve even shown here.

According to men, the ideal female body isn’t quite so specific. Men love the look of fairly strong women since visible strength makes women look even healthier and more capable. Men don’t tend to care as much about a little extra fat, either, so long as it’s within the healthy range. That can be sexy, too. Being slim, lean, and toned is still attractive, certainly, but men aren’t as hyper-focused on it as women are.

Why don’t male and female attractiveness ideals line up?

Men like healthy women, yet many men want to be extremely strong. Women like healthy men, yet many women want to be extremely slim. Just like some men are taking the “muscle is masculine” thing to extreme levels, some women are taking the “slenderness is feminine” thing to extreme levels.

Now, women do prefer men who are strong, and men do prefer women who are slim… but only if it’s within the healthy range. And that healthy range is fairly wide.

Women who are fashion models (or who are exposed to photos of a lot of fashion models) often want to be fashion-model-thin. Similarly, men who are bodybuilders (or who are exposed to photos of a lot of bodybuilders) often want to be bodybuilder-big.

This is a well known and well-researched phenomenon. In more extreme cases, it can cause body dysmorphia, often leading to steroid abuse in men and eating disorders in women (study).

female slenderness vs masculine muscularity (and the ideal female body / physique)

Is being incredibly thin or super enormously muscular impressive? Hell yes. These are people devoting an incredible amount of time and energy to their hobbies.

Is this the way to become maximally attractive? No. Male bodybuilders mainly appeal to men and women who are into bodybuilding. Female fashion models mainly appear attractive to other models and fashion designers. They don’t suffer for attention from the opposite sex – there are plenty of people who adore these niche physiques – but they aren’t as good at attracting the majority of the opposite sex.

What’s the most attractive female BMI?

Most guys prefer women with a fairly normal BMI. Now, normal isn’t the same as average. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average woman is overweight and has a BMI of almost 30.

Guys tend to prefer women who have a normal healthy BMI of somewhere between 18–23. Not overweight, not overweight, just a regular BMI that’s somewhere in the healthy range.

BMI Chart Healthy Weight from CDC & WHO

Just like you probably prefer men who are strong and healthy but not ridiculously musclebound, guys have a similar preference in women. Guys prefer women of average healthy BMI (source). No need to get your freak on, Missy Elliot.

Now if you think that “average” healthy weight sounds a little too good to be true, well, you aren’t wrong. Guys aren’t preferring women with average body composition—they’re preferring women with an average BMI.

Keep in mind that most women don’t eat well or exercise. Men prefer a woman who has less body fat and more muscle than that. She’ll still weigh a fairly regular amount, but she’ll be significantly fitter and more muscular than average, with a leaner waist, stronger hips, and broader shoulders.

This doesn’t mean that you need to look like a fitness or fashion model in order to look attractive. We aren’t talking about an extreme body shape. We’re just talking about guys preferring women who are really thriving in their bodies. We could say that the sexiest body shape is one that looks “conspicuously healthy.” That body shape still has a normal BMI but is in great shape.

This is because being in better shape communicates a number of positive things about your health:

So by conspicuously healthy, we’re talking about the type of health that makes guys glide their sunglasses down to the bottom of their noses and say, “damn … that girl’s heeeeeealthy!” That’s the kind of healthy that we’re talking about.

And that kind of health is pretty hard to achieve in a society where the scent of Cinnabon wafts through the air as we’re hustling from our beds to our cars to our office chairs. Or perhaps, like me, it’s hard to build a strong and healthy physique because you find it hard to eat enough to gain weight. Different body types have different struggles.

Now I’m not saying that average bodies aren’t attractive – they are – what I’m saying is that they aren’t necessarily invading our minds with the uncontrollable urges that a fiery hot impressively healthy gal would. They just aren’t the bodies whose scents draw us compulsively in like a freshly baked Cinnabon.

In fact, they might be amazing people, drawing us in like broccoli because we know that’s where the long-term amazingness is to be had. But you can totally get the best of all worlds and become a delicious fresh wild blueberry – impulsively delicious like a Cinnabon and totally wholesome on the inside.

I’m sorry for the weird food references. The talk of Cinnabons made me kind of hungry.

Women don’t need to be thin to be attractive

Anyway, many women are furiously struggling to become underweight. They’re working their asses off, not realizing that it’s usually better to work their asses on. It’s not even that they’re lazy – they’re often trying really damn hard! Like, harder than most men could possibly even imagine.

It’s just that if you’re a woman, well, when you look into exercise and nutrition, all you tend to find is weight-loss information. Even the muscle-building stuff seems to be aimed at people who are trying to lose weight overall.

What does this do? Well, perpetually battling to become underweight doesn’t make you stronger. Leaner? Yes, well, sometimes, kind of. More often than not, it makes you lighter—smaller.

They’re starting to look into the psychological side-effects of this mainstream desire to become physically smaller, and it’s a little scary. For example, it seems like eating less food is directly linked with submissive body language. Trying to diet down to a smaller body is not just reducing women’s physical strength. It’s possibly also reducing their social confidence (study). It’s also hard to have good energy and focus when you’re constantly underfed and obsessing about your next source of calories.

Moreover, since the average healthy weight is considered optimally attractive, this means that if you’re already of average weight (or below), then getting smaller won’t even make you more attractive. In fact, it might even make you less attractive.

Oftentimes, efforts to lose weight are combined with cardio, aerobics or yoga. All great forms of exercise with loads of benefits. However, combined with a calorie deficit and in the absence of any heavy weightlifting, they’re atrocious when it comes to preserving muscular size, strength, power and speed.

So the underweight warriors often aren’t the toned kind of lean that made every man in the world fall in love with Jessica Biel when she buffed up for her role as a warrior:

Ideal female physique jessica biel body (no abs and strong as hell)

That’s because Jessica Biel isn’t underweight. She’s not skinny. She’s not even thin. She’s fit as hell, but she has a totally average body weight. And men aren’t attracted to her body because she has abs. She doesn’t have abs. Her body is attractive because she has confident shoulders, glutes that can crack walnuts, and legs strong enough that she could probably pick up a runway model and squat her for two reps. Maybe even three.

And she looks like she eats, too. She looks like she eats a whole helluva lot. You can’t build muscle like that by just crunching on carrots.

And that’s why our jaws drop: she’s strong, healthy and vibrant.

Now, I’m not trying to point to the specifics of her body. I mean, you don’t need to have guns as big as hers to be optimally attractive. It looks like she did a lot of focused arm and shoulder work to really create that distinctive look. But hey, badass biceps certainly don’t hurt, either. There are lots of ideal female bodies.

The point is the idea of her body. It’s a body that goes along with a strong, healthy lifestyle.

And it’s not like being slender is unattractive, either. Of course, it isn’t. But many women still underrate the value of visible strength.

How muscular is the most attractive female body / how muscular is the ideal female physique

Why are conspicuously healthy physiques so rare?

So, this is all to say that the average healthy weight isn’t as common as you might think. But it’s actually not that hard to be remarkable, either. We’re not talking about needing to train six times per week or live on a broccoli and chicken diet. We’re talking about genuinely living a healthy lifestyle in a way that will make you look like you genuinely live a healthy lifestyle. That takes cleverness, but it doesn’t take that much time, that much obsession, or that many sacrifices. After all, obsession wouldn’t be healthy.

Many people take the other approach, actively trying to ignore the fact that strength, fitness, and eating a good diet is important. They might even tell themselves that looking attractive isn’t important either. They might tell themselves that their lifestyle doesn’t have room for this stuff, that it doesn’t matter, or that they’ll get to it later. That’s why impressively fit physiques are so rare.

Ironically, the people who procrastinate with this stuff are the ones who often suffer the most for it. Once you develop some good exercise, diet, and sleep habits, it’s actually not that hard to build a great physique. You wind up getting more energy out of it than you put into it, too. And then you never need to worry about how you look again.

But the momentum is hard to overcome. It’s hard to go from one way of living to another.

Oh – and this isn’t the time to be cursing your genetics. Yes, having good genetics makes this easier, but there are many attractive body weights, shapes and sizes (and goals). With that said, the sexiest bodies are nonetheless defined by several common characteristics.

So onward into the specifics.

Female Waist-to-Hip Ratio & Attractiveness

Fit young boys and girls tend to be built like string beans. They’re just kind of narrow everywhere. But as soon as puberty hits, men and women emerge.

Men are shaped by testosterone. Strong healthy men with high testosterone are shaped like V’s—big broad shoulders, lean stomachs, small hips. Women tend to dig that stereotypically masculine shape because it’s indicative of good strength (broad muscular shoulders), good health (small lean waistline), and you can see it at a glance. It’s the quickest (a fraction of a second) and most accurate (most physical and mental health markers are affected by our muscles, hormones, and fat) way to get an immediate snapshot of a guy’s overall health.

Same deals with women… except not at all. Women are shaped by estrogen, and strong healthy women with lots of estrogen are shaped like hourglasses – strong broad shoulders, lean waists and very strong hips. Just like you can size up a man’s health in a split second based on his body shape, the same is true with women. Strong women are wickedly muscular in the hips and glutes, indicating fearsome strength and bone structure, and lean through the waist, indicating healthy levels of body fat.

sexiest ideal body fact percentage for men versus women (as far as health and attractiveness goes)

Although, some women are cheating the system, using estrogen to signal to their bodies to store fat in their butts and upper thighs instead of their stomachs. By moving their fat from their tummies to their tushes, they’re enhancing their hotness via their fat stores. Kind of cool, kind of deceptive. You tricksters.

Now, at this point, you might be thinking, “but I’m a grown woman and I’m still a bean!” Don’t fret – you may not actually have small hips. Yes, bone structure is probably a factor, but chances are that your hips still have a ton of growth potential.

See, most women these days can’t perform a proper squat or deadlift, resulting in muscles accumulating in their lower back and quads instead of in their butts, hips, and hamstrings. While the bone structure of your hips won’t change, you can certainly build bigger hips and glutes by lifting weights.

Here’s one of our members, Reetta. She has great genetics, and she preferentially stores fat in her butt. You can see what that looks like on the left. Over the course of a couple of months she got a lot stronger and lost a bit of fat. You can see what a butt built out of muscle looks like on the right:

Bony to Bombshell Reetta showing more muscle and less fat

This works well for those who aren’t genetically gifted too. Here’s a photo of Aomi. She built her butt from scratch.

Women's weight gain transformation

Here’s her weight-gain transformation from another angle:

Women's weight gain transformation (before and after photo)

Now, your results may vary. Everybody has a different body. The point isn’t that you’ll look exactly like Reetta or Aomi. The point is just that you have the potential to build hips that are much bigger if you want to.

The most attractive female waist-to-hip ratio

The waist-to-hip ratio most correlated with health for women is 0.7 (study). Not surprisingly, that’s also what’s considered the healthiest ratio by the World Health Organization. Although to be fair, it varies slightly between cultures. You also don’t need to have exactly the ideal ratio. Being in the ballpark is fine.

Here’s what a 0.9, 0.7, and 0.6 waist-to-hip ratio looks like, so you can see the difference:

sexiest female hip to waist ratio for maximum attractiveness

How to measure your waist-to-hip ratio

To measure your waist-to-hip ratio, take the circumference of your waist at the narrowest point and divide it by the circumference of your hips at their widest point.

Is waist-to-hip ratio or body-fat percentage more important?

You know, that’s a good question. There’s no good answer for it, either. This is where the studies diverge, which is odd because this is the part that gets talked about the most when it comes to the most attractive female physique.

Two things are generally agreed upon by most researchers:

  1. A healthy body composition is attractive. Put another way, this means that being lean and muscular is going to look attractive. This is easier for some people than others, but body composition is largely in our control.
  2. Having big hips relative to your waist is attractive. This is interesting because the waist-to-hip ratio has a lot to do with bone structure. Some women have naturally wide pelvises. It’s not that they’re any stronger than average, it’s just extra bone. Similarly, some women have naturally wider waists.

So this is a little confusing. Is it better to aim at having a better ratio? Or better just to try and improve your body composition?

After all, it’s possible to have a totally healthy body composition and still not have the “ideal” waist-to-hip ratio. It’s also possible to be overweight or underweight and have a perfect waist-to-hip ratio.

Some research indicates that wide hips and a slender waist is ideal because that’s what instinctively looks the healthiest. Other research indicates that having a good body composition is more important, whatever waist-to-hip ratio that happens to result in. It’s unclear.

Either way, nothing is stopping you from working your way closer to both by improving your body composition, building your hips up a little bit extra, and maybe strengthening your transverse abdominis, which will help to cinch your waist in. (That’s the ab muscle that’s worked with squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and most other big compound exercises.)

By doing that, you’ll be improving your body composition while also intentionally trying to exaggerate your waist-to-hip ratio a little bit. There’s no harm in having glutes that are extra strong, after all.

The most attractive woman’s body-fat percentage

sexiest ideal body fact percentage for women (as far as health and attractiveness goes)

With body-fat percentage, it’s not as simple as thinking that leaner is better. In fact, body fat isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially in women. If you can’t see your abs in the mirror, you might care, and that’s okay—there’s nothing wrong with wanting abs—but men probably won’t even notice.

Having a certain amount of fat is feminine. If you prefer men who are lean, that’s not because being lean is good. It’s because being lean is masculine. The more testosterone a man has, the more muscle he’ll build and the less fat he’ll store. So if you flip those same standards back on yourself, it doesn’t quite work.

Women hold onto more fat in their faces due to lower levels of testosterone. They hold onto more fat in their hips and breasts due to higher levels of oestrogen, estradiol and progesterone. This means that in order to look stereotypically feminine, you actually don’t need to be that lean. You need to be healthy, but you don’t need to be shredded.

The healthy range varies depending on age (and which expert / study you consult), but most experts and institutions would agree with the following:

The range of healthy female body-fat percentages

  • Dangerously underweight: <14%
  • Extreme (athletes and fitness models): 14-18%
  • Visibly and genuinely healthy: 19-24%
  • Average: 25-31
  • Obese: 31+

For example, according to research done by Abernathy and Black, the healthy range for women is between 20-30% body fat . However, they also add an important caveat:

Although persons with BMIs and percentages of bodyfat above these values have an increased likelihood of being functionally obese [aka unhealthy], not everyone will be. Equally important, many within these ranges will be functionally obese.

What this means is that being strong, active, and eating well may very well matter more than your body-fat percentage as far as your general health goes. But is that going to impact the ideal body-fat percentage for attractiveness? Probably not. Men will still likely prefer the body-fat percentage that is a more reliable indicator of health, which will fall within that healthy range.

What’s the ideal female body-fat percentage?

A certain amount of body fat is feminine and healthy, and being shaped by it isn’t unattractive to men, especially if those fat deposits are landing in stereotypically womanly places (boobs, butt, thighs, hips, etc). Furthermore, having a leaner waist is strongly correlated with health and mood, as well as improved attractiveness.

This means that it might make more sense to stop worrying about your body-fat percentage and worry more about how lean your waist is. If you have more fat in your boobs or butt, that might not matter. (And it may even improve your ratio.)

You don’t, however, need visible abs. We have electric washing machines now, so you don’t need your stomach to double as a washboard.

As for how lean you’d want your waist, just try to move your waist-to-hip ratio closer to 0.7.

Note: You can’t reliably spot-reduce fat, so the only way to consistently lose fat around your waist is to lose fat overall.

Is cellulite unattractive?

Cellulite is dimpling created by body fat pushing up against your fascia. A good way to think of cellulite is to imagine the difference between fishnet stockings and regular stockings. Men usually have fascia more like regular stockings, so it’s rare for any dimpling to show through. Women usually have fascia more like fishnet stockings, so you almost always have some dimpling showing through. It’s more common than you might imagine. (Just because it’s photoshopped out of most photos doesn’t mean that most women don’t have cellulite.)

Yes, you can minimize the appearance of cellulite by reducing your body-fat percentage, but you can never totally get rid of body fat. Besides, most women have cellulite in their butts and thighs, which are very feminine places to store fat. These aren’t the areas where having fat is even a problem.

Most women don’t like having it. Most men don’t notice or care. Interestingly, when it comes to what’s considered optimally attractive, cellulite really doesn’t matter. Men don’t consider it unattractive. It’s a feminine trait caused by feminine fascia combined with feminine body-fat storage patterns. Some women care about cellulite, and that’s fine (although I’d argue that they shouldn’t). Most straight men, though, have no issue with cellulite whatsoever. They find feminine traits in women to be sexy.

If you happen to find a guy who does care about cellulite, just cancel his subscription to Cosmo, and his problem should eventually go away.

What’s the most attractive amount of muscle on women?

sexiest amount of muscle mass on a female body for the most attractiveness

As far as overall musculature goes, there’s a big discrepancy in the research as to what men tend to find attractive (strong women) and what women tend to find attractive (thin women). The illustration of the “strong” woman above corresponds with what men find most attractive. The illustration of the “thin” woman corresponds with what women find the most attractive (study).

The male ideal isn’t surprising since, as with the other attractiveness indicators, it corresponds with what looks the healthiest. To be clear, the female ideal can be healthy, too, especially in women with smaller bone structures. However, even then, it often isn’t quite as healthy. After all, having more muscle mass tends to be healthier.

Just to be sure, though, I tried to find conflicting research. It’s true that there are studies showing that slenderness is attractive, but only through the waist. Moreover, they were strictly measuring body fat, not muscle mass. And even then, the stronger girls with bigger hips and glutes were deemed slightly more attractive.

Men do tend to find strong women more attractive.

Are broad shoulders attractive on a woman?

The short answer is that, yes, broad shoulders are attractive on women. After all, an hourglass figure includes strong, broad shoulders.

The long answer is still yes, but we can add some nuance. So, the reason why most women wonder whether broad shoulders are feminine is because broad shoulders are also a sign of masculinity. The more testosterone a man is exposed to and the more muscle he builds, the broader his shoulders will become.

As a result, it’s primarily men who are trying to build broader shoulders. I’m no exception, either. I added 13 inches to my shoulders while bulking up, and our article about building broader shoulders is one of the most popular articles on our bulking site for skinny guys.

Remember, strength is attractive on women, too. And not in a niche sense, either. The stereotypically attractive female body shape is an hourglass figure, which includes wide hips, a narrow waist, and broad shoulders. If you think about it, if broad shoulders weren’t feminine, we’d call the stereotypical female shape an Erlenmeyer flask figure, not an hourglass figure.

So yes, broad shoulders are attractive on women. That means that doing overhead pressing, push-ups, and lateral raises will all help to make you more attractive.

As a general rule of thumb, developing full-body strength will tend to make you more attractive. That’s why we recommend building your workout routine around all five big compound lifts.

Which type of exercise will make you the most attractive?

Let’s use cardio as an example. Cardio stands for cardiorespiratory training, where the goal is to elevate our heart rates in order to improve our cardiovascular fitness. It’s a catch-all term for exercise that’s designed to strengthen our hearts and lungs—jogging, rowing, biking, aerobics, and so on. Even yoga might count as cardio, depending on how you do it.

Cardio is certainly an important part of improving our general health. In fact, cardio has become pretty much synonymous with improving our general health. And there’s good reason for that, too. There are many benefits to cardio (study):

  • Cardio burns calories and helps us lose weight
  • It makes our hearts bigger and more efficient.
  • It increases our lung capacity.
  • It helps to reduce our risk of heart disease.
  • It improves mood and reduces anxiety.
  • It can improve sleep.

However, cardio won’t make you significantly stronger, curvier, or more attractive. You’d be relying strictly on your genetics for your curves and muscles. Cardio also doesn’t do a very good job of preserving muscle mass during weight loss.

So if attractiveness can be simplified to “conspicuous health,” then why is cardio—which is clearly healthy—not the best type of exercise for improving our appearance?

The first thing is that cardio probably will make you look slightly more attractive. Maybe not in a dramatic way, but it will probably result in a little fat loss, a little muscle gain, and improved skin tone from better blood flow. These things are going to have a positive impact on your attractiveness.

However, cardiovascular health is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s a big piece of the puzzle, and it will help people stay in a healthy weight range, but in order to improve our overall health, we need to exercise in a more complete way. That’s why organizations like the World Health Organization recommend doing 150 minutes of cardio and two strength training workouts every week. That’s a more complete way of exercising for health, and it’s going to yield a markedly more attractive physique, too.

Why is muscle so attractive on women?

There are few reasons why gaining muscle mass and strength improves our health and appearance:

  • More curves. Muscle mass makes our muscle cells more sensitive to insulin. You could think of this like the opposite of diabetes. The food that we eat starts being used to build muscle instead of being stored as body fat (study). This will prevent a lot of obesity-related health issues down the road, it will make staying lean much easier, it will help reduce waist size, and it will help build wider hips and shoulders (study, study).
  • Better posture. Lifting weights is great for improving our bone density (study), connective tissue strength, stabilizer muscle strength, and posture. Here’s a great example of posture improvements through gaining muscle.
  • Better lifespan. Gaining muscle reduces all-cause mortality, increases longevity, and improves our quality of life as we age (study, study, study, study).
  • More brainpower. Strenuous physical activity (such as lifting weights) stresses our brains, promoting adaptation and growth. Dr John J Ratey’s research has shown that lifting weights can positively impact your memory, focus, and ability to learn new things (study).
  • Better mood, energy, and confidence. Gaining muscle can also improve mood, reduce anxiety, decrease the chances of becoming depressed, and improve our energy levels (study).

Some of those benefits have obvious visual signals. People can see your curves and your posture. Some of the other benefits are more subtle. People won’t necessarily be able to see that you have lower anxiety levels. However, because of the strong association between muscle mass and these other benefits, simply seeing a woman that is more muscular hints at her having developed these other positive traits.

Combining cardio with weight training

If you had to pick just one type of exercise that would make you more attractive, lifting weights would probably take you further. It will allow you to gain muscle mass and strength, and lifting weights will also raise your heart rate, allowing you to make cardiovascular improvements as well.

However, if you have time to do both types of exercise, the ideal approach would be to follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines, doing at least 150 minutes of cardio and at least two strength training workouts every week.

