There’s More to Life Than Six Pack Abs

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 24, 2008 · 103 comments

in Blog


Photo by Tanworkboots

Men’s magazines are filled with exercise and workout routines designed to give you a chiseled physique. The glossy ads in the magazine showcase the desired result of all this work: a chiseled and ripped body. But what is the end goal of the pursuit of all this muscle? Some men work out for the health benefits, for pleasure, and to generally stay in shape. This is reasonable and desirable. Every man should want to be fit and healthy. But some men develop an unhealthy obsession with getting a ripped physique. Steroid use has become common, not just for athletes, but also for average joes who don’t want to be so average. But to what end? To attract the ladies? To meet some idealized image of the male body? Such a pursuit is a huge waste of time. Here are some reasons why:

Huge muscles are not as attractive to women as you may think

While there’s no denying the fact that women view a man’s ripped physique as a sweet bonus, it’s rarely, if ever, a deal breaker. The women I have known in my life have been far more focused on a man’s personality, sense of humor, decency, confidence, and ambition, than whether he had six packs abs. Research studies have born this out.

Several years ago, psychiatrists at the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory gave a computerized test to college students in the US, France, and Austria. The men could choose from 10 different layers of fat and 10 different layers of muscle to create what they believed was the most attractive body type to women. The study found that men consistently layered on more muscle than women actually preferred.

A follow-up study had similar results. Compared to Taiwanese men, Western men greatly overestimated how much muscle is desirable to women. The men were asked to choose the body type which they thought was most attractive to women. They overwhelming chose a physique with 20-30 lbs more muscle than average. But when women were asked to choose the body type they found most appealing, they chose the average one.

Why is there such a disconnect between what women want and what men think they want? Interestingly, one reason the study posited on why Taiwanese men don’t desire huge muscles the way Western men do, is that women and men have more parity in the West than in Asia. Harrison Pope, whose lab headed up the studies, said, “Nowadays, women can do almost anything that a man can do with one exception: They can’t bench press 315 pounds, no matter what the Supreme Court says. It may be a last refuge of masculinity for some men in the West.” Hopefully, reading this blog has convinced you that there are more avenues to being a man than how much weight you can squat. Spend your time developing truly manly traits, not your pecs.

Avoid being a dupe of the media

Of course another reason men are increasingly making a ripped physique their goal, are the images constantly being pushed by the media. In the 1950s, only 3% of print advertisements showed men undressed. Today it has risen to more than 35%. While many men believe themselves immune from the effect of such images, they are unfortunately taking their toll. It has been estimated that about 45% of Western men are unhappy with their bodies to some degree, compared with only 15% some 25 years ago.

The problem is not so much the number of images, but the impossible standard of body type those images convey. The majority of men don’t have the genetic makeup to attain the bodies seen in magazines, and in trying to attain it they feel frustrated and inadequate. It’s not longer acceptable to simply be in shape, now a man should apparently want to look like Matthew McConaughey.

It wasn’t always so. The manly men of yesteryear like Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, Cary Grant, and so on had normal, average physiques.


James Dean. Average Body. Bad Ass.


Matthew McConaughey. Pretty Boy.


1960s Batman. Average build, but still managed to defeat the Joker and have a career as the Mayor on Family Guy.


When you have start putting abs on your Bat suit, you know you’ve been duped by the media.


The Duke didn’t have a six pack. Did that stop him beating the bad guy and getting the girl? Hell no, Pilgrim!

Obsessing about your physique gets in the way of your life

The other night I was tearing into a delicious burger at Red Robin when I looked over at a family sitting at an adjacent table. The whole family was chowing down except for the dad. This man, with his biceps and tree trunk neck bulging out of his t-shirt, was eating his two bunless, unadorned burger patties with a fork. He wouldn’t touch the fries. I felt sad for this man.

Attaining the kind of physique showcased in Men’s Health requires a man to organize his life around that goal. He spends many hours in the gym each week. He totes around Tupperware containers of chicken breasts and broccoli so he can eat “clean” every 3 hours. He even brings these to dinner parties, or avoids these parties altogether since they’ll tempt him to blow his diet. He avoids going on vacation and thus having to miss his workouts. And all for what exactly?

You lose focus on why exercise if truly important

Exercise offers a myriad of benefits: it can boost your brain power, help your heart, prevent Alzheimers, alleviate stress, and knock out your depression. But if the focus of your workouts is to add another inch to your bicep or to go down 1 percentage point in your body fat, you may one day burn out on exercise altogether. If you only workout to get ripped, then when you don’t see the results you were hoping for, or the results come too slowly, you may give up. The key to a lifetime love for exercise is finding deeper motivations than physical appearance.

Instead of concentrating on having six pack abs, focus on becoming “functionally fit.” What’s the point of fitness if it doesn’t help you in your everyday life? When are you going to have to press 400 lbs off your chest? If a car falls on you? Good luck with that. Keep your back strong so you can play with your kids. Keep your heart healthy so you can live into old age with your wife. Keep your muscles limber so you don’t pull something while running between gates at the airport. So keep your workouts simple. Find your local Cross-Fit, or stick with the basics, like running and the Holy Trinity of Fitness.


UFC Fighters are good example of “functionally fit.” No six pack, but they have have the strength and stamina to kick your ass.

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1 James Cassell April 24, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Happy to have read this. I like to be in relatively good shape, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a gym. I prefer to run outside, or do sports to stay in shape.

That is very interesting about only having a limited amount of will power. I had never considered that before.

2 MiLan April 24, 2008 at 11:55 pm

I anticipated I what I was going to read as I saw image. Sort of stuff like impact on gals and your personality having 6 pack abs. But my inferiority of not having robust body faded gradually as I read post till end.

3 Stian April 25, 2008 at 2:35 am

Personally, I train to gain weight, since I am (or was) very skinny. The resulting six pack and big biceps are just a bonus to me. Seing my weight go from underweight to normal weight was the main goal. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that as you see results of your training (like a sixpack), it boosts your self confidence. It has done with me at least.

4 Wanna-be-meathead-geek April 25, 2008 at 2:39 am

“Studies have shown that your brain power has a finite amount of willpower.”

That might be the case, but the study your link refers to does not show this. On the contrary:

“Focusing on success is important because willpower can grow in the long term. Like a muscle, willpower seems to become stronger with use. ”

If you are afraid of exhausting your willpower by doing both exercising and studying, than your willpower capacity will indeed continue to have a finite amount. For those (such as myself) who work as a freelancer and who’s income is dependant upon willpower and self discipline, exercising your “willpower muscle” in the gym will only increase your willpower powers.

After a ten-year hiatus from exercise and training I have recently taken up weight lifting. I have found my will power and my concentration have both increased significantly in this time. I find that the willpower I exercise for “busting out just one more set of curls” is the same type of willpower that comes in handy for cranking out just one more rewrite before I deliver my manuscript.

What the study you refer to seems to indicate is that when you have an important task before you, which will require will power, then don’t spend it all beforehand (but this is nothing more than common sense. You wouldn’t train hard on the same day as a big basketball game either, would you?).

My advice is that on an average day you should do everything to exhaust your supply of self-discipline, and your “finite amount of willpower” will increase over time.

5 Dave April 25, 2008 at 4:10 am

The thing that you didn’t point to also genetics. If you don’t have the right genetics, you won’t get a 6-pack no matter how hard you try.

When I trained and ran an IronMan Traithlon, I did tons of core work and got myself down to just just over 5% body fat. Even at that, no 6 pack. I could easily do 300+ weighted sit ups/crunches twice a day and I still looked more James Dean than Matthew McConaughey.

The professor I that was monitoring my progression and health during this time said, “there are genetic reasons why some men will never have a 6-pack and some will have have if they just stink about having one.”

That in mind, as you stated you still need to keep yourself in shape. Something I admittedly have not done.

6 Alessandro April 25, 2008 at 5:38 am

“being functionally fit”… That’s been my philosophy for ages.

There are few situations when you need to lift more than your own body weight, so all my exercises are geared toward that. Push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, lunges/squats. Running, rowing, swimming, martial arts. That’s pretty much it.

Think Navy Seal, not Rambo.

