When I played football in high school, I hated going to the dungeon that was our weight room. It was in the school’s basement, and smelled like a mix of metal, cheap deodorant spray, and body odor. The whiff of that interesting scent combination, and loud heavy metal music, greeted all visitors who dared enter.
But, I still ended up going there pretty regularly, taking my bench press from 170 as a freshman up to 235 as a senior.
I’ve continued to lift off-and-on ever since, but really have focused on adding lean muscle over the last few years.
I didn’t realize it in high school, but lifting had more benefits than just what I saw on the football field. Study after study has confirmed that being fit and muscular provides many social and romantic benefits, and the reasons relate to physical appearance and what it does to the hormones in our body. So, yes, being muscular and strong can make you more attractive.
A recent study has confirmed, once again, that women find strong men attractive. It should be commonsense, but I’ve found that in in this day and age where many people are in denial about the true nature of attraction, you can’t assume anything.
In the study, strength (upper body in this case) accounted for 70% of a man’s attractiveness to women, and while being lean and tall were also favored, strength was the most important factor by far.
The lead author of the study, Aaron Lukaszewski, was very clear how powerful the message of the study is:
There was no nuance to these results. Zero of the 160 women surveyed showed a statistical preference for weaker men.
In other words, women love strong men. Pretty much all of them. They don’t like men without muscle. They might settle for a man who doesn’t fit this mold. But, their true preference.–what they really want–is for strong guys.
This has been my experience. I was overweight at various points in my life, and during those times I struggled to get dates. But, getting thin didn’t necessarily improve matters either. However, when I got lean and muscular, women seemed to come my way.
At the beginning of one such thin period, a girl even told me that I looked good, but was a little thin for her. The funny thing is that I never thought of myself as “too thin,” especially since I struggled with being overweight a good part of my life. What she meant, I found out, was that I needed more muscle.
Now, obviously, this is just my personal anecdote, and the above study is just one piece of evidence. However, my experience and the study aren’t isolated cases.
A 2007 study found that one factor predicted a larger number of short-term sex partners, lifetime sex partners, and even more extramarital affairs. That factor? Being muscular. Another study found the same results: the amount of fat free muscle mass a man has is a great predictor of how many sexual partners he’s had.
Another clear predictor of how many sexual partners a man has had (as well as how early in life he had sex) related to strength and muscularity is his hand-grip strength.
Even researchers hostile to the idea of muscularity being attractive have found similar results. Feminist researchers seemed a little bothered by the results of their recent study of male photos taken by women on the app “Tubecrush.” The photos (usually taken and shared anonymously – so they represent women’s true preferences) showed a clear preference for strong men, as evidenced by the parts of the male bodies that women secretly photographed.
Now before you start to think you have to be a bulky bodybuilder (or think that women find that attractive), keep in mind that these studies are generally referring to lean muscularity being the most attractive, which is more attractive than getting as bulky as a bodybuilder. So, nobody is suggesting you have to start making room in your budget for spray tan and bikini bottoms.
Besides making you more attractive, being muscular and strong confers other romantic benefits. Lifting weights increases your testosterone, as does being fit (as opposed to being overweight, which saps a man’s testosterone). And, a man’s testosterone levels play a major role in his dating, relationship, and sexual success.
For example, women find men with higher levels of testosterone more attractive, and higher levels of the chemical are associated with more sexual partners. And, leaders have higher levels of testosterone. Being a leader is a type of power and status that women find highly attractive.
Men with higher levels of testosterone take more risks too (and assume a more positive outcome to these risks), including risks related to getting dates, relationships, and sex partners.
So, having a lean, muscular physique confers many benefits for guys. Women love guys with some muscle, who demonstrate strength and masculinity. It’s really basic evolution. Women look for guys who can provide for them, and protect them. Being muscular and strong is a quick “tell” that you have these traits, especially if a woman doesn’t know much about you.
So, guys, getting a gym/YMCA membership (and sticking with it) is one of the best investments you can make for your dating life.
And, don’t think you have to embrace “bro” culture, or hang out in a sweaty gym where your only options are to bench and squat. There are plenty of places that have easy-to-use machines that aren’t populated by guys with bandanas.
If you’d rather not even go out, you can purchase your own free weights, or just do some push-ups, sit-ups, dips, and chin-ups each day (start small and increase each day), and I promise you’ll see benefits.
If you want a good home based weight lifting plan, we love P90X. You only need your body and some free weights and you can do it in the comfort of your home.
Of course, some guys will read this and realize it’s time to start getting in shape, because research and commonsense make it very clear. Unfortunately, other guys will get defensive and make excuses. I can just hear them forming right now, because I’ve made them at different points in my life.
“I’m not turning into a ‘bro.'”
“Guys who lift are meatheads and douchebags.”
“I’m too smart and intellectual to spend my time lifting weights.”
“Women should like me for who I am!”
“Only shallow women want guys with muscle.”
But, everyone knows these are just excuses.
In answer to these, none of the evidence I’ve presented suggests you have to turn into a grunting dudebro, or as I mentioned above, even join a gym with them.
Social skills and personality play an important role in attraction as well, so you still have to focus on these. Plus, creating a (false) dichotomy between intelligence and being muscular shows a lack of intelligence. Intelligence dictates that physical fitness is very important not only to overall physical health, but also successful social interactions. So, if you’re smart, but dateless, you should want to follow the science and take steps to work on your physical fitness.
So, get out there and get muscular! Not only will you feel better, but it will help your chances with women.