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Articles > Other Resources > Symmetry Chart for Bodybuilding
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These days more and more people are taking up resistance training with barbells, dumbbells and pulley/weight-resistance machines. People who care about how they look and feel are using their leisure time to engage in vigorous weight-training exercise. The jogging boom of the '70s and '80s helped this phenomenon along, as millions of runners became bored with their skinny bodies and injuries and subsequently learned that there is more to total physical fitness than just running endurance. Many racquetball players, cyclists and swimmers have also added resistance training to their fitness routines, and former high school and college athletes now gravitate toward bodybuilding once they can no longer play at team sports.

Today there are millions of people (one estimate claims more than 3 million) working out in gyms and at home with weights. More than 95 percent of them will never enter a bodybuilding or weightlifting competition, and the majority will never even attend a bodybuilding show. Yet many of them train regularly and with enthusiasm, hate to miss a workout and really care about how they look.

These admirable men and women will never receive an audience’s applause or obtain a trophy for their physical development. Jobs, family lives, leisure activities or simply personal disinclination keep them from devoting the necessary extra time to competition preparation.

There are thousands of iron pumpers out there who fall somewhere between having a “very good build” and a competition-caliber physique. In the martial arts, as a practitioner attains higher and higher levels of proficiency, he is rewarded with a different color belt. The belt is both a reward for work accomplished and an insignia of rank. Why not some kind of reward for the noncompetitive bodybuilder based on nationally agreed-upon standards of physical development? The awards could be T-shirts, sweatshirts or jackets and could be sponsored by gym owners.

Even if this never happens, there is still a real need for a series of standards based on height, weight and body measurements. The idea is not original. David Willoughby, the well-known author of books and articles on strength, muscle and athletic ability, developed a standard for what he called anthropomorphic measurements that could be used as a basis for such a gauge.

After measuring and observing thousands of bodybuilders, weight-lifters, wrestlers and other strength athletes, Willoughby developed
two categories of standard measurements: “ideal” and “superman.” The ideal physique is well-built and slimmer than that of a competitive bodybuilder of national caliber and less perfect in symmetry. It is a level of muscular development to which most average men could aspire, a perfected “average” or “normal” level that a healthy male can expect to attain after a few years of regular training. Such development sets this man above the untrained beginner but below that of a national-level competitor.

Willoughby's superman category is just that, almost superhuman development. It is a level of muscularity possible for only a handful of extraordinary individuals in each generation. To give an idea of how super the development is, the average national-level competitor, who is about 5'10" and 205 to 210 pounds, would have to weigh a muscular 270 and have commensurate measurements and symmetry to be in the superman category. There are only a few rare individuals who have that kind of development.

This superman category is of no use to ordinary mortals. Our main concern would be the ideal level and perhaps a somewhat higher level in between the ideal and superman. For this purpose I have revised Willoughby's ideal standard and interpolated from it a "national champion" level. Here's how I came to my variations and interpolations:

Measurements of the ancient Greek statues of athletes reveal that the neck, upper arm and calf are usually all about the same size. This same standard, Willoughby discovered, holds true for well-developed modem athletes. Besides bodybuilders and weightlifters, Willoughby measured athletes in other rugged sports such as wrestling and boxing. He came up with a neck measurement that was an inch larger than that of the arm and calf.

Most bodybuilders who train the whole body equally, however, will develop their arms and calves a little larger than Willoughby's standard. On many bodybuilders the arms will be larger than the neck. Accordingly, I increased the arm and calf measurements by about half an inch.

My champion standard of measurements is based on the actual height and weight of the Mr. Americas from 1940 to 1970, the only available statistics like that that I know of, as they were published in Willoughby's great book The Super Athletes. That average was 5'10" (70 inches) and 200 pounds. In the past two decades the average weight of national champions has gone up about 10 pounds; however, as I believe that some, if not most, of this is due to steroid use, I chose to add just five pounds to that 200-pound standard.

The weight measurements are approximately one-third of the way between the ideal and superman categories. This does not mean that individuals who attain this muscular bodyweight could win a national contest. It only means that they possess the approximate bodyweight and measurements of a champion. To compete successfully, someone would have to have exceptional muscular definition, perfect skeletal and muscular lines, a highly aesthetic body configuration and a near-professional posing routine.