And the goal is to just get in shape. If you can climb 10 flights of stairs without getting terribly winded, if you can run a 7-minute mile for 2-3 miles, if you can do 50 push-ups and 100 sit-ups, if you can touch your toes or do back arches… Well, then you’re fit enough to do most anything you want: Sports, martial arts, hiking/trekking, playing with your kids, etc.

It’s all about staying active and engaged.

7 Chad April 25, 2008 at 5:51 am

The dad probably had a Gluten problem – not a carb problem.

8 Brett April 25, 2008 at 6:14 am

@ wanna-be-meathead-geek- I saw the argument about will power increasing over time in the article as well and I agree with it 100%. I guess what I was thinking when I read the article is that in our quest to increase our will power, we need to use a bit of wisdom.

Sure, I can put all my focus in exercise and increase my willpower in the long run, but other areas of my life will suffer. I’ve seen it in my own life. When law school finals come around, I completely immerse myself in the law. You just have to ask my wife and you’ll learn that I become completely useless in other areas of my life. I get messier, I tend to eat more crap, and I become less patient. Sure, I might have more willpower in the long run, but it was to the detriment of other areas of my life.

I guess the wise thing to do is work to expend ou willpower everyday so it can grow, but spread it around evenly so our life is balanced. I think a good analogy is the dude you see in the gym that spends all his time in front of the mirror doing curls and shoulder presses. Consequently, these guys end up with bulging biceps and no neck, but have little scrawny chicken legs. Has their strength grown? Sure, but only in their upper body. They’re physique, however, is completely unbalanced. They should have spent time working on their overall strength.

The same goes in life. We can spend all discipline in exercise and our physique and our will power will grow. But it will be to the detriment of other areas of our life. The wise route would be to spread our discipline in all areas of our life, so that there’s a balance. Our will power will still grow, but our life will be more balanced.

9 dave April 25, 2008 at 6:29 am

“Of course another reason men are increasingly making a ripped physique their goal, are the images constantly being pushed by the media.”

Guys effected by this should consider getting a grip on reality and stop acting like a woman. You hear women complain about this left and right, yet they never miss an issue of cosmo.

10 b April 25, 2008 at 7:33 am

I’m glad you mentioned Crossfit as part of the functionally fit philosophy. I weigh about 170, and am lucky to have the genes that allow for 6-pack abs as a side-effect of doing ridiculous amounts of sit-ups. What’s interesting about Crossfit is that you can take a ‘meathead’, someone who appears very strong from all of their curls and lat pull-downs and half-assed bench presses, and put them through the paces of virtually any Crossfit WOD and their lack of functional strength becomes apparent. The size of a muscle means almost nothing. So, at 170 and without big arms I can Olympic lift with guys much bigger than me, while still having the size necessary for running fast and doing high reps of plyometrics and body-weight based exercise. The form (a six-pack, chiseled arms, etc) is a result of the function.

I would love to see a full-blown blog entry on Crossfit, I think it ties in well with the overall perspective of this site and is definitely part of the Art of Manliness.

11 Josh English April 25, 2008 at 7:54 am

All I know is this: I am obese. My waist is several inches larger than my chest, and last year, at 36, I lost a tug-of-war with an 11 year old girl.
I’m an avid Men’s Health reader, but so many of their workouts require a gym, or at least a home gym, so I can’t dedicate myself to those workouts. I am working on the barbell-based system at, which takes up 45 minutes, three days a week, and I do yoga and pilates the other days of the week.
My wife appreciates the small changes in my physique, and that helps. I feel stronger, and that leads to more confidence.
I think people have seen me as the fat guy, and fat guys stereotypically don’t have willpower or drive. Maybe I felt that way myself. No, actually, what I felt was drive, but too much inertia to get out of my recliner and do anything about it.
I still have to look at the nutrition side of things, but I can now polish off a Tour of Italy at the Olive Garden, not feel stuffed, and wake up hungry. This is because my metabolism is now operating faster that the tectonic plates.

However, the best thing about my workout schedule is I can do it, and I’m done. I don’t think about it, I don’t have to obsess about it, I stretch, lift, shower, and get on with the more important things in life. My self-discipline, motivation, and self-image have all improved.

Thank you for the article, I would like to point you to MH’s five tests of fitness, which I think are more comprehensive than the “trinity”: Single leg squats, 1 mile run, vertical jump, chinup, and pushup.

12 Timo April 25, 2008 at 7:56 am

No, of course we do not need six-pack abs. What we need are massive, rope-like forearms, just like what the good ol’ frontier lumberjacks and Popeye had :)

Some men can have an Adonis-like body, but in their heads they are still weak and spineless, and some are just grumpy and reckless from all the steroids.

‘Functionally fit’ is the right way to go. You won’t end up spending so much time getting the perfect body, and you can use your strength to help others. Last I recall, the ladies like a helpful fella…

13 Cameron April 25, 2008 at 8:58 am

i have to say that the picture for this post is hilarious. i don’t know the 3 dudes so i can’t judge what they are like. i’ll leave it at that.

when playing sports i always found it much easier to have the willpower to bust my butt in the weight room. in the off season and during our season – conditioning and working out were an important part of my life. because of that i learned to focus on the end result – my increased performance in competition. it was never to have big pecs and a six pack.

because of that discipline i learned from working out, i am able to apply it to other areas of my life now. studying hard, working until the job is done, etc. are all things that relate back to making myself do “one more set of curls”.

i think it is important to understand to what end we are working out. is it functionality and health benefits, or vanity and pride? and what are we getting out of working out? self improvement and confidence are great by products. if i’m just doing it to get chicks and so i can lift up my shirt at parties, that seems like a weird motivation.

14 Art Gonzalez April 25, 2008 at 10:33 am

Having a strong midsection (not necessarily chiseled, that´s aesthetics and a nice side-effect) adds to performance on any sport. I have been utilizing the techniques of a book called “Legendary Abs II” which I think Amazon still carries, and have worked like a charm for me without spending countless hours doing endless sit-ups.

Many blessings,

Art Gonzalez
Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

15 a husband April 25, 2008 at 12:03 pm

This is a great reminder, but it still is hard to feel it’s true. I guess it’s the whole desire of wanting to be the best, and knowing if you don’t have what you think is the best, then you aren’t being the best man you could be.

But a good reminder nonetheless. Thanks!

16 Brett McKay April 25, 2008 at 12:08 pm

@a husband-

I know what you mean. I big thing is just to shift our idea of what it means to be the best man we can be. For most of history being the best man didn’t include being ripped. The emphasis was on being intelligent, successful, and virtuous. Of course strength and health has always been important, and always should be. Men should strive to be as fit as they can, but they shouldn’t set the bar impossibly high. Be the best for you personally.

17 Brett McKay April 25, 2008 at 12:15 pm

@Stian-Muscles can definitely be a confidence booster. I think the key is finding a balance between feeding off the results your getting and not letting yourself get obsessed about it or centering your life and self-esteem around it.

@Alessandro-I like your routine. I am a big fan of body weight exercises myself. You can get a really great work out without ever setting foot in the gym.

@b-I have definitely thought about doing a whole post about CrossFit. Look for one in the future.

18 Dave S. April 25, 2008 at 2:00 pm

I just found it funny that when I got to the end of the article the Google adwords ad being displayed was: “Learn Secret to 6-Pack Abs”

19 amy April 25, 2008 at 8:01 pm

I read once that higher BMI is associated with greater risk for illnesses such as cancer and heart disease REGARDLESS of whether the increased weight was due to extra fat or extra muscle. The irony of that really got me; homeboy pounding chicken breasts every three hours and whey protein shakes in the middle of the night so he can be “the picture of health” actually jeopardizes his health with every (albeit hard-earned) extra pound of muscle. I really loved the comments acknowledging that strength as a functional attribute is worth far more than big muscles as a cosmetic trait, and an arguably dangerous one. perhaps our body-building friends need some encouragement to go ahead and keep carrying the tupperware…but just fill it all the way with broccoli!

thanks for this post. it is sad to see male bodies treated increasingly with the disregard historically reserved for female bodies. hopefully one day we can all be stronger, healthier and a little less vain!

20 Gary Slaughter April 26, 2008 at 7:43 am

In the 70′s I used to think that the guys on the muscle mags were the ideal, but over the years they’ve just gotten ridiculous. Part of it may be photoshopping, but I’ve seen covers with guys whose shoulders were as big as their heads.

