Male Physical Attractiveness Part I or: You Shallow, Shallow Ladies

Note: this contains a review, click here if you’re looking for the official site of The Hollywood Physique.

Applied Evolutionary Psychology: Male Attractiveness

Over the course of running a few blogs, I’ve met some of the most interesting and fun people I know. When I started evolvify, I reached out to them for ideas for products that might be a good fit to advertise here. In general, the response was along the lines of “I have no idea what an evolutionary psychology blog would look like, and I’m not sure if I even know what evolutionary psychology is”. It seems that there’s not a huge market for “applied evolutionary theory” when spoken of in the abstract. Shocker, right? Yet two people mentioned some guy Clay who was working on some sort of bodybuilding or fitness program that had something or other to do with evolution so it might be a fit. Upon further inquiry, I discovered that this was a Clay that I’ve known for over a year. Note: Clay and Derek are both pictured (shirtless, ladies) in the product link later.

Anyway, shortly after hearing that Clay was working on “some evolution related thing”, I got an email from the man himself. It turned out he had been studying the evolutionary psychology relating to what makes men physically attractive to women for a couple years. And when I say studying, I don’t mean that he just read an article in Maxim. In fact, one of his college professors was none other than one of my Top 5 Favorite Evolutionary Psychologists, Martie Haselton…

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In addition to her work on attractiveness, Dr. Haselton is one of the developers of the infinitely insightful Error Management Theory which deals with the evolution of human cognitive biases and heuristics. But I digress…

Clay’s work was focused on a synthesis of the evolved physical cues women find attractive in men and the application of that to bodybuilding. Upon hearing this, I was immediately intrigued. In fact, when we compared notes, I already had three of the journal papers he was using for references in my personal library. So we were quite literally “on the same page” with all of this. A component of this that I’d totally missed was the tie-in to the male Hollywood actors that all men love to hate. You know, the Brad Pitt, Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig types with the abs and the shoulders and the swooning adoration of women they’ve never met. Yeah, those guys.

It turns out that those guys happen to develop their physiques to dimensions that match up perfectly to what evolutionary psychology predicts women will find attractive. It’s not clear that the trainers of the Hollywood physiques are consciously aware of the evolutionary relationship of their clients’ physiques and what women find attractive, but the correlation is uncanny and the results are undeniable. Clay developed a combination paleo friendly, whole foods, no supplement training program to build bodies that women find attractive according to Hollywood and the best data evolutionary science has to offer. But let’s take a step back and look at what women find attractive…

Keys to Male Physical Attractiveness

Fist things first: This is article not about “status”. Status is important and I’ll write about how women find it attractive in the future. For now, I’m focusing on physical attractiveness. This topic is particularly important to me for a few reasons.

  1. Men have body image issues too. In fact, fashion advertisers use photos of more muscular men in men’s magazines than in women’s magazines. Men tend to think women find bulkier men attractive than what women generally find attractive (Frederick et al. 2005)
  2. The generally douchebaggy pickup community is often superficially based on evolutionary psychology to a greater or lesser degree. In many instances, it’s actually based on sociobiology. Unfortunately, the roots of sociobiology are in entymology (the study of bugs) and don’t necessarily apply to humans. Further, much of the pickup stuff is based on models of alpha-male dominance found in other primate species that don’t look anything like the social dynamics of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Finally, I haven’t seen any pickup guru who didn’t say that “looks don’t matter. While it’s true that looks aren’t the only thing that matters, it is absolutely incorrect to say that “looks don’t matter”. To say as much demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of Darwinian evolution.
  3. Whether faked or real, status is a subjective social metric. By definition, it doesn’t exist without respect to other individuals.
  4. Status seeking is generally seen as negative and can be inferred whether said status cue is fake or real.
  5. Status is often disconnected from legitimate fitness cues in the modern world because of inheritances, luck (e.g. winning the lottery), et cetera.
  6. Physical attractiveness can be improved by simple means. As we’ll see later, this is even true of facial attractiveness.

Women Have Been More Superficial than Men Across Evolutionary Time

Despite the 20th century encroachment of men into superficiality, and the subsequent backlash by women at having their tactics aped, women have been judging men on the metrics of wealth and physical beauty for millions of years. This isn’t a judgment call, and there are no moral implications intended in that statement. It is a simple fact of evolutionary biology that the sex that invests most in reproduction is almost invariably the most selective about mating. In mammals, this is almost always females. In humans, the biological investment is drastic – 9 months (minimum) for women versus a few seconds for men. Thus, we would expect women to be more leery about mating with men of low mate value.

With status in our out of the question, women use superficial cues to determine the genetic quality of potential mates.

Let’s be clear; this is not necessarily a conscious calculation. Emotions are evolved motivational heuristics that preclude the need for intentional analysis. Instinctual attraction is not a choice. Love is not a choice. Lust is not a choice.  Certain physical attributes simply act to signal the genetic quality of individuals. I’ve previously discussed the relationship of female attractiveness to waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and similar cues can be applied to male attractiveness. This is merely a standard principle of Darwinian evolution. In particular, Darwin termed this “sexual selection”, and more specifically, “mate choice.” It has been updated and integrated into parental investment theory.

Known Points of Male Physical Attractiveness

There is no doubt that nuances and specifics of male physical attractiveness are yet to be discovered. For now, they can be grouped into three main sensory categories.

