Can I be real for a second?
Let’s cut the nonsense. We all know why most of us are working out. The primary reason I/we/most anyone works out is because they want to look better. Forget all that scientific-y stuff for just a second. Have you actually ever met anyone who told you they were working out so they could have a better VO2 max? Endurance athletes not withstanding, I’m willing to bet you’ve yet to meet a person that made this their primary goal. For the average person, i.e. not a competitive athlete, the primary goal is usually to improve one’s appearance. Sure, the health benefits are amazing and they surely play a part in a desire to get fit, but most of us have a streak of vanity that must be fed like the savage beast that it is.
Some people will complain too much emphasis these days is placed on wanting to look good. Personally, I don’t think it matters. Fitness is going through something of a renaissance at the moment – more people are exercising, trying new things, and improving themselves. Who cares if vanity is the driving factor? The bottom line remains, more and more people are out there trying their damnedest to transform their body and health – the motivating factor is irrelevant.
But the fact remains, as human beings, we want to look better; more desirable; more attractive to the opposite sex..or the same sex, not that there’s anything wrong with that (who can pass up a classic Seinfeld reference?).
Since we’ve accepted the fact we’re working out to look better, wouldn’t it make sense to figure out what “better” means? And secondly, wouldn’t it make sense to figure out how we’re going to workout to achieve “better”? With that in mind, we delve into today’s post and take a look at something called the Golden Ratio and how it relates to your appearance.
The Scientists Speak…
So I lied before. Let’s not completely forget all that scientific-y stuff just yet. The damn scientists are back at it, and this time, they’ve developed something called the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio, in mathematical terms, is the comparison between two aspects and the most “ideal” proportion between them. In an ideal world where we all end up looking like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, this proportion ends up being 1:1.618. Rather than go into a lengthy discussion about the Golden Ratio and how it’s found (or closely found) all across your body, I’m going to leave it at this: studies show people find faces/bodies with more symmetry and proportions closest to 1:1.618 the most attractive.
If you want a full run down on the Golden Ratio, wikipedia will gladly assist.
Certainly, there are aspects of ourselves we cannot change. The proportion of our eyes, lips, etc. are things we’re stuck with. Today, we’re talking about what we can change, and what has come to be defined as “the look”. This “look” we’re talking about is relating the width of your shoulders to that of your waist. Doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman – those people with a shoulder to waist ratio closest to 1.618 are deemed to look the most fit and attractive.
Not Just Vanity
That tapered “V” look is what many define as fit and healthy. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that those individuals with this “V” shape are often as healthy as they are aesthetically pleasing. Achieving a solid, muscular upper body, with a slender waist IS what you should all be shooting for. Maintaining lean muscle mass will drive your metabolism and keep you lean and feeling great. A slender waist is not only visually pleasing, but it’s a great indicator of overall health.
A very wise man, and roundly considered “The godfather of fitness”, Jack LaLanne once said:
Scales lie! You lose thirty pounds of muscle and you gain thirty pounds of fat and you weigh the same, right? Take that tape measure out. That won’t lie. Your waistline is your lifeline. It should be the same as it was when you were a young person.
Soak that in for a minute. Your waistline is your lifeline. A slim waistline is lacking in fat - both the kind that sits just below the skin, and the more damaging variety; visceral fat, the kind that coats your internal organs. Maintaining a flat tummy is more than just about vanity – it’s about achieving the epitome of good health.
Achieving “The Look”
For our purposes, we’ve defined “better” to mean getting closer to the Golden Ratio proportion of 1:1.618 between our shoulders and waistline. Now, how do we actually get “better”? Well, it’s going to take one thing right away – determination. Changing your body (and health) is easy in theory, but difficult in practice. Staying consistent, making the right dietary choices, and knowing when it’s time to push yourself harder is what stands between you and your dream body. It’s hard to impart determination with a simple blog post, so I’m going to give you what I can for the time being – three workouts that will inch you closer to that Golden Ratio.
The following workouts are focused on two main elements:
- Lowering body fat
- Building AND preserving lean muscle mass
Notice I said building AND preserving lean muscle mass? For those of you not reading between the lines, what I’m saying is this – we’re not going to put you on an endless cardio program that has you wasting away like a popsicle in summer. Like Jack LaLanne said; “You lose thirty pounds of muscle and you gain thirty pounds of fat and you weigh the same, right?” This isn’t about endlessly burning as many calories as possible – it’s about maximizing your lean muscle mass, reducing your body fat percentage, and slowly changing the composition of your body.
We accomplish this by performing short, intense cardio sessions, often with the simultaneous component of resistance training. This type of training, often referred to as metabolic conditioning, is a fantastic way to increase your fat burning potential, while ensuring your muscles are being adequately stimulated. Combine this with a well-designed power lifting workout or two a week, maybe a little HIIT training, and you’re well on your way to that Golden Ratio.
Getting that Golden Ratio body starts right here – check out these workouts that will help slim you down, tone you up, and get you into the best shape of your life.
- The MetCon Challenge – 2x per week
- The HIIT Workout Series – 1-2x per week – pick a day or two that looks most interesting to you.
- The Speed/Power Workout – 2x per week – use days 1 and 4.
This combination should lead to steady, lean muscular gains, and a healthy reduction of body fat. By combining this program with a healthy diet, you’ll put yourself on a fast track to an amazing body, inside and out.