It’s carried over into the culture, like in comic books and action figures like G.I. Joe, so much that some young boys have developed a kind of reverse anorexia called Body Dysmorphic Disfunction. They become obsessed with muscle size and will do anything to increase it.

I think there’s another component that should be added to achieving functional strength, and that’s muscular endurance. Boxing is the best example, even though I’m not big fan of watching two guys pound each other. Many times the loser will say, “I just ran out of gas.” He doesn’t say, “If only I had been able to curl ten more pounds in the gym.”

21 Santa April 26, 2008 at 10:21 am

My ex dumped me for a guy who was really muscular and taller than me. It affected my self esteem in a lot of ways. I am a good looking guy, but I am the kind of guy that women say is a cute guy, not the kind of guy who makes them go wow! I think women are more superficial than men when it comes to the muscles, physical appearance, and the way a man dresses. I’ve dated a lot (I’m 29) and from my experience they look at all these things more than men do. It’s usually not until a woman hits her 30s that she starts to realize the other things men really have to offer them. I started to work out and build my body at the beginning of the year and I’ve seen results. My biceps are getting bigger, my body is defining more. It makes me feel a lot more confident about myself. I notice that most of my lady friends in their 20s love the new me, but my older lady friends it doesn’t really matter. They say they liked me before and like me now just as I am. I’m thinking I will start dating only older women, because they know what they want and they are at a point in life when movies and media don’t affect their ideal for a man.

22 Kate McKay April 26, 2008 at 1:39 pm


I would disagree with you that women are more into a guy’s appearance than men are with a woman’s. Studies have shown that men are more visual than women. And anecdotal evidence certainly backs this up. I almost never heard my female friends talk about a guy’s appearance or muscles. It might be brought up, as in “he is soooo cute.” But that was always peripheral to his personality, confidence, ambition, ect. This is why you often see super hot women with pretty homely looking guys. But you almost NEVER see super hot guys with homely women.

23 Kate McKay April 26, 2008 at 1:46 pm


While a higher BMI does correlate with a higher risk of cancer and heart disease, it also correlates with a decreased risk of other diseases. So much so, that it actually “cancels out” the negative effects of those first two ailments. Being overweight is apparently the healthiest way to be. Or so says the newest spin on things:

24 The Muscle Builder April 26, 2008 at 3:16 pm

One can certainly overdo the muscle building and end up thinking huge muscles are the be all and end all – but they aren’t.

Getting fit is a great idea but some men get obsessed with it in the gym because most men are competitive by nature and like to be top dog among their buddies.

The real fitness experts I admire don’t have bodies like a sack of giant walnuts but are still strong and masculine,like most men should be.

25 zacwax April 26, 2008 at 4:46 pm

I don’t know. If you don’t have abs you can’t pose in semi homoerotic pictures with your bros

26 Rodney Hampton April 27, 2008 at 7:29 am

I liked the article, although there appear to be conflicting messages contained in it. The message that I got was that “[l]ike a muscle, willpower seems to become stronger with use.” I’m fortunate that I had the chance to go through 4 years in the Infantry. There’s no doubt that my willpower was increased significantly by that experience. I find myself backsliding a bit from time to time. Like right now, I should finish sanding the deck, but it’s cold right now (Michigan is having a cold-wave). :-)

Anyway, I agree with the other comment that you ought to push yourself hard every day you can. It will pay off. You will leave other people in the dust. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes training over months and years to excel. I guess it’s like the sales guy who picks up the phone at the end of the day and makes just one extra call. That’s the guy who’s going to outperform his peers (disclaimer: I’m not a sales professional).

I also agree with Brett that when law school finals come around, it’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of workout schedule.

I love the scene in Batman beings where Bruce learns that the “training is nothing, the will is everything — the will to act.” However, without the training, the will would be weak. Train to increase your willpower. Don’t train to get the abs. The abs are something you might get on the journey, but they aren’t the destination.

My objection to Men’s Health magazine is that the ads typify this homoerotic worship of the male anatomy. Fortunately, many of the articles make up for the times when the magazine seems to go out of its way to focus on superficiality.

And, as for Matthew McConaughey being a pretty boy, you should read the interview Men’s Health did with him a couple of years ago. I think you’ll want to put a different guy up there to represent the pretty boy type.

27 karmazon April 27, 2008 at 8:18 am

Sorry but this isn’t a good article.

First of all, it starts being about six pack abs, but then switches to talking about having huge muscles.

Second, maybe not all men have the genetics to attain the size of guy’s in fitness magazines, but this article isn’t about the size of muscles. And everyone can attain a sixpack.

The story about eating a burger and seeing a man with his family made me pity you. You talk about working out to be healthy, but what about eating to be healthy? Eating is a bigger part of health than exercise. And eating fast food is just gross.

I eat healthy and I don’t have tupperware, I go to parties and vacations and I eat ice cream if my girlfriend wants to go out for some. You don’t have to arrange your life like that to get a sixpack.

You know about crossfit, then you know probably know their philosophy on nutrition. Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar. KEEP INTAKE TO LEVELS THAT WILL SUPPORT EXERCISE BUT NOT BODY FAT.

And about the last part, willpower part, if you read the article you certainly know that it said that willpower increases with practice. Therefore the more you use it the more you have.

28 Gary Slaughter April 27, 2008 at 9:32 am

“Train to increase your willpower.”

Thanks, Rodney. You gave me a gem to add to my motivation notebook. I keep success stories and other bits of wisdom in it to help me over the hump on days when my energy is lagging. That is definitely a keeper.

On another note, ‘Mens Health’ can be good and they have some first-rate articles, but I felt cheated when I learned they and other magazines often Photoshop cover photos to make muscles larger. I suppose I was just naive.

29 Brett McKay April 27, 2008 at 10:52 am

@Rodney-I chose Matthew McConaughey simply because he is held up as having the ultimate male body and being every woman’s dream. The media definitely portrays him as a pretty boy-eye candy for the ladies. But you are right, he actually seems very cool in every interview I have read with him. Not only the one you linked to, but MH had another recently. Hey, you can’t argue with the manliness of a guy who hasn’t worn deodorant for decades because he enjoys his man smell.

Men’s Health definitely has some good stuff, but I have found myself getting kind of turned off lately. It seems they keep pushing the envelope and making their photos of women more and more pornographic. It’s just not needed.

@Karmazon-The post didn’t “start out talking about six pack abs.” That was simply the title. And I chose that title because while the article isn’t about big muscles per se, it is about being obsessed with getting them and the amount of time it may take a guy to do so. And six pack abs are symbolic of that. While exercise and health are important, getting ripped requires time and dedication that could be better spent on worthier causes. And no not every man can get a six pack. Please see Dave’s comments above.

Sorry that you pity me. I actually eat healthy most of the time. But once a week I go out to eat with my wife and eat whatever I want. I think having a “cheat meal” is actually beneficial as it helps you stick with your healthy eating the rest of the week. Having a treat every once in awhile is fine and desirable. I don’t think a man should go to a place famous for burgers (and Red Robin isn’t actually “fast food” by the way…although they do serve burgers if that’s what you meant) and eat a plain patty. Life is a little too short not to occasionally eat some delicious greasy grub.

On the issue of there being a contradiction between what the article in the NYT said, and what this post says….please see my response to “wannabemeatheadgeek” above. While your willpower does grow with practice, it is still true that at any given time you only have a set amount. Even if you massively increase your willpower, you still shouldn’t be using a disproportionate chunk of it on your physique. It’s all about balance.

30 Brett McKay April 27, 2008 at 11:00 am

@Gary-I actually I had never thought about magazines like MH airbrushing their models either. I guess I only associated that with women’s magazines. But it definitely makes sense.

31 karmazon April 27, 2008 at 11:38 am

Yes, every man can get a sixpack. Not every man can get huge. But being lean is possible for virtually everyone(unless you have some sort of a disease).

Getting ripped requires only being active and eating good, healthy foods. Basically, being lean is just a side effect of leading a healthy lifestyle.

And the whole willpower thing is a joke. Okay, people have a finite amount. But how much of it do they have? Isn’t it possible to have enough for numerous goals?