Symmetry Chart (Ideal and Champion)
Ht.
Cat.
Wt.
Neck
Arm
Fore.
Waist
Chest
Hip
Thigh
Calf
Bi-delt
62"
I
126
14.5
14.1
11.3
28.4
37.9
34.1
20.8
13.8
17.7
Ch
143
15.3
14.9
11.8
29.6
39.5
35.4
21.4
14.4
18.4
64"
I
138
150
14.5
11.7
29.3
39.1
35.2
21.1
14.4
18.4
Ch
157
15.9
15.5
12.3
30.5
40.7
36.5
22.0
14.8
18.9
66"
I
151
15.4
14.9
12.1
30.2
40.3
36.3
21.8
14.8
18.7
Ch
172
16.4
15.9
12.7
31.5
41.9
37.7
22.8
15.4
19.4
68"
I
165
15.9
15.4
12.5
31.1
41.5
37.4
22.3
15.3
19.2
Ch
188
17.0
16.5
13.1
32.4
43.2
38.8
23.5
15.8
19.9
70"
I
180
16.4
15.9
12.8
32.1
42.8
38.8
23.5
15.8
19.9
Ch
205
17.6
17.1
13.5
33.4
44.5
39.9
24.2
16.3
20.5
72"
I
196
16.8
16.4
13.2
33.0
44.0
39.6
23.7
16.1
20.3
Ch
223
18.1
17.6
13.9
34.4
45.7
41.1
24.8
16.8
21.0
74"
I
213
17.3
16.9
13.6
33.9
45.3
40.7
24.4
16.7
20.9
Ch
252
18.6
18.1
14.3
35.3
47.1
42.2
25.6
17.3
21.6
76"
I
231
17.8
16.7
13.9
34.8
46.5
41.8
25.1
17.1
21.5
Ch
261
19.2
18.6
14.6
36.3
48.3
43.3
26.3
17.8
22.3

In the chart the two levels, ideal and champion, are integrated. The first line at each height gives the ideal measurements, the second the champion. The height scale goes from 5'2" to 6'4" (62 to 76 inches) in two-inch increments. If your height is at an odd-numbered inch, just select the measurements that would be halfway between the lower and upper figures.

The measurements are given in 10ths of an inch. Regrettably, I use the quaint English system of pounds, inches and feet, which even the English do not use anymore. The International System of Measurements (metric) was supposed to be in use by 1985, as resolved by the United States Congress in 1975 when the legislators were warming up for the bicentennial celebration. It never happened.

Here is an example on how to use the chart. Take the height of 5'8" (68 inches). The ideal measurements follow in a horizontal line: weight, 165; neck, 15.9; arm, 15.4; forearm, 12.5, etc.

A word on how to measure:

• Measure the arms and legs tensed, or flexed.

• Measure at the largest girth, except on the thigh. The thigh should be measured midway between the outer hip bone and the knee. This takes in the hamstrings and the middle portion of the quadriceps.

• Measure the forearms with the fist bent in but the arm held straight.

• The hip should be measured at the largest circumference, which will be around the middle of the buttocks.

• Measure the chest standing straight but relaxed. Do not expand the ribcage or spread the lats.

• The bi-deltoid measurement will be the most difficult to make. The easiest method is to stand relaxed with your back touching a wall. Have someone place a ruler alongside your deltoid and mark a line on the wall with a pencil. Do the same with the other deltoid. Then measure between the two lines.

Use this chart as an aid in planning your training routines. After you have taken your measurements, you will have incontrovertible evidence of your weak parts. Measurements are not everything, however. How you look to others, particularly from the rear, which you cannot see in a mirror, is important. Qualities like thickness cannot be measured with a tape. They must be seen by the knowledgeable eye. Your strength level in each bodypart should give you some indication of the development as well. If you are weak on certain exercises, you are probably underdeveloped in the bodyparts that perform those movements.

Keep an eye on the three pillar indexes: neck, calf and upper arm. Even some of the champion bodybuilders are notoriously small in the neck. So if your neck is not up to your arm, start doing neck exercises, and if you belong to one of the rare gyms that have the wonderful Nautilus neck machine, use it. If your calves are under par, work on them. A half inch difference is all you should allow yourself between these three body-parts. If there is an inch difference, it's too much. Work on it.

A little exact science introduced into a sport or art always helps illuminate it and expand understanding. I hope that his symmetry measurement chart will create greater enthusiasm and will help you set physical goals for yourself.

 

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