  1. Olfaction (smell)
  2. Auditory (hearing)
  3. Physical (vision)

Let’s go ahead and set aside taste, touch, and ESP for today. Numerous studies have been conducted to assess what, if any, role smell, hearing, and vision play in women’s assessments of male attractiveness. All have been shown to have measurable and predictable impact. Perhaps more interestingly, these sensory inputs tend to shift and increase in intensity during the peak fertility of a woman’s cycle. Aside from possible mentions of smell and hearing in passing, we’re going to look at visual cues.

This isn’t an arbitrary decision. Just as in my critique of racism as misguided sensory bias, it makes sense that our mating assessments be made based on our most perceptive sense(s). Most humans are heavily visually biased so the decision is made for us. (Foster 2008) Before proceeding, we need to break things down one further step. Studies have shown significant differences in attractiveness cues between face and body. Since there is little to be done about facial attractiveness outside of surgery (facial plastic surgery may be the number one evolution thwarting measure), we’ll mostly focus on physical cues found in the body.

“We found two factors that captured face and body attractiveness, respectively. Together they accounted for 49.9%… of the total variance in the variables . The first principal component in the male PCA was a body attractiveness factor that loaded significantly on body attractiveness, body sexual dimorphism and body averageness… The second principal component in the male PCA was primarily associated with attractive face traits and loaded significantly on face attractiveness and face sexual dimorphism. This study showed that rated face and body attractiveness contribute independently and substantially, with no interaction, to overall… male attractiveness. Importantly, face and body attractiveness did not significantly interact in predicting overall attractiveness in males or females. These results are critical because they confirm and quantify the assumption that the face and body both contain independent cues to overall attractiveness. Thus, even though our preferences have evolved by viewing the whole person, overall attractiveness judgements are based on separate, unique contributions of the face and body, with no interaction between the two.” (Peters et al. 2007) [emphasis mine]

Caveat: Since the previous study was done, another study found something particularly interesting:

Humans are also good at assessing strength based on the face alone. Even though no part of the men’s bodies was available for inspection in these photos, the subjects were able to successfully perceive strength. Indeed, in our data, upper-body strength independently predicted facial ratings of strength, while leg strength did not. [M]any anthro-pologists might expect that humans would learn to exploit culturally specific cues through exposure. However, our subjects were just as good at judging strength from the faces of men of other cultures as from their own. That is, thousands of times more experience with members of one’s local culture had no effect on the accuracy of the system.” (Sell et al. 2009) [emphasis mine]

Clay doesn’t know I’m subjecting him to this impromptu and highly biased “study”, but see if you can detect a difference in his face in the before and after photos. Granted, his facial expression is slightly different, but aside from that…

Now, in the referenced study, the faces were isolated so even the neck couldn’t be seen, and the bodies were isolated and rated separately. Like I said, showing the pictures like this biases the study, but can you see a difference? It turns out that having a sexy body is contagious enough to at least reach your face.

Sexual Dimorphism: Surprise! Men and Women Look Different

Physical differences between the male and female of a species give a general indicator of the amount of sexual selection that has taken place – the more sexual selection, the greater the physical difference. These are often referred to as ornaments. Common examples of this are the antlers of male deer, the large canine teeth of male gorillas, the audacious plume of the male peacock, and the increased height and upper body musculature of male humans. In strict evolutionary biology terms, sexual selection is broken down into male-male competition and female mate choice.

Technically, these mechanisms often overlap into feedback mechanisms so I’m going to gloss over the minutia of that distinction momentarily. Briefly: In some species, men compete to show off and be chosen by females. In some species, men compete to dominate resources and mating opportunities. In some species, these overlap to varying degrees. To further complicate things, some traits in a single species may be acted on more by female mate choice and others by male-male competition. (Hunt et al. 2009)

Implications of Women’s Mate-Choice

Have you put the pieces together? This is a big point: Like natural selection and artificial selection (breeding), women have literally shaped the physical characteristics of men to their taste over the course of human evolution. That’s right, women find men physically attractive because men are shaped by female mate choice. Which leads to an obvious question…

How do women “know” what to choose?

Sexual selection can seem like a bit of a circular argument at times. However, it’s important to remember that it operates in concert with natural selection. Women who chose men with evolutionarily advantageous genes would have had more successful offspring. In this way, natural selection has a way of shaping the preferences of females over time. Because of the interplay, women will tend to evolve preferences that compel them to choose traits that correlate with “good genes.” Hypotheses on what is being signaled by each physical trait vary.

Since one of the main points women report as attractive is sexual dimorphism (masculinity), testosterone is a likely candidate and is studied often. A man’s ability to produce and regulate optimal levels of testosterone (and all other hormones) is advantageous for survival and reproduction. Cortisol has been the subject of studies of hormones and attractiveness as well, but have not yielded results as strong as those focusing on testosterone (Moore et al. 2010).

One other line of regular inquiry into adaptive benefits of mate choice is fluctuating asymmetry (FA). This the general assumption that symmetry is good, and asymmetry is bad. The locus of asymmetry may vary from trait to trait and may have multiple influences in any one particular trait. Oxidative stress at the genetic level may be responsible for some FA, and individuals with greater capacity for reducing oxidative stress may have survival and reproductive advantages (Gangestad et al. 2010).