32 karmazon April 27, 2008 at 11:46 am

And the man you saw in the restaurant. Man shouldn’t go to a place famous for burgers and eat a plain patty? What if he was a bodybuilder or a fitness model and his livelihood depended on how he looked, and he was just taking his family out to dinner? You can’t assume anything.

33 Brett McKay April 27, 2008 at 11:54 am

Yup poor Dave. Afflicted with the dreaded “5% body fat Ironman disease.”

And why should being lean be a man’s goal?

Every man should seek to increase their willpower and personally decide how much willpower they have. And it doesn’t matter how much you have- it’s an inescapable fact that you can’t do numerous goals equally well. You can’t train for an Ironman and be the number one law student. You can’t be the number one law student and spend a lot of time with your family. Which comes back to my argument about balance-it’s simply a matter of prioritization. Can you get ripped and have time for other things? Certainly. I am simply arguing that men should know their tipping point of when other things in their life slip because they’re paying so much attention to their body.

34 Joel April 28, 2008 at 9:41 am

I think this is a good post, but I think there is a problem that is much bigger than what is being addressed – whether or not a man chooses to have (or strive for) a great physique tshould come down to his own reasons and not the pressures he feels from his social setting.

Personally I strive for a great physique because a lot of the things I find most enjoyable in life require a lot of physical effort (climbing, bicycling, running, swimming, etc.). By getting in the best shape I possibly can I have a way to prolong the activities that give me joy.

“I will make my body” – Teddy Roosevelt

35 Joel April 28, 2008 at 9:42 am

I think this is a good post, but I think there is a problem that is much bigger than what is being addressed – whether or not a man chooses to have (or strive for) a great physique should come down to his own reasons and not the pressures he feels from his social setting.

Personally I strive for a great physique because a lot of the things I find most enjoyable in life require a lot of physical effort (climbing, bicycling, running, swimming, etc.). By getting in the best shape I possibly can I have a way to prolong the activities that give me joy.

“I will make my body” – Teddy Roosevelt

36 Brett McKay April 28, 2008 at 12:53 pm

@Joel-That was basically what I was going for. That a man should get in shape for his own reasons and not because of society’s pressure to conform to an ideal. Staying in shape for sports, for pleasure, and for health are all legitimate reasons. Being obsessed with your physique to get the ladies or simply because you think you have to to be a man are not good reasons.

37 Chris April 28, 2008 at 3:52 pm


“The thing that you didn’t point to also genetics. If you don’t have the right genetics, you won’t get a 6-pack no matter how hard you try.

When I trained and ran an IronMan Traithlon, I did tons of core work and got myself down to just just over 5% body fat. Even at that, no 6 pack. I could easily do 300+ weighted sit ups/crunches twice a day and I still looked more James Dean than Matthew McConaughey.”

—> You don’t get a six-pack from doing endless sets of crunches and running triathalons. There is only one way to get your abs to show and that is to remove the layer of fat that is covering them and the only way to do that is to diet in such a way that you burn the fat off while retaining as much muscle as possible. Anyone can have a six-pack, you just aren’t going about it the right way. You don’t even need to work your abs to get a six-pack, you just need to burn the fat off of them.

By what measurement did you think you were 5% body fat? There is a big difference between being skinny and ripped. 5% bf means you are all muscle and isn’t very realistic to look like year round that without lifting and a finely tuned diet. Most likely you severely underestimated your bf% which most people do. I’m assuming you are very thin since you are a runner. If you want your abs to pop, you need to add more muscle mass which means lower reps and higher resistance training….and of course a diet that supports this type of training. Long distance running wastes away muscle and will make you very thin. You are probably burning just as much muscle as fat during your training, which does not lower your bf%.

38 Chris April 28, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Why do you pity the man in the restaurant who is trying to live a healthy lifestyle and at the same time look good physically? To some its a hobby and is a fun thing to do. I wouldn’t say he’s missing out on life not eating greasy french fries at the restaurant. When your motivation and will power are strong enough you don’t care about these petty things that you may give up to achieve your goals.

“If you only workout to get ripped, then when you don’t see the results you were hoping for, or the results come too slowly, you may give up. The key to a lifetime love for exercise is finding deeper motivations than physical appearance.”

–> I disagree. Seeing results in the mirror are what motivates you to come back to the gym every day. If you work out every day for a year and at the end of the year you look exactly the same, whats your motivation to keep coming back? The reason people don’t see the results they want are because they are doing something wrong. Instead of giving up on looking good physically, figure out whats wrong with your diet and/or training and fix it. There is no reason that you can’t be ripped and be functionally fit at the same time if you are willing to put the work in.

39 Chris April 28, 2008 at 4:35 pm

You forgot to mention the result of the survey that you based your blog on….

“The results: Men with muscular physiques were rated nearly twice as sexy as non-muscular men, but they were also rated twice as intimidating and dominant. ”

On looks alone, woman prefer the muscular physique but only choose the more average look because they were worried that someone like that might cheat or leave them.

40 Kate McKay April 28, 2008 at 5:01 pm

@Chris-What’s the point of being sexy if women are still less attracted to you in general? There’s a reason women think men who are musuclar will cheat on them or leave them. It’s because many ripped guys, although certainly not all, have egos as big as their biceps. They’re often tools who are so into themselves they don’t have time to think of others.

41 Chris April 28, 2008 at 5:30 pm


I don’t do it for woman at all, I do it because its a hobby that I enjoy. I have no ego, I’m actually very shy and hate attention. I also like living a healthy lifestyle and don’t consider sacrificing the little things, such as junk food, much of a sacrifice at all.

I have a problem with the bottom half of the article, I agree with the top portion. I feel like the author is telling you if its too hard to look the way you want, then quit and make excuses such as genetics as to why you cannot achieve those goals.

42 Kate McKay April 28, 2008 at 5:38 pm

I don’t think that’s what the article is saying at all. The point is actually basically what you just said-that guys shouldn’t get ripped to look good for women or to look like a celebrity, but to find a deeper motivation for it. For you, it’s your hobby and that’s cool. The post says that’s there’s nothing wrong with working out because it’s pleasurable and something you enjoy. The idea was simply that you shouldn’t get obessed with it for the wrong reasons, or to do it to the detriment of other things in your life. It shouldn’t be the center of your life. There’s nothing wrong with trying to be in the best shape of your life, you just shouldn’t base that “best” on what the media sells you.

43 Chris April 28, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Kate, I agree with your last comment. I interpreted the article in a different manner, especially when the author wrote that he pitied the father at the restaurant without even knowing his reasons for lifting and eating healthy. Chances are, if he’s a family man, he’s not doing it for anybody but himself (and maybe his wife).

I absolutely agree that you should never buy into whatever the media is selling. Just be your own person.

44 Mr. X April 29, 2008 at 10:01 am

A girl don’t see your six-pack until you’ve scored anyhow.

45 James May 3, 2008 at 7:16 am


I work out daily, do crunches like a mo-fo, and guess what, no six pack. My granpa was one of the strongest men I knew, and he looked more like John Wayne than some meathead with a six pack and an attitude to match. I’ll take looking like the Duke any day.

46 Mustakey May 18, 2008 at 8:57 pm

This article is complete bullshit. Obviously written by someone who couldnt achieve his goals in the physical world.

‘This may be why there if often a close correlation between meatheads and douche bags.’ Wow, some of the smartest people I know also happen to be fit as hell and thats because they appreciate the value of their bodies.

And whats wrong with a man who decides to eat burger patties without fries or a bun. The fact is he’s probably laughing at everyone else in the restaurant cuz they’re all asking for heart surgery early.

The media may blast images of men who are more fit than ever but how is that a bad thing at all? Look at the state of women! They are bombarding images of anorexic and unhealthy models and girls are buying into this. But for men, these are images of fitness!! its well known and accredited.

Lastly, a man true to his fitness goals DO NOT CARE about what women think of their physique. So what if he wishes to have extra mass.. it his his choice and the woman jut has to deal with it.

47 Ben May 20, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Whatever. Personally I enjoy lifting weights and getting stronger (bigger is usually a side-effect). Lifting for women is a goal of some, but it isn’t always the only goal. While I like Cross Fit and I lift purely to get stronger in the powerlifts (though I am leaning out right now, six pack here I come), getting bigger is a totally valid approach to life.

