Study on what women prefer in mens’ body

Remember all those contrast pictures where women “preferred” some weaker looking male celebrity over a more ripped one? Remember that “trend” of women loving dad bods?

Yeah, that ain’t true.

Dr Aaron Sell from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice said cues of upper body strength make a man attractive, including having wider shoulders, being physically fit and having greater handgrip strength.

“Evolutionary psychologists have shown that women’s mate choices use many cues of men’s genetic quality and ability to invest resources in the woman and her offspring,” he said.

“Among our ancestors, one variable that predicted both a man’s genetic quality and his ability to invest was the man’s formidability. Therefore, modern women should still have mate choice mechanisms that respond to cues of a man’s fighting ability.

“One crucial component of a man’s ability to fight was his upper body strength.”

In the study, the researchers tested how important physical strength is to men’s bodily attractiveness by showing women pictures of men’s bodies and asking they how attractive they were.

The results showed that it was possible to almost perfectly predict how attractive a man’s body is from three things: how physically strong he looks, how tall he is, and how lean he is. The effect of strength was so large that none of the 150 women in the study preferred weak men. Furthermore, looking strong was much more important for man’s attractiveness than being tall or lean.

“The rated strength of a male body accounts for a full 70 percent of the variance in attractiveness,” Dr Sell said.

“The effect of height and weight on attractiveness may indicate that women are responding to cues of health or to the benefits that height and lean bodies have in protracted aggression, hunting and other aspects of fighting ability.”

Dr Sell said while the women in their study preferred the strongest bodies, there was a sizeable dataset across many cultures that showed women did not always prefer the strongest looking faces.

To summarize, 70% of the variations in attractiveness are how:

  • How physically strong his body looks (most important)
  • How tall he is
  • How lean he is
  • NONE of the 150 women preferred weak looking men.

The bros were right.

Since you can’t change your height, look strong and be strong by getting big muscles and getting lean.

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17 Responses to Study on what women prefer in mens’ body

  1. All Hail the V-Taper!

    Not that this hasn’t always been true, but, hey, Science! now.

  2. Zhuo says:

    For me, it is therefore important to look muscular, which I have been working on with the StrongLifts 5×5 program. I’m pretty short, only 5’8″. Sucks being Asian.

    But, hearing about this is good news. (Believe me, if I could, I would get a taller body).

  3. Vasilli says:

    Hmm… Nice to have research and science confirm what we already knew. And ladies, we lookin’ for big tits and nice wide childbearing hips, not too Rubinesque though…

  4. earlthomas786 says:

    File this under….duh.

    I was blessed with being tall, but I wasn’t blessed with muscles. I had to work for those.

  5. donalgraeme says:

    There is a reason there is an A in the LAMPS/PSALM attributes….

  6. Lost Patrol says:

    “Since you can’t change your height…”

    But you can stand up straight. Good posture used to be a thing but you don’t hear much about it anymore. Look around you at all the men that have adopted a slight hunch, or rolled aspect to their shoulders, with just a little bit of head down.

    How a man carries himself plays into how physically strong his body looks. The man that stands straight up is giving off a confidence vibe even if he doesn’t have the height.

    Yul Brynner listed at 5′ 8″.

  7. Back Planks. Can be hard to setup to do them, but a really potent back strengthening exercise. You’ll suddenly feel a lot taller afterwards.

  8. earlthomas786 says:

    Look around you at all the men that have adopted a slight hunch, or rolled aspect to their shoulders, with just a little bit of head down.

    @ 45 seconds…

    When I go to the chiro for an adustment that machine does a lot to keep my neck posture in the right spot. Ever since they’ve used that machine my tendency to look down and hunch my posture has gone way down.

  9. @ Lost Patrol

    True. Good posture is definitely a big one to work on for most men.

    Stand tall and proud.

    Makes a huge difference.

  10. Sapphire Morningstar says:

    something similar like this pop up on my facebook wall from a friend. it was men photographed being soft and that we as society especially women should be okay with men being softer .