Other hypotheses around sexual selection focus on fighting ability between individuals and its technical corrolary resource-holding potential (RHP). Without putting to fine a point on it, being big and strong has advantages in multiple domains. And guess what influences strength? Yes my astute lovelies… testosterone. It keeps coming back to the testosterone.

The proof is in the ____ing

The studies above relating to facial attractiveness versus body attractiveness relied on women’s ratings of attractiveness. There’s value in that, but conscious assessments aren’t necessarily a perfect substitute for how people behave in the real world. In the real world, the most effective measure of attractiveness is… um… apparently the PhDs call it “mating succcess”…

“Overall, body attractiveness was a better predictor of self-reported mating success than facial attractiveness. In line with our main hypothesis, we found a positive relationship between a composite measure of men’s physical fitness (PF) and men’s body attractiveness. This was obtained not only for aggregated attractiveness ratings but also for all 27 female raters individually. This finding is remarkable because individual attractiveness judgments reflect a strong idiosyncratic component, at least for faces. Attractiveness judgments were made fast and effortless. The strength of the attractiveness-fitness relation- ship obtained here suggests that signalling physical fitness may be one of the key functions of male attractiveness.” (Honekopp et al. 2006) [emphasis mine]

Not surprisingly, physical fitness “may be” important for physical attractiveness. You learn something everyday I guess. Thanks science!

Back to Clay’s Evolutionary Body-Hacking Program

I’m already approaching the 3,000 word mark in this article and I haven’t even gotten to the specifics of what exactly makes for a body that women find attractive. Fortunately, Clay has already done all the work of synthesizing this research into a clear physical model ( to be fair, he claims that the trainers and actors in Hollywood did the work for him, and he just reverse engineered it). So rather than talk about the numbers, here are the blueprints representing the intersection of Hollywood and Darwin.

The Hollywood Physique Blueprint (1 of 8)

Why the “Hollywood Physique”?

Clay found that essentially every feature in the research here is demonstrated in nearly every Hollywood actor after one of their scrawny-to-superhero transformations. In other words, although we have no proof it’s intentional, Hollywood trainers are leveraging the same principles in all of the research consciously or unconsciously. The system is designed to sculpt precisely the aspects of muscle necessary to highlight that exact cue and maximize the evolutionary factors most responsible for natural attraction. Most are simply emulating physical features associated with naturally elevated testosterone levels and other indicators of key fitness features related to survival purposes.

The name “The Hollywood Physique for Men” is designed for an audience not limited to the enlightened anthro-evolution nerd readers of evolvify. However, Clay himself is somewhat of an anthro-evolution nerd, but I haven’t yet asked him to change the name to “The Uber Abstract Darwinian Compendium of Hyper-Copulatory Hypertrophy.” While the system itself is built on a foundation of paleo and evolutionary psychology principles, Clay has designed it for a more mainstream audience. In other words, he’s cleverly disguising the stuff we love and bringing it to the masses.

What the Hollywood Physique is NOT:

  • A fitness program designed around evolutionary movements
  • A strength training program
  • A functional fitness program

What The Hollywood Physique is:

  • Methodical, detailed, and specific regarding food and workouts
  • Applied evolutionary psychology
  • 100% Paleo diet friendly
  • Whole food nutrition plan
  • Supplement free
  • A completely aesthetic bodybuilding system designed to strategically achieve a body that’s naturally attractive to women in a short amount of time

How do Andrew and evolvify tie into this?

As I mentioned before, I worked with Clay on this for a couple months before he launched it. However, it’s totally his brainchild. My contributions have been reviews and suggestions regarding the evolutionary theory and minor tweaks (if anything). I had pre-release access to the materials and have gone over everything contained within. I’m not going to comment on any of the training methodology or jargon, but I have seen Clay’s and Derek’s results and they’re pretty amazing.

Here’s the thing… and it’s not a sales pitch, just the info. Clay is just now making this publicly available. He hasn’t even set up a full page selling it quite yet, and he’s not promoting it on a very grand scale at the moment because, simply put, he wants to make sure the information jives with a more intelligent, savvy crowd who are driven and ready to APPLY it and PROVE it works before unleashing it on a wider scale. I’m glad he came to me about this a while ago because it’s allowed us to team up to give evolvify readers to get the first crack at it.

UPDATE (August 2012): I ended up using THP for a couple months shortly after writing this originally, and I’ve since checked in on the progress of others. I can reissue whatever recommendations I had at the beginning. Theory shmeory, it works.

If you’re looking for an aesthetic approach to quickly building muscle that’s based on the evolutionary principles of physical attractiveness, then you can’t go wrong with The Hollywood Physique for Men.

Check Out Clay’s Site »

*don’t miss the individual muscle blueprints and topless Derek!

References

Foster, Joshua D. “Beauty is mostly in the eye of the beholder: olfactory versus visual cues of attractiveness.” The Journal of Social Psychology 148, no. 6 (December 2008): 765-73. [PDF]

Frederick, David a, Daniel M T Fessler, and Martie G Haselton. “Do representations of male muscularity differ in menʼs and women’s magazines?” Body image 2, no. 1 (March 2005): 81-6.

Gangestad, Steven W., Leslie a. Merriman, and Melissa Emery Thompson. “Men’s oxidative stress, fluctuating asymmetry and physical attractiveness.” Animal Behaviour 80, no. 6 (October 2010): 1005-1013.