And if you pity a guy for eating healthier than you, that’s not something I would consider funny. “Ha ha you’re eating healthy!” That’s pretty mature. Though moderation is always the best, I would never want to chow down on some “great” refined white bread buns with some vegetable oil fried potatoes. No thanks, I’ll take a steak or just a bun-less burger.

And McConaughey is an ideal? Look skinny to me. No six-pack either.

48 Brett May 20, 2008 at 5:35 pm

@Ben-You, like many others, keep missing the point of the post. I never said you shouldn’t lift weights and enjoy working out. I said you should do it for the right reasons and not make it your number one priority. The point of the post is that there’s more to life than big muscles, not that you shouldn’t have big muscles. I’m not sure why that’s so controversial. The opposite would be: life is all about big muscles. Only a moronic meathead could get behind that.

49 Alexandros May 22, 2008 at 6:07 am

This article is overall good, but let me write my thoughts:

1) “Pan metron ariston” (greek proverb which means “It’s good for everything to have a limit”): Being too fat or too fit is out of the everyday. People will treat you different and you probably live different to begin with. Achieving the balance is the key. It’s definitely the best to be as fit as possible, without becoming an abs-addict and losing the ability to eat french fries (even if they are unhealthy as hell :p ).

2) When I see a woman that is way too fit (in a beautiful way) she usually seems too far-away. I mean, when you are so different than the average, people feel “away” from you. I would probably hit on the average beautiful woman that the sooo-fit woman. Not to talk about which one I would choose to establish a relationship. It probably feels the same from a woman’s point of view. A more average person would feel more accessible to her.

3) Stereotypes. Being TOO well-defined or TOO fit, would make you look like the three guys of the picture: DUMB. Well, this is called a stereotype and we can’t avoid it. Of course, this is a minor problem. A DUMB person is dumb and a WORTHY person is worthy.

4) Let me add that there is a big (!) difference between being healthy and fat. For many obese, smoker, couch-living people this article does not apply. Don’t think that being fat is manly. The body is all you are. Bad body = bad you. Combine everything in your life. Both mental abilities and muscular strength.

50 M. Steve May 24, 2008 at 9:36 pm

I agree with you about having a “cheat meal” or two… so how do you know the guy didn’t already use his cheat meal? What if, the day before, he had some Buffalo Wings and greasy fries? Or some pizza?

I have been eating 6 meals a day, and, yes, sometimes eating chicken out of Tupperware, because, after 6 years of a serious back injury, I was very overweight. Daily gym workouts (only lift 4 times a week) and a serious exercise level have helped me already take off almost 30 pounds. I don’t think this focus has hurt my work or my personal life at all; so many of my friends and colleagues have commented on how much more focused and happier I am. It’s made a big difference in my life, and all it takes is 60-90 minutes a day and a commitment to a good, structured diet.

(I know people keep harping on the burger dude, but “pity” is a pretty strong reaction to this, so it’s kind of troublesome.)

51 Brett McKay May 24, 2008 at 9:45 pm

@M. Steve

The pity thing was never meant to be that serious. When I saw the guy it made me chuckle. I was using “pity” to be a little tongue in cheek. “I pity you man.”

Nevertheless, I stand by it. I may not have truly pitied him, he’s free to make his own choices, and good for him that he makes healthy ones. But it still made me shake my head. I understand that maybe he had already used his cheat meal, but then why go to Red Robin for dinner? It’s all totally bad for you stuff. There are plenty of restaurants that offer healthy options. If you’re going to go to a restaurant that’s famous for burgers and fries, than have burgers and fries. Not a plain patty.

52 Richard May 29, 2008 at 11:43 am

I haven’t read all the comments, so this might have been posited. I think that it’s because men think women are just as shallow as they are, so they expect women to care as much about abs as men do about cup size. I’m glad their shallowness has backfired.

53 Chris June 3, 2008 at 4:33 am

Kind of a poor article to be honest. To some people, eating isn’t exactly the biggest joy in their life. Personally I know I could do without the heart attacks from eating a greasy hamburger, and I’ll benefit a lot more from it. The benefits I get from eating a hamburger? Maybe a few seconds of excitement. I’ve stopped eating any sort of bad foods since last week and I’ve managed to attain all my diet goals with less calories, and rather than be hungrier, I’ve actually started to become less hungry. Yeah, it sucks to be one of those people that are entering and working in the fitness world for “the chickz” but, if you set a goal and want to achieve it, go for it! There is nothing wrong with setting your own goals and achieving them, no matter what some silly article tells you. Society might not like the larger muscle look, but if that’s your goal and that is what you are shooting for, then more power to you. Go out and do things, unlike the rest of the world.

54 Cadenza June 7, 2008 at 5:10 pm

“The body is all you are. Bad body = bad you. ”

by your logic, Stephen Hawking is worthless.


55 Michael Berach June 12, 2008 at 5:06 pm

The pursuit of a six pack isnt unhealthy. It is very good because during it you learn alot about eating clean, cardio, being fit, and how your body adapts to weight training. That willpower crap is BS. After a week or two of routine excercise, it becomes just that a routine, I mean how much will power do you do to brush your teeth? Exactly and thats what excercise is, a good habit.
Some of us chose this as a hobby instead of something else.
Also just to set the record straight, everyone and anyone can have a six-pack, unless they do not have any abdominal muscles. You just need to know how to work out.

(non weights)Crunches with high reps= flat but conditioned core
(weights) Crunches with low to med reps (5-12)= Youre ab muscles grow to the six lumps that make up a 6 pack

then you have to lose fat and go at least bellow 9% bodyfat

56 anonymous girl June 17, 2008 at 3:56 pm

I beg to differ. I’m a girl, and I, for one, LOVE SIX PACK ABS.

57 matt June 19, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Could it also be that the women are just lying out their asses, like when they say i like sweet, sensitive guys who like to show their emotions and cuddle! teehee!

58 Ben July 2, 2008 at 5:20 pm

I haven’t read the above comments yet, but one thing that stood out as completely misleading to anyone reading the article was;

“The problem is not so much the number of images, but the impossible standard of body type those images convey. The majority of men don’t have the genetic makeup to attain the bodies seen in magazines”

This is plain lying to anyone who reads this article, practically giving them excuse to not attain this type of body. Anyone can get the physique they aim for with hard work and discipline. I have seen guys in their 60′s still looking ripped. I know a 44 year old who was unhealthy for roughly 38 years of his life and over the last 6 years he has attained a physique a lot of men in their 20s with they had, completely naturally too. A lot of your points were how the media con men into believing they can attain these physiques, when infact they can, and this right here is one of the comments made in your article that is decieving them and telling them they can’t, which is incorrect.

59 Brett July 2, 2008 at 5:29 pm


So you are saying that someone with the body of say, Orlando Bloom, could, he if just worked out really hard and ate a lot of protein, attain the same physique as say, “The Rock?” Without steroids? Dream on dude.

60 Ben July 2, 2008 at 5:57 pm

And tbh the amount of times the authors have had to defend this article in their comments has just proved how poorly written and thought out their points and the article is. Try again.

61 Ben July 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm


So you are saying that someone with the body of say, Orlando Bloom, could, he if just worked out really hard and ate a lot of protein, attain the same physique as say, “The Rock?� Without steroids? Dream on dude.

Nowhere in my comment did I say that, nor did i mention steroids other than the 44yr old I know who has turned around his physique without the use of them. Your arguments are almost as bad as this article. I’m done here.

62 Brett July 2, 2008 at 6:37 pm


Ben: “Nowhere in my comment did I say that”

Actually Ben that was your whole argument: Ben: “Anyone can get the physique they aim for with hard work and discipline”

You thus argue that if you have a slender body type but aim for a huge physqiue you can get one with only hard work and elbow grease. But this is not true.

“And tbh the amount of times the authors have had to defend this article in their comments has just proved how poorly written and thought out their points and the article is.”

Actually Ben, it just proves the incredibly poor reading comprehension skills of much of the populace.

63 Ben July 3, 2008 at 1:56 pm

@ Brett

“Anyone can get the physique they aim for with hard work and discipline�

This statement is correct, although you took it out of context. Your article was talking about natural physiques, Matthew McConaughey being one – and he hasn’t even got an impressive one. Anyone aiming for the body of they guy on the front of ‘Mens Health’ or any such magazine can easily achieve it through just hard work and elbow grease. We aren’t talking about steroid abusing wrestlers. The article is about 6 packs and large pecs, both of which can be attained naturally.