Now, to be clear, in the fitness industry, “strength training” usually refers to the style of lifting that’s geared at improving powerlifting performance. That’s not what they mean. They simply mean training in a way that will improve your strength. If you aren’t planning on becoming a competitive powerlifter, you’ll want to approach your strength training more like this. Here’s an example of a beginner’s workout for a woman who wants to improve her strength and appearance.

How muscular is too muscular for women?

In an objective sense, there isn’t really such a thing as a woman being too muscular. At least not without having outlier genetics or taking performance-enhancing drugs, anyway. If you’re a natural lifter, your body will naturally limit how much muscle mass you can develop.

In a subjective sense, some women don’t want to be overly musclebound. Genetics will generally limit muscle growth, preventing women from becoming bulky. However, even then, we’ve still had a lot of clients over the years who have told us that they aren’t trying to become more muscular in certain areas.

Fortunately, weight training leaves plenty of room for personal preference, so that’s perfectly fine. You can still build overall strength without needing to fully develop every muscle on your body.

For most naturally thin women, becoming too muscular isn’t a concern and never will be. Their slender bone structure and naturally slender musculature won’t ever grow so large that it would in any way ever become remotely unappealing.

Here’s an incredibly strong woman with a naturally thin bone structure. As you can see, even though she has incredible muscular development, she isn’t bulky or musclebound:

Even for naturally muscular women, more muscle can still be an asset. Keep in mind that even if you build a tremendous amount of muscle, there will be a ton of similarly muscular guys who will think that you look absolutely amazing.

Here’s Jessica Buettner, a famous female powerlifter with remarkable genetics and world-class strength. Her degree of muscularity is far beyond what the average woman can develop, and yet she still doesn’t look musclebound, even for the attractiveness preferences of the average man:

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to fully develop all of your muscles.

Reetta, our member with great muscle-building genetics, told us after just a couple months of lifting weights that her back was “finished.”  It was as muscular as she ever wanted it to be. Here’s how she’s looking more recently:

At that point, we simply switched to maintaining strength in her back and began focusing more on other areas that she did want to work on.

The most attractive butt size

The hips are the hub of a woman’s strength, with the main muscles being the glutes. Of all the muscles in your body, your it’s your butt that has the most potential for growth. The only muscles that could rival your glutes in terms of sheer size are your quads, which can also make your hips appear wider (although much less so). This means that the stronger you get in the gym, the more your hip measurement is going to climb relative to your other body measurements. This is going to give you more of an hourglass figure.

However, women also tend to store fat in their butts. A lean women will often have a fairly flat stomach and yet still have quite a lot of fat in their hips. This is generally considered a fairly healthy place to store fat, and if anything, it tends to be attractive. So you don’t need to rely on fat to build bigger hips – you can build bigger hips out of muscle – but if you naturally store fat there, then great.

A woman’s butt is arguably her most attractive muscle group. According to the studies I managed to dig up, 60% of men are more attracted to a woman’s butt than her breasts (study). Men are notorious, though, for not having any idea of what they actually want. So instead of asking them, the researchers tracked their eye movements to see where their gaze rested. They found that more often than not, when looking at a woman’s body, a man’s gaze tended to rest on her butt.

Why do men find female butts so attractive?

One theory is that bigger butts lead to greater balance (lower centre of gravity) and thus improve athleticism. In order to retain agility, reserves of fat should be placed as close to the centre of gravity as possible, which is near to the navel. Men can store fat directly in their navel, causing them to gain more fat in their stomachs. However, a woman’s abdomen is already occupied by a uterus. So the next-best place to store fat is in the hips, upper thighs, and thorax. (Thorax is an unsexy way of saying “the boob area.”)

Storing fat away from the waist also seems to be better for general health. When fat is stored around the organs inside the stomach (visceral fat) has a larger negative impact on our health, whereas fat that’s stored under the skin (subcutaneous fat) seems to be fairly neutral. The fat in your hips, breasts, and thighs isn’t going to have any impact on your organs, so it doesn’t tend to have a negative impact on health. This is one reason why having an hourglass figure is considered so attractive—because it’s so healthy.

Some women get lucky genetically, naturally storing almost all of their fat in their butts, almost none in their waists. Other women need to deliberately get leaner through their waists and stronger through in their hips.

There’s also the fact that strong women invariably have big butts. A man who likes big butts, however subconsciously, may simply have a preference for strong and athletic women. After all, a woman who can squat, deadlift, and hip thrust a lot of weight will naturally have bigger butts. So will women who can run fast. So will women who can jump high.

If you want to know how strong someone is, whether they’re male or female, simply look at their butts. However, when it comes to male strength, there’s more of an emphasis on upper-body strength. We have naturally bigger upper bodies that have far more room for muscle growth. So a man’s butt is often overshadowed by his shoulders, upper back, and chest.

With most women, though, their butt (and thighs) have a much larger potential for growth. Women also have better hip shapes than men. Women have proportionally wider hips that have a better shape for squatting and deadlifting, allowing for more mobility and strength.

This is all to say that having a big, muscular butt shows that a woman is strong and athletic.

Are bigger butts more attractive?

ideal butt (and hip) size for maximum female sexiness / attractiveness

There’s no arguing with the fact that having a big, strong butt is going to be considered more attractive by men. It’s also healthy and functional. However, there’s a recent trend for women to develop a disproportionately large butt.

Instead of focusing on developing overall strength, letting their butts grow accordingly with their squat and deadlift strength, women are starting to invest extra effort into isolating their butts. This allows them to develop quite a bit of extra glute size.

They aren’t wrong. By building a disproportionately large butt, women are indeed making themselves more attractive (study). It’s by no means necessary in order to build an attractive physique, but if you’re determined to not only turn heads but also give men whiplash, building an extra-big butt can certainly help.

To do this, keep the foundation of your training the same. Get your butt incredibly strong by doing the standard exercises for your hips: squats and deadlifts. However, you might want to choose variations of these lifts that prioritize glute development. To get more glute growth out of your squats, you might want to hip-dominant squats with a low-bar position, focusing on “sitting back” into them. To get more glute growth out of your deadlifts, you might want to do Romanian deadlifts, which will emphasis the hip extension portion of the deadlift.

You can then add in extra accessory lifts for your glutes, such as hip thrusts, glute bridges, reverse lunges, donkey kicks, and so on. Just remember that these are accessory lifts. Don’t rely on them for your glute growth, use them to boost your glute growth. Your main emphasis should be getting stronger at the compound lifts (and on gaining weight).

For an example of what it looks like when you develop overall strength, but with extra emphasis on developing bigger hips and glutes, here’s Ioulia’s weight-gain transformation:

Bony to Bombshell Muscle-building / Weight Gain Program for Skinny Women—Ioulia

Whenever I show these photos, it’s important to remember that your results won’t look quite like anyone else’s. You can see a wider variety of women’s muscle-building transformations here after completing the Bony to Bombshell program.

What’s the deal with muffin tops?

Sometimes you can get muffin tops because you’ve got fat building up in your love handles. This is a common area for women to store fat. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing anything wrong. If you want to get rid of them, just focus on either losing fat, which will shrink your love handles, or on building bigger hips, which will make them less visible.

However, if you’re building muscle and gaining weight, remember to get new clothes! A lot of our members, when they’re gaining weight, their hips are getting bigger, and they’ve forgotten to get bigger underwear and pants. If you’re noticing that you’re developing a muffin top, it might not be fat gain, it might simply be that you’re starting to get too big for your breeches.

I would recommend getting bigger pants, and fast. We’ve had members tell us stories of their pants exploding in public because their butts have grown too big.

Can you build bigger hips?

Have you ever heard about how Brazilian women tend to have genetically bigger butts? Well, apparently one reason why Brazilian women stereotypically have larger butts is because they do more glute-specific exercises in an effort to build bigger butts. It’s a cultural exercise trend, not (just) lucky genetics.

The same is often true of people with great physiques. They seem like they’ve got great genetics, but really it’s just a good lifestyle they’ve developed. Genetics definitely play a role – some girls have such great genetics they don’t even need to lift weights. However, the cleverer and more consistent you are with your exercise and diet, the better your genetics will seem.

Also keep in mind that if you build more muscle by lifting weights, many of those muscle-building adaptations are permanent. If you build a bigger butt with hard work in the gym, you may be able to maintain it with fairly light workouts afterwards.

Is it possible to have a butt that’s too big?

While going through all of the female attractiveness research, I haven’t come across a single piece of research that suggests that it’s possible to have a butt that’s too big. Now, if your body-fat percentage is outside of the healthy range (over 30%) and that’s causing your butt to become quite large, then that might be a problem. That’s not because your butt is too big, per se. It’s because your body-fat percentage is too high overall.

When it comes to building a stronger butt, it seems impossible to build a butt that’s too big. Even if you build your hips to their full genetic muscular potential, that should only make you more attractive with every added inch. You’ll probably experience the law of diminishing returns, though, where every extra inch is harder to gain and has less overall impact on your attractiveness.

If you want to see butts that are developed to their full muscular potential, one place to look is bikini models. Bikini models are, essentially, women who professionally train their glutes. Their have a moderate degree of overall muscularity with disproportionately large glutes. However, keep in mind that having a fully developed butt is also incredibly common in women’s athletics.

If you want another place to see world-class glutes that are developed to their full potential, take a look at the top female sprinters:

sexiest / most attractive female amount of muscle … sprinter's glutes

Why do sprinters have such large glutes?

  • They lift weights in order to get stronger and faster on the field.
  • They exercise with great technique.

Do you need a huge butt to be attractive?

The idea of building an attractive physique is to develop a physique that’s strong and healthy overall. You don’t need to build a disproportionately large butt to do that. This is common with women who train using a more unisex approach, where all muscles are given equal emphasis. That’s perfectly fine.

The most attractive boobs

Research shows that men are more than twice as likely to glance at your breasts before looking at your face. Although men find boobs absolutely fascinating, though, boob size isn’t an important attractiveness factor. According to the researchers:

Men may be looking more often at the breasts because they are simply aesthetically pleasing, regardless of the size.

That means that if you’ve got big boobs, men will love them. It also means that if you’ve got small boobs, men will still love them. Basically, if you’ve got boobs at all, then you don’t need to really worry about it.

The most common Google search that men make about boobs is: “I love my girlfriend’s boobs.” Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, an economist and data analyzer, commented on this peculiar truth with, “It is not clear what men are hoping to find from Google when making this search.”

Here are some more “interesting” facts about male boob preferences (study, study):

  • Poorer men prefer larger boobs: when resources are lacking, men gravitate towards women with higher body-fat percentages since it shows that they have ample energy in reserve. Bigger boobs are a good indicator of a higher body-fat percentage, so the poorer a man is, the more he’ll be attracted to large boobs. In fact, even simply reminding a man that he’s poor will make him increase his cup-size preference.
  • Hungrier men prefer larger boobs: this means that if you want to make the most of a dinner-and-a-movie date, wear a push-up bra before dinner and then change into a sports bra for the movie.
  • Sexist men prefer larger boobs.

Can you increase boob size with exercise?

The short answer is yes. Any exercise that trains your chest muscles will make your boobs appear larger and perkier. This means that doing push-ups, bench presses, and chest flyes are all effective ways to increase your breast size and even to improve your breast shape.

sexiest and most attractive breast size / best boob size

The long answer is that it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Boobs have muscle tissue underneath them (your pectoralis major muscles). However, boobs don’t have any muscles in them. They’re made out of fat.

This has a few implications:

  • The main way to change the size of your boobs is to change your body-fat percentage. If you gain fat, your boobs will probably get bigger. However, they may sag lower due to the extra weight. If you lose fat, your boobs will probably shrink a little bit. However, they may become perkier because they’re lighter.
  • Hormones can influence body-fat distribution. If you use hormonal birth control, you may notice changes in the size of your boobs. The same thing can happen with natural hormone fluctuations, albeit likely to a smaller degree.
  • Exercise can impact body-fat distribution, too. Exercising, such as doing cardio and lifting weights, causes women to burn extra visceral fat. This causes them to lose more fat in their waists, less fat elsewhere. Over time, it’s possible that this could give you bigger boobs relative to your overall body-fat storage.
  • Gaining weight, even if you maintain the same body-fat percentage, will probably make your boobs bigger. Let’s imagine that you have a body-fat percentage of 25%. That means that even if you maintain the same body-fat percentage while gaining weight, for every ten pounds that you gain, you’ll gain 2.5 pounds of fat. Chances are that most of that extra fat will wind up in your breasts and butt. However, your body fat will be spread thinner over larger muscles, including larger butt muscles. So the main place you’ll notice that extra fat may be in your breasts.

Furthermore, if you’re building muscle mass in your chest, that’s going to push your breasts out further and raise them up higher, making them appear larger and perkier.

This means that bulking up can, in some cases, increase breast size without noticeably increasing body fat. Here’s a good example of that:

Bony to Bombshell Sara showing better posture (and more muscle)

For overweight women, their boobs will tend to get smaller as they lose weight. However, for naturally thin women who gain weight, they’ll often develop bigger boobs as they bulk up.

The most attractive female posture

Quasi Modo was the only hero in Disney history not to get the gal. He was also the only guy in Disney hero history not to rock absolutely perfect posture. Coincidence? I think not. Plus, the girl they were all fighting for—Esmeralda. And Esmeralda, of course, had perfect posture.

An easy way to think of posture is that it shows weakness in your postural muscles. As you build stronger muscles throughout your body, they’ll naturally hold your body in a stronger position.

Of course, in practice, it’s not quite that simple. Improving your posture often means focusing on lifting with good form. It may mean adding in some extra corrective exercises. And in some cases, such as with scoliosis, it can be genetically predetermined.

However, even if you have atrocious posture and a severe case of scoliosis (as is common with naturally thin people), you can still strengthen your postural muscles and radically improve your posture. In most cases, you’ll be able to develop totally attractive posture that radiates confidence and strength.

There are a ton of different postural defects out there, but the most common portfolio of postural problems is this one:

perfect and proper posture benefits

This “upper-lower crossed syndrome,” as it’s sometimes called, is usually rooted in having a weak butt and spending too much time sitting. That’s why it’s so common nowadays. We spend a lot of time sitting.

To make matters worse, bad posture is often asymmetrical, too. One side of our hips tilts a little further forward than the other, causing our shoulders to tilt in the opposite way to counterbalance our lopsided hips. As a result, nearly everyone has one shoulder sitting higher and more internally rotated higher than the other. This will also make one of your boobs look smaller than the other.

Why is poor posture unattractive?

Posture communicates even more about us than our facial expressions. Several personality traits are subconsciously inferred from how we stand: aversion, openness, irritation, happiness and self-confidence (study). So the problem with slumpy posture is that communicates a whole slew of bad things:

  • Low confidence
  • Untrustworthiness
  • Shyness
  • Discomfort

Posture showcases strength

Fortunately, weak posture can be strengthened. Building up the muscles that hold your body in a stronger position will make you appear more confident, trustworthy, happier, and more assertive (study).

In fact, posture is so closely connected to confidence that it won’t just improve how confident you look, it will also improve how confident you feel (study). Having a more attractive posture also makes it easier to breathe well and to breathe deeply, making you calmer and more relaxed. Proper posture even changes your hormone secretions, further emphasizing all those positive changes to your mood and well-being. This may be one of the reasons that lifting weights is so good for improving confidence and reducing anxiety.

There’s an interesting caveat here. Women will sometimes rock the bikini-model pose, intentionally going into anterior pelvic tilt, like so:

bikini model butt … with an intentional hip tilt

That’s okay. There’s a big difference between being stuck in that position because you’ve got a weak glutes as opposed to stylistically striking a pose to show off your strong glutes.

Yes, this is the same kind of anterior pelvic tilt that can cause the postural problems we’ve been discussing. However, this posture isn’t rooted in weakness. Intentionally going into anterior pelvic tilt has nothing to do with lacking hip strength or having weak spinal erectors.

As far as strength and athleticism go, proper postural alignment allows us to correctly transfer strength from our lower bodies to our upper bodies. For example, when lifting something overhead, having good posture will evenly distribute the load throughout our entire spinal columns, keeping our backs safe.

However, many women with extremely strong glutes, such as sprinters and athletes, spend a lot of time with an anteriorly tilted pelvis because it helps them run faster. Similarly, many women who are trying to build bigger hips will squat with an arched lower back. Again, because their bodies are showcasing strength instead of weakness, their postures look completely different, and these women don’t tend to experience the same downsides.

Improving your posture will also make you appear younger. Over the course of our lives, we slouch, slump, and sit. Muscles atrophy, posture degrades, and people gradually crumple. You know what I mean. I’m sure you’ve seen an old person. If you’re seeing an old person in the mirror, though, we can fix that by improving your posture.

Weak posture can be strengthened

The main mistake that women make with their posture is thinking that they can fake it. They try to stand taller, raise their chests up, push their shoulders back. However, weak posture is caused from weakness. You can’t build a stronger posture simply by willing it into existence.

I’m sure you know what I mean. If you’ve ever tried to stand with better posture, just give it a few minutes. It will collapse again as soon as you stop paying attention. You might notice that trying to force better posture makes you tired, too. Your muscles aren’t strong enough to casually hold your body in that position yet.

We need to drill down to the foundation. We need to build stronger bodies. That strength will then radiate from the inside out.

For an example of a how posture can improve as you gain strength, here are two photos of Sara taken ten weeks apart. They show five pounds gained, which is already starting to improve her muscularity. Even more noticeable than her muscle gains, though, is her rapidly improving posture:

Bony to Bombshell Sara women's muscle-building transformation better posture (and more muscle)

How to build muscle as a woman

For most people, the best way to improve their attractiveness is to improve their body composition. Most people are overweight, so part of that involves losing fat. We specialize in helping naturally skinny women, though, and for us, the best way to improve our appearance is to build muscle.

To build muscle, we need to challenge our muscles in a way that stimulates muscle growth. Then we need to fuel that growth by eating enough protein and eating enough calories. Then we can improve our recovery and keep our hormones healthy by getting enough good sleep. That gives us just four things to focus on:

  • Hypertrophy training: there are many different types of weight training, ranging from strength training to endurance training. To build muscle, though, you’ll want to train specifically for muscle growth—hypertrophy training. This usually means lifting weights, using a mix of compound and isolation lifts, doing 6–20 repetitions per set, doing 3–8 sets per muscle per workout, training each muscle 2–3 times per week, and resting long enough for your heart rate to return to normal between each set. That might sound complicated, but it can be done with just 3 full-body workouts per week, each taking less than an hour. For example, here’s a beginner workout routine.
  • Eating enough protein: once you’re stimulating muscle growth with your workouts, you need to make sure that you’re eating enough protein to allow your muscles to recover and grow. About 0.8 grams per pound bodyweight per day is enough to maximize your rate of muscle growth, but you might want to aim for a full gram just to make sure you’re getting enough. For a 110-pound woman, that’s 88–110 grams of protein per day.
  • Eating enough calories: it’s possible to build muscle without gaining weight, especially if you’re an overweight beginner, but at a certain point, you’ll need to start gaining weight to continue building muscle. That’s when calories become important. Here’s an example of a good muscle-building diet.
  • Getting enough good sleep: it’s possible to build muscle even if you aren’t sleeping well. But if you’re sleeping properly, you’ll be able to build muscle around 30% faster and quite a bit more leanly. Here’s our guide for improving sleep.
Before and after progress photos of a woman building muscle and gaining weight by lifting weights.

If you’re a naturally thin woman and you want help bulking up, building bigger and more capable muscles, and improving your attractiveness along the way, check out our Bony to Bombshell Bulking Program.



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Summary of the perfect female body

The most attractive female physique is impressively strong, healthfully lean, and fit. There’s no shortcut, no, but the good news is that we don’t need to rely on our genetics, either. An attractive physique is something that we can build.

It’s basic human nature to care about being attractive. It might feel shallow, but it’s not. After all, the only way to radically improve your attractiveness is to radically improve your health, body composition, and strength. That’s going to ripple into every detail of your body, improving your complexion, your muscle tone, your butt size, the appearance of your breasts, and even your posture.

What’s great about this approach to becoming more attractive is that a “shallow” desire, such as wanting to become more attractive, can help us develop the habits that will make us healthier in the longer term.

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

Shane Duquette is the co-founder of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, and has a degree in design from York University in Toronto, Canada. He's gained sixty pounds at 11% body fat and has over ten years of experience helping over 10,000 skinny people build muscle, get stronger, and gain weight.

Cassandra González Duquette is a certified nutritionist (CNP) who studied at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, Canada. She's personally gained 22 pounds, going from 97 up to 119 pounds.

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  1. latispatha on April 24, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Great job Shane! As both a former journalist and current college professor – I am very impressed with how well-written this article is. Chock full of dense (and backed-up) facts, but very easy and enjoyable to read. Glossy magazine-quality stuff.

    • Shane Duquette on April 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Latispatha! That means a lot, and I’m really glad you liked it 😀

      • Sheryl on January 8, 2019 at 4:25 pm

        I started this article but it got so sidetracked that I just scrolled. Could you condense it or put it on Kindle? At least you warned me it was LONG.

      • Gail on October 16, 2020 at 7:52 am

        What’s the best way for post-menopausal women to regain a curvy shape? As a small woman who always had an hourglass figure—I’ve never had broad shoulders, but was always pretty fit—I was appalled to find that after age 50, I was gaining weight around my thorax, where I’d never had fat before. By 55 my hourglass body shape was gone.

        My life journey has taken me through four pregnancies, three live births, a 50-year physically active career, a love of walking and birdwatching, menopause, hair loss, breast cancer, radiation therapy, and a heart attack. I now need to take three medications that cause weight gain. Is there any help for me to regain some semblance of a real, female figure?

        • Eli on December 19, 2020 at 8:42 pm

          Look into HRT. The reason women get fat around their midsection post-menopause is because of an increase in testosterone and lower estradiol. Midsection fat is usually a characteristic of male body fat distribution, hence why it happens to women when they no longer produce enough estradiol and their test increases.

          Exercise and diet will have minimal impact if hormones are not at their optimal levels.

          Best of luck

        • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 2:18 pm

          Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished, Gail! That sounds like a great and hard and wonderful life.