  11. anonymous_ng says:

    It took me years, and I’m still not 100% where I want to be with my posture, I got started with a five part series of articles by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson on titled Neanderthal No More.

    The crazy thing is that when I first started standing up straight, it seemed like everyone was staring at me. That was my perception anyway. Since I’d also just read about the David Shade experiment in eye contact, I realized that I’d spent a lot of my formative years looking down in submission to my overbearing father. That’s when things really got strange. Learning to make appropriate eye contact involves quite a few staring contests including with attractive women, but both efforts were well worth it.

  12. Lost Patrol says:


    That’s a good testimony.

    I think your perception would be widely shared by everyone that decides one day to stand up straight. In fact it may be more observation of a reality than individual perception. People are looking at us when we do this.

    A man standing like that, not at attention but relaxed, is an unusual sight these days I do believe. It attracts the eye because the norm is the looking down, slightly hunched posture of the permanently fatigued. It’s no substitute for being born a tall man, but that and the eye contact do convey a masculine life force, and it works just you’ve described.

  13. anonymous_ng says:

    @Lost Patrol, I would agree with you that the norm is quite different. I wonder sometimes if the norm isn’t just the recognition that most people aren’t free because they are beholden to their debts, to their spending, to their employer to support both, to their place in the nursery school that is modern life, beholden to the understanding that freedom includes the possibility of failure.

    I’m already taller than average(189cm), and was working in an office at the time, so it was extra noticable when passing through the crowds waiting to board the elevators.

    Here’s another thing that goes along with it, how you move in public places. Millions of words have been written about walking purposefully etc, but it seems to me that purposeful movement can also be a cover for scurrying to and fro uncomfortably aware that one is present only at the forebearance of the owners.

    For a time, I consciously slowed down my walking pace without slumping forward etc. There is a difference between shuffling around weighed down by the stress, and cares of life, and strolling through the world head held erect, making eye contact with all you encounter.

    The second produces a vibe more akin to “Look at me! Master of all I survey.” It was and still is a difficult thing for me to do as it requires a strong sense of identity, of self to stand against the subtle message coming from everyone else saying “Bow your head like the rest of us.”

    At least that’s what I remember. I think I need to practice that again.

  14. elspeth says:

    Re: walking

    My husband never looks like he is in a hurry. Ever. Drives me nuts sometimes. I have to consciously slow down (chill out) in order to walk next to him.

    Only in recent years have I bothered to contrast it with the scurriers. He really is much more relaxed and confident.

    I still would rather shop without him more often than not so I can scurry on and get finished.

  15. Lost Patrol says:


    Man, you ARE tall. I’m 178cm and have no choice but to look up at a man of your height. I’ve noticed some taller men will bend down a bit just being polite, so they don’t seem to intimidate whoever they’re talking with, but yeah, a tall man confidently moving along and standing straight definitely makes an impression.

    @ng and elspeth

    There is a difference between shuffling around weighed down by the stress, and cares of life, and strolling through the world head held erect, making eye contact with all you encounter.

    No question about that –

  16. Standing properly also puts 1-2 inches (~4 cm) on height on an average Man, shifts the shoulders into a level position and accentuates the back muscles.

    There’s a few things going on. The main one is that it’s a proxy for strength. It takes both muscular strength and energy to stand & walk like that. Those are instinctual understandings of posture, but it works very well.

    The other thing it’s a large sign of us mental confidence, as you aren’t the peg that’s been hammered down. Large amount of signaling involved there.

  17. Sigma Frame says:

    I read somewhere that females only preferred the dad bod for a committed relationship. It came out that the motivation for females to prefer the dad bod in a committed relationship is that women believe there is less chance of him cheating. So in essence, your claim that ‘women loving dad bods’ is untrue, is about right. If a committed man was ripped, that would pressure her to either tone up to match his SMV, or face the shame of appearing inferior to him and the risk of him having an affair.

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