““And tbh the amount of times the authors have had to defend this article in their comments has just proved how poorly written and thought out their points and the article is.â€?

“Actually Ben, it just proves the incredibly poor reading comprehension skills of much of the populace.”"

Or is just proves a poorly written article.

64 Brett July 3, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Ben I see we are never going to agree here. Matthew McConaughey was an example of how the standard for how men should look has changed over time, not an example of an unattainable standard. The point is that we think the current ideal is the best simply because that’s currently the ideal pushed by the media. What society considers ideal changes over time.

And I still don’t believe that someone who starts out with a very slim frame can through hard work alone attain the physique of a Men’s Health cover model (actually MH cover models are celebrities, most of which keep their shirt on because even they do not have the physiques of the models on the pages inside). For one, the photographs in magazines like Men’s Health are airbrushed. In the end, maybe you could naturally beef up someone like Orlando Bloom to magazine proportions, but then it would depend on your definition of “naturally.” Working out 3 hours a day and eating a crap ton of protein is not a natural way to live. Which goes back to my question, a question which none of the previous commenters have answered-”Why?” Why live like that to get big muscles? To be the best you can be? Well, then why is that considered the best? Why is the best a man can be to think about his own body a lot and spend a lot of time making it ripped when he could be making productive contributions to his family and community? I’m all for being healthy, I work-out 6X a week, and I like my muscles. But at the end of the day I understand “there’s more to life than six pack abs.” I’m not sure how anyone could disagree with that. What the converse? “Life is six pack abs?”

65 Adam July 4, 2008 at 12:45 pm

There is nothing “unobtainable” about Matthew Mcougnehy’s physique. Pretty much any guy could get reasonably close to that without devoting their whole life to it.

A good diet and *smart* training each week, and you wouldn’t have to spend more than 90 minutes a day 5 times a week on exercise. Completely reasonable considering the result.

That’s hardly the same as bodybuilders who spend every waking minute obsessed about their diet and 5 hours a day in the gym.

66 Dean July 14, 2008 at 3:29 am


Your right about the guy eating bun-less burgers and broccoli but did you look around at some of the other tables and see the overweight people filling up on fat loaded foods.. Are bodies are not meant to shove crap like that in there.. From reading your post I think you are the type of person who looks for the easy way out.. There is no such thing. You have to work hard and eat right and that’s not extreme. Remember criticism is always a sign of jealousy… BTW crossfit training and UFC fighters always follow strict diets, those that don’t ended up on the opposite end of a KO…….

67 damien July 28, 2008 at 11:16 am

Dear Author,
This piece provides motivation to people who doesn’t want to work hard simply lazy. Physique maintenance and muscle building is an art, everybody can’t get it like getting a job or a girlfriend. It needs dedication and energy. It is like a soldier’s death. U have to experience it than providing motivational boost up to lazy guys, who doesn’t have time for anything.


68 valeria August 9, 2008 at 10:04 am

Hi…. ok… i can’t.. no se hablar en ingles… =), lo unico que puedo decir y que me entiendan es que amo a Matthew MacConaughey…. LO AMOOOOOO!!!! ES MI IDOLO!!!!! MATTHEW I LOVE YOU!!!!

69 RICK September 10, 2008 at 7:32 am

People that agree to this article are slaves to Corp. America and have a 9-5 job.

Im a computer engineer making 6 figures a year, I work out every day, and have a girlfriend.

Working out is for MEN that are dedicated stong and not lazy.

70 ali September 16, 2008 at 2:15 am

very best you

71 Michael October 1, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Personaly, I have to take issue with most of what is written in this article.
Let me begin by saying that in high school, I was rather chubby. Through my early twenties, I was rail thin. Today in my mid 30s’, I can bench 130 percent of my wieght and run 3 miles every other day.
As it applies to women, I can assure you with absolute conviction that I don’t care what any study says. There is NO comparison to the attention I get from women now and the various other stages of my life. The argument could be made that it has more to do with the level of self confidence and general demeanor, but regardless, this articles opening paragraph is pure bunk.
The UFC competitors are NOT good examples of functionaly fit, and there is a huge difference in their body types from one fighter to the next. Comparing Cabbage, Frank Mir, Chuck Liddell, George St. Peirre, Vito Belfore, Huston Alexander and James Irvin reveals a wide variety of the human form while ALL of these Men live exactly the sort of lives that the previous paragraph in the article (about the father figure who was eating beef patties with a fork) speaks so strongly against living.
As to Willpower, that was almost silly. Ones’ personal will power is NOT, is NOT a finite measured dollop of integrity. Like anything else in life, it gets better, bigger and stronger with use.
I love this site, but this article was terrible.

72 JustAMan October 12, 2008 at 11:34 am

Terrible article. It is so outrageously biased against those with ripped physiques and those who are attempting to attain that height. Using small part of the UFC picture is just disgraceful many of the top contendeds in the UFC have six packs and in professional boxing as well look at Roy Jones Jr. He is ripped regardless of the weight class he fights in.

Though I will concede the hottest of chicks probably aren’t into the biggest of muscles they are more into quality vs quantity. Considerable muscle mass with low body fat will almost always trump excessive muscle mass with double digit BF

73 Rob October 24, 2008 at 6:25 pm

This article is one of the most pathetic, biased pieces of work I have ever read. I’m going to steal a very true quote from the Pursuit of Happyness and it goes along the lines of “A person can’t do something so he tells you you can’t do it”… not in the exact words but so true. I was a scrawny weakling as a kid, I am now a competitive bodybuilder…. hmm, guess all my time must be consumed huh?

I’m at the gym one hour per day, five days a week… I could spend that time writing crap online, but I’d rather be improving my physique. That’s FIVE hours per week, that’s NOTHING. Diet? I eat 6 meals per day, what’s it to you if I own tupperware? It takes me 15 minutes to down a meal and I can do so anywhere no problem. That’s it…. my life isn’t consumed by this, I am a grad student, I do lab-work, I volunteer at my local animal shelter, I am in a long-term relationship and you know what? I STILL have time to lounge around and watch some tv. If I choose to eat healthy when I go out… how exactly does this affect my date?? Will we have less of a good time because I ate a lean piece of chicken rather than a greasy burger and fried?? I hardly doubt it! The only difference is I may not have as much gas to hold in the rest of the date, but aside form that I can have just as much fun.

Trust me, from someone in the fitness industry, telling people they can’t achieve the look of a Men’s Health model is like telling a drag racer that it’s impossible to do the quarter mile in under 15 seconds…. it’s RIDICULOUSLY easy and very much attainable for anyone without some sort of illness.
I saw one guy reply claiming he was at 5 percent bodyfat yet looked like James Dean and had no abs… uhmm…. wow. It can’t be that hard to use a bit of judgement…. if you have a body like James Dean, I promise you, you are NOT at five percent bodyfat…. I compete at 4 percent bodyfat and I can see striations in my glutes at that point, believe me if you were at 5 percent bodyfat you would NOT look like James Dean! Your doctor/trainer is lying to you or you can’t use calipers worth a damn buddy!

The guy at Red Robin… hmmm so, because someone is a bodybuilder and eats healthy meals, he can’t take his family to a fun restaurant? Well, looks like I have to tell my girlfriend that from now on we have to stay locked inside our house because some guy from the internet looks down on me for going out, paying for a meal with MY money, and eating it the way I please. Worry about yourself, to some of us, food is not the most entertaining thing in the world! For all you know that man went home and had some amazing sex with his wife, which could have been just as good as your silly burger.

The “limited willpower” excuse is the most pathetic thing I have heard in my life. Look up Layne Norton ( This guy is a top notch NATURAL bodybuilder, pursuing a pHd, member of a supplement company, is recently married and is a trainer and diet consultant, he also has a team of people he trains for bodybuilding competitions. Great guy, well educated, well rounded, loving his life, hasn’t reached this so called “limited willpower” yet…. BUT just because YOU find it too hard to achieve a good body while doing other things in your life you would probably give this guy a negative label huh? Hey, how about this, next time, actually look into a group of people before you blindly judge them!