          Eli is right that hormones impact where we store fat. That’s why you’re storing fat around your stomach instead of around your hips and in your chest. Reducing your body-fat percentage may help.

          Our bodies change as we age. Sometimes it’s a sign that we need to take better care of ourselves; other times, it’s just a sign that we’re getting older. You could speak with your doctor about HRT, but menopause is a normal thing.

    • Shane Duquette on April 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Also, decided to add in the bit on cellulite after your post on the forum 🙂

      • Brandy on April 19, 2018 at 9:52 am

        I very much enjoyed reading this article. I’m on my way back to having my belly back. I was 225lbs., 197 now. And there are a few things in this article about the eating, working with weights, and rocking the cellulite that I completely agree with. Lots of good examples to go by. Stay cool, and I’m looking forward to the next article.

        • Clémence on September 8, 2019 at 1:15 pm

          Great, ignore the comment about the length of the article. It was nice to actually get a good, scientifically backed up (ish) read on why women need to work out and legitimately LIFT. In the gym, I’m often the only woman actually strapping up for a heavy lift and it’s only with my dude that I feel comfortable and safe doing it. Too bad!! More sisters should claim their space in there. When I’m alone asking a guy if he’s about done with the chest press I get this baffled look of surprise and respect, guys really do love strong females. It’s so sad we’re taught that strong equals “seeming difficult” or “untamed”, when really it’s just plain attractive… Calling all women, GO TO THE FUCKING GYM.

        • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 2:19 pm

          Thank you so much, Brandy! 🙂

      • Martine on February 13, 2019 at 6:10 pm

        The only way to get rid of cellulite is to lose weight, though. There is no such thing as “toning” it away. That’s simply how some people’s fat is structured.

        • Utahred on July 10, 2021 at 6:19 pm

          Not true. I have been on the thin side all my life. Have a baby, cellulite will appear and there is no amount of weight you can lose to get rid of it. You have to tone the muscles. My bmi is 20 and I have cellulite. When my bmi was 18, I had cellulite. And then you have consider genes.

      • Gemz on September 20, 2021 at 12:55 pm

        If you had breast cancer you cannot take HRT. It can cause the cancer to come back.

    • Martine on February 13, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      You didn’t think that it contradicted itself at every turn? Men like women to have feminine, non masculine traits. Therefore women should have curves. OK fine. But having broad muscular shoulders is most certainly a masculine, non feminine trait. In fact physical strength is a masculine trait. Men are stronger then women, naturally. So why would men want women to have broad shoulders and physical strength? Also, in no way has anyone suggested that having muscle and extra curves makes people live longer. Genetics does that. Being very slender would help too, as your heart HATES for you to be big. Yes, its good to exersize the heart, but that kind of exersize buids no muscle. Its aerobic. Also the idea that people are suddenly looking to be thinner is NOT some psychological submissiveness of women. Its because at no other time have people, women in particular been so extremely fat. Over half the women in the USA are overweight. 40% are obese. Is it natural to have thighs that rub when you walk? NO. WE were built in order to walk smoothly, one leg passing the other without touching. Think on it. Also its been noted that thinner women tend to be more successful.

      • Yuxi on October 13, 2020 at 3:16 am

        I kind of agree with the broad shoulders thing, I guess they mean broad but not like overly broad. Cardio does help build some muscle though, like running is cardio and will help with building and toning leg and calf muscles. Also whether you have a thigh gap or not is mostly due to your bone structure, although you are right and obviously, it’s not good to be overweight and have overly large thighs that rub and cause chafing.

        • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 2:44 pm

          Yeah, exactly. We’re talking about the average woman gaining strength and getting closer to her natural genetic potential. She’ll gain strength and build some muscle in her shoulders, but she won’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or anything.

          This can vary, though. Depending on genetics and preferences, it’s sometimes possible to build shoulders that are broader than someone would like them to be.

      • Lili on January 22, 2021 at 3:03 am

        The greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death, per WebMD, Independent, and this paper, to just name a few sources.

      • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 2:40 pm

        There’s plenty of overlap between men and women. And in both men and women, it helps to be strong enough, lean enough, and fit enough. It’s true that strong men, on average, carry far more muscle than strong women. But that doesn’t mean that women don’t benefit from getting stronger.

        For a more obvious example, think of waist size. Women with smaller waists are often considered more attractive because (among other things) it hints at them not having much visceral fat. The same is true of men. A smaller waist is indicative of better health and is considered attractive.

        If you think of the hourglass body shape, it’s not narrow shoulders, a narrow waist, and wide hips (a pear shape). No, it’s wider shoulders, a narrower waist, and wider hips, creating an hourglass shape.

        Building muscle is healthy for both men and women. It improves almost every health marker and reduces all-cause mortality (systematic review). There’s no real controversy around that, either.

        Aerobic exercise is also incredibly healthy. Most major health institutions recommend strength training at least twice per week AND doing cardio.

        And yes, I agree with you that being overweight isn’t optimal for general health. What’s natural can depend, though. We naturally store body fat when eating in a calorie surplus. Some cultures have naturally higher body-fat percentages than others.

      • Utahred on July 10, 2021 at 6:23 pm

        I have to agree with you. Everyone says I’m skinny which is insulting. I’m actually the perfect weight for my height. I’m not skinny, it’s just that everyone else has gotten fat.

      • Brianne Sanchez on August 16, 2021 at 2:42 am

        Whether or not your thighs rub together has to do with genetics not how all human woman are built. Some women have breasts that are very close together and have a lot of cleavage and other women have a gap between their breasts. Not everybody needs to have a thigh gap! Olympic sprinters don’t have thigh gaps, neither do gymnasts are they fat? No they are muscular! Think on that. Oh and the reason thin people are more successful has more to do with the incorrect assumption that fat people are lazy. I know lots of thin people that are lazy too. I am so glad that hourglass figures are in right now! It’s about time our figures were appreciated.

        • Jakki on February 6, 2023 at 11:36 pm

          Agree!! I am petite with strong, small thighs, and they still rub together a bit when I walk. Women whose thighs don’t touch generally have wider pelvises, and that creates the gap. It often has nothing to do with being too fat. Also, being healthy and fit is not a “one size fits all” process. Here’s MY truth: I don’t exercise…unless you count going up and down 2 flights if stairs every day. I am a healthy middle-aged woman who is definitely an hourglass. I carry most of my weight in my hips and breasts. Just built that way. And I’m thankful!

    • Joe on July 24, 2021 at 11:57 pm

      Too bad no men were asked their opinions, and if any were they lied so they wouldn’t look bad.

    • nevagonnaloseit on November 12, 2022 at 5:18 pm

      This could almost be a trustworthy article of you had mentioned every other shape of a woman’s body, not just the hourglass. There are things like pear, rectangle, apple, inverted triangle and such, and your advice would not work on those. I am a rectangle myself, and all my fat goes to my stomach, inner side of the knees, and calves, and it makes me look absolutely atrocious, even though I work my flat butt off at the gym, like you said, to try to make a difference and gain at least a bit of hips and thighs.
      I’m sorry you all who read the article, but they specifically wrote it for hourglass figures. Not you.

      • Shane Duquette on December 6, 2022 at 12:48 pm

        I hear you.

        Different people have different bone structures and body-fat storage patterns. Building muscle tends to make the thighs, glutes, upper back, and shoulders bigger, giving more of an hourglass figure. Losing fat, especially when paired with exercise, causes the loss of visceral fat, shrinking the waist and thus also giving people more of an hourglass figure. People gain more of an hourglass shape as they build muscle, gain strength, become more active, and lose fat overall. The same advice is true for everyone. Perhaps especially for people who aren’t naturally shaped like hourglasses.

        Obviously keep in mind that it’s just one of many, many factors. Someone isn’t unattractive or attractive just because of one factor.

  2. Jared Polowick on April 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Loved it Shane. I think the studies actually (accurately) promote a much better lifestyle too than what the mainstream media is presenting. Women being strong with a healthy amount of fat stores, being able to move the way they want without pain, having more energy, etc. is definitely attractive!

    • Shane Duquette on April 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks, man – I really appreciate that 🙂

  3. latispatha on April 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Another note: I’m seeing a lot of Muffin Top in these images (re: the Average Woman). A point of clarification that may make women feel better – Muffin Top actually did not exist before 2005. I definitely remember life before Mufin Top, even with the Average Woman or even slightly overweight woman. It has more to do with ill-fitting clothing and jeans that are cut wrong/too narrow and ride low and are made of poor material. It has less to do with a woman’s body type. Also, many people don’t actually wear the right size. Where some might see Muffin Top, I see a woman who might be fine, but she’s wearing the wrong jeans. If you have developed obliques, you also will get Muffin Top in the wrong clothing, but it’s muscle bulging over ill-fitting clothing, not fat spilling over. Muffin Top is an illusion in many cases.

    • Shane Duquette on April 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      That’s a really good point.

      Hehe I had that experience myself a little while back. There was a very awkward period where I had grown far too large for my pants/underwear and hadn’t upgraded to the next size yet …

      It’s also very easy to see that happening to Ioulia in her before/after where she’s built up a bunch of muscle and is still wearing the same clothing as before, which is now too small. Cause for celebration in this case, I would say!

      We get guys excitedly posting photos of themselves exploding out of old clothes all the time in the Bony to Beastly community, but I guess that’s not something that’s all that common to brag about 😛

      I think it’d fit well next to the cellulite section, too. I’ll add it in.

    • Martine on February 13, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      True. It’s people wearing low rise jeans, when low rise jeans are not good for their body structure.

  4. Véronique on April 24, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Well Shane, I was reading Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and this article managed to pull me away from it… Kudos. I learned a lot from this and I’m seeing that getting that “Damn, that girl’s heeeaaalthy” look and feel is much more attainable than I thought! You have earned yourself another subscriber to Bony to Bombshell 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on April 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Woot – thanks Véronique. Happy to hear this article has already become a valid distraction/procrastination method 😉

      I’m really glad to have you, and I’m stoked to see what you can do with the program!

  5. Rachel B on April 25, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Hey Shane,

    I’ve followed your other blog and I’ve been waiting for this! It’s so well written and inoffensive. Haha, I’m impressed that even as a male, you provided mostly objective opinion and understanding.

    I’m a weight lifting boney gal and I have researched and tried many things to gain muscle. I have sort of rationalized that I’ll never have the musculature that I want. I’m excited to get started on this. Thank you.

    • Shane Duquette on April 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Pheww – I was really worried about being honest and accurately interpreting the research … while also not ruining evenings.

      As you know well from our other blog, we’ve definitely been in that same bony boat. All of us have had those same worries – that we’d never be able to change it. It’s common to hear about a good half-dozen failed muscle-building attempts when people introduce themselves in the community.

      I hope we can help you accomplish your goals! Good luck 😀

  6. Amanda @ A.Co est. 1984 on April 25, 2014 at 11:45 am

    AMAZING read. A friend shared this on FB and I’ve spent the last half hour reading it.

    As someone who has held a gym membership for almost a decade, with an average body type, I’ve always wanted to be slimmer and thinner (like you said!). Last July, I started lifting weights for the first time, instead of always doing cardio and some body resistence workouts (but mostly cardio) and although I’m not hardcore, I try to go to the gym at least twice a week (four times would be better). Since July 2013, I have started to see muscle definition and a change in my body (what!).

    I never thought that would be possible, and while there is plenty I still would like to attain through my fitness goals, it’s really cool to see all that lifting making a difference. I went on vacation a few weeks ago and posted a photo of myself in a bikini (from afar) and a fellow workout friend commented, ‘Damn girl! You are FIT!’ That felt like SUCH a compliment and SO much better than, ‘You’re gorgeous’.

    All in all, I loved this article, thank you for writing this and sharing it; I feel more accepting of myself, flaws and body fat and all, and it’s motivated me to want to continue to lift (despite recently thinking, ‘Um, are my shoulders getting TOO wide?’) and be healthy and keep at it. That photo of Jessica Biel pretty much sealed the deal (with your writing about the picture) but of course, I finished the entire post before coming to that full conclusion 😉

    • Shane Duquette on April 25, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Amanda – really glad you liked it!

      That’s really interesting that being called fit felt so different (and better!) than being called gorgeous. I’ve never really thought of that before, but now that you mention it I can imagine why.

      Also, cool fashion blog 🙂

      • Chris S on April 20, 2023 at 7:55 pm

        Am I the only person who was nauseated by this article on the “perfect” female body? Let’s try looking into each other’s eyes to see the unique beauty in each of us.

        • Lindsey on May 1, 2023 at 9:05 pm

          Yeah that part was hard for me to read too, especially where I went from having what most would call the Victoria’s Secret model body in my 20’s and 30-31. But at 31 I was SA and I gained basically half my body weight in one year – going from 125 to 185 pounds. Right now I have a fat waist, huge boobs, and scrawny legs. I feel very ugly even though I’ve lost 20-25 ish pounds, so halfway to my goal weight of 140. I felt like I gained the weight as some sort of a subconscious protection from being SA and part of me is afraid to be “attractive” again. In my 20’s I was scouted by a very famous modeling agency and my mom has issues and very cruelly pointed out my every flaw and told me I’d be laughed off stage. She loves that I’m bigger than her now. Anyway enough of me ranting about my personal life. I guess all I’m saying is that I think we need to also bring in the inner health aspect as well.

          • Shane Duquette on May 13, 2023 at 9:58 pm

            I’m so sorry that happened to you, Lindsey. I hope this article didn’t make any of that worse.

        • Shane Duquette on May 13, 2023 at 9:52 pm

          In my early twenties, I was curious about how to look better as a guy, so I wrote an article for men. Our female readers said they wanted an equivalent article. Our gay readers said they wanted an article, too. That seemed fair to me, so I did more research, conducted more surveys, and wrote all three of those articles.

          I think it’s normal to want to learn about how to do things. Learning how to do one type of thing doesn’t prevent us from learning or valuing other things. We can see the unique value of someone, while also respecting our own self worth, while also setting a personal goal to get in better shape this year, while also trying to become a kinder person. I don’t see any contradiction there.

    • Coco on May 17, 2020 at 7:26 pm

      Martine, with all due respect, one swift look at the Instagram models that are popular or the women whose bodies are lauded by media (e.g. Scarlett Johansson, Beyonce, Kim K). They show that whoever wrote this is 10000% right.

      You’re thinking about broad shoulders like a man. No, they just mean obvious toned arms and similar width size to your thighs. There’s a reason why the average Instagram model’s follower counts tends to outrun by miles the average fashion model.

      But then again models represent opulence and luxury so people will always buy into that. You’ll go on a fashion model’s Insta and it’s usually women saying how beautiful they are. Curvier models have men saying they’re fine.

      The jig is UP Martine, slim thick is where its at (until whenever). It’s the truth, you know it, and I’m not sure why you are fighting so hard against it.

  7. Clarice on April 26, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I appreciate that you pointed out that the most attractive body is the healthiest, because it puts the goal of being strong and healthy in the foreground, and puts ‘snag that guy’s attention’ in the background. Looking good to other people is underpinned by feeling good from within, and that only happens, as you pointed out, when you work on becoming a strong and healthy woman.

    I’m sending this to all my friends who still insist thin is sexy and who raise their eyebrows at me for seriously working on my “thin” problem because “it’s not a real problem compared to being fat.” Anyway, thanks Shane, I look forward to your next articles!

    • Shane Duquette on May 21, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Thanks Clarice! Hehe we got lucky – yeah. Would have been unfortunate had all the research suggested that men preferred a different kind of look!

      I think it’s cool that fitness is a condition, not a look. I also think it’s cool that the “look” that the condition tends to result in, although it will be a little different for everyone, often winds up being pretty damn maximally attractive 🙂

      Plus, even if you ARE working out with the goal of turning heads … you’ll wind up healthier as a by product 😉

  8. Tiffany on May 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Finally finished reading this article! So well put together Shane. Posture, lifting form, and thought towards nutrition goes a long way. I think it’s also very interesting to hear a male’s perspective on sexiness and femininity (and back that all up with research…a winning combination). I’ve found my focus had certainly shifted from “skinny” as a goal to “strong” “fit” “healthy”. Cool stuff, thanks for sharing!

  9. Marion Sowerby on August 20, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Hey, nice article.
    As a 40+ mother of two who has struggled for a long time with this whole fitness/thinness stuff, I’m pleased to say that I appear to be on the bootilicious end of your scale – wahey!
    This sort of article really should be in the Cosmo style magazines (not that I read any of that rubbish), especially for some of my slimmer compatriots who are vanishing from sight. They all seem to be frantically trying to disappear, whilst I, well, I lift and swing kettlebells, medicine balls, clubs and me!

    • Shane Duquette on August 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Ahaha thanks Marion, and congrats!

      It seems like every decade puts a new spin on mainstream fitness and beauty ideals. For men, crushing a triathlon used to be the ultimate accomplishment, whereas being burly was considered brutish. Now strength is often considered more desirable than endurance. In the 80’s Arnold popularized a physique that was four times as muscular as even the buffest of older icons, like Marlon Brando. The “average” male sex icon these days is pretty damn jacked! If anything muscle mass is emphasized too much. For women, I’ve heard that the 50’s and 60’s were about being curvaceous (Marilyn Monroe), the 80’s were about the boobs (Pamela Anderson), the 90’s were about the abs (Jennifer Aniston), then came skinniness (gwyneth paltrow), and now it seems like we’re becoming all about the glutes (Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian)!

      Hopefully that leads to a love of strength instead of littleness. There are a lot of people in the fitness industry doing great things, even though some of the mainstream sources are still negative. Maybe the next fitness trend will be a totally wholesome one and Cosmo will move a little bit away from promoting perpetual weight loss. Fingers crossed!

      In the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing—sounds like you’re livin’ large in the best possible way 🙂

  10. Sarah on August 20, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Hey, I just want to say I love this article! Despite its length, its fantastic and I actually read the whole thing 😉 I am definitely a naturally thin girl and my whole adolescent and early adult life I struggled with the opposite body image issues that all the other girls had. I thought I was TOO thin.

    Fast forward about 10-15 yrs, and I now help others craft HEALTHY bodies. Not ‘the perfect body,’ mind you, because that doesn’t exist. I went from a weak stressed out 120 lbs at 5’9″ to a super strong gorgeous 146 and have been competing in weightlifting competitions for the last 5 years.

    I did all the wrong things first, but over the years I learned that you can absolutely get results if you want to work for them….

    kudos to you for this great article!
    if you’re interested, my blog/website is where I write about fitness, nutrition and post workout logs occasionally. 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on August 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Sarah, really glad you liked it 🙂

      I checked out your blog—very cool. And you’ve gained 26 pounds?! Amazing! Congratulations! (I tried to find a before/after but couldn’t—that would be crazy to see!)

  11. Jack on August 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    this article is great. is there an equivalent website for males?

    • Shane Duquette on August 20, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Hey Jack, thanks 🙂

      There is! Bony to Beastly. I’m naturally a very skinny guy myself, so blogging about building muscle based on my own personal experiences and research was what I started with. We had a lot of naturally skinny female readers who wanted a blog/program of their own (including my little sister), and that’s how Bony to Bombshell was born.

      I asked them what I should write about first, and they suggested a female version of our “Ectomorph Aesthetics” article. If you dig this article, check that one out:
      Bony to Beastly—Ectomorph Aesthetics (Full Article)

      I hope you like it!

  12. Kelsea Koenreich on August 20, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Absolutely love this. Definitely sharing!

    • Shane Duquette on August 21, 2014 at 12:12 am

      Glad you dug it Kelsea, and thank you so much for sharing it! 🙂

  13. Norly Soleha on August 21, 2014 at 1:52 am

    This is a very good article, Shane. It is very informative. I usually want a thin body, but now I am more to healthy body.

    • Shane Duquette on August 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      Woot! Glad to hear it 🙂

      (Of course, you can also be thin and healthy should you so choose!)

  14. ally on August 21, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Thanks for this article. I’m glad to know that exercising and being healthy are important aspects of our lives. I was a sprinter in school and we spent 9 months every year training for almost 10 years.

    After college, life starts. Work life’s a bit busy and I don’t focus so much on exercise as I did before. But one thing’s for sure, I feel lazy. I have no energy. I still have body tone, though it may not as strong as before.

    When I come back to my normal life, no matter how busy I am, I’ll make sure I have time for exercise. I have no idea if I’m what people perceive as being sexy and healthy—if I have a nice posture or a small enough waistline.

    I’m small. And no matter how much I eat I still never gain weight. People always tell me I’m fit and sexy, but I don’t like it. I know most girls are proud of getting that attention, but I don’t like guys looking at me when I walk by. I never know what they’re thinking about.

    This article also mentions that when we’re healthy, strong, and physically fit, it will influences and transform our bodies and minds. It can help us perceive things in positive ways and have a positive outlook on life.

    When I read about this article, it made me glad things in my early life, being sporty. Yeah, friends and those close to me always wished they had a body like mine. So girls, I definitely agree with this article. It isn’t necessary to be tall. (I’m not tall and I don’t look like a supermodel.) It is just being confident, healthy, glowing, and strong while still looking feminine.

  15. Aniko on August 21, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I literally cackled out loud at this: “If you happen to find a guy who does care about cellulite, just cancel his subscription to Cosmo and his problem should eventually go away.” Great information presented in a digestible, easy-to-read and funny format. Your writing flows smoothly, you cover your bases, and you make an excellent point. Well done!

  16. Ganae on August 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Loved this article! It is informative on the scientific level, and you related it to everyday life. Over the past year I’ve lost 50lbs and I feel and look great, not to mention so many physical issues are gone. I really like how the healthiest bodies are the most attractive and that makes complete sense considering evolution. Survival of the fittest.

    • Shane Duquette on August 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      50 pounds lost?! Congratulations—that’s amazing 🙂

  17. Heather on August 24, 2014 at 2:42 am

    After reading the male version of this article I decided to skip over to the female, pretty much expecting to see the typical schtick about the ideal feminine. But I read, and surprisingly found myself reading further, because every point made really clicked and made a lot of sense. Also this article made me think of the old me from high school that actually lifted weights, and had a very toned back and arms, and how much I miss that old version of myself. I’m in my 30s now, 5’6, and instead of hovering around 115 I now hover around 140 after pregnancy but your article makes me feel so pumped to get back on track! Of course in a healthy way 🙂 And yes good comments on posture; I want to read a lot more of your articles! Thank you so much for the motivation; definitely bookmarking this! Have a good one.