Honekopp, J, U Rudolph, L Beier, a Liebert, and C Muller. “Physical attractiveness of face and body as indicators of physical fitness in men.” Evolution and Human Behavior 28, no. 2 (March 2007): 106-111.

Hunt, John, Casper J Breuker, Jennifer a Sadowski, and Allen J Moore. “Male-male competition, female mate choice and their interaction: determining total sexual selection.” Journal of evolutionary biology 22, no. 1 (January 2009): 13-26.

Moore, F R, R E Cornwell, M J Law Smith, E a S Al Dujaili, M Sharp, and D I Perrett. “Evidence for the stress-linked immunocompetence handicap hypothesis in human male faces.” Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, (September 2010).

Peters, M, G Rhodes, and L Simmons. “Contributions of the face and body to overall attractiveness.” Animal Behaviour 73, no. 6 (June 2007): 937-942. [PDF]

Sell, Aaron, Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Daniel Sznycer, Christopher von Rueden, and Michael Gurven. “Human adaptations for the visual assessment of strength and fighting ability from the body and face.” Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society 276, no. 1656 (February 2009): 575-84. [PDF]

81 Comments
  1. Emily 4 years ago

    There is a feminine version of this type of program called "Red Carpet Ready" (I have no affiliation with this program, nor have I tried it). http://www.redcarpetready.com/

    Apparently it involves lots of "toning, shaping, and lifting."

    Different strokes for different folks!

    • Author
      Andrew 4 years ago

      Hopefully Clay will soon be releasing his Claybands Deluxe and the Clayslide. After that, it's really just a matter of who's going to demonstrate them on The Ellen Show.

      The whole Red Carpet thing reminds me of a modernized princess fantasy. The weird thing to me about princess fantasies is the implied longing for authoritarian control over numerous "subjects."

    • Chilli 4 years ago

      I think those red carpet ready women look a little too masculine for what I would watn to look like! They're all shoulder heavy! If i was to look at the sort of female physique I find attractive (ie, want to look like as a woman) i would choose monica bellucci or jennifer lopez – classic curvy physiques.
      Redcarpetready women look like athletes – makes them look like a man in a dress to me!!

  2. Emily 4 years ago

    I posted that link more as a contrast to generate interest and discussion about the male/female dichotomy of sexual selection. I'm sure Clay's program is a bit more of a scientific reverse engineering.

  3. Victoria 4 years ago

    First, let me say, I am really looking forward to your future post looking at the role of ESP in female assessment of male attractiveness. I am waiting with bated breath.

    Second, the whole question of 'how do women know what to choose' is an interesting and complex one. I've seen it suggested (and it seems logical) that sexual selection is more prone to selecting a species towards extinction than natural selection. In fact, I'm currently (finally?) reading 'The Mating Mind' and it's a point that is mentioned in one of the introductory sections- perhaps it is covered more in later chapters. Obviously something that is both sexually selected and advantageous to survival should quickly spread throughout a population, but if the sexually selected traits are not advantageous and are strongly selected for it could lead to a decline in the population over multiple generations.

    • Author
      Andrew 4 years ago

      Yep, I have Amotz Zahavi's <a href="http://amzn.to/giHU95">The Handicap Principle ready to crack open. I've read about it in the literature (Miller references it as well), but haven't taken on the book length version yet. I assume it covers these questions in detail.

  4. David Csonka 4 years ago

    My poor calf to neck ratio when I was 8 probably explains why I was turned down for the roll I auditioned for in the TV show Matlock. Hey, at least I got a call back.

    True story.

    • Author
      Andrew 4 years ago

      That damned CNR will getchya every time!

      I'm most ashamed of my right pinky toe to C5 vertebra ratio. David Hasselhof has obviously been working on his; the centerfold in the current issue of Sprockets Quarterly makes that clear. I don't know how I'll ever be able to get my RPC5VR improved and now it's like, "you expect me to go out in public like this?"

  5. @melissamcewen 4 years ago

    I'd like to see those pics with Clay smiling. His expresion is so menacing in the current ones that it's hard to gauge whether he's attractive or not! I guess if you are selling things to men those expressions say that GRR ME MANLY. But to woman they look threatening.

    The first pic is a great example of something I don't really have a name for, but it's a fat distribution I often see in men that aren't fat, but aren't fit. Sometimes I see it even in men that eat well, but who don't exercise or sleep well. It's not jiggly, so I'm not sure if it's visceral fat or bloating. To me it just says "estrogen belly."

    • Author
      Andrew 4 years ago

      Yeah, Clay's expression drifted more into the realm of male-male competition than female mate choice.

      Apparently the technical term for that fat distribution is "carb face." Pre-paleo, "carb face" in my mirror was often my general gauge of excessive caloric intake.

    • Clay Rogers 4 years ago

      To the ladies: I do apologize for the menacing scowls on my face. These were simply weekly "progress" photos I shot when I first put the program to the test and smiling, let alone leaking these pictures online, wasn't even a thought on my mind!

      In terms of the first photo's fat distribution, I would blame much of it actually on over-consumption of protein, and wouldn't doubt that that's the same problem many other guys face. Even in the Paleo community I find this is a common problem – the daily levels of protein recommended are FAR higher than most guys can naturally utilize, and essentially all excess protein is treated no different than refined carbs when it's funneling through the body's natural digestive processes.