74 Elaine October 24, 2008 at 6:36 pm

*Claps* for Robs comment, so true. This guy reaks of insecurity, “I can’t figure out how to get a nice body and juggle other things in my life, so I’ll just make excuses”…. it’s basic psychology, we love to make excuses for things we suck at. I guarantee you, if you had nice abs, you would be taking quite an opposite stance!

Look, if you can’t achieve something, don’t go around saying it’s impossible… it might be for you, but that’s your problem. Let’s be honest, what’s more pleasing to look at? A girl with a slim waist, big boobs and a firm butt or a girl with a figure that goes straight up and down? That works both ways! As a woman I will be the first to admit, that while it’s not everything, a nice, muscular body (even if non-functional) is very nice to look at.

Lastly, my male friend is a MMA fighter and his life revolves around training and dieting, just because those guys in the UFC don’t look like models doesn’t mean their whole lives don’t revolve around the sport. Any athlete who has made it to the top is consumed by his sport.

75 Jas November 2, 2008 at 9:35 am

A real man doesn’t have a limited amount of willpower no matter what your study shows. Perhaps real men where the outliers in that particular study. A solid gym routine could easily take less than 4 hours a week! If four hours a week is detrimental to your study, work or relationships then you really need to find some “me time” in your life.

And another thing- most men who see any progress in the gym are doing it for themselves rather than to impress women. In my experience I have also found that those who also succeed in any physical pursuit are usually of good character and succeed in other areas of their lives.

Yes a great body is not the be all and end all of life but it’s a great thing to have and to pursue!

76 TJ November 6, 2008 at 6:10 am

Haaaaahahaahaaaaaaaaahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!! That’s funny. You mean we should want to look like John Wayne or James Dean? Ugh! Pathetic, and the only reason either one of those guys could “kick ass” is because they read the script. Neither one would have the stamina to last in a real knock down drag out…just look at the pics. You say get on a program like Cross fit, have you seen pics of the serious Crossfitters? Ripped man, ripped. It takes toughness to push through the pain required to gain strength and muscle,even “fuctional muscle” ( which is the best and most usefull kind) this article is to make those who don’t have the toughness for such activities feel better about themselves. “If it don’t hurt it don’t work”. Oh, and you don’t have to “organize your life” around fitness to get a good body,or gain lots of strength, it takes 30 super intense minutes a day… hardly obsesive. This sight has some good stuff, but sometimes wants to “go back to the good ‘ol days” because they guys writing can’t keep up with the times. So take off your sissy bow tie, drop the freakin top hat, and hit the gym, the ladies will be grateful…Pilgrim!

77 Wazzup December 8, 2008 at 3:59 am

Girls don’t necessarily go for 6-packs abs, but they don’t go all too often for fat blobs either…

Apart from that, getting, or having 6 pack abs is such a great motivation which gives an incredible feeling good about yourself and THAT shows even WITH your clothes on. That confidence is what will attract girls… so build your personality one way or the other (and yes, six packs CAN help with that, but are not the end all)

78 AlanP December 17, 2008 at 5:45 pm

girls want humor, intimacy, security, freedom, attention, care probably more and this society gets more complex the list will go longer. In some asian countries like South Korea. Girls don’t get chance to take their pick for their husband, parents of two parties would formally meet up in a classy place. Yea. That’s the arranged blind-dating. It’s not of my business to judge, I certainly and thankfully don’t/won’t need to go through that kind of process.

It really doesn’t matter whether you are a bag of bones or a young Arnold especially in asia. Girls just don’t care about the physique much. They care more about your facial features more than anything in terms of appearance. I was a bag of bones, I’d been training my body to get to a normal non-thin physique. It’s a long process since my body isn’t made for a magazine cover. I did look up to a lot of movie/tv stars try to get to the shape i want. I’m still trying, it’s possible to attain that kind of body, with enough rest and healthy diet. Put your imagination into action. Don’t be so obsessed with the results after each workout session. And heck, stay healthy don’t use drugs to help you. Girls want health guys not drug addicts. :)

79 dtz January 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Well its obvious that many guys are pissed by this article as they feel talked down to, assuming the autor is looking for ways to avoid exercising and eating right.

I guess the author left too much room for interpretation, as he was rather condemning obsessive, narcisstic behaviour regarding our physique than the persuit of fitness.

However we can see in the comments sparked by the article, what an emotional and important looks looks are for us men.
Having been fat, not too long ago, in high school and fully admiring my new body in the mirror I can see both sides.

The Key to Happiness, as with most in life, lies in the Balance between excessive exercise and lazy couch potato.

80 me myself and i January 25, 2009 at 1:23 pm

i think matthew has the most cutest almost outie belly button i have ever seen on a man every time i see it i want to see it more and more and the most handsome so called wash board abs on him the gorgeous pearly white smile the biggest bluest eyes the sexy shiny blond hair and the tallest boy in the world he is the most sexiest man next to matthew damon to bad matthew cant gain the weight and keep it on instead of losing it right away they both would look good with weight on them

81 Sully225 February 17, 2009 at 10:18 am

Well, I was running for a cross country team, then I noticed that I was starting to get a six pack (I ran and did push ups + sit ups to achieve this). And now my main goal of working out is to get in shape for sports. I run cross country so you could say I am skinny as hell, so lifting is just to stay at a normal weight and stay in shape.

82 Martin February 21, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Anyone else think Rob, Elaine and JustAman and some others have the SAME style of writing and putting things, two of them on the same day with little time gaps between their posts.

Looks like some troll who is sore about the facts that the article talks about, must be an avid bodybuilder, an obsessed one. Or maybe they are in it for the chicks and they dont like it being pointed out??

As for people talking about psychology, elaine-rob-anonymous whatever blurb your real name is,

Two things:

1) If you don’t know psychology, its safer to keep it zipped.
2) I am a psychology minor in Health Sciences: so news for you, its human psychology to defend something when you know you are proven wrong and you realize you have been doing exactly that. Like you all have obviously.

Hows that for taste? You see this works both ways, so dont try that little trick again. Its old plus uninformed.

And to all those who have in here spouted complete and utter nonsense about “anyone being able to get a 6 pack”, stop disinformation and stop acting like you practice medicine. You are all just proving the author’s point that muscle men are dumb.

Of course they are not dumb but your collective nonsense (or one person depending on how many names he is posting under in here) is making the author’s case.

So coming back to genetics, the reason why genetics plays into all this is because some people do not have digestive systems that can absorb enough proteins to build extra muscle than what their natural body functions permits. Futhermore, many have cases of excessive metabolic activity compounding the lack of extra proteins and carbohydrates needed for body building. But that doesn’t mean they are not fit or stronger. They just don’t have the body make up for building on extra muscle like some others can. But without bodybuilding as their main agenda, they are perfectly fit and healthy individuals but when they try results never come. This is a biological condition, trying to sound smart with deductive reasoning without any pedigree in medicine is foolish.

And the assumption that everyone can simply burn off fat and build the abdomen muscles can gain 6 packs is as rubbish as suggesting just about anyone can become smart with an Intellect that rivals or matches some of the greatest scientific minds the world has ever known.

It seems like the people who are sore about the article are really ignorant hot heads who just don’t seem to apply some common sense before they assume their own personal fancy versions of fictional biology and other hilarious concoctions about ‘all people getting 6 packs’

Did you know some people have other reasons for which no matter how much work outs they do they cant burn off all their body fat without getting critically ill? Not only that there are conditions where people tend to break down muscle glycogen and burn less fat when they work out. A serious problem for such individuals, but if they do not pursue these heavy activities they are just fine.

To chirs, karmazon and all others who have come up with their own laughable ‘theories’ as to how ‘all people can get 6 packs’. try going to university and get a PhD in medicine, Because what you are suggesting is challenging established facts and knowledge carried out researchers.

Or are you telling that you know more than them? Dont try, it only makes one look even more stupid.

So what say you all? Hmm? Care to try doing a PhD on a new discovery? Entitled “All humans can get 6 packs regardless of their genetic and other biological factors” This could be the discovery of the century.

Whats pathetic is that behind the computer anyone can come online and type away a lot of nonsense and pass it off as “oh i know it possible by so and so method you can attain abs”. Well guess what when people from the academia and from the field with experience and knowledge come along these liars are caught and exposed.

Remember this, dont chew off too much than what you can handle, and its always a bad idea to act as if you know the subject because sooner or later someone is going to expose your disinformation charade.