    • Shane Duquette on September 6, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Thank you Heather, that means a lot! 🙂

      Stoked to hear we could inspire you, too. More articles coming—stayed tuned!

  18. Lauren on August 27, 2014 at 9:58 am

    This was a very interesting article to read. I’m bookmarking it to come read again about 12 more times and hopefully at some point it’ll sink in. People will tell me I look great and fit but I truth is, I hate it. I’m 5’5″ and between 135-140 and could not care less that a lot of the weight is ‘muscle.’ When other women find out that I’m above 125 for my height, I get these pitied, horrified looks. It’s almost like I care more about the approval of other women than if men think I look attractive (I’m straight!). Anyway, 8 out of 7 days I’d rather just be skinny, even if it means I’m not technically as fit. All this to say, your article was the first thing in a long time that kind of made me stop and think. Hopefully I can change my mindset before I waste another 10 years hating everything about the way I look.

    • Shane Duquette on September 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      I think us men are that way too. I remember dating a girl who thought I was really muscular and attractive and thinking “yeah, but other guys still think I’m weak” and feeling really insecure about it. What you’re saying though is even weirder, since it’s the strength you have that you’d be trying to get rid of the sake of their approval.

      I think the mainstream media is already starting to take a turn for the better. Strength and health seems to be starting to become a little more popular nowadays. Hopefully that continues on.

      In the meantime though, hopefully you’re able to unabashedly rock the gifts that you’ve got! ‘Cause your right, from a straight man’s perspective you aren’t going to struggle with being “too fit/strong/healthy/etc” 😛

      Good luck!

  19. Jan Hansen on September 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    What if you’re a women who stores fat in her waist? Borderline underweight BMI, but a waist of 33″ at a height of 5’8″. Is it possible to reach the 0.7 ratio you mentioned without losing weight?

    • Shane Duquette on September 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      For some people reaching a 0.7 ratio just isn’t practical or realistically achievable at all, and that’s probably just fine. Even from an optimal attractiveness standpoint, some of the studies found that having a healthy body fat percentage was more important than specific proportions.

      As for whether you can achieve that ratio, it’s hard to say! How much fat mass do you have around your waist? And what waist and hip measurements do you have currently?

      (And for many people, losing weight would indeed be a good way to improve that ratio. It really depends on the person and their goals.)

  20. Eva on September 19, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Terrific article. In particular I loved the common sense guidance for us small-boobed women.

    • Shane Duquette on September 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Glad you liked it, Eva—thank you 😀

  21. Jackie on October 1, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    I find this article a bit offensive to be honest. I don’t care if men find me attractive, or if my body is hourglass or having the right waist to hip to waist ration. I train purely for strength only; having a big bench, squat and deadlift. This article just perpetutates the belief that women should train for looks or that our goal is to have a flat stomach or look “sexy” for the opposite sex. As a matter of fact, lifting heavy is my way of telling society and men that I don’t give a damn about what they find is attractive. Not every woman cares about being attractive to a man. Some of us train for strength only. My goal is a big bench. Pure strength. Not achieving a “curvy yet toned” body or whatever it is that men prefer. Placing an emphasis on aesthetics is harmful in my opinion. The focus should be on performance. How much stronger are you? Oh you can deadlift 200 now instead of just 65 lbs… that’s great. That’s how we measure progress. Not as to how men might perceive us. It is already offensive enough that most men think that women train to be attractive to them (which is untrue as many women, me included, do NOT train for looks or aesthetics) but to perpetuate that with this type of article is just offensive and rubbish. You should not assume that most females train for looks or to be sexy to men. Many of us don’t.

    • Shane Duquette on October 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Hey Jackie,

      That’s a really good point. I think that many women agree with you, and I do as well. Very much so. I definitely don’t think that women should train just to be attractive to men, and I think health, strength, fitness and happiness are much better things to strive for with a fitness (or nutrition) routine. I’m sorry if I in any way implied that aesthetics were all that mattered—that really wasn’t my intention when writing this article.

      As for why I wrote this article in the first place, I asked our readers what they most wanted me to cover, and they said they wanted a female version of our article on the most attractive male body, which is one of our most popular articles for men.

      Anyway, I think your goals are awesome, and I wish they were more common. And if the 65 to 200 pound deadlift is your own progress—congratulations! That’s amazing 🙂

      I’m also sorry if I’ve offended you.


      • Dali on August 1, 2023 at 7:34 am


    • Coco on May 17, 2020 at 7:31 pm

      So then… Why did you read a post about being attractive…..

  22. Jackie on October 2, 2014 at 12:55 am

    The author is perpetutating the myth that women train only to look good for men. Many of us train for strength; a big squat, deadlift… not looks. We don’t even have a care about what men find attractive because we ARE NOT TRAINING TO BE ATTRACTIVE.

    The author is offensive because he thinks his opinion on what is attractive is important enough that we should care. Newflash; women don’t work out to be attractive to you. Some of us train for strength and performance. We don’t give a damn about being a bombshell or hot. We don’t train for you or your gaze. Some of us are even stronger than you. From the photos in your “About” section you don’t even look like you lift.

    • Shane Duquette on October 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      There are definitely women out there who are stronger than me.

      I agree with you that women shouldn’t train to be attractive to me.

      I’m certainly not saying that I represent any sort of ideal.

    • Coco on May 17, 2020 at 7:32 pm

      This post is specifically about attractiveness…. If you don’t train for attractiveness then literally the rest of the website is for you…

  23. Eva on October 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    @Jackie I disagree. I think is one of the rare articles on female form and body type that simply describes common perception differences in attractiveness between the sexes, backed up by scientific references. It doesn’t go on to say that women SHOULD aspire to the male preferences. Nowhere do I see the author bashing one body type over another and certainly not berating individuals for ‘lifting or not lifting’ – (everyone is entitled to their opinion but it’s more constructive to keep the debate objective).

    Great article. Thanks for writing!

    • Shane Duquette on October 16, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Thank you so much, Eva 🙂

    • Janice on December 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      Many of the “scientific research” cited here are unfortunately not peer reviewed…especially the ones regarding breasts. It comes more of a put down on men who like big breasts to make small breasted women feel better (I say this as a small breasted woman). Now, what if someone who releases a “study” in the internet saying that “men who prefer small breasts have pedophile tendencies?” (Which is actually a common internet joke)

      What this article fail to state (which is surprising coming from a male) that men do actually have different preferences. Some men like it big, some men like it small, some men like plumpier women, some men like slender/skinnier ones, and in some cases, some men like obese women, some men like tall, some men like short. Some men like muscular and defined women , some men find that off putting.

      if it is universal that what men find attractive is a small waist and wide hips, why is Kate Upton popular among many men? She barely has the ideal waist hip ratio – the very skinny models have more pronounced WHR than Kate Upton.

      While the author has not directly bashed a body type and breast preference, he has reinforced many of the UNFOUNDED stereotypes. Many articles online are not really scientific especially if they are free. Most real scientific articles cost some $ to access or you find them in libraries and often times, there are studies that disagrees with that study.

      Again, do men who prefer large breast tend to be poor, hungry and sexist? That is like saying that men who prefer small breasts tend to be pedophiles? In also one “study” about breasts, it was claimed that men who prefer small breasted women tend to want submissive wives….now aint that sexist? Totally contradicts that “men who prefer large breasts tend to be sexists”. Maybe men who prefer small breasts are sexists too given that they want a submissive partner?

      While I do not question the intention of the author, I think that an article like this,which especially ignores than diversity in mens tastes, reinforces body image obsession. He specifically mentioned small waist and the bottom. What does that send to women who are already struggling with body image? MUst get small waist, must get round bum! Now if they did not win the “genetic lottery”, they will consider liposuction and butt augmentation to fit SUPPOSED mens ideals. Not all women can get round bottoms and small waist (compared to hips). Even glute expert, Bret Contreras, say this so in his blog. Unfortunately, the author has accidentally crossed that slippery slope

      The better advise of the author would be work with what you have as long as you are healthy. Focus on healthy because if the focus is healthy, aesthetics will naturally follow. Compare that to when aesthetics is primary, it does not always follow that it is healthy. Period. No need to reinforce the STEREOTYPE that men prefer a certain body type. If you talk to guys, you’ll also see that they don’t always agree on the best body type they find in women

    • Janice on December 5, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      Also, i noticed that the author seem to equate curvy with a certain weight range rather than it being a body shape REGARDLESS of weight.

      Take a look at the photo above, it says, slim, average, curvy…The word curvy seem to have been used in a PC way rather than actual meaning. The drawing on the left should have been described more a “plump” than curvy since slim, average and plump can all be curvy! It depends one bone structure( pelvic width) and fat distribution patterns (some women deposit fat in the stomach, some in the hips, some in the boobs)

  24. Emi on October 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I normally ignore caricatures, especially if they get personal instead of just focusing on the matter at hand, but I can’t stop myself this time.
    Jackie, you attack the author on generalizing what drives a woman to start lifting [which I don’t think he did], but you yourself make the same mistake in your false feminist rage which reminds me a lot of “Why women wear make-up” type of discussions.

    I for one actually started this program to look more ‘aesthetically pleasing’ and feel confident about myself, it is not as black and white as you make it out to be. Probably most members start out wanting to look and feel better [be and look healthy, attractive and confident] and only then a lot of us get hooked on the ‘thrill’ of building strength week after week. So your ‘many of us’ probably completely excludes skinny girls that just want to look fuller [whether or not they’re ectomorphs], which this program is all about. I haven’t read a single thread in the forum where “I want to have an immense bench press!” is the motivation…

    Only through this muscle building process did our tastes change to a more muscular female body image, which also allows our aesthetic goals and our strength goals to go ‘hand in hand’ as they say. Maybe after a couple of months some girls want to have an immense bench press, but I doubt many would subscribe if the program’s only purpose was strength gains.

    What I find weird for myself is that my taste in men completely didn’t change. Made for an interesting discussion about gender, sexuality and attraction.

  25. Andria on November 3, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Love this website it has been what I have been looking for. My trainer has been treating me like I joined the gym to lose weight when I joined the gym to gain muscle! ! I was 123 at 5’7 when I started a year later 133 but he is still trying to low carb me!! Bonus though love love the new curves I have and the definition I have now!! Good thing I’m stubborn and do my own thing otherwise I would be calorie deficit and low carb all the time which means for bony girls just more of what we don’t want!!!

    • Shane Duquette on November 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Woot, props for getting your carbs in 🙂

      Even bigger props for gaining 10 pounds—that’s amazing!

      And I can definitely relate with your struggles to find advice for skinny people. We’re definitely rare and mysterious creatures 😛

  26. Carmena on November 21, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Dear Shane,
    WOW what an amazing resource you guys put together! I found you after googling ‘weight training for ectomorphs’ and I have read almost every post on Beastly and am stoked to find this for us ladies. Your knowledge and genuine caring for people really shines through. Plus you’re an awesome writer!
    I’m a 42 year old Chinese mum of one toddler and always loved physical activity (cardio, yoga) and have always been small boned and not much muscle. I’ve never been able to put it on (now I know from your posts that neither cardio nor yoga builds muscle that well) and I was tired of not being able to carry my daughter (and all the sundries that go with having a toddler). I joined our local gym about 6 months ago and slowly have been getting the body I’ve always dreamed of – yay! (sorry can’t share how much muscle I’ve gained since I didn’t take note of what I started out with – but now I actually have shoulder, arm and back definition). My question is that I feel I’m cursed with the Asian ‘pan cake butt’. I’m starting to see a bit more filling out but my quads are definitely getting bigger but the butt is still not as ‘bodacious’ as I’d like. Still trying to get the form of the deadlift right – and how fast should I come up once to complete the movement? I used a lighter weight to try and get the form right but I still don’t feel I’ve ‘got it’. Also any other exercises you’d suggest? I’m 5 ft 7″ and just shy of 115 pounds – about 23% body fat. Thanks!!

    • Shane Duquette on November 22, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      Thank you for all the kind words, Carmena 🙂 That made my day.

      Congratulations on all the progress you’ve made! Sounds like you’re killing it 😀

      With a deadlift you’ll want to really take the time to learn to do it properly and to practice with lighter weights, and also to be a little cautious with increasing the weights. I’m not totally comfortable giving a really short description of how to do it, since I’d hate to give you just enough info to hurt yourself, but generally you want to lift fairly explosively. (I’d really recommend watching videos and/or getting someone to teach you in person! We don’t start our gals off with a full deadlift.) The deadlift is an amazing strength lift that will work your glutes and hams, but if you’ve got weak glutes it might be your hams doing most of the work. The Romanian deadlift would be a good lift to add in, since it should build muscle size a teensy bit better than the deadlift, however it wouldn’t help balance out your glutes/hams.

      If your butt is lagging behind your leg muscles you might want to add in some lifts that preferentially work your glutes. To do that, try adding in some glute bridges and hip thrusts!

      Keep up the great work!!

  27. Janice on December 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Although the intention of this blogpost was good, I think people should take this article and the references with a grain of salt. I somewhat agree with Jackie here about the implication of training for aesthetics. Many bikini competitors (talking about fitness bikini competition) while they look good and healthy aren’t really healthy and often suffer eating disorders, too. (Hello make up, tanners, hair extensions). Just look up youtube for testimonies!
    Also I am getting the feel that this is riding the skinny bashing trend in the internet and media that I have been seeing…but at the same time ignoring the rampant obesity. People with eating disorders only make 1% of the US population, while obese people are 25%. If we include overweight people, it goes up to 75%!

    Also, breast perkiness cannot be achieved by building pecs, it has more to do with skin elasticity and the ligaments that hold the breast up. And as a small breasted women, there’s a subtle bashing in the reference you cited regarding people who like large breasted women. Those articles were not even peer reviewed nor were they really scientific. In addition, what qualifies as small or large breast? Often times people just say the cup size which makes no sense since cup sizes must exist with band size. I can claim that I am a A,B,C,D,DD, cup! That is 36A, 34B, 32C, 30D, 28DD! and to be honest, these sizes are in the smaller side.

    What qualifies as skinny, tender, average, fat? People interpret these words differently. In one instagram comment in an aerie photo of a model, a girl commented that the models were still “skinny”. But to be honest, she was far from skinny! She looked like she was in a healthy weight and I’d even say bigger since she seem to have a bigger bone structure. I also have been called “skinny” but I don’t see myself as skinny nor fat especially at 5’0, 107lbs. I think the concept of skinny or thin is so distorted in the US because of the rampant obesity, that even a HEALTHY slender person is being accused of being anorexic.

    Besides, look around you and look at common people, how many are actually “bony”? Sure many Hollywood stars are bony but that’s not because they want to be bony but because many of them actually take illegal substances due to the immense stress in Hollywood. Even the “healthy looking” bombshell Marilyn Monroe accidentally killed herself by overdosing. And the models in women’s mag aren’t terribly bony as many claim. If you look at the cover models, they arent thinner than playboy models. Most cover models are actually actresses of normal weight. The difference is they dont have the silicon boobs that are staple in many men’s mag that often feature females. To say that women’s magazine promote eating disorders is like saying mens magazines are promoting the silicon boobs and silicon butt trend. In addition, most photos in professional photography are photoshopped. And models are models in the runway not because they are attractive – how many runway models do you think have pretty faces? Most of the runway models are unknown to most women and most women do not watch those especially that runway shows often have over the top fashion. We look more into clothing/catalog models, most of whom actually look healthily slender. The runway models are chosen mostly because they dont attract attention to their bodies, which in consequence highlight the garmet. Basically, fashion models are there because they are literally walking hangers, not “bombshells”. In addition, why is it that thinner models are being bashed and accused of promoting eating disorders and creating laws to ban them but when fat activist people insist on “plus size”/ heavier models, it is called “diversity” and is praised despite models being a few hamburgers away from diabetes?

    Another thing, the coveted hourglass shape is actually the RAREST body shape. The most common are the RECTANGLES, small hips, small boobs. Even pear shaped people are about 1/5 only but more than half are rulers/rectangles/banana

    One thing that amazes me about the Western world is that a lot of people are talking about going to the gym to be badass but at the same time rely of machines and modern conveniences to do chores…I dont go to the gym but I walk a lot and do lots of chores and work in retail.

    Jackie makes a strong point often ignored and berated. Training solely for aesthetics is harmful. This can be seen by a higher eating disorder among fitness enthusiasts (especially those who join fitness competitions where they have to follow a strict diet in order to build muscle and cut fat). Also, there are many ridiculous “fitness advice” going on especially if the emphasis is to look at certain way in the shortest time. I have seen many “fitness mags” that shouts “get flat belly in 19 days”, “have abs in 10 days”, “have that nice but in 2 weeks”, have muscle definition in 30 days! It is to my observation that the fitness craze is heading the way of the pro-ana people. Just look at the many fitness and “health” sites that demonize carbs and even some people with health and science background are demonizing carbs especially sugar. Paleo, Zone, Atkins…these are fitness lingos. Many women with “muscle definition” are less healthy that naturally skinny people. Fake boobs are also common among fitness competitors.

    I guess the bottomline is, most Americans do not really do this genuinely for health reasons but for the sake of jumping in the bandwagon. After all, I can tell you stories of coworkers who try to “eat healthy” but consume chunks of energy drink because the current fitness belief is carbs is bad. The carb is bad is not solely a pro ana mantra, it is the holy grail of some fitness subcultures.

    Another thing: if men do really care about the slim waist, why is Kate Upton popular among men to the point of being featured in SI 3 times? The lady has nice boobs but she does not have waist, hips and her legs are as skinny as the runway models but with her weight concentrated in the….belly? This is less pronounced in her SI photoshoots but raw videos and unedited paparrazzi photos show her actual figure. To a lot of guys, it’s about the tits, let’s not pretend most guys prefer slim waist, or else Kate Upton wont be popular in mens magazines.

    Reality does not seem to jive with what people claim. If hourglasses are the attractive ones, how come many men are marrying rectangles?

    Maybe it really isnt always about aesthetics. Would men rather marry or be attracted women with “feminine curves” but act very masculine and curses a lot or a skinny/boy-like framed flatchested women but act very feminine and on feminine instincts? I think it is rather sad that the definition of feminine in the US is so superficial – boobs, hips, long hair, make up, tight clothes….but feminine grace are often seen as a “weakness” – being a dedicated mother, women who give up their career to spend time taking care of their families, being a supportive partner, excellent in cooking and household chores….to be honest, i would prefer to be a woman with no curves but exude feminine grace than be a woman who has all those curves in the right places but is more “masculine” – too competitive, insensitive, cursing a lot…. aesthetics only last a few decades and when biology kicks in, everything will sag and be wrinkly…feminine grace, however is until you die and is something you can teach your daughters.

    Besides, if Americans let go of many modern conveniences, many would not need to go the the gym to get fit. Americans dont wash the dishes anymore, they put it in the dishwasher! Americans dont chop their food anymore, they buy it prechopped…

    • Shane Duquette on December 12, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Hey Janice,

      Thank you so much for such a thorough response!

      We used the best research we could find. Much of it is peer reviewed. Some is not. However we tried to look at the entire body of evidence here. It’s not like we’re cherry picking inferior studies while omitting better ones—rather we’re basing most of this on the most thorough and well conducted studies, and then trying to fill in the gaps with the clues we can glean from elsewhere. We tried to note the limitations and include our sources. If you find any peer-reviewed studies or meta-analyses or whatnot that contradict anything in this article we can reevaluate our position 🙂

      We never meant to bash anyone. I’m naturally very skinny myself (6’2 and 130 pounds), and it took me a very long while to get myself up to a bodyweight that I felt confident, healthy and happy at. It’s possible that some of that is slipping into the article… but I don’t have anything at all against skinny people—if anything it’s the opposite!!

      This is exactly the point I was trying to get across: “The better advise of the author would be work with what you have as long as you are healthy. Focus on healthy because if the focus is healthy, aesthetics will naturally follow.”

      The reason we wrote this article was because we got so many requests to write an article about aesthetics, so I thought readers would appreciate more details and research 🙂

      I also think people can train for whatever reason or goal that they want. If they want to train for an extreme sport at the expense of their health that’s their choice to make. If someone wants to incorporate a little aesthetics into their fitness/health routine—I say why not!

      • Janice on February 1, 2015 at 10:45 pm

        Which make this post a contradiction.

        It seems that you cannot decide if appearance tell health or not. It some part, that is what it indicates, sometimes it is not. What the heck?

        Especially with the picture you presented. Take a look at the first diagram, it says slim and FIT (Female choice). Do you know what FIT actually means? Fit has more to do with physical ability, right? And it is not an appearance, right?

        • Shane Duquette on February 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm

          Hey Janice,

          You’re right. Sometimes appearance doesn’t properly indicate health. Oftentimes it does. We tried to make that clearer by saying “conspicuous” health is hot, or rather, hotness is health that’s very visibly obvious. Of course, on the flip side, sometimes people can look healthy and not actually be healthy. It’s not a perfect system, just our brains making calculated guesses based on limited visual data.

          However striving towards health in a way that will make you not just healthy, but also make you look healthy… that’s a pretty sure way to be both healthy and crazy hot. I suppose that’s sort of the answer we came up with to the question we were so frequently asked—”what’s the most attractive female body?” 🙂

          I hope that helps!

  28. Elena on December 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Seriously good job! I found some very interesting facts as well. I always suspected that a woman’s view of ‘good looking’ and a man’s view really differ, guess there is a point there. Quite enlightening! Thanks!!