    • Author
      Andrew 4 years ago

      Another note on this… The head tilt in the 13 week shot looks a little higher than in week 19. According to the study below indicates that women tend to find that increased tilt more attractive. The hypothesis is something along the lines of – the sexual dimorphism in height makes it a more natural angle for women to view a man's face.

      A New Viewpoint on the Evolution of Sexually Dimorphic Human Faces [PDF]

  6. Geoff 4 years ago

    Have you ever heard of the Adonis Effect program? Brad Pilon (of Eat Stop Eat fame), John Barbon and Brad Howard created a program that had some visibility on the finges of the PUA community a few years ago. They had some pretty good research on the most attractive body (for men), and I'd imagine that it probably comes to the same conclusions as Clay. They found that the ideal shoulder to waist ratio was 1.6:1, which also corresponds to the famous "Golden Ratio" as well as the ratio that most Ancient Greek and Renaissance sculptures (including Michaelangelo's Adonis, thus the name) used. I was never much of a fan of the actual training program itself, but that number has stuck with me as the ultimate goal of my current training regimen.

    The other product that I think is worthwhile on the male attractiveness front is Brad P's Fashion Bible. Has very little to do with evolutionary psychology, since fashion is so socially influenced, but his concept of sexy stereotyping is pretty genius. Highly recommend it.

  7. Author
    Andrew 4 years ago

    Note: Jamie had problems commenting on this post and started a thread in the forums instead.

  8. Luciano 4 years ago

    About the “looks don’t matter” issue about pickup artists, I must disagree and say that at least 1 guru called Gunwitch and his Gunwitch Method explain that looks are important, but great article though….

  9. Aeryn 4 years ago

    In the interest of adding data for science, this superficial female thinks that Clay at week 13 has a perfect shoulder/waist/hip ratio.

    • Sharyn 4 years ago

      I concur that Week 13 is the most (very) attractive – I think it's the hairy chest that does it. The week 19 shot screams PRETTY BOY. Thanks Clay!

  10. Aaron 4 years ago

    One thing this article made me think about is to what degree Clay's (and the picture representation) physique mirrors the physique of top-level athletes in various sports. Certainly, he targeted the muscles in order to have the best "look" rather than performance. Endurance athletes generally don't have this look. Neither do most "pro" athletes in American sports.

    I MMA fighters come closest to achieving this physique, without really going after a "body-hacking" type approach. Crossfitters sometimes go in this direction to, but the really top guys don't seem this lean to me. This seems to confirm the general physical abilities/ fighting ability hypothesis as signals that would have been selected for by women.

    Am I making any sense here?

    • Mike Fout 4 years ago

      I am also curious as to how the aesthetic helps or hinders performance. I am certainly intrigued.

      I am seeing results with my current efforts, so I can't see necessarily changing what I am doing to pursue a narcissistic endeavor, and it would only be narcissistic because i'm married already, and don't work in the fashion industry. I can't sacrifice performance for looks.

      That being said, if I would get faster and stronger, then I AM narcissistic enough to give it a try.

    • Clay Rogers 4 years ago

      While researching and measuring out physiques for this project, I actually found that track and field sprinters generally are naturally closest to the ideal proportions.

      It definitely has a correlation with athletic performance.

      In fact, this system is doing nothing but emulating the small physical features – due to increased testosterone and athleticism – that most directly trigger the mental cues related to attraction, which are normally linked to physical performance as well.

      • Mike Fout 4 years ago

        It;s Ironic you say that, because i always gauge my personal best look as to the how I looked when I was a Track and Field athlete. Of course I was 17, and hadn't really discovered Booze yet.

        • Brenden W. 4 years ago

          Yes, sprinter's also have stronger and healthier hearts than their scrawny long-distance counterparts.

  11. Scotlyn 4 years ago

    I'm with Aeryn,
    At week 13, Clay looks to me like the perfect mix of strength and cuddly-ness. By week 19, he's looking like there's nothing left to cuddle into…which, for me = less attractive. (Sorry, Clay). His face is also starting to look a little pinched and gaunt by week 19 – also not so attractive. So, of the three photos, (being completely superficial here, and taking no account of Clay's doubtless wonderful personality, great sense of humour, and boundless intelligence) my preference would definitely be him at week 13.

    • Uncephalized 4 years ago

      As a straight male, I also found myself thinking that by week 19 he started to look a little "freaky", and that I would personally prefer to look like week 13.

      Of course, I have a way to go to even look like week 1, so it's all academic!

    • Clay Rogers 4 years ago

      Hey, I'm the one who put my pictures up online – critique away!

      I actually considered myself "done" at week 13 (and is why this is focused on being a 13 week course), but decided to keep going just to see what would happen.

      On the program itself, it's your choice how far you want to take it. I sit around "week 13" status year-round, which is where I prefer to be, and is what the program is designed to achieve.

      • Victoria 4 years ago

        Cool! I was actually wondering how sustainable week 19 was… My only frame of reference is with equine athletes (not sure how we compare) and I know we can't keep them at peek fitness indefinitely, but have to cycle them up and down a bit and plan your training to have them at the top of their game when you need it.

        (And thank you for smiling in your avatar!)