Its not for you people to form opinions that everyone can attain 6 packs, this is a medical fact that not everyone can. If you want to challenge this go to university. If you cant, keep a lid on it and accept the fact that most of you are indeed doing it for the chicks or whatever trivial desires. Its no wonder why there is such a stern and almost belligerent reaction to the article ;)

Its pretty easy to see where these people are coming from

University of Texas, El Paso.

83 kevin March 11, 2009 at 10:26 am

Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym… which defeats the entire argument of this bogus article. anyone who really knows anything about working out and nutrition would agree. if you don’t agree then you don’t know what you’re talking about. ARTICLE FAIL.

84 Dr. Sanity March 12, 2009 at 7:35 am


You certainly try to make yourself sound like the expert. Notable considering you are still pursuing your UNDERGRAD degree ( an uncompleted undergrad degree with, OOOH, a MINOR in Psych). How about you, yourself get PhD in medicine (i.e. a doctor) before you keep on blabbering. You aren’t exactly one to talk like the expert you try to come off as.

Considering your credentials and my apparent absence of education and life experience, I humbly submit to your argument. You are correct and the bottom line is that 95% of us will never have ripped abs, will never be able to change our physique, and are slaves to our genetics and metabolism. There is minimal hope for 95% of non-sick or injured adults to ever attain a fit physique whether it be lean and fit or bodybuilder huge. There is simply no point in even trying. Don’t. You most likely all have the ‘fat gene’ and will never overcome it. AND, should you actually succeed in your fitness goals, you will be labeled as an asshole for telling other people they can actually do it too ( clearly a massive lie). So for you, 95% of the non- sick, uninjured masses I decry: GIVE UP!– I mean, EVERYONE KNOWS that :

“no matter how much work outs they do they cant burn off all their body fat without getting critically ill. Not only that there are conditions where people tend to break down muscle glycogen and burn less fat when they work out. A serious problem for such individuals, but if they do not pursue these heavy activities they are just fine.”

The above statement, it must be noted, is directed at the afforementioned 95% of non- sick, uninjured individuals. There is only a miniscule 5% of people that actually show a dramatic benefit from exercise. Hell, I even learned that during my undergrad at a university in Texas. I reiterate, GIVE UP! There are simply too many reasons and excuses to not even try. Way to go Martin! You hit the nail on the head. You are better off not even trying since only 5% will respond to a fitness regimen.


quote of the day: “Remember this, dont chew off too much than what you can handle, and its always a bad idea to act as if you know the subject because sooner or later someone is going to expose your disinformation charade.”

— a round of applause for our undergrad at the fine institution of the University of Texas.

my personal quote: ” you can put a man through school but you cant make him think”


But, then again, what do I know? I only have a “Phd in Medicine” from the University of Colorado. I really wish I would have found more excuses to give up sooner. All that work…….UGH.

85 ChrisC March 22, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Wow. I wouldn’t have thought people were still commenting on this article. I just came across it after googling “Matthew McConaughey” (try typing that three times fast) and seeing the author call him a pretty boy. Hmm. Men will laugh when their wives or girlfriends express dislike for another woman simply because she’s attractive, but when a man sees another man who’s considered attractive, he’s a “pretty boy” and they don’t see how it’s the same thing. I bet there were some in Dean’s day who considered him a “pretty boy”. Good-looking and not much of an actor. I’ve seen Rebel Without a Cause. I was not impressed. Don’t get me started on John Wayne.

The comparison of James Dean and MM up there is unfair. Dean’s sitting down and slouching and McConaughey is posing for maximum effect. I can’t see what Dean’s physique looks like in that picture. HIs pecs look somewhat developed there, though. Hard to tell.

In any case, I’ve seen UFC types that I thought were attractive, actors I’ve thought were attractive, pro wrestlers that I thought were attractive (usually the ones who are obviously not using steroids) and everyday joes who I thought were attractive. And, horrors, I do like to see some muscle, though not muscle-bound. The first time I saw Johnny Depp without a shirt it was a turn-off. Jack Sparrow’s kind of hot. Johnny Depp, not so much. But that’s just a physical thing. I don’t know him personally.

I do like Matthew McConaughey’s physique. I love his voice. It’s his hair I can’t stand.

86 Sean March 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I used the Abs IQ six pack abs program by Bogumil Gizewski and found it to be very easy to follow and very effective. In Abs IQ Mr Gizewski teaches you have to work smarter not harder to get nice abs.

87 orlando March 29, 2009 at 11:32 am

the stupidest article i have ever read
that man with big biceps is the one that should be pitting you for eating that crap
whats the point of exercising if u are going to eat crap all day

88 Jerrick March 29, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Man, the comments on this post are so moronic that they unfortunately add weight to the stereotype of the dumb meathead. They apparently need to be spending less time at the gym and more time reading books. All this dude is saying is that making six pack abs your goal is not a good goal. And really, it’s not. An above commenter mentioned that no one yet had answered the question of why-why make six pack abs a goal. It’s not related to your fitness or health level, so why? I work out 6 times a week for an hour and I don’t have six pack abs. I’m just an average looking bloke and I’ve had no problem with the ladies.

Came across this article today-it basically says the same thing-the obsession with six pack abs is just a recent cultural thing-

89 T April 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I so agree. Guys who are not athletic but having huge muscles are disgusting. muscles are useless meat if you don’t have places to use them (e.g. in sports). Girls are looking for athletic guys, not gym nerds. If you’re not athletic, then stop trying to get buffed just to impress people. it’s not impressive at all!!

90 Johan June 7, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Why did you make this website so difficult to scroll through. Urgh.

91 Bert July 23, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Alessandro…but Rambo was a Green Beret. Kinda like the Army version of the SEALS.

92 RuppaRuppa September 15, 2009 at 9:32 pm

This is actually sad to read, the idea is not to get ripped, getting ripped comes with the loving ability of exercise. I play hockey, I am in the type of shape that those guys at the top are in, I like to eat healthy because it makes me feel great, not because I am giving up my six dollar burger at Carl’s, If I want to go have one I’ll go get one, the point is I don’t want one. Sounds to me like you have no willpower at all my friend, and the girls do like a six pack, it’s true, it’s true.

93 Ryan September 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I did not read a single word of this article beyond the title and I won’t.
I agree that there is much more to life than 6pack abs. I have a strong inclination that this article is making that statement in attempt to comfort the men who don’t have great genetics in regards to body fat storage or simply choose not to dedicate themselves to strict diets, can’t commit to aggressive workout routines, have a problem only sleeping with hot women, and want to be one of those guys who wears a tshirt at beach.
Don’t have it, don’t fret, life isn’t over. But that doesn’t mean you should try and put the washboarded population in a class that would make them seem like they don’t have their priorities in line.

94 JP December 6, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Very interesting article and reactions

95 Justin December 17, 2009 at 8:46 pm

The fact of the matter is…you don’t need to spend a crazy amount of time in the gym or obsess to have 6-pack or even 8-pack abs. I love to work out and find going to the gym pleasurable. However with working full time in an office all day and going to school at night working on my masters… there is no time for the gym. I packed on about 15 pounds in the mid section (Beer) when I fell out of my routine. However, I have been doing core strengthening exercises at home 20 minutes a day as well as 20 minutes of cardio first thing in the morning and I am more ripped and in better shape then when I went to the gym and worked out 1-2 hours a day! The fact is…to get the body you want, you don’t have to be a gym-fly, just eat right and use muscle targeting exercises. As always…if everyone in the world isn’t doing 20 minutes of cardio a day….they are just lazy! It helps promote health and vitality in many ways! People in America always want something, but are very rarely willing to do the work it takes to get it. I take pride in my body…because i eat right and work to keep it healthy and in shape, even with my crazy schedule. People here want to eat double cheese burgers all week and then buy a quick fix diet supplement and get pissed when it doesn’t work. And BTW Ryan :) I agree!

96 Workout Routine December 29, 2009 at 5:28 am

I so concord. Guys who are not active but having vast muscles are loathly. muscles are junked meat if you don’t hump places to use them (e.g. in sports). Girls are hunting for athletic guys, not gym nerds. If you’re not gymnastic, then terminate disagreeable to get buffed honourable to seizure grouping. it’s not majestic at all!!

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