    • Shane Duquette on December 12, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Thank you Elena, so glad you liked it! 🙂

  29. Mel on December 18, 2014 at 5:39 am

    This 0.7 ratio with a rockin’ butt is starting to get me down…only under 1/3 of women (8% hourglass and 22% pears) are capable of this with a whopping 70% being rectangle, apple or inverted triangle. That’s a large majority of women portrayed as less than or in need of working harder to reach an unobtainable goal.
    If I look around I can see plenty of those 70% somehow get married and have families so maybe it’s not a deal breaker BUT women so don’t need another item to add to their insecurity lists. Maybe being fit and happy is more important than tickling male primitive brain parts 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on December 26, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      I agree, Mel! And you’re perhaps more right than you think. Not only is the 0.7 ratio not universally supported in the studies, but it seems like simply being healthy and fit does an even better job of creating attractiveness, whether or not your ratio lines up with “the ideal” 🙂

      (We go into more detail in that section. We aren’t trying to say that you need a certain ratio to be hot or happy either, and neither is science!)

      • Gog on July 20, 2016 at 8:42 pm

        I loved the article and everything you write on Bony to Beastly. However, you need to tell me the difference between Slim and Fit, Strong and Toned, and Strong and Curvy.

  30. David on January 13, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Hey, I like your presentation style, keep doing what you do.

    While I fully agree with everything said both on here and Bony to Beastly, most of my female friends who are dissatisfied with their body tend to have the opposite issue: They’re natural mesomorphs who put on heavy muscle with little effort (gee wouldn’t we love to have that problem). The problem here is, I hate advising anyone to restrict caloric intake while not toning up- gives that emaciated look, but do you have any thoughts for girls who feel they are TOO muscly?

    I’m talking starting with healthy bf%, but a ‘power-athletes frame’,think olympic softball player who wants to have a rockclimber’s body -wirey yet toned and functionally strong.

    I ask because this is a difficult area where the healthiest path may not be so closely aligned with the societal ideal of an attractive yet fit female, in contrast to the bony–>fit or curvy–>fit situation where weight training yields huge gains.

    • Shane Duquette on January 18, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      I think people can train and eat to look however they please!

      It’s not rare for women to be overly developed. There’s a lot of mythology about how women have less testosterone and whatnot and could never get too muscular without steroids. But that’s not true. Women build muscle wonderfully well. It’s unlikely to happen to a naturally slim woman, just like a naturally skinny guy is unlikely to ever get “too big”.

      My roommate, she’s an ex-college rugby player, and while she loves the glutes and thighs she’s developed over the years (from squats, deadlifts, sprints and such), she’s not totally thrilled about her upper body musculature and isn’t looking to develop any more.

      A calorie deficit + only lifting with the body parts they want to keep large. So if they’re worried about their arms being too big, calorie deficit + not doing arm exercises. So instead of deadlifts, which are a full body hip lift that involve arm work, they’d do hip thrusts, which don’t involve the arms. Instead of doing chin-ups, which work the biceps, they’d do pull-ups. That kind of thing. Having a lower protein intake while in a calorie deficit would cause muscle loss as well.

      It’s not like anyone needs to lift either. We’re not saying lifting is for everyone. If someone wants to lose muscle… why not exercise in a way that doesn’t promote muscular development instead?

      If they want a sinewy rock climber body though I think a calorie deficit would probably do the trick regardless of how they lift. I bet once they got down to a really low bodyfat percentage, especially if they aren’t consciously trying to preserve their muscle mass, they’d find themselves much smaller and slenderer.

      I hope that helps!

  31. jon kunch on January 16, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    I don’t think guys really give a fit about body fat percentage as long as her BMI is in the ballpark (18-25). Over 25, doesn’t matter if it’s muscle or fat, it’s just less attractive.

  32. Maria on January 24, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    My husband emailed me a link to this article, personally I don’t spend a lot of time reading the never ending fitness posts on the Internet but I enjoyed reading this article. I’m thirty years old and at 5’2″ and 150# I’ve struggled with many people’s opinions that I’m overweight or heavy. I’ve been strength training for 2 or 3 years now and I’m happy to say that I’ve set a PR of 265# deadlift and 225# back squat and I’m still working on improving. My build is curvy, and larger than average which is to my advantage when it comes to strength. I now have a nickname that I don’t mind hearing in public “Muscles”.
    I read through some comments and most were very complimentary. I found that some women took issue with this article, and although you very tactfully appreciated their comments, I wanted to focus on one point that stood out to me. I noticed that some complained that they felt you made the focus of working out to be about appearances. No matter what anyone’s reason for going to the gym is, their appearance is a factor. I’ve always been muscular and larger than average, that being said I have long been torn between pride in my strength and dissatisfaction with my body. Admittedly when you are young all you want is to look like the pretty girls in school. But I think this article points to being healthy and fit as sexy. This is vastly different from mainstream media, and to change a woman’s view or to give confidence to a young woman that it is much more attractive and satisfying to be healthy and fit then a cosmo copy. This articles helps those of us in that torn mental state know that we should be proud of our strength and not worry about not looking like everyone else. I have bookmarked this article and I’m sharing it with every girl I know because I am convinced it is extremely important for women to know that they can be strong and healthy and capable and that doesn’t make them manly, or too muscled.
    Your article was well written,I laughed often,and I checked the studies a few times when I was surprised by a statement (even did an informal poll of my guy friends on a couple of things). This is the type of article that reinvigorates my drive to be healthy, and helps me be less concerned when the occasional negative comment is made and focus on how good my lifestyle is for me. Thank you for taking the time to write such an encouraging, funny, and informative article.

    • Shane Duquette on January 31, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Hey Maria,

      Really glad you dug the article 🙂

      A 265 deadlift and a 225 pound squat at a bodyweight of 150?! Amazing!! Congratulations! Badass nickname, too.

      Thank you so much for the kind words! That was exactly the message I was trying to get across (and also what my research showed!).

      And thank you so much for sharing the article too! That helps us so so so much 😀

      Keep up the great work, Maria! You’re closing in on a 2x bodyweight deadlift!!

  33. Nikki on February 19, 2015 at 10:29 am

    I loved your article. I read it over a period of 3 nights after working out and shared the research with my mother. We loved it! Also, the examples were great and helped support your article. I’ve been working out for a while and you have imbued me with more tips and goals!

    • Shane Duquette on March 3, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      Really glad we could help, Nikki! That’s so awesome that you’re doing this with your mother. Good luck!!

  34. chinny on March 7, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    I’m 5’5, 155 lbs. Basically i have a big butt, boobs but I’m a bit insecure about my belly. By holding my breath my waistline is 3 inches smaller. I’ve tried to lose it but nothing is working. My genes aren’t helping either cos even my skinny sister has a big belly. What do you recommend. Also my BMI is slightly overweight but I feel healthy. I can carry 20 litres of water in a bucket up a flight of stairs comfortably. Should I be worried about my BMI. One last thing, I have strong glutes and all but I dont know if I should worry about how much of it is fat or muscle.(My butt is a bit jiggly).

    • Shane Duquette on March 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Hey Chinny,

      As far as your appearance goes, I have a feeling most people will probably notice your strengths more than your weaknesses. I would feel blessed for having the curves you’ve got, and imagine those when you imagine how you look, not your belly, if you know what I mean.

      I know we tend to be hypercritical of ourselves though, so I don’t fault you for stressing over your gut… and shrinking it down might have some great health benefits too! The fat we store in our midsection is the least healthy kind of fat.

      It’s common to feel like nothing is working. I felt that way for years when trying to transform myself. That doesn’t mean that nothing will work though, just that you haven’t found an effective and sustainable approach yet. Have you been able to eat in a calorie deficit, i.e., lose a little bit of weight on the scale each week? Able to get most of your calories from minimally processed whole foods? Have you been successful in sticking to a regular weightlifting program? Are you sleeping well?

      Those things are all far easier said than done. I know we can’t just say “okay so eat less and move more” or anything, but if you find that one of those things is holding you back, then it makes it easier to figure out how to go about fixing it.

      Your butt is probably made up of both fat and muscle. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you start lifting and eating well to lose the belly though, your butt will probably get leaner and more muscular 🙂

      Does that help / make sense?

  35. Michelle on March 16, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Hi – great article! I’ve recently started to weight train on a regular basis. My bf has finally convinced me that hours of weekly cardio will never change my body. After about 2 months of weight training 3-5x a week, I am really starting to see a change but I’m somewhat frustrated by how slowly the excess fat is coming off. I could really use the extra guidance that your program seems to provide but I’m wondering if it’s for me…I’m not at all “skinny.” Unless by skinny you also mean average weight with very little muscle tone? I’m 5’7″, 146lbs and at this point 29% body fat. I want to continue gaining muscle and lose my squishy belly once and for all. I actually love to work out and eat healthfully. I’m looking for a program that will enhance and improve what I’m already doing. What do you think? Thank you very much!

    • Shane Duquette on April 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Hey Michelle,

      I know you’ve already joined us 😀 but for the sake of anyone else reading this…

      Our articles are written for naturally thin gals (or skinny-fat gals) who struggle to gain weight, however right from the beginning of beta testing we’ve had members of all shapes and sizes. We help some women lose fat / lose weight and help others to gain muscle / gain weight. If someone is looking to get strong and lean we can help them do that 🙂

      (I’m stoked to see what you can do with the program!)

  36. Marta on March 19, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Having read this article and all of the comments, I’d like to say one thing. It’s foolish to think physical appearance doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t matter to others or even to ourselves. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but the reality is it does, we have evolved to unconsciously assess a number of things about other people based on their physical appearance. We can fight against it all we want, it’s not going to change the fact that one way or another looks matter. Now, many people might actually not give a lot of importance to physical appearance (or at least think they don’t care about it) but the truth is they’re a small minority. A lot of women might not care about looking a certain way because that’s what men like (I don’t), but the vast majority of women do care about the way they look for whatever reason. In that sense, I believe this article is very relevant because it has a different narrative than almost every other article on this matter. It also teaches women who happen to be ectomorphs how to attain a certain type of physique. It might not be the body they’re interested in, but if it is it will serve its purpose.

    Having said that, I’d like to know what it is exactly the guys from ‘bony to bombshell’ consider a skinny/bony woman to be. I ask because from my perspective many of the women whose pictures you posted on this website are skinny, but many are not. I should say I’m not from North America and I’ve noticed people from North America and people from Europe (where I’m from) have different ideas of what skinny is.
    For example, I’m 5’7”, my BMI is 18, BF is about 18%, I have naturally narrow shoulders (which I enlarged with a lot of hard work) and a 5.7” wrist, but I don’t have very long limbs (although my legs are significantly longer than my torso) and I’m not lanky. I also have a fair amount of muscle mass (naturally and obtained through hard work), few bones sticking out and what I would say is a robust bone structure. With measurements of 35-24-35 I’d say I’m a narrow hourglass. North Americans always think I’m skinny, their reaction tends to be ‘Oh my god, you’re so thin!’, but here in Europe people usually view me as thin (in a normal kind of way) but never as skinny/bony. I personally don’t think I’m skinny either, I don’t even think I’m thin. My BMI puts me at the frontier between mild thinness and normal weight and my BF is relatively low but still healthy. So what exactly is it that you think is a skinny/bony gal? How do you assess that?

    • Shane Duquette on April 5, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      Hey Marta,

      Skinny/bony can be a fairly subjective thing. I was a 130 pound guy at 6’2 (16.7 BMI) and have wrists the same size as yours, so there wasn’t much debate there—I was skinny. For some people it’s not so clear.

      You’re fairly thin, yeah. 18% bodyfat is very low—comparable to a lot of female elite athletes. Your weight is relatively low as well. However everyone is different. My bones are so so thin that I’m still fairly light even now that I have a fair bit of muscle and strength. My sister is the same. Very long, very thin bones. She could become much stronger, much more curvaceous, but never bulky. My mum is the opposite. Her bone structure is thicker and heavier and even when very thin her limbs were thicker and she was much heavier.

      If you’re strong, fit, healthy and happy I don’t think it matters too much. Being thin / a narrow hourglass sounds great 🙂

  37. Bethany on March 19, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    This is hilarious and awesome! I have worked out seriously my entire life and did competitive weightlifting in high school. I am pretty small, but I always figured weightlifting would scare guys off. Nice to know it (mostly) works the other way around 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on April 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      That’s awesome, Bethany. I think these days you’ll find that your weightlifting brings all the boys to the yard for sure 🙂

  38. Chioma Ozuzu on March 23, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    This is the first time I found this website and I must say how much I really appreciate the knowledge behind this article for women who wants to build that eye-popping physique. Even though I was born really thin and had ups and downs with my weight, despite my athleticism as a girl (I played Rugby, track and field,etc.), didn’t know how effective strong glutes can be. By any chance, how long does it take to build the ideal butt? Not to mention, how often?

    • Shane Duquette on April 5, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Hey Chioma,

      That depends! Even assuming that you’re doing everything absolutely perfectly, for some people it might take a few months and for others it might take a few years. (It also depends on what you consider the ideal butt to be. Building a Nikki Minaj butt might take a combination of world class genetics and surgery!) However generally the further back you start, the faster your progress will be initially. If you’re starting out with a very small booty chances are it will grow fairly quickly at first 🙂

      How often? Do you mean how often do you need to train it? I’d recommend about three times per week. Maybe twice, maybe four times, but three is the sweet spot for most.

  39. dani on March 27, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Great article! Well written! Two thumbs up! I’m glad I came across it and took the time to read it. I feel like I gained a lot from it.

  40. Landon on April 1, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    If you are a naturally “bony” women, nothing is wrong with that. A lot of guys are attracted to that look (including myself). I’m also attracted to athletic women, but for me the smaller the arm the better, even better if you have shapely deltoids. I like naturally curvy women as well, but that’s all about genetics – you can’t control where your body stores fat (huge difference in fat and curvy).

    Many guys are attracted to multiple body styles. If you choose to workout, do it for your health.

    • Shane Duquette on April 5, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      I agree with what you’re saying—I think women can look great in all shapes and sizes.

      However, if someone is motivated to go to the gym because they want to look better (and the health benefits are a nice wholesome byproduct)… would that be wrong?

  41. Helen on April 5, 2015 at 5:19 am

    I really enjoyed reading your article. It is so true. I am a natural mesomorph figure. I am white with large calf muscles and arched foot. I have the figure for ballet dancing I have been told many times as I am 5ft 3. I would say I am almost hour glass but my shoulders are slightly larger. I would not change me in anyway. I love having muscular legs. Men go crazy for them. I am lucky that they have a shape and curve at my ankles. I am a 36b and would not want to be bigger. They are in proportion to my body. Most of my training is dance classes including zumba. Having massive boobs and dancing would put a strain on my body.I gain weight quickly and lose it quickly. I was a size 8 and three boyfriends told me i was underweight. I was loosing too much from my legs, bum, boobs. Now I am a size eight to ten. But I have a bit more meat on me. I prefer this and my current boyfriend does too. I don’t get the obsession with bigger boobs. Maybe if you are very flat chested. But if not be happy with your lots. The bigger they are the more they head south in later life! Men love a woman who is a healthy weight and trains. The gym empowers me and my knowledge of nutrition too. I am very pale and I am against tanning. All skin colours glow with health. Maybe it’s all sweet potato and carrots I eat. I have clear skin that glows because of exercise, good skin care and diet. I only wear make up on special occasions. Men often go crazy for a women who has just finished a work out. No make up and glowing. You have to love yourself and work with what you were given to be the best version of yourself. Well said….bravo!

    • Shane Duquette on April 5, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Hey Helen, thank you!

      Sounds like you’ve gotten yourself in killer shape and are reaping all the rewards—congrats 🙂

      I know what you mean about your skin’s healthy glow. I used to think I looked pale after a long cold Canadian winter… but now that I’m eating better and exercising, whether or not I’m tanned, I kind of glow all year long. I’ve noticed the same thing in my business partner and his wife since they started eating well and exercising as well.

      Keep crushing it!

  42. Helen on April 5, 2015 at 5:31 am

    I just wanted to add I am English so I am referring to UK measurements.

  43. Brandon S. Pilcher on April 11, 2015 at 8:04 am

    I’ve never thought about it too much before, but I can’t help but agree with your argument here that a certain level of physical strength can enhance sex appeal for women as well as men. If you look at comic book heroines (most of which are drawn by straight male illustrators) for example, most of them are NOT “anorexic” or bony, but have fairly muscular physiques and body fat deposited in all the right places. I’d say they represent our ideal better than the stereotypical fashion models.

    Unfortunately, like you said, most women talking about body image seem to fixate more on losing body fat than gaining muscle mass. I guess it’s because training for strength isn’t quite as easy as dieting, or isn’t seen as traditionally feminine”.

    • Shane Duquette on April 11, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      True! It seems rarer to find a straight male guy who thinks that the fashion model thin physique is the ideal. Not that there is anything wrong with being thin, or that it can’t be incredibly attractive, but thinness sure isn’t necessary for a guy to find a gal attractive, and strength can go a long way to boosting sex appeal! Given that it also (usually) boosts strength and health, seems like a no brainer for many. I think times are a changin’, and we’re going to see the strength side of fitness becoming more and more popular 🙂

      Your comic book example is a good one. While those physiques (both male and female) are incredibly exaggerated (and scantily clad), it does go to show that a lean muscular look can be just as feminine as it can be masculine 🙂

  44. lola macintosh on May 29, 2015 at 3:26 am

    hi Shane, I’ve just been wondering; there is so much talk about what good genes mean, like, everywhere, not just in this article…but there’s not really a definition of what good genetics means. I’d love it if you could define for me what is meant by good genetics. i am nearly sixteen, and have quite a curvy shape (probably the 0.7 ratio, though I haven’t measured), but haven’t lost all of my puppy fat yet 🙂 I’m right in the middle of the recommended BMI (so 21% body fat). also, i always eat just the right amount for me, I never overeat, and i exercise- and I’m a healthy weight…I feel like the extra puppy fat will drop off eventually. I know this would differ for a lot of people, but is there a certain age-range for that happening, do you know?
    great article, by the way. i agree with one of the comments that the focus should be on health before anything, but it does feel like an affirmation that I have an attractive body shape as I am! thanks 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on May 29, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Hey Lola,

      Good genetics can mean a variety of things depending on the context. When it comes to body composition and aesthetics it could relate to hormones (notably estrogen and testosterone), where you tend to store body fat (storing it in your butt is often better than storing it in your stomach), symmetry, how many fat cells you have, how many nuclei are in your muscle cells, the length of your muscle bellies and tendons, the size of your stomach, etc.

      Lifestyle deserves more credit than it gets too. If you grow up eating well and exercising plenty, chances are that by your age you’ll find that your “genetics” are pretty good. Your active lifestyle could very well have caused your body to adapt by pulling more nuclei into your muscle cells, your hormones are within a healthy range because you’re eating well and exercising, your muscles are strong because you’ve been stimulating them for a decade and a half, you aren’t overweight because you eat enough but not too much, etc.

      A “naturally” hourglass shaped woman may have simply been living the majority of her life in a way that has suited her body well. (And it’s possible for a woman who feels like she has awful genetics to become “naturally” lean, muscular and curvaceous over time.)

      Your question is a complicated one. Does that answer it at all?

      And props for doing so well, and at such a young age!

  45. gloria on June 15, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    What does it mean when it said women use estrogen to send signals to store fat in the butt and thighs instead of the stomach?

    • Shane Duquette on June 15, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Hey Gloria,

      It just means that when most women gain weight, some of it will end up in their stomachs, but most of it will be stored in their hips and breasts. With men, however, most fat will be stored in the stomach, with smaller amounts in the hips and chest. As a result, you’ll see more guys with pot bellies than women.

      This is due to different hormones. If you put a man on hormone replacement therapy, giving him female hormones, he would start start storing fat in his breasts and hips.

      However everyone is different. Occasionally you’ll find a woman who stores more fat in her stomach, or a man who stores more fat in his hips/chest.

  46. Gloria on June 16, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Thank you:-)

  47. Amy on June 21, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Hello, I loved reading this article. Just lost 40 pounds after 10 years of being overweight…weight I thought I would never lose. Trying to look at my body realistically and appreciate my new curves and my strength (seems as though carrying around an extra 40 pounds has put on some muscle that this weight loss has uncovered). I would say I have 10-20 to go but want to focus on keeping my sexy as I go. I am considering the program. Perhaps I missed this but in general, what is the body fat percentage that men find most attractive on women?

    • Shane Duquette on June 25, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      40 pounds?! Wow! That’s amazing, Amy! Congratulations!

      Men aren’t as picky about bodyfat percentage as other women, it seems. Something like 24% would be great. Depending on where you store it and depending on the man, more might be incredibly attractive too. So long as you look fit and healthy, it tends to look pretty amazing 🙂

      And you’re right! Eating in a caloric surplus, which is how weight is gained, causes not just fat gain, but also muscle gain. When gaining weight you may have gained something like 30% muscle and 70% fat. Now that you’ve lost a bunch of fat, perhaps most of that added muscle has stuck around and that’s why you’ve been left with some killer curves.

      When fairly overweight most weight loss is fat. However, the leaner you get, the more muscle you risk losing unless you begin lifting weights and eating a decent amount of protein. If you want to keep losing weight, I can’t recommend weightlifting highly enough. It could be the difference between losing 20 pounds of fat, or losing 14 pounds of fat and 6 pounds of muscle. The difference would be quite visually dramatic.

      I hope you decide to join us! We’d love to have you. And congrats again on your progress 😀

  48. Theresa on June 29, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    You act as though you speak for all men. Different men like different types of women. I’ve met men who like extremely obese women (like over 350 lbs). I’ve met men who like very skinny women with no muscles, like Audrey Hepburn. You simply like women with muscles. As a woman, if I could have any body I wanted, I’d want to look like a young Sophia Loren. One could only dream. : )

    • Shane Duquette on July 3, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Hey Theresa,

      I’m not trying to speak for all men, and my own personal preferences aren’t super precise. I find a great number of body shapes and sizes and bone structures and whatnot attractive. What I tried to do with this article is look at the research in order to see what the majority of men find the most attractive. In all of these studies there are always outliers. The results might be that 80% most prefer the fit looking woman, 8% prefer an average body fat percentage, 8% prefer thinner women, 1.5% prefer overweight women, 0.5% prefer 350 pound women, etc. After reading that distribution, what gets put into the article is that most men most prefer a woman who looks fit. (That also doesn’t mean that the majority of men only like women who are fit, just that they most prefer it. They may find a ton of different shapes and sizes quite attractive.)