  12. Lisa 4 years ago

    Would love to see the same for women. The body type preferences would be an interesting topic of conversation, for sure!

  13. Allie 4 years ago

    This was an interesting read. The data seems to come from predominantly westernized culture (or am I wrong?), have there been any studies on evolutionary attractiveness geared toward other regions (e. g. aborigines, less technologically advanced/media-infiltrated countries, secluded tribes/cultures)?

  14. Kate 4 years ago

    I find the 13 week Clay more attractive than the 19 week Clay. Maybe it's because I have an aversion to men who try to hard at the gym?

    • acm 4 years ago

      I actually find Clay's first picture, before he became muscular, to be the most attractive…

  15. Bennett 4 years ago

    Y'know, it's a funny thing about the face/strength correlation. I came home to visit my folks a couple of weeks ago, and they hadn't seen me for about a year before that. In the meantime, I'd been doing some serious weightlifting and gotten considerably stronger and a bit more muscular, as well as improving my body composition. You couldn't tell it so much in the shirt that I had on, but my mother said right away that my face looked different, in a good way–even my nose, apparently, was in better shape. Interesting how this stuff distributes, and I do have some pictures of myself from 10 years ago when I was a high schooler, weighing exactly what I do now but with a 'skinny fat' physique, and the face looks like it belongs on a chubby kid, compared to what I have now.

    The chin tilt is there in new ID photos, too, come to think. Maybe it's a confidence thing?

    • Author
      Andrew 4 years ago

      There's some interesting research on forward/backward head-tilt (or pitch) and attractiveness…

      "Pitch also affects perceived attractiveness. The changes in perceived attractiveness are consistent with these effects being direct consequences of the changes in masculinity/femininity induced by different pitches. The typical male perspective on a female face (viewed from above) increases its femininity and attractiveness, and the typical female perspective on a male face (viewed from below) increases its masculinity, which will affect its attractiveness in different ways for different raters…

      The pitch effect on masculinity/femininity and on female attractiveness that we have discovered raises the possibility that the viewpoint difference afforded by the height dimorphism in bipedal hominins (including modern humans) could have provided divergent sexual selection pressures that resulted in selection for male and female faces that embodied or exaggerated these perspective differences in their typical proportions."

      Burke, Darren, and Danielle Sulikowski. “A New Viewpoint on the Evolution of Sexually Dimorphic Human Faces.” Evolutionary Psychology 8, no. 4 (2010): 573-585. [pdf]

  16. Ryan 4 years ago

    Benedikt Magnússon and his 1,102 lbs deadlift would disagree with your face/strength theory

    • Author
      Andrew 4 years ago

      The data simply say that humans are good at perceiving relative strength from faces. Feel free to read the studies, but I believe the accuracy was something like 75% based on 2-D images. There is no mention of a catalog of the myriad cues being used by humans to make these assessments, just that humans are pretty good at it. As you'll notice, that still leaves a 25% margin of error for lots of kinds of faces.

      In other words, your anecdote doesn't really tell us anything new. If Mr. Magnússon read the study, he just might interpret the data exactly as I did.

  17. Tim 4 years ago

    "Status is often disconnected from legitimate fitness cues in the modern world because of inheritances, luck (e.g. winning the lottery), et cetera."

    Agreed. This kind of status comes from power. My observation is that status from power is often resented (especially by guys) and may not be as attractive to women as status gained from respect/admiration. For example, consider a cool guy at school vs tough guy, talented local musician vs police officer, film star vs billionaire.

    From an evolutionary perspective, status from power is discordant with evolutionary theory. To be a leader of a small group you would need to have the respect of the other men first before you got power. It would be very risky for a woman to hook up with a chief that did not have the respect of the other men.

    Men will not respect power seeking behaviour, peacocking beyond your level of status and also… seeking to improve your physical attractiveness. If you work on your athletic ability and get indirect appearance benefits thats cool. It's very important to be well groomed, that says others in your tribe want to groom you. But note how it's uncool to be seen in the mirror grooming yourself. In a violent and unpredictable environment how can a tribe afford to have guys that are preoccupied with their appearance?

    All men are programmed to seek status but saying that you want it (hell, even talking about it 😉 ) is not respected. If you want to be cool it means you're not cool.

    Train for athletic ability, stay well groomed and eat for health and athletic ability not longevity (this will happen anyway). But this will only go so far towards being attractive to women. IMO, If you want to be really attractive to women you're going to have to develop some skill to a high level that you are passionate about that is admired by a large group of people. Movie stars, rock stars and top athletes are admired by all ages and both sexes so they have so much status they cause women to faint. Leading evolutionary psychologists no doubt have their fans but probably don't have quite the same effect…

  18. uwish 4 years ago

    Didn't read everything but beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Some women aren't effected by nor care any about a man's physique. For either sex it's about what you value and prioritize in your own life. If you are a fitness buff then you'll prefer fit people. If you're a "gold digger" or success driven then you're more interested in status, wealth and power. Even the fattest ugliest guy on the beach can have that hot babe if she cares more about the money he has. If your lazy and don't care, you're looking for someone who'll validate your actions and decisions. If you're wild and distructive then you're looking for the bad boy.

    Though we aren't always mated with our perfect mirrored self we do tend to be like or become what we want and seek in others. We want validation and appreciation more than just visual and physical stimulation. However, there are always exceptions to all rules and some will even "suffer" to be with the "look".

