No matter how technologically advanced we get as a species, much of human behavior is driven by primitive, animal-like survival and procreation urges – mostly subconscious.
This especially appears to be the case with mate selection – who you’re attracted to, and who you’d like make babies with. Luckily, that puts the odds in your favor if you’re a male weight lifter.
Survive, Mate, Protect
According to many women, they want a soft, sensitive man whose main desire in life is to raise kids and cuddle. In other words, these women say they want to marry a man with feminine qualities. But according to their biology, they’re lying. Or at least not fully of aware of their mate selection software.
Science tells us that humans have evolved mechanisms to ensure that we pass on the best genetics to our offspring. Female mammals, for example, instinctively look for strong protectors with outward signs of good health.
Think of it as a biological blueprint for man-choosing: Females look for a male with healthy genetics coupled with the ability to protect and provide for the kiddos that will inherit some of those robust genes.
Not exactly feminist-friendly ideology, but science backs it up. In fact, a newer study looked specifically at male upper-body size and what that buffness signals to women.
The researchers knew from previous studies that men’s bodies “scale to energetic demands” thus enabling men with greater disease resistance to grow bigger, fitter bodies.
Women find these stronger, physically fit men more attractive. Why exactly? Because a frail male body might be an indication of disease or faulty genes… and that could result in sickly babies and the inability to protect and provide. Scientifically speaking, weakness just doesn’t moisten the undergarments of most females.
So the researchers knew that women would be drawn to fit men with outward signs of “formidability” or fighting ability. But just how much does physical strength correlate with attractiveness? And what if we took facial attractiveness out of the equation?
To dig deeper into this, the researchers gathered up a bunch of photos of shirtless college guys with their faces obscured. All the men in the photos had all undergone strength tests. College girls were then asked to estimate the men’s physical strength and their physical attractiveness. Basically, hot or not?
Stronger men were rated as more attractive. “Strength increases attractiveness in a linear fashion,” researchers concluded. In fact, not a single woman in the study chose the less-muscled physiques.
Based on the men’s photos, the women were able to accurately predict strength, too. If the dudes in the photos looked strong, they were strong, as least compared to the scrawny guys.
Not surprisingly, fat bodies were rated as unattractive. The researchers wrote: “Women’s mate choice mechanisms respond to muscle mass positively but large stores of body fat negatively.”
Height mattered, and of course tall guys were generally considered more attractive, but ratings of strength were MORE predictable of attractiveness. Researchers also theorized that, generally, tall guys are perceived as stronger and healthier (even if they aren’t).
So, a taller strong guy is even more attractive (about 10% “hotter”), but the fat guy gets a penalty. Humans instinctively know that obesity is unhealthy, so they generally aren’t attracted to it. So much for political correctness.
“The rated strength of a male body accounts for a full 70% of the variance in attractiveness,” the study said. That basically means that 70% of what makes a man initially desirable stems from his perceived strength and formidability.
What This Means to You
You may be thinking, “They needed a study to figure this out?” And you’d be right. But science likes to confirm things and put numbers on them. And that 70% number is pretty powerful.
Humans are driven to “pair bond” or find a mate. It’s primal. And while the female of the species has more to lose and is therefore more careful, males can sway the odds here. If you want to increase your general “attractability score” and have more mate options, then lift weights, stay as healthy as you can, and don’t get fat.
Think of this as getting a peek at the playbook of the other team. Her genetic playbook tells her to find a masculine, protective man who looks strong and healthy. That’s going to be her first choice at least.
And what if you’re, um, facially-challenged? Well, your unique mug doesn’t matter that much if your body looks strong. And you can control that part. Get strong and be lean enough to display those strong muscles.
But There’s More to Attraction, Right?
Yes, of course women want other qualities in their mates, like intelligence, a sense of humor, faithfulness, and not being a douche-nozzle.
But we’re talking about lust-at-first-sight attractiveness here. And you have to attract them before you can wow them with your wit and impress them with your values. Lifting helps a lot.
- Sell A, Lukazsweski AW, Townsley M. 2017 Cues of upper body strength account for most of the variance in men’s bodily attractiveness. Proc. R. Soc. B 284: 20171819.