  49. Sanat Kumar on July 16, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Very few people want to be extremly muscular in men,they genreally want to be muscular and athletic like fitness models,players like cristiano ronaldo,Usain bolt etc.They look for ways for flexibilty with strength.I mean to say normally people want that they can lift heavier things and also can run.
    Sources : well my experience with myself and others.

  50. Karma on August 18, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Dude, that was awesome. Felt like I was in the room with bros, getting a behind the scenes scoop. I’ve come away with the notion that when you put health first, the looks and confidence comes without question. Thanks a lot. =)

    • Shane Duquette on August 25, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Karma! We really appreciate that. And I think your notion is spot on 🙂

  51. Sarah on October 13, 2015 at 3:14 am

    What about women who have a body type closer to Kim Kardashian + 10 pounds? I have an hourglass, but am not and have never been skinny. 5’7, Natural Measurements 42-31-42. I would like more muscle but have a hard time gaining it. My husband likes my body, but after I had kids I had a hard time getting toned again. Any tips for putting the muscle back on and trimming flab? Right now I do cardio about five times a week and can do treadmill at a moderate speed for about two hours straight. I have endurance muscles (slow twitch) but not a runners type of muscle. I do some lifting but probably need to increase. I do eat healthy and have shunned fast food and soft drinks for years. Would you add on more protein and more weight training? Would really appreciate your advice!

    I have had body image issues because I was a tomboy my whole life and I did not ask for the body I got. I would be more comfortable with a tall and slender frame with small breasts and different waist/hip ratio. (I have gotten the wrong attention and wrong assumptions from others because of my body type). I have been very athletic at times and train hard, but I never look athletic no matter how hard I try. It’s very frustrating. On the other hand, I have friends who don’t work out at all but who have that kind of slender, boyish body and they look “athletic” no matter what they do. (No offense to any of the ladies here, I would prefer that slender, boyish body type for myself). But, since I can’t have it, I want to know how to get more muscle. Thank you.

    Hey to all the ladies out there. I wanted to tell you about some of the fitness models I know in person. These are the ladies who are perfectly cut and thin. I know one who won several awards in the mid-2000’s. While she told everyone she got her body through protein skakes, the reality was far different. She somehow built muscle but them became anorexic at the same time. She had to stop because she almost killed herself by the way she was treating her body. She looked great and was falling apart. Appearance is not all it seems.

    • Shane Duquette on October 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Hey Sarah,

      All types of exercise will do a few great things: improve mood, improve brain performance, improve general health, improve sleep, etc.

      Doing steady state exercise on the treadmill (aerobic exercise) will cause certain specific adaptations: a lower resting heart rate, better oxygen delivery, more blood vessels, etc. These are great changes for your general health, but they won’t really have any impact on how you look.

      In addition to this, cardio will also burn calories, as will any activity. If this brings you into a calorie deficit, your bodyweight will go down. Most of the weight you lose will be fat, however some will be muscle. You won’t get as much muscle loss as if you were to just dieting, but you’d still come out with less muscle than when you began. Looking at the research, if you lose, say, 10 pounds, perhaps that’s 7 pounds of fat loss, 3 pounds of muscle loss.

      (Running that much on at treadmill can also be hard on your joints, especially if you’re a curvier person.)

      Lifting (anaerobic exercise) causes a different set of beneficial adaptations: more muscle, more strength, greater bone density. These are also great changes for your health, and they have a very direct effect on how you look. When your body is building muscle, less calories are being sent towards fat storage and more towards constructing muscle.

      (About half the time spent lifting can be counted as cardio as well. So an hourlong lifting workouts will give you the cardiovascular adaptations of about 30 minutes of jogging or whatnot.)

      With weightlifting, in a calorie surplus you’ll gain mostly muscle weight instead of fat weight. In a deficit the weight you lose will be entirely fat, and in many cases you’ll even build muscle while doing. The muscle will require extra calories, so you’ll actually lose fat even more rapidly because of the energy your body is spending building muscle. Looking at the research, if you lose 10 pounds, perhaps that’s 13 pounds of fat loss with 3 pounds of muscle gain. The same degree of a calorie deficit means the same overall weight loss, but way more fat loss along with some muscle gain.

      With all the cardio you’ve been doing I suspect you’ve already made great cardiovascular fitness progress. You can maintain that progress with much less running. You could cut back your cardio workouts to one or two 30-45 minute jogs per week. You can then add in 2-3 weightlifting workouts (45-60 minutes each). That should maintain your cardio gains while giving you the body composition changes you want, and improving your health in a whole new way 🙂

      Does that make sense / help?

  52. Jen on October 30, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Hi , Shane, I really enjoyed this article! I discovered it while googling , “heavy lifting and broad shoulders on women”. I started weight training with barbells ( dead lifting, squatting ,shoulder press, rows, hip hinge…) about 2 months ago. Just to give you an idea, I’m 5’3 and 140lbs. (measurements are 39-30-38) I haven’t lost weight, but I’ve lost inches since stating weight training. I’m interested in your program, because I’d like to balance my shape , as I’m an inverted triangl/goblet, but I’m not in any sense, “bony” , I’m concerned that I may end up looking more like a block if I start your program. Comments? Suggestions?

    • Shane Duquette on November 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      Hey Jen,

      Really glad you enjoyed the article, and props for getting into the gym and lifting. Getting that routine started is one of the hardest things, and it sounds like you’re doing a great job with it. Those are all great lifts for accomplishing your goals.

      Will you end up looking like a block if you join the program? Hell no. Most of our members want to build a markedly feminine physique and our program is designed to do that. It’s fairly balanced in terms of strength development, but we put some extra emphasis on the areas that will give you that hourglass shape you’re trying for, while avoiding emphasis on things like growing your obliques and abs, which will make your waist blockier.

      More importantly, we can work with you on an individual level to help you accomplish your goals. You’re more of an inverted triangle so it sounds like you want some extra lower body work while not adding much size to your upper body. Bodybuilding is great for allowing people to build the shape that they want, and we can help you do that 🙂

      I hope you decide to join us! We’d love to have you.

  53. Michelle on November 4, 2015 at 7:55 am

    I’m surprised some responders find this article offensive. I think it’s wonderfully written and has a great message! When I was a teenager I wanted to be super skinny like a model but I have a broad hourglass bone structure. At 5’5″ I usually weigh about 140 pounds and if I drop below 130 I actually look anorexic and my menstrual cycles stop. I actually developed an eating disorder as a teenager because of the pressure to be much skinnier than is healthy. Today I’m married with three young kids but I still want to look attractive. Yes I want to be healthy but I think a fact of life is that we all want to look good. I recently lost a lot of weight pretty fast because I’m nursing and tend to forget to eat when I get very stressed. I don’t own a scale but can feel my bones and know I need to gain some weight back. However, perhaps because of my eating disorder past I almost feel like it’s against the rules to gain weight. I’ve loved seeing these before and after pictures because these girls look sooo good! They just look so damn healthy and hot! They also look happy. I feel inspired to gain some healthy weight back and not worry about it. This article has the good message that gaunt and skinny is not nearly as beautiful or vibrant as having a healthy amount of both muscle and fat. Thank you.

    • Shane Duquette on November 6, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      Hey Michelle, I’m so glad you liked it!

      We didn’t have any negativity in our hearts when writing it, so the negativity always catches me off guard as well. However, we did expect a certain amount of it. It’s a really touchy subject, and us being guys, ee, that makes it even touchier. We had a lot of requests to write this article from women who had read our article about the most attractive male physique though. Fortunately, most people have reacted really positively! It’s one of our most popular blog articles ever, with over 7,000 likes!?!

      Amenorrhea (losing your period) is a risk for women with a very low bodyweight, and eating disorders are one of the most deadly illnesses that a woman can face. This societal pressure for women to become smaller and skinnier can be really dangerous. Sounds like you came out on the other side of this doing really well! Having a few wonderful kids is a dream come true 🙂

      Mm, I know what you mean. I lose weight when I’m busy or stressed too. My appetite just disappears, and I need to consciously focus on eating enough. It’s pretty common with naturally skinny people. Stress hormones can make some people turn to junk food, but we just entirely forget to eat.

      I really hope your upcoming quest to gain weight goes well, and thank you so much for commenting!

  54. Isis on November 5, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    I was trying to figure out why the people who own this site are shaming skinny girls/women. But then I saw that it’s ran by men and realized I shouldn’t have been surprised. Even the title of the website insinuates that you can’t be skinny AND a bombshell at the same time. I’m thin myself and I do want a curvy body, but I want one so I can fill my clothes in and look the way I want to, not to please pointless men – to shame a thin body as a motivation to want to workout/gain, is bogus and you can inspire people without putting them down. “From fat to gorgeous” – sounds just as stupid. Fat and gorgeous are NOT oxymorons, neither is being “bony” and being a bombshell.

    But good job on indirectly skinny shaming though.

    • Shane Duquette on November 6, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Hey Isis,

      You looked into the people running this site and that’s the conclusion you came to? That we’re shaming skinny girls because we’re men? That men are pointless? Wtf.

      We’re skinny guys who wanted to build muscle for much the same reason you did—to fill out clothes properly, to look the way we wanted to look. However we also don’t feel that the other gender is pointless…? I wanted to improve my physique and physical health to help me attract a great girl, and so that I could feel attractive around her. Jared wanted to be the best he could be for the love of his life—his wife. Those were noble goals for us.

      Would we be bad husbands and boyfriends had we stayed skinny? No. But we saw an opportunity to be better. My girlfriend loves it, and so does Jared’s wife. I think taking care of ourselves shows respect for the people we love. Nutrition and fitness are two important ways that someone can take care of themselves.

      Anyway, we blogged about our success accomplishing our weight gain goals, and over the course of a few years we helped thousands of guys build muscle and feel better about themselves. Over the course of those few years we had dozens of women asking us to make a program for skinny women. When we did, we asked them if there were any topics they wanted us to blog about. We have a popular post on our guys’ site about the most attractive male body, and they wanted a female version.

      If that isn’t a good goal for you, so be it. It was theirs, but we never said that it should be yours.

      I do get your point about the name of this site, however I also disagree. Our program for guys is called Bony to Beastly. Can a guy be skinny and a beast? Sure. Just like a woman can be a skinny drop dead gorgeous bombshell. But people know what the names mean—that they’re self improvement weight gain programs. Like I said, I do get your point though, and I’m sorry if you felt that I was saying that skinny people can’t be attractive. That isn’t what this article is about. That certainly isn’t how any of us feel. This article is answering the questions that our readers wanted us to answer—what’s the optimally attractive female physique? How can we, as naturally skinny people, become the most attractive version of ourselves?

      We could have said that everyone is already as beautiful as they could ever be. That’s so ridiculously patronizing and patently false that it’s really not helping anyone. Everyone can become even better, and thinking that you can’t is selling yourself short. And improving one’s physique, health, fitness, strength, whatever—those are just some of many ways that someone can do that. Talking about the attraction advantages that come along with being fit, strong and healthy isn’t us trying to be mean or shallow.

      Our conclusion was that looking healthy, fit and strong results in the most attractive body. I don’t believe that’s super negative. More importantly, it’s also true.

  55. Ryan on December 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    First off, this level of professionalism and insight on such a sensitive topic is unseen in the fitness world. Great job Shane.

    I would like to address though:
    Seeing as you incorporate waist-to-hips ratios (0.7 ideal), I’m sure you have heard of the Golden Ratio (phi, or 1.618). As far as I’ve heard, an attractive qualities in both sexes is to have a waist-to-shoulder ratio of 0.618.
    The only reason I post this is because in your “boobs” section, which while great at respecting the different sizes amongst women and not hinting at surgery/augmentation, I did not read any parts addressing how a woman might make the top part of her hourglass figure more attractive (the bottom part being WtHR 0.7). You did hint at how Jessica Alba looked like warrior and how her well-defined upper body showed her strength, and thus her superior healthiness/attractiveness, but you did not follow up your observation with a solution for women to follow.

    Therefore, I am making the humble suggestion that you give women a way to improve that top half, perhaps with exercises that promote broader shoulder expression 🙂

    Otherwise, thank you again for a wonderful read.

    • Shane Duquette on December 30, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Hey Ryan, thanks for the kind words, man! Much appreciated 🙂

      There’s a lot of research showing that a golden shoulder/waist ratio is ideally attractive for men. I haven’t come across any research showing that it’s equally important for women. That wouldn’t surprise me though, and you’re absolutely right—the top half of the hourglass is important as well.

      What’s the best way to build the top half of the hourglass? Lifting weights. You’d build your routine around squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, rows, presses, carries. That will develop the lower and upper body. The core too. Most women will then choose a little extra emphasis in the hips, while most men will work on their shoulders, chest and arms. That seems to emphasize gender differences, which is what a lot of people are after. That’s entirely optional though, of course. Hell, all of this lifting stuff is optional.

      Your idea is a good one. We’re going to have a little article coming out soon with a good balanced routine 🙂

  56. felicity on February 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    THIS!!! This article is EXACTLY what I’ve needed to read for years! Thank you Shane!!
    So beautifully and concisely put together, with such a motivational emphasis on health over aesthetics. Urrgg, thank you so much for putting this together. New, pretty hardcore, fan.

    • Shane Duquette on February 24, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Really glad you liked it, Felicity! Thank you for the kind words 🙂

  57. Sammy on February 27, 2016 at 9:44 am

    I think your article is pretty decent. However, almost all of your examples sway to tiny to thin girls “beefing up”. I am tired of this narrative, really. As a curvy (not fat) woman who is a powerlifter, all I ever see is a romanticized version of the girl from Twilight as the ideal goal. Some women actually want to be bigger and stronger and not “athletic or lean”. As per your studies, as a graduate educated woman, I can tell you that men love big breasts not because they are poor or rich and they love long hair and big eyes. (Study after study proves this.) Look at Kim Kardashian and the new “plus size” models who are in fact healthy and normal size women in a range of sizes. Why don’t you post pictures of women who are actually curvy whose transformation pictures include them staying curvy and becoming more muscular? Represent? Beyonce, Kim K. And so many other women are tired of the trope of the “athletic girl with the small chest” as ideal. Please publish this and think about what curvy means with muscle Serena Williams. Good article. Needs more women body type pics in your before and after. -A real curvy girl with Double D’s and 17 inch biceps.

    • Shane Duquette on February 29, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      Hey Sammy,

      We publish all comments so long as they aren’t spam (or cruel—but that’s never happened). We don’t even have that “awaiting approval” thing—the comments get automatically published as soon as you hit submit. I dig your comment too. You’ve got a different perspective.

      I’m sorry that as a woman who’s naturally curvier you’re not relating with this article. I know this article is being shared around the internet to a more general audience, but keep in mind that this is a website for women who are naturally thin and looking to build muscle. I know we don’t post photos of curvy women who are lifting and staying curvy but this isn’t Bombshell to Bombshell, it’s Bony to Bombshell 😛

      Also, we’re trying to write about what is true rather than what we wished were true. Is a naturally skinny gal as attractive as she could be without ever needing to lift weights? Oftentimes no. I’m all for thinking that people are great as they are and we should appreciate what we’ve been given… but sometimes smart, hard work can indeed make us far better versions of ourselves. And sometimes what’s best for us is not the type of work that we want to do, but rather the type of work that we should do.

      As a guy who started off at 6’2 and 130 pounds it would have been wonderful if I could do what came naturally to make the most of my physique. Unfortunately, running and eating like a rabbit does not help a 130 pound dude become bigger and stronger. I needed to accept the unfortunate truth that I needed to lift weights and eat big in order to build the stronger, bigger body that I wanted. I learned to love these things because of how they benefited me, not because I was naturally drawn to them.

      The same general idea is true for people with different body types, but the ideal approach may be different. Will a naturally strong, curvy woman look better with more muscle and more curves? Maybe not! There are limits to how much muscle on a woman is considered ideally attractive by dudes, just like there are limits to how much muscle on a guy is considered ideally attractive by women.

      Most women don’t dream about Ronnie Coleman’s body
      Most guys don’t dream about Galina Karpova’s

      I’ve got all the respect in the world for naturally strong women who rock their genetics and go on to become incredible powerlifters, but it would be disingenuous of me to say that this would be the best way to optimize their aesthetics. It would also be disingenuous of me to imply that they care. I doubt Karpova is lifting because she wants to look better. She probably has more important things to worry about, like breaking world records.

      Anyway, I really do have a lot of respect for what you’re doing, and if there isn’t an article for naturally curvy gals looking to rock their curves I hope there is one soon. Hell, perhaps you’d be a great person to write that article 🙂

      -A real former skinny guy who’s very jealous of your 17 inch biceps

      • Shanice on September 28, 2020 at 12:37 am

        I like how you always leave out bisexuals and lesbians. I think most women are bisexual or bicurious at the very least. Yet it’s always a generalization of what heterosexuals find attractive with everything. We don’t even get a mention, yet you always have to add a little disclaimer saying it’s kinda the same for men on certain things when they’re not even relevant.

        • Shane Duquette on September 29, 2020 at 4:19 pm

          Hey Shanice, thank you. That’s a really good point. I suppose the article should be titled something more like “The Most Attractive Female Body to Men.” You’re totally right. It doesn’t really go beyond that, but the title makes it seem as if it would. I’ll switch it 🙂

  58. Andrew Fox on March 1, 2016 at 1:06 am

    Man, what an exciting and engaging read, not long at all, in fact, a little short. I like your style of writing and how you managed to keep the material as far from sexist as possible. Well balanced and informative article. Good job!

    • Shane Duquette on March 1, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Thanks for the kind words, Andrew! Really glad you dug it 🙂

  59. Mia on March 15, 2016 at 1:10 am

    I think this site has good information and is pretty awesome, but could you point me in a direction for chubbier/fat women who want to gain these same muscle benefits?

    I’ve lost 20 lbs, looking to lose another 20, but all the information I find says I should focus on fat loss and the muscle later. I’m not looking forward to looking flabby and gross after the weight’s gone, so how do you build a juicy booty and get rid of the saddle bags?

    • Shane Duquette on March 18, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Hey Mia,

      If you’re really excited about building muscle as you lose the fat then a program like this one might actually work out pretty well for you! Yes, it’s written with the naturally skinny gal in mind, but we’ve got some members who are looking to lose some weight while building muscle—looking to get leaner and stronger, rather than smaller. I think you’d like it 🙂

      I’ll send you an email also 🙂

  60. Clarie on March 16, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Loved this article! I’m getting married soon and looking to look my best for my soon to be husband. feeling a little down on some of the chub I’ve gained lately I started searching for weight loss tactics. I eat really healthy but to no avail and thought maybe eating less would work to be slimmer.
    Still feeling a little down I ran across this article and now feel great about myself and the way I look. Healthy and toned coming right up!

    • Shane Duquette on March 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Really glad this article made your feel great about yourself! That’s awesome. I think we’re often perfectionists with ourselves, but I suspect your husband-to-be couldn’t be happier with how you look 🙂

      If you ever want more though, since you’re already eating healthy the best thing you could do for your figure is taking up some weightlifting! That will lean you out will building some muscle. Works very well. We’ve got a free beginner’s guide for that here 🙂

  61. Kay on March 18, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you for your excellent and well-written article. I really enjoyed it. My question is whether you think the bombshell preference is a generational thing. I’m 46 and sometimes feel bad about how muscular I am (5’4″ 120 with a six pack and all over muscle definition, and I love to exercise but prefer push-ups, squats, etc. to lifting weights) b/c when I was in my teens/20’s, the guys preferred dating the waifs and even the girls who obviously had eating disorders. Do you think your generation really believes that strong is the new skinny? I have a daughter, and I hope she’ll embrace her build and athleticism and never fret about not looking like a wisp. Love to hear your opinion, and thanks again for the wonderful article. I only wish you had written it when you were an infant so I could have read it sooner and felt better about what I have to work with!

    • Shane Duquette on March 19, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Hey Kay, yes! I remember reading an article (James Fell, perhaps) that talked about women’s physique trends. At some points the aerobics aesthetic was the ideal, at other times the Baywatch bod’, at other times the Britney Spears / Jennifer Aniston ab sort of physique, and now the more curvaceous and strong physique. It’s not just these “eras,” but also subcultures. If you hang out with professional male bodybuilders you might not get much attention unless you have a raging six-pack, whereas if you hang out with female fashion models any degree of muscularity might be frowned upon. You could say that these are physique “fashions,” which come and go.

      However the fundamentals underneath, I would argue, remain the same. While it might have been in vogue to be thin, fit and healthy then, and now it might be in vogue to be strong, fit and healthy… both types would likely do well in both eras! So long as you appear exceptionally healthy I suspect you will appear exceptionally attractive 🙂

      Strong is the new skinny is more a phrase about physique “fashion” than about human nature. Perhaps a better phrase to take away from this article is “healthy is how sexy looks.” So if you want to look very sexy, seek to look very healthy. A little leaner, a little fitter, a little stronger. This will carry over into other aesthetic areas as well. A good diet, sleep schedule, social life, and exercise routine combined with avoiding excessive indulgences in unhealthy vices will mean less inflammation, better complexion, more energy, reduced bags under the eyes, more youthfulness, etc—all things that will make one more attractive because they communicate exceptional health.

  62. Rydeline on March 23, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Shane,
    I’m just a regular teenage kid and I’m not too picky about the way I look. That means I should really have little interest in this article. Actually, I LOVED it. I’m wondering why it’s not everywhere on the internet. Why aren’t you mega-famous for this?? Your research, your facts and truths are so solidly comforting and motivating it would make life simpler because people could be healthy for any reason they choose. Attractive, fit, any reason, really, you covered it all. Kind of makes me happy that there’s someone out there that cares enough to tell people this. Honestly, we need more yous out here. And people need you to remind them what’s actually attractive. I am most definitely going to be pointing people to this if they ever have a question about body types, weight, attractiveness, etc. (really, you answered so many questions I can’t even name them all). So thanks, Shane. You’ve done well.

    • Shane Duquette on March 24, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Rydeline! That really means a lot 🙂

      I’m so, so glad that you liked it so much!