    • Brenden W. 4 years ago

      Sorry to dissapoint you, but 'Beauty in the eye of the beholder' is not true.
      I do agree that 'ugliness is to the bone'.
      Studies across all cultures confirm what is inherently attractive to both sexes.
      The author of this post has already indicated what physically is attractive to woman, this applies all over the world, even to those who live deep in the jungles of Borneo and the plains of Africa.
      All men know what is physically attractive to them, all of them know what a 10 looks like, all them are in similar agreement.

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      "beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder."

      Indeed, and since all the beholders are humans with human brains, we can make some predictions about similar eyes and ways of beholding.

      The validation and mirroring stuff is a little too Freudian.

      • Brenden W. 4 years ago

        So then, are you in control of who you are attracted to, and who you are not?

        Didn't think so. You either are, or you are not, you do not decide this conciously.

  19. uwish 4 years ago

    Myself, I value fitness and health as well as a great physique, but find women most attractive who are open, giving and very affectionate. And yes, I would be happy with a few pounds over weight as long as it doesn't become unhealthy and abviously unsightly. Intimacy and satisfaction are way more important. But maybe that's because I'm already successful and where "I" want to be, happy and satisfied with myself. I love me even if you don't.

  20. emily 4 years ago

    I feel cheated. My mate value detectors must not be working correctly. Is Clay positive he isn't stronger and faster now?

  21. Swen 4 years ago

    Entymology is the study of words, not bugs.

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      Irony alert!!!

      May we introduce you to etymology? …which is the study of the history of words. Common mistake. But you're right, the 'o' in entomology is incorrectly replaced with a 'y'. Typo.

      Etymology – words
      Entomology – insects
      Entymology – typo

      • Putri Sarinande 4 years ago

        hahaha, Andrew *i guess it's ur name uh?*
        what a typo – LOl..

  22. Putri Sarinande 4 years ago

    well, umm,, wow… (?) yeah, some physical matters *i admit that 😀
    but after all, that "first sight" matter don't always work, ya know 😀

  23. acm 4 years ago

    I'm pretty skeptical about evolutionary explanations for beauty. Not because I don't think that there is some evolutionary basis for what humans find attractive, but because it's interpreted as far too deterministic. I think it's a mixture of evolutionary *and* cultural/social factors. People can and do override their instincts all the time.

    To give a trivial example, humans have an instinctual fear of snakes that is evolutionarily ingrained in them, and yet there are plenty of people who love snakes and keep them as pets. Similarly, women might be drawn instinctively to strong, "manly" men, but there is quite a significant portion of the female population that are not attracted to this type of man.

    As a straight female, the type of man I find most attractive is:

    *NOT* muscular at all, slender, has a soft, slightly feminine face (e.g., the French actor/model Fu'ad Aït Aattou), not too much body hair but must have a full head of hair. I don't really care about status, as long as he is intelligent and intellectual. Physical strength is a bit of a turn-off for me, actually. Men like Brad Pitt or Daniel Craig are completely unattractive to me. They have faces like pit bulls, from my perspective.

    Of course, some women prefer the muscular, broad-shouldered type, but I have met quite a lot of women who prefer the type I have just described above.

    Same for men. There are men who lust over anorexic women and men who consider themselves "chubby-chasers".

    Not that there aren't some evolutionary factors in physical attractiveness, but it seems to me that what people find most attractive can be placed on a bell curve, with the physique described in this article at the middle of the bell curve, and opposite extremes on either side.

    • Author
      Andrew 4 years ago

      Your thinking isn’t far from where the field of evolutionary psychology actually is. It’s often misrepresented by outsiders who don’t follow the literature. Determinism and “nature vs. nurture” are common complaints that are often recited by opponents of EP, but are basically strawmen arguments.

      It’s easy to find exceptions and outliers. Personality, attraction/preference, and just about everything (roughly, for the sake of conversation) else is distributed across a bell curve (again, roughly). The question is… where is the center of the bell curve.

      It’s also important to keep in mind that what people say, and how they behave when put in a situation are quite different. It doesn’t usually take very long to find a guy who hasn’t heard a a zillion women describe being attracted to someone completely different from who they’re sleeping with.

      Another useful concept when thinking about all of this is to add “all other things being equal, _____” to the front of predictions. All other things being equal, women tend to be attracted to guys who look healthy.

    • Brenden W. 4 years ago

      I am willing to bet that you are maturing out of your prime, and are in preference of a nurturing, responsible male reinforced by his display of feminine features. You are being out-competed by more younger and physically attractive woman who are more attractive to the men you actually desire, but will not commit to you in rearing children. Woman say they are attracted to a type, and usually desire the other. You are rationalizing your choice/preference now because your options are declining, as most woman are confronted with as they age.

      • Nuala Marie 4 years ago

        Brenden – re. “maturing out of your prime..” – ouch! But a valid point nonetheless.

