Why did you begin working out? Was it to improve at a certain sport or was it to lose a few pounds? Whatever the reason, once we begin training on a regular and consistent basis, it never fails that we look for a scale of our progress. Whether that comes in the form of numbers, such as body fat percentage, or weight, or whether it comes in the form of outward appearance, we want to gauge our progress. When we search for this scale, especially those that weight train, we usually search for someone with a quality physique. We look at them, examine them from afar, and ask the all-important question: "Why do they look good?"
As we go through life and train our own bodies, it is only natural that over time, we begin to compare ourselves to others and those around us. For some this can be an unhealthy sign of insecurities or self-defeatism, but for others, looking at a desirable physique can lend credibility and motivation to your goal, and help spur us on to greater heights.
What constitutes the perfect physique? Do we even know? Aside from personal preferences that are inborn, there are traits that seem to follow from person to person that dictate what is beautiful, at least from a bodybuilding perspective. These can be broken down as follows:
Muscular Development: If you work out with weights, your goal then is for greater muscular development. Therefore, when you are looking for model physiques, the first attribute that you look for is exactly what you are trying to get, muscles.
Definition: Next in line, and these are in no particular order, is definition. For some it is more difficult to achieve this than others, but no one can argue that a well defined physique is pleasant to look at.
Symmetry: Again, many of these are personal, but most people would not believe someone with huge calves, and skinny legs would "look right". This is called symmetry. When all things blend in together, and when the upper and lower part of a person's body just seem to "match" that is symmetry at work.
Function: We all admire someone that can sprint the 100 meters in less than 10 seconds, or a basketball player that can dunk the ball, especially when we cannot! Whatever they look like, we can appreciate their function, and thus this leads to a certain appreciation for them as athletes, and puts their physique and training habits into the spotlight.
Poise: When someone exudes self-confidence, you can literally see it through their skin in the way that they walk and act. Someone that has an incredible physique, but a weak mind lacking self-confidence is not as attractive, and less motivational to us. When Arnold Schwartzenneggar was in his bodybuilding prime, he won many of his shows not only with his physique but also with his attitude and will. Arnold once told a bodybuilder that asked him why he couldn't win several events that he had entered (even though he felt that his physique was just as good if not better than any one elses): "If I had your physique, I would have won." That says it all.
So, again, aside from our personal preferences, these are the main aspects of what is universally considered to be a good physique.
How Do I Get The Perfect Physique?
The basic point of this whole article is to get one simple point across. When you look at another person of the same sex for guidance as to whether you are on the right track or not, have you ever noticed that the people with the best of the best physiques are usually older than 30? It never fails that whenever I ask one of my clients what they are looking for they point to another trainer in our club and say: "I want to look like her." All the while, the person that they are pointing at is 42 years of age! Same with the guys. The physiques that I most admire are always of the older men, past 35 years of age. I say to myself: "I will be more than happy to look that way when I am that age." Not because they look good for their age, but because they look good period! Generally speaking, in a society that is obsessed with youth, staying young, and fears old age, why do we find people that are nearing middle age have the best bodies around?
That is the key issue of this article. How do we get our bodies to look like those on the cover of Men's Health, or Oxygen? Simple. Time!
I have been frustrated many a time with both clients and myself when we complain about lack of progress and how the change in our bodies is too slow. Remember, when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, that it has taken you your whole life to look the way that you do right then and there, standing in front of that mirror. To think that you can change that body in a few weeks, or months dramatically is ludicrous! Granted, genetics differ from person to person, and some people can sustain great change in a few months, but for most people this is not a realistic goal.
That is the biggest problem that I have with the Body for Life Challenge, The South Beach Diet, Atkins, and other programs/diets and contests like them. Most people will NOT see those kinds of changes in 12 short weeks. It takes years and countless workouts to chisel a physique that you can be proud of, and although you will see changes immediately when you begin working out, to radically change the way you look will take much longer. The key here is consistency. That same 42 year-old trainer at my gym has been training hard and consistently for 20+ years. That guy at the gym with the huge chest, and ripped physique? He's only 34. That aerobics instructor that teaches that night class at your gym? She just turned 30. Do you see what I mean?
Yes, you can effect change in a short time of working out. Yes, you will change the way that you look almost the second that you pick up weights. Yes you will feel better, sleep better, gain more self-esteem and confidence, gain muscle and lose fat when you work out, but to achieve the physique that you have always wanted will take time, and patience. Just think of how often you reached a certain goal and said: "That's great, but now I want to gain 5 more pounds of muscle!" or "I want to get even leaner." It never stops. We always want more, and this is a healthy thing as long as we take a moment to recognize the distance that we have already traveled.
What we determine to be a perfect physique is one of the most subjective things that one could ever decide. But one thing lays common among any discussion about the subject: The best physiques on earth usually belong to people that have been training hard for years and years. This should not be used to discourage you, but rather to help motivate you towards a life of fitness, health, and the sense of accomplishing the very thing that started your training in motion:The Perfect Physique.