  63. Tyler on April 11, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    1 I wonder what about homosexual people?I myself am not a heterosexual women and I dislike curvy female body(big boobs and bib butt),maybe because unconsciously I think curvy=feminine=not strong=submit to men?I don’t know yet, I prefer women than men as my lifetime partner.And I want to be in charge in a relationship,usually men are in charge in a heterosexual relationship,maybe that is why I prefer women?
    2 And what female body most turns me on? Right now my answer is a model-like women with small boobs and boyish figure(not that tall),beautiful but not sex-arousal face,haha maybe that is my own taste.I think the reason why I choose model-like body is that in a homosexual relationship spirit is more important than sex,spiritual love is superior than physical love since inoculation is not that important between two homosexual lovers.For lesbians this maybe true,I don’t know what gay think.
    3 By the way you mention the confusion between the fashion industry consistently choose thin everywhere model while most heterosexual men love curvy and more fat bodies,is it partly because most fashion designers are gay and partly because thin tall body can give the clothes a better look?

    • Shane Duquette on April 14, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Hey Tyler, that’s a really good point you’re raising. The research I looked into pretty exclusively looked into what straight guys found attractive in women. (The gay guys were into very muscular men, generally.) As for what gay women find attractive? I’m not really sure. That’s a really good question.

      I would have guessed that conspicuous health would be attractive to everyone, and to some extent I’m sure it is, but with gay guys they seem to most prefer male physiques that are beyond what’s considered optimally healthy—way more muscular, way more lean. So it’s very possible that something similar, or even the opposite, could be true with gay women.

      As for thinking that being curvy isn’t associated with being strong, I would argue that the types of curves we’re talking about are very strong. Having huge glutes, for example, is an amazing sign of strength and athleticism—both in men and women. Look at any Olympian who participates in a strength or speed sport (of any gender) and you’ll see a ridiculously curvy person. Round muscles, round hips, lots of curves in the legs, etc. It’s more the elite endurance athletes / thin sedentary people who are less curvy.

      To me, a relationship is less about being in charge or submitting and more about being on each others’ team. I think both partners being strong and healthy is a very good thing! I love how strong, curvy and feminine my girlfriend is, and also the strength of her spirit and convictions.

      I don’t know much about fashion, but that’s a good question. I think when you treat clothes and physiques as an art form then sometimes exaggeration can be more interesting. If you look at comic books, the artists draw hyper-muscled men and women in skimpy clothing. If you look at many movie animators (e.g. Despicable Me) you get the juxtaposition of portly bodies with thin legs. In fashion you get men and women with exaggerated height and thinness. I think this has little to do with attractiveness, more to do with artistic style. The problem is that because some of these bodies are presented as ideals—partly because they exaggerate features that we’re programmed to pay attention to—many guys want to look like comic book heroes, many women want to look like fashion models. Instead of striving for realistic, healthy, attractive proportions we want these stylized extremes, you know?

      The fashion designers being gay could be a factor, but it seems like the fashion industry has a lot of women who are also selecting these body types to succeed. Maybe if the fashion industry were run by straight guys the women would look like Superwoman or Kim Kardashian—still exaggerated, but in different ways. I’m just tossing stuff out there. I don’t claim to be an expert, or even to know much about the fashion industry. It’s a really interesting question!

  64. Sonya on May 28, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Fantastic article Shane. Although it was lengthy no single word was wasted.

    I just have one question…. Is there an exception to the rule when it comes to the ratio of cardio vs weights training for those who are naturally muscular but have excess fat to lose. Could it be suggested that girls with such genetics would benefit from a routine initially focused on fat loss via cardio? For instance a slow run for say sub 1hr to avoid catabolism. Following healthy fatloss perhaps they would be more motivated to continue with weight or circuit training as they could better see the changes their body was going though i.e muscles would be more visible due to reduction in fat layer resulting from slow fat-burning cardio. Just a thought

    Again, very enjoyable article.

    Thank you

    • Shane Duquette on June 2, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Hey Sonya, thank you! Really glad you liked it 🙂

      If someone is losing weight without lifting enough weights and eating enough protein then their chances of losing muscle are pretty high. If they already have muscle to spare then this isn’t a huge problem, although it does mean that some of the weight loss will be muscle instead of fat, slowing down fat loss a little bit. So in that case, unless they think that they have too much muscle, I think working in some weightlifting would be a good idea. It wouldn’t need to be much though. A quick heavy workout or two per week would be enough.

      A cool benefit if they’re new to lifting weights is that they’ll build a little muscle while doing it, which costs calories, will drive the deficit deeper, and thus will further speed up fat loss.

      That’s what I’d say would be absolutely 100% ideal though. For those who are naturally muscular they would indeed still get pretty rad results by just doing cardio 🙂

  65. Jamie on June 2, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    This article is fantastic!! It has really put into perspective the type of healthy body shape I should be aspiring to instead of the slim model type. Really, hats off to you Shane, this must have taken ages to write & back up with all the sources/studies!
    My question is, as a 200lb 5″5 female that has already lost 25lbs through calorie deficit and no exercise, how would this program work for me? I want that bombshell body I just need to work from the other direction.

    • Shane Duquette on June 2, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      Hey Jamie, really happy to hear that you loved the article! Thank you 🙂

      First of all, congratulations on having lost 25 pounds—that’s amazing! If you can do that just with diet, oh man, you’re going to do crazy well once you start adding in some lifting. That will do a great job of burning calories for two reasons: 1) lifting weights directly burns calories, and 2) building muscle is calorically very expensive.

      Since you aren’t in the habit of lifting weights, chances are that once you start you’ll build some muscle even while in a calorie deficit. For every pound of muscle you gain, you’ll burn an extra pound or so of fat (just because the muscle is so calorically expensive to build). Pretty cool, and you’ll be surprised at how different you look with just a few pounds lost on the scale.

      We did build the program with the naturally thin in mind, however it’s also just a badass lifting program all-around. You can absolutely use it to continue losing fat. We also provide both weight gain and weight loss nutrition advice, since some degree of fat loss is a fairly common goal in the community. You’ll find other women in there working on similar goals, and you’ll have all the information you need.

      Coaching and customization comes with the program too, so we can really make sure that it fits you to a T 🙂

      I hope you decide to join us!

  66. Ann on June 10, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Good read! While I enjoyed your article, it also took a hit to the ego to see what you generalize as “super attractive” or “super hot.” I have a fairly thin figure and am desperately trying to gain weight because of what the media portrays to be the ideal physique. The media has obviously corrupted me LOL.

    • Shane Duquette on June 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      Hey Ann,

      You’re right that this stuff is all generalizations. There are people in the studies who prefer thinner or curvier women for sure, and many guys love the look of a variety of body shapes. We’re just talking about what most people prefer the most, but this does not mean that tons of guys don’t find you plenty attractive the way you already are.

      I think attractiveness being so linked to conspicuous health is actually pretty inspiring, as it gives us one more incentive to do the things that will make us healthier (although there are certainly ways to improve your looks without improving your health, and vis versa).

      Keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with being thin. I very desperately tried to gain weight for many years before succeeding, and upon succeeding I realized that, a) my body type was actually pretty great!, and b) I could have felt better about my body beforehand,and I could have approached exercise and nutrition with a better attitude.

      Anyway, just try to be the best you can be. Enjoy the journey too though! 🙂

  67. Mariyah on August 12, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    This is by far the best article I’ve ever read on fitness/aesthetics- you really hit home with the psychological and emotional side of fitness that other articles (like on!) never touch.
    So many cited studies too, very impressive !
    I also had a hunch that increased health/fertility= more attractive body.
    Keep up the good work please !! 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on August 13, 2016 at 11:21 am

      So glad that you liked it, Mariyah! Thank you 🙂

  68. sharon on August 12, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Thank you! What a wonderful, positive article!
    You should be published in the magazines young women read.

  69. star on August 30, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    I love this article. I have the right curves in the right areas. I need to get more toned though. :)))

  70. Zoe on October 5, 2016 at 12:35 am

    I love this article!!! The negative responses from some women are really outrageous. I see alot of man bashing or self esteem issues from negative posters. But the reason this article is awesome is because it is witty, sensative, and honest. It does not sugarcoat yet it encourages women to be healthy and strong and embrace that it is ok to be healthy and build a little muscle, and that curves are nothing to be ashamed of. (After reading this I measures my ratio, and it was almost exactly .7) I have given myself a hard time for being curvey, and as women we just have higher body fat than men, and this article shows that truth. I showed my boyfriend this article and he liked the positivity too. I am trying to get him to work out with me, the world needs more articles like this that focus on health of mind and confidence as well as physical health. Your articles also speak of the beauty of a sound mind. Very good read!!!!! And cute drawings of the figures. I liked the classic pinup girl look to the girl’s red headscarf.

    • Shane Duquette on October 12, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you so much, Zoe! I’m really glad you liked the article. And I really hope it can help inspire you to be your best 🙂

  71. Zoe on October 5, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Also, kudos to being so positive and taking care of your health to be a good partner to a girl! Many guys can be hateful about women having standards instead of bettering themselves.

    My boyfriend is overweight. I still love him and find him attractive because I love him for who he is. That doesn’t mean I’m not helping us both be more healthy, though. I love that you faced the truth head-on. Awesome sir. Very awesome

  72. Zoe on October 5, 2016 at 12:52 am

    (not meaning to sound mean about my boyfriend. He is also really tall and physically active and he has attractive features) who can deny the truth that taking care of physical health leads to more happy mind frame and healthier life overall though?

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:01 pm

      Thank you, Zoe! Best of luck to you and your boyfriend!

  73. Chinwagging on January 18, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Hey, I was just curious what you are considering to be the average body weight? In the US it’s something like 160, and combined with the average height it is a soundly overweight BMI. Where did you pull 140 from?

    • Shane Duquette on January 30, 2017 at 11:58 pm

      Okay I see what you’re saying. I just took the average height and plugged in a normal BMI. So a 5’4 girl with a BMI of 24 is 140 pounds. That’s on the upper end of a normal BMI, so that could describe someone without much muscle and a fair bit of fat, or someone with a fair bit of muscle and not a lot of fat. Both weight the same amount and have a normal, “healthy” BMI, but their health is quite different because of their dramatically different body compositions.

      I totally get what you’re saying, though. I said “average.” And you’re right, the average person is overweight. I should have chosen a clearer word.

  74. Heather on February 2, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I am so impressed with your article.Well written and enjoyable to read…I even read to the very end! I am 63 and really need to tone up but also lose a bit of weight , about 10lbs, Do you think that this regime would this be suitable for me? Also could I do it at home or do I need gym membership?

    • Shane Duquette on February 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      Hey Heather, this site is pretty unapologetically geared towards women who are trying to build muscle and strength, hoping to come out stronger and fuller. However, right from the very beginning we’ve had a lot of beta testers and members who were trying to lose weight/fat. So we built that right into the program. You’ll still come out stronger and fuller, but also a lot leaner and a little lighter 🙂

      I hope you decide to join us!

  75. K Huff on March 29, 2017 at 5:24 am

    This read was exactly what I needed after being told I am ‘boney’, and my bottom is obviously not. It also presented good suggestions I had not seen previously as well as some great work out reminders, on which I need to focus again.

    Thank you!

  76. Jesse on May 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Very misleading article. I was wanting to know what fat percentage led to the most pleasant touch. Why is the .7 ratio given so far in to the article?

    Why is the fact that the ONLY non-societally-conditioned and natural traits of attraction are male genital size and curvature of the spine in the female which relates to the ability to carry offspring in nomadic cultures, which typically correlates with the given ratio?

    This article should be named 10,000 words written to appease female egos regardless of body shape. Not falsely claim to possess the information regarding why some women living similar lifestyles with similar body types are more attractive—and more importantly feel better to touch—than others.

    This is more like a bunch of reasons to find yourself attractive no matter what then it is actual information regarding attraction as an absolute on a spectrum. Thanks for the feelings. They’ve caused frustration and a desire to refuse what the article asks for simply due to being used as an object to validate insecurity and inferiority.

    Oh? Is the expression of my feeling causing unwanted feelings in yourself? It’s funny how we could have avoided that had you, the author, not presented requests for having your feelings accommodated under the guise of providing something others have asked for. You’re a child asking to be humored.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:07 pm

      The article isn’t arguing that everyone is an equally beautiful snowflake. It’s arguing that if we exercise and eat in a way that helps us be strong, fit, lean, and healthy, then we’ll also build bodies that look more attractive to more people.

  77. Colette on May 6, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    “Women are shaped by estrogen, and strong healthy women with lots of estrogen are shaped like hourglasses – strong broad shoulders, lean waists and very strong hips.” The part about the broad shoulders I found particularily interesting. I have all of these traits, but thought that having strong broad shoulders made me seem to manly. Now I feel so much better about my shoulders!

  78. Kelly on July 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

    As a young woman, it’s refreshing to read an article like this. I work out a couple of times per week to ensure that I stay in shape. However, I use social media quite a lot, where I’m bombarded with images of models, and it lowers my self-esteem, especially when I go shopping.

    I am 5’4 and have a healthy hourglass figure, but whenever I buy clothes, I’m a size large? A UK size 14? It really knocks my confidence. The people around me are always reassuring, but I have no confidence in my body image at all.

    I think society needs to adapt to “average” body sizes, as every body is different, and I believe that sizes need to change. Maybe within the next 50 years, we might get somewhere. But while models are dying from anorexia and bulimia, we have a long way to go for acceptance.

  79. Anomynous on October 7, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    I find this article, while well written with some good points, quite offensive. I’m tired of hearing thin girls, whether they are naturally that way or not, have to bulk up. It’s a woman’s choice about how she has her body and I feel that changing it to please a man is utterly idiotic.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:19 pm

      Hey Anonymous, I wasn’t trying to imply that anyone ought to do anything. Whether someone wants to bulk up or not is entirely their choice.

      I’m naturally thin myself, and it would drive me absolutely bonkers whenever people told me that I should “just eat more dessert” or whatever. That never helped at all. It just made me feel worse about myself.

      We don’t ever target thin people for advertising; we just write about building muscle from the perspective of naturally thin people. The people who are ready for it find us—the people who aren’t don’t.

      You might feel that it’s idiotic for someone to change their body to have a better chance at attracting a partner. That’s totally your call. When I was single, though, I DID want to improve in a way that would make me more attractive. And now that I’m married, I enjoy working out with the idea that I’m making myself more attractive to my wife, whose opinion I value immensely.

  80. Body Shape Can Determine Relationship Health on October 23, 2017 at 9:40 am

    […] Bony To Bombshell […]

  81. Anastasia on October 24, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    This article absolutely changed my life! Your candid approach and your vast understanding of human nature and physiology really helped me to change my fitness paradigm.

    I am a tall, hourglass, endomorph (aka an amazon) and I spent my whole life trying to get smaller and more delicate (dieting and cardio). This article convinced me to focus on building muscle instead (a progressive program of strength training and plyo).

    I am so thrilled with the results! In a 18 months I have dropped my body fat percentage by 14% and replaced 30lbs of fat with 30lbs of muscle. I feel stronger and more attractive than I ever!!!

    Thank you, Shane for your honest approach to an important topic. Fitness and attractiveness are closely linked and very important to me personally. Please know you have made a huge positive impact through this one article.

    • Shane Duquette on October 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that this article resonated with you, Anastasia!

      Replacing 30 pounds of fat with 30 pounds of muscle is absolutely amazing! Congratulations! I can only imagine what a dramatic visual change that must have been, and that probably pales in comparison to your newfound strength.

      Amazing work, and thank you so much for sharing!

  82. Pass on December 29, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    “Have a drink”

    Perhaps not. Fucking twat. empty calories and sugar, not to mention highly insensitive to alcoholics.

    “Drink! You feel ~sexy~”


    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:20 pm

      That was a joke, not a recommendation. With that said, it sounds like you need a drink.

      • Adrianna on April 14, 2023 at 11:56 pm

        Best response ever also fabulous article!!! I loved it and your writing style is so fun to read, as a bonus!

  83. grace on January 24, 2018 at 2:41 am

    Hi Shane! I remembered reading this article a few years ago as a bit of an insecure 16-year-old, and it made me feel a lot better about my body to know that women are actually meant to store some fat, so thank you for that 🙂
    So I’m not ‘bony’… I’ve got a curvy and muscular physique, and I’d say normal fat stores. I lose weight easily and put it on easily too.
    I can guess that your program is probably going to work just as well for me as it would for the body type Bony to Bombshell is actually designed for (!) but I just wanted to get your thoughts on that please? I want to make sure I’m actually making a purchase which is suitable for me!
    I think I’ve read before that we can do the workouts in your program at home, but I maaaay have made a mistake about that because of all the lifting that seems to be involved, so if you can clarify that please that’d be awesome.
    I was also wondering what you mean by ‘5 phases of workouts’ etc. in the details about the packages you offer, and what package you’d recommend for me, considering I’m not the typical gal on this program (I know, smart of me to ask someone who receives the payments haha!)
    Anyway, thanks so much and I hope to hear from you soon (and sorry for the number of questions!)

    • Shane Duquette on January 24, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Glad you dug it, Grace!

      I’m not totally sure what your goal is, so I can’t really say for sure if the program will be a good fit for you. We focus on gaining muscle and strength leanly, in a way that will make you healthier and look better. We also help people lose fat, but even then, the focus is on maintaining muscle, strength and “curves” while losing fat. So we’re a very strength and curve-centric program, you could say. If that lines up with your goals, then yes, the program will work wonderfully even if you’re naturally more curvy and muscular 🙂

      Yes, you can do all of the workouts at home. However, you’d be lifting at home. You’d need to get some adjustable dumbbells and an adjustable bench for that. (We include a how-to guide for setting up a cheap, simple and maximally effective home gym.)

      When you buy the program, we’re going to give you workout sheets with exercises on them. At first we’ll give you sheets with easier variations of the exercises, and each “phase” we’ll progress you to a more advanced type of workout. During the phase, we slowly increase the volume (sets/reps) you’re doing, getting your body comfortable with more and more (good) stress. This allows you to build more and more muscle as you progress through each phase, and then when you get to the next phase, we give you harder exercises, and we start increasing the volume again. So each phase lasts a few weeks, and the more phases you get, the longer the program will be, and the more advanced you’ll be by the end. Does that make sense?

      The standard package is always a good choice. That’s our “main” package, and when you last saw our website, that was the only one we sold. However, the complete package is our most popular. We made it because so many of our members were asking for a longer program.

      I hope that helps, and I hope you decide to join us!

      • grace on January 24, 2018 at 10:00 pm

        Great, thanks for such an in-depth response! Yes it definitely helped 🙂

  84. Kaila on January 27, 2018 at 10:04 am

    This article came to me at just the right time on my fitness journey. I’ve been losing weight and doing some strength training with the goal of looking the best I can (for my own vanity and for my husband) and being healthy. Anyway, I’ve reached a crossroads where I need to decide if I should pursue losing that last 10 lbs to be ‘thin and fit’ or to focus on strength and doing more of a recomp. This article settles it for me, recomp it is! My husband has pretty much been saying the same thing anyway, I guess I just needed to hear it from someone else, ha.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:21 pm

      That’s awesome, Kaila! I hope your body recomp went well 😀

  85. Lex on March 20, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    As a 150-pound mesomorph female, I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this! I always saw my broad shoulders as manly and my full hips as unflattering. I never considered that they were a sign of femininity and health!

    This one of the few factual articles regarding women’s body ideals that is not only reasonable, but empowering! To top it off, the fact that it was written by a man gives me so much respect for you! So well written, thank you!

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you so much, Lex! That means a lot 🙂

  86. AA on April 19, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    (Apologies in advance if this is long)

    First and foremost, that was a well written, relatively comprehensive, and extremely informative article. Thank you.

    When I was younger, I had an almost perfect body. Yet in my eyes, it was horrible. Why? Because every single person around me was pushing me to be skinny. Yet no matter how much weight I lost, I still had curves. Even at my lowest weight (47kg at 5’1), I hated my big boobs and broad shoulders.

    Looking back, my measurements were roughly 36-26-36, which is pretty good. I had nice, soft curves and a toned figure. (I was never muscular. I was trying to lose weight so I wasn’t lifting.)

    Now, some years later (although not many—I’m still very young) I am 52kg. I gave birth to a child 7 months ago and am currently 3 months pregnant with another on the way (both with a lovely husband). I want to look my best for my husband as he always strives to look his best for me.

    However, during my last pregnancy, I was constantly tired and nauseated; it wasn’t easy, to say the least. I was a couch potato. I still watched my diet, hence why I didn’t gain any weight. But I feel as though I lost any and all muscle mass that I used to have. I’m no longer toned, my stomach is squishy, and my butt and hips have disappeared. (I’ve not exactly been blessed with an ample backside.)

    Has all my hard work been undone due to my pregnancy? If I work hard again, and then go on to have another difficult pregnancy, will my hard work just go to waste and be for naught? I’m talking about aesthetically rather than health. Like you said, being healthy doesn’t always equate to being the best you can be aesthetically, so I could still be healthy but just lose everything I worked for in terms of appearance?

    Also, it did kinda hurt when you basically said that only poor/hungry men are attracted to big boobs, probably because I’ve always been insecure about my breasts. They are unusually big (I wear a 32H) so naturally they’ve never been perky, and I personally also find perkier boobs more attractive. It’s probably true, but it still hurts cause there’s not much I can do to reduce my breast size.

    My main area to work on is basically what you emphasized; hips, thighs and butt. Question; would it work if I lost weight overall first, and then tried to gain mainly muscle on my lower body so that my body will look more balanced? So that my top half (boobs) will be a little smaller and then the bottom half a little bigger?

    Thank you if you take the time out to read/reply to this comment.

    • Anon on June 18, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      I am not poor and I like big boobs, and hourglass figures. That research may have suggested an average if it could even be replicated. There are always more men who like big boobs than there are big boobed women, you’re married aren’t you (i.e. someone liked you enough to wife you)? Just keep that in mind.

      Just do the exercises this site suggests to build up the ass area. After 10 years of being out of shape, I got back into the weights and now my flat “grandpa butt” as my wife says has now filled out amply due to the squats and deadlifts I alternate with. So one week I do deads, next week squats. Should work the same for women. This site is great.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:33 pm

      Hey AA, thank you so much!