  24. John 4 years ago

    Interesting article this one. Ive been reading quite a bit about evolutionary psychology myself. My belief is that science has yet a a long way to go before completely understanding the topic. We can see a lot of differences in opinion from the above comments. Presumably, the more male like a female is(however ironic that may sound) the more she will be attracted to girlish males and vice versa. I recently read about the relation between finger ratio(ratio of length of index finger to ring finger) and the amount of testosterone one was exposed to in the fetus. The study claimed that there is a direct relationship between the finger ratio and degree of masculinity. Something interesting about this is that there seems to be no direct relationship between the finger ratio and genetics. This would imply that the degree of masculinity(and probably attractiveness) is to a certain extent based on pure chance. This is one thing that makes no sense to me at all. Another thing we have to consider is the way evolution has changed over the years(i.e how evolution has evolved). It used to be that the most physically fit male used to get the most number of mates. But this doesn’t seem to be the case in todays world. Look around you. The fat rich guy will be having the hottest girls. It seems that evolution is more flexible than previously anticipated. In todays world physical strength is not of much importance(any one who can afford a gun can kill any one else and we dont have to hunt anymore except for sport). What matters is money and intelligence. It seems that females understand this and are making changes in their sexual preferences. And it is important that guys stick with their spouses and do not cheat. Hence the preference for girlish boys. As manual labour is becoming increasingly unnecessary i believe that we can expect to see a dramatic change in sexual preferences in the coming years.

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      I'm not sure that your understanding of evolutionary psychology matches up with the state of the field. For a nice overview, you might check out "Evolutionary Psychology: Controversies, Questions, Prospects, and Limitations".

      "there seems to be no direct relationship between the finger ratio and genetics. This would imply that the degree of masculinity(and probably attractiveness) is to a certain extent based on pure chance."

      Saying that this has nothing to do with genetics and implies pure chance are both incorrect. Most of the genetic code can be thought of as a set of "if-then" clauses. For instance, if testosterone level x, then grow y. This roughly how the genotype interacts with signals from the environment and expresses a particular phenotype.

      "It used to be that the most physically fit male used to get the most number of mates."
      It did? When?

      None of the questions you seem to have about evolution are new. They were all explained by Darwin in his second major work, The Descent of Man, and have since been explained rather robustly.

      I would recommend a review of The Mating Mind. It nicely explains most of the concepts influencing your misunderstandings.

  25. Brenden W. 4 years ago

    I would also like to point out that even though researchers found body attractiveness to be more of an indicator of attractiveness to females, these females are average as distributed within the bell curve of attractive population density. To the more discriminating females (9-10's) which most males prefer, will be a substantiative factor in a females evaluation of the male. Males can improve their body, but they can't change the bone structure of their face. You will only get so far with an attractive body, but if you do not have an attractive face, or intelligent mind, you will only get higher preference by mid-tier woman.

  26. Eric Anondson 4 years ago

    I followed over from the recent tweet, I also see that this was originally posted many weeks ago. I'm interested in hearing any testimonials from men who have joined the program.

    I'm not a weight lifter, though I have been losing weight since starting to eat paleo-ish this past summer. I thought I would never again see my high school weight when I was the school track star, but I'm within spitting distance of it now. Yet I've plateaued, while I was dropping weight and health maladies started fading I was starting to dream about the possibility of hitting just these exact targets shown in the photos above and on Clay site.

    I'd love to get over this small squishy bump once and for all. Is this thing still going after all these weeks? Has anyone bought in and tried it after this original post? What kind of equipment cost did you invest? Where did you put it all?

  27. Jeff Uguru 4 years ago

    Very interesting, thank you for this! If anyone is interested I have a video that well illustrates your point..follow the link and enjoy :)..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llhgzfz-Wiw

  28. Anonymous 3 years ago

    I’m probably the only one but that hollywood physique drawing is too muscle-y, and his butt’s too flat.

    No offense to Clay but his face looked best at week one… and week 13 was his best body. Then again, maybe it’s just that haircut throwing me off on the face.

  29. Becky Green 3 years ago

    I think he looked best in the second picture, which was week 13. At week 19, he just looks mean and overly hard bodied. He looks like he’s going to rip someone’s head off. I find men that are too consumed with their physique to be utterly unappealing. 

  30. Russell Moore 3 years ago

    Everything the writer says in this article is, in my not so humble opinion, completely true. Please check out my blog when u get a chance. http://www.spartanlifestyle.wordpress.com

  31. Darlene Buck 2 years ago

    I like a well built guy but as long as he doesn't flant his muscles around and shows them off then I'm not inpressed at all or one who thinks his looks will attract me easly.not happining.

  32. Michele DiLeo 2 years ago

    Week 1 is the best

  33. Templo Ancestral 2 years ago

    It's all in the _ing!

  34. Zoro Hutchenson 2 years ago

    It was interesting how even though face and body size were the most important factors, that had no correlation with overall attractiveness.

    That means even if you're objectively ugly you can still get more game than fit guys.

  35. a 1 year ago

    Can one only say such a reduction to discover someone that really is aware what they are really referring to on the net. You definitely understand how to carry an issue to be able to light to make the idea essential. Lots more people must read this and understand why part with the history. I cant believe youre not popular as you certainly contain the reward.

  36. Subrata Dhar 1 year ago

    week 2 is the best

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  40. Kimbason Anis 10 months ago

    just 4 weeks

  41. Mike Reed 9 months ago

    I was so excited to try this but it says its sold out :'(

  42. Profile photo of Andrew
    Andrew 4 years ago

    Ironically, your comment will be the first on this post moderated out in light of its overall dickish tone.

  43. Brenden W. 4 years ago

    Cool, delete this one and the one above your reply! Thanks!

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