      I wasn’t suggesting that ONLY poor men prefer big boobs. It just seems that the poorer men are, the more they gravitate towards them. The main takeaway from that section is that men love boobs of all sizes, not that any specific size is best.

      Can you build a great body after being pregnant? I think so! Everyone handles pregnancies differently, and being pregnant can indeed cause some changes to your body—some of them permanent. Skin can stretch, for instance. You can lose the fat and rebuild any muscle you lost, though, absolutely.

      When my wife talks about how her body has changed after her pregnancy, I remind her that she made a person! I can’t think of a more amazing thing for her body to have accomplished. The last thing I’d ever think about is a bit of loose skin.

      She’s about 3 years out from giving birth now, and she’s at a new peak in strength. I think she looks better than ever, and she’s stoked about how everything is going. Any worries of never getting back her previous conditioning are gone now that she’s breaking new records. I suspect you’ll do the same 🙂

  87. George on April 20, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Really think there isn’t enough emphasis here on ‘be what makes you happy’. I think a title such as ‘The Most Attractive Female Body’ is ultimately damaging. You may have evidence that men prefer a certain body type, but it is about personal preference, and labelling this body shape, which requires a hell of a lot of time and effort, as the most attractive only serves to make people feel as though they won’t look good and be happy and worthy unless they work incredibly hard to do so. People can be happy with their bodies, and feel and look attractive, whatever shape and size. I think the best message really is do the exercise that you enjoy and that makes you happy, eat a healthy, balanced diet (and eat enough), and don’t worry too much how your ‘buns’ look. If chiseling your ‘buns’ and other muscles makes you happy, fabulous! If it doesn’t then that’s ok too. Life is too short to not focus on what makes you happy.

  88. Sara on May 11, 2018 at 10:46 am

    So I don’t understand exactly what it is I’m supposed to do to build strength and look stronger. ( I’m quite small and thin). I really want to build more butt, slim waist fat and build the HIPS. To get a slightly overall curvier look.
    Please guide me here!
    I’d be very happy 🙂
    Thank you

  89. Martine on February 13, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Men are all different. I know many guys that dresm about long, slender legs, and like thin girls. And I know lots of men who definitely DO NOT like cellulite. Maybe a dimple or two is OK, but not when its notable. Men are not looking for a woman that can pull their car when its stuck in the road. Many men want a woman that makes them feel strong. THEY want to be the MAN, and they want to be the stronger one of the two. No guy I know wants a woman that can pick them up. They want to protect the woman. I think men like a fit woman with a bit of muscle, but having muscle is masculine, so are broad shoulders, and they don’t like that.

    • Benita on September 28, 2020 at 12:45 am

      This is a dumb comment. Everyone has muscle. The way men and women are built now is artificial. Having fat or muscle is not gendered.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:40 pm

      There are people who prefer all kinds of things. Some men prefer thin women, others prefer obese women. We’re just talking about averages here. On average, it seems, if a woman gets stronger, fitter, and leaner, then most men will find that she looks more attractive. It varies, though, absolutely.

  90. Maria Grazia on February 17, 2019 at 11:43 am

    You are right on everything. I love this blog because it’s well researched, well designed and because even if I’m not naturally thin at all, I have a tendency to undereat that I have to fight constantly.

    But as a woman who suffered from eating disorders, I have to point out that there is an assumption that I don’t find to be true: I think that women often strive to become underweight to gain status and credibility, not to be hot. A lot of us lose weight to be LESS sexy. Right now I am trying to gain muscle because I love how health and strength feels. (I discovered the effects of healthy eating on mood, attention span, and energy, and I became curious about health and fitness.) But I have to admit that knowing that it’s hot makes me not so sure that’s what I want. I would want to be in amazing health without being sexualized. I would want to be attractive to my partner without being sexualized.

    Most women are considered sexy and we know it. That’s not our problem. Men stop us while we walk in the street minding our business, whether we like it or not. Health is a wonderful thing. Beauty is a wonderful thing. Really appreciating beauty as it is is a wonderful thing. But being objectified is not.

    Objectification isn’t a “big word” nor an angry word, it’s everyday life. And unhealthy thinness is very efficient in protecting us from that: we become impossible-to-sexualize, not-made-of-flesh, elegant and inhuman, untouchable, free from food, from sex, from the body, from motherhood, from need/hunger/wanting, from being prey.

    I think most men don’t understand what the problem is with “appreciating beauty.” I know that men are fascinated by femininity in a very sincere and sometimes poetic way, with no intention to hurt anyone. But we are not magical beings, we are people. We don’t want to be all that is beautiful in the world. We don’t pee love, sweetness, comfort, babies and glitters, nor do we want to be seen as potential mothers of someone’s child during a job interview.

    We are people just like men. We go grocery shopping and appreciate both giving and receiving a back scratch. That’s what I wish men saw while I walk down the street. I want them to want to have sex with me as a person. I want intimacy between people. I’m not a trophy, prey, candy, a goddess of fertility, a smiling face, something to “obtain” through courtship, expensive dinners and good jokes. I’m not something to brag about casually with friends because I prove the worth and masculinity of my partner. I want to be a companion or an adult playmate.

    I don’t want to be judged lazy if I don’t work out or hot if I do. I’m a person. I can be right for someone or not right for someone. Nothing more needs to be judged.

    TL;DR: I don’t think the assumption that most women want their bodies to be sexy to attract men is right.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:50 pm

      Hey Maria, I agree with you on many of your points.

      I wasn’t trying to say that most women exercise to improve their appearance, or that women OUGHT to exercise to improve their appearance. This is just an article for the women—however numerous they are—who find that topic interesting.

      I disagree that thin women are impossible to sexualize. People can be attractive and sexy in a variety of body shapes. It seems true that, on average, being healthfully strong, lean, and fit is most attractive. But that doesn’t mean that someone who isn’t strong, lean, or fit is unattractive. They may still be SUPER attractive, it’s just that, maybe, they could be even MORE attractive if they ate a better diet and/or did more exercise.

  91. Harper on April 17, 2019 at 11:31 am

    I found this article very interesting. It makes me think of myself, body, and how I can improve my strength.

    I’m a basketball player and I love working out. I never worked out in the past, but now, it’s a habit. I’m 178cm tall and I weigh about 62 pounds. To be honest, I don’t really love my body. I have a skinny physique, a small waist, big butt, toned thighs, and average breasts, but NO hips.

    People keep telling me I have an amazing body, but I don’t usually agree with that. I really want to make my hips wider to make me have a curvy look. I really want to have a bigger lower body. I also want to gain more muscle mass. May you please help me with that? Help me get bigger and wider hips while getting an amazing-looking lower body?

    Plus, working out is something I love doing.

    I’d love to hear back from you,
    Harper ☺

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 3:57 pm

      Hey Harper, thank you!

      Almost everyone has something they wish were different about their bodies. I hope it didn’t sound like I was implying that someone needs to optimize all of these aspects of their physique before they’ll look attractive or can feel attractive. In fact, you could have a body that doesn’t align with any of this and still be physically attractive because of other traits.

      Have you seen our article on building wider hips?

      Note that it’s pretty easy to increase your hip circumference by building bigger glutes, which will have a big impact on the appearance of your hips. But that won’t change the shape of your hip bones.

      It sounds like overall you’re doing great. I hope this helps! 🙂

  92. The "Big 5" Approach to Bulking – Outlift on September 20, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    […] However, putting such incredible emphasis on squatting will mean that our upper-body strength would become a limiting factor outside of the gym, that our bench press would lag behind, and that our proportions would become more pear-like. Now, don’t me wrong, it’s don’t have any prejudice against pears. In fact, some of my best friends are pears. It’s just that most men would rather look like tortilla chips, and most women would rather look like a calabashes. […]

  93. […] our hips to grow broader. Men have more testosterone and less estrogen than women, so this causes women to naturally develop more of an hourglass physique, whereas men naturally develop more of a V-tapered physique. This means that men have naturally […]

  94. arturo on October 13, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    i’m a man with round curvy butt that sticks out like a females i’m broad shouldered and muscular built. most guys butts are flat but mines is not why do i have this unusual trait as a guy.

  95. Fitness on October 15, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    I usually never leave a comment when i read articles but this one is so well written and so instructive that I had to leave a message.
    Congratulations for your work and knowledge, I love the fact that you linked studies !
    Thank you 🙂

  96. Daddy's Girl on November 8, 2019 at 11:03 am

    I may have missed a similar comment above but I just want to say THANKS for this article. Of course it’s a great read for me….but it’s an AMAZING read for my daughter. She’s 12 and although very bright and independent and traditionally beautiful, I’m starting to notice small comments here and there that follow the trend of what cultural marking has shown her. As a dancer she totally fits the description of strong and healthy, with just enough softness to show that she’s growing towards her adult female body. Like me she’s tall and thin, however she did fortunately get a little more of the “genetic curves” from her dad’s side of the family. Unfortunately, the fact that she’s almost in the same size clothing as me at 12 years old has her beginning to believe that she’s ‘too much’. I can’t wait to read this article with her and to start the conversation that skinny is not enough. She needs to grow to also be strong and healthy!! I’m thinking this is a great jumping in point for us to commit together to doing more to maintain that ‘optimal body shape’. I have a feeling she’ll be thrilled when I start bulking up again!! Plus I can’t wait for my body to feel more like it’s actual age again. (Desk jobs are rough!!) 😀

  97. Amber on June 27, 2020 at 11:58 am

    “If you happen to find a guy who does care about cellulite, just cancel his subscription to Cosmo and his problem should eventually go away.”

    Great article except I would recommend cancelling the guy who cares about cellulite!

  98. grace on July 15, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Shane! I love this article, it’s such a measured and honest outlook on attractiveness in general and body image related issues… I noticed in the equivalent article for men that you included optimally attractive thigh and arm measurements, am am wondering if these exist in your knowledge for women? The body fat percentage and waist to hip ratio are really useful, I’m just curious if the rest are things men have equivalents for when noticing women. One last thing; with your photo of Jessica Biel, you mentioned guns like hers aren’t necessarily for being optimally attractive haha! Do you have any links to photos where there’s less definition but someone is just as healthy and radiant (and therefore attractive!) looking? Again, thanks so much for your work, it’s helped so so many women 🙂

    • Renu Ahlawat on August 17, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Nice article with great explanation. I also want to become stronger and I am working on it

      • Shane Duquette on September 29, 2020 at 4:44 pm

        Thank you, Renu! Good luck becoming stronger 😀

  99. Shishir on September 4, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    I have wide shoulder and ribcage. 16 inch shoulder and short 5’2. So I look bulky. And look more fat than I actually am.I am now 30 and no one ever asked me out. Yes some guys stared but no body approached. Also some guys in class literally changed their sit because I sat nearby. Is it because they are disgusted?

  100. Bud on October 30, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Uh what a crock…so your butt can never be too big, but small breasts are equally attractive as big ones? I don’t think so. I’ve seen huge, nasty butts that are not attractive at all. And big breasts are always better than flat ones.

  101. Ivan on January 7, 2021 at 10:45 pm

    Hmm… My fice cents, speaking as a guy:

    Biel is too muscular in that photo.

    Guys DO care about cellulite, but pretty much every girl has them, so.. Whatchu gonna do?

    Broad shoulders are definitely not attractive on a woman.

    Otherwise agree. Great article.

  102. Bee on January 11, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    Is it possible for some women’s frames to look better with a higher body fat percentage than what’s listed here?
    I’m at 28.5% now with 33% muscle mass… and the more weight I gain, I find the more looks / attention I get even when not dressing up and trying to go unnoticed. I keep a good hourglass shape with my weight gain. I don’t want to take it too far in fat gain, but I am curious my personal ideal.

    • Anon on June 18, 2021 at 10:37 pm

      Yep. Go with what works. When the facts don’t fit the theory, the theory isn’t 100% right.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2021 at 4:37 pm

      Absolutely! These are just rough estimates. Everyone is a little bit different, and there’s a ton of wiggle room with all of these numbers anyway.

  103. Anon on May 28, 2021 at 9:12 am

    The first thing I want to point out: being curvy has nothing to do with your weight. The 3rd female example at the top isn’t curvier than the average or skinny woman. Curvy is a body shape and it happens to be the shape that most men prefer. It also has nothing to do with being fit or strong or having muscle. CURVES ARE MADE WITH FAT AND BONES. It doesn’t matter how much you work out, if you don’t have the fat distribution or the bone structure that predisposes you to an hourglass or pear shape, you’re never going to be “curvy”.

    Whether a woman has a conventionally attractive physique or not is going to be largely dependent on her fat distribution as well as her BMI. Where you gain and store fat is determined by hormones and is genetic. Body shape is also genetic.

    The author claims that all body shapes are equally attractive and yet they mention the ideal waist to hip ratio of 0.7 or less, which is, guess what, a ratio that usually correlates with an hourglass or pear shape body. So much for all body types.

    I also noticed that in the second picture up the top where men and women rated which female bodies they preferred, the women all had the same small waists. The “toned” and “muscular” women just had bigger hips and thighs, body features that again are determined by fat distribution and bone structure, not muscle.

    As for why Jessica Biel is attractive, she’s attractive because she has nice boobs, a nice butt, and an hourglass figure. Women reading this: for a lot of you, it doesn’t matter how much you work out, most of you won’t ever look like Jessica Biel. Always have realistic body goals.

    Lastly, men don’t care how much muscle women have or how fit they are. All that matters to them is 4 things: Hips/ass, small waist, boobs, and thinness. Thankfully most men aren’t that shallow and don’t care if a woman doesn’t have a perfect body but let’s not pretend that the perfect body doesn’t exist and that it’s not made up of those 4 things. Rant over.

  104. Alex on October 8, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    I’ve been enjoying the articles on this site, but this reads as a bit male-gazey. I’m not straight, so I’m not looking to “attract the interest of men”, so the first… Huge part of this article totally lost me. I wish there was more of an angle towards looking good, as a whole, without the opinions of men being involved.

    • Shane Duquette on October 9, 2021 at 10:00 am

      Hey Alex, I hear ya.

      It’s definitely not an article that everyone will find value in. It’s only meant for people who are interested in (or curious about) looking more attractive. I know for me, at least, especially when I was single, I wanted to know how to look more attractive to women. When we wrote a men’s article about the bodies that women find most attractive, we got a lot of requests from women for a similar article, this time about the most attractive female body. That seemed fair to me. So we wrote it.

      We conducted a survey recently where we asked women who are attracted to women which women they found most attractive. The answers lined up exactly with the physiques that men found most attractive. We ran a similar survey for gay men, and their answers didn’t line up with what women found most attractive. But for women, at least, there seems to be a consensus about the bodies women want to build and the bodies that are most attractive to both men and women.

      Anyway, I know it’s weird to write an article about the most attractive female body composition. But it only seems fair that if we’re writing that content for men because men want it, we should also write it for women when women want it. But I definitely hear you.

  105. Nazza on November 23, 2021 at 10:28 am

    Could someone recommend a home workout plan for a skinny girl eating in a 500 calorie surplus trying to gain 10kg. I din’t want to look bulky I just need some extra mass and definition. Thank you 🙂

  106. […] you’re interested in how to keep a great body shape you can check out Bony to Bombshell’s extensive article for […]

  107. Chad on April 10, 2022 at 6:49 am

    I’m a skinny and thin guy but I love women that are tall and buff muscles female body builder type and always have like those kind of women

  108. Jill on July 15, 2022 at 2:50 am

    Hi, just a quick note: “ Not overweight, not overweight, just a regular BMI that’s somewhere in the healthy range.” emphasizes not overweight twice. Also this comment box.. when typing in it is black with a dark grey font so you can barely see what you’re typing.

    Okay thanks!

    • Jared Polowick on September 13, 2022 at 2:17 pm

      Jill—thank you for telling me about the comment box! Just fixed that.

  109. Jenny gardiner on December 6, 2022 at 11:55 am

    Obviously preference is entirely individual from person to person. As a plus size person, I do have some thoughts and some experience in this matter as of late plus size is somewhat slightly a tiny tiny bit more in the media, but only one very specific plus size body type and that is the pair shape . Society still wants a small waist they want a big but they want six size hips all of that stuff. The body shape that I have an a lot of normal human beings have is an apple shape where I have slim legs, slim, arms, thicker waist, and an actual belly, not a little bump, large chest, and that is the most disregarded insulted in the least desirable body shape of any that I have ever seen commented on on the Internet . So obviously slim tall, long limbs that’s going to be the societal representation of perfection if people are thinking outside of the box, then slightly curvy if they are into plus size, then it will just be someone with the larger bum size things like that it’s never someone who is apple shaped so even in an already marginalized community we are considered the bottom of the barrel. If you look at retailers, who may possibly sell plus size clothing, models will either be not plus size or pear-shaped that is all.

    • Shane Duquette on December 6, 2022 at 12:40 pm

      Hey Jenny, that sounds rough. I have some experience being a very, very underweight man. It wasn’t seen as desirable by anyone. When meeting someone new for the first time, the first thing they’d often comment on was how skinny I was. No clothes fit. I was also in very poor health and had all kinds of issues, including heart disease. It totally sucked. I can imagine it being even harder for overweight people, especially when they aren’t overweight in the way they’re “supposed” to be.

      My theory is similar to what most experts believe. Attractiveness has a cultural component, but it’s largely driven by an evolved preference for health and fitness and strength and fertility. The issue with storing more fat in your belly is that it’s the least healthy place to store fat. We can store quite a lot of fat in our thighs, butts, and breasts without it impairing organ function or causing inflammation. But when we start storing more fat in our waists, it gets in and around our organs, causing a variety of health problems. The NIH says that for women, a waist circumference of 32 inches can start causing problems. For men, a waist circumference of 37 inches can start causing problems.

      Note that it’s the visceral and ectopic fat that’s the issue. If you’re physically active, you exercise regularly, you sleep well, and you lift weights, you’ll store proportionally less fat underneath your muscles (viscerally and ectopically) and more fat on top of your muscles (subcutaneously), where it’s much less likely to cause issues. That means that even at the same body-fat percentages and waist circumferences, two different people could have different health implications from being overweight.

      I think that explains why some types of curvy are stereotypically seen as more attractive than others. Storing fat in healthier places is seen as neutral and often positive, whereas storing it in more dangerous places is seen as more negative. I suspect retailers are leaning into this, trying to advertise in a way that makes their clothing look more attractive. I think that’s a mistake, but what do I know. Maybe they’ve tried marketing in other ways and it didn’t work. I’m not sure. But I agree with you that it’s a problem.

      There are a couple of things you can do if you want. I’m not sure if you want advice, but that’s what our blogs are for, so maybe that’s why you’re reading these articles. I’m also not sure what your lifestyle is like. Feel free to disregard all of this, but here’s the typical advice for someone in your situation: you could eat fewer calories to lose weight, as I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times. Very difficult, obviously. The other things you can do to get rid of the unhealthy fat is to go on daily walks, lift weights 2–4x per week, get enough good sleep each night, and eat a more balanced diet. Those interventions tend to cause fat loss, muscle growth, and overall weight loss, but even if they don’t, you’ll still shift more of your body fat away from your organs.

      If you want more, we have a full article on how to do this stuff. It’s on our men’s site. I’m in the midst of writing a similar article for women.

      And, of course, obviously, body fat is just one small aspect of a person. You aren’t attractive or unattractive because of body fat. It’s just one factor among many.

  110. What Body Type Do Women Prefer? on December 28, 2022 at 5:07 am

    […] into the gym or simply like to dress up, you can find a variety of ways to improve your appearance. With the right exercise and diet, you can improve your physique and look great, all while keeping […]

  111. A fitness fan on January 25, 2023 at 11:06 pm

    Thank you so much for creating this article. Who doesn’t want to be healthy, strong and fit? (Isn’t this the basic evolutionary drive?)

    Despite divergence in the comments, I want to look attractive for me, first and foremost. I am not ashamed to care about being attractive. I want to be strong – this is no brainer! (It’s culture, not nature, that has equated strong females with being manly. Weakness does not survive in nature, and no, I don’t want to be a weakling.)

    Sure, I want to perform too (as mentioned by another poster), and unfortunately the gym is a space where aesthetics can matter more than performance, unlike a traditional sport. In any case, there is a mix bag of people in most gyms so not everyone trains for looks, especially the older ones who are driven by more intrinsic motivations (ie. health and longevity).

    In any case, it’s natural to care about attractiveness levels (or read that as ‘conspicuous health’ as mentioned so often in the article) since we fundamentally seek to procreate, whether we actuslly do so or not in this modern age. Sorry to take an overly scientific perspective but health is equated to beauty, and it is health indicators that drive reproduction. I know women well past their reproductive years who are unhappy with their shape. Why? Because it doesn’t make them feel good about themselves, not because they want to land another husband and have more kids (by now impossible), but because it fails their standard. (True, not all women have the same standards for themselves but I assume most of us here want to look good so can relate.)

    Ps. I am not even a skinny lady but I find this website very useful indeed. Great job for creating such a valuable resource for those skinnier ladies.

  112. V on July 5, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    I don’t think there is anything wrong or offensive in this article. It’s promoting a healthy lifestyle and simply points out that building some muscle mass leads to all sorts of health benefits and shapes the female body in a more “universally” attractive manner by reducing waist and shaping the bust and hips. Not everyone cares about that. Some want to be fit, and looking better is a perk. But others obsess over how they look and want to be more attractive, and they can also benefit from this article. Others don’t want attention AT ALL because of horrible experiences or harrassment they have experienced. I don’t particularly want attention either, but I enjoy being fit and looking good for myself (my husband also benefits, lol)

    Some commenters said “they clearly didn’t ask men” but the studies clearly did ask men, so probably get your literacy checked?

    I agree that everyone has gotten much bigger in the past 50 years, but the fat shaming comments don’t really fix anything, do they?

    Thanks for pointing out that cellulite is natural and extremely common. That’s something I only learned recently. A lot of women’s magazines and articles are always saying “do this to get rid of cellulite” but it doesn’t work. But seriously, working out your hips and butt DOES reduce cellulite. It may not get rid of it completely but it will really smooth things out if you keep at it!

    Stay fit and healthy folks!

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