It’s quite common to hear that women like guys who are good-looking, which usually includes a chiseled body and ripped abs. Well, despite the subject of this post, you don’t need to be good-looking to get great results with women. I was doing very well with women BEFORE I got a 6-pack. So don’t let this article mislead you into thinking that if you get your dream body, you’ll get your dream woman
The academic research on this is almost unanimous: Physical attractiveness in males is actually quite low on females’ attraction hierarchy. It will get you a foot in the door and help you with the opening stage, but if you don’t have the personality to back it up, you won’t get anywhere. Much more important are aspects of your personality and access to resources.
Nonetheless, when I finally got close to my ideal shape and achieved my fitness goals, I became more self-confident, self-assured, and happy with my life! So in addition to all the health and psychological benefits that come with getting fit, it will also strengthen those personality traits, like self-confidence and self-sufficiency, that will make you much more attractive to women. And the great thing about fitness is that anyone can get it with hard work and persistence. You don’t need cosmetic surgery.
Getting fit is all about increasing your passive value through leading an attractive lifestyle. It’s not a quick fix, like learning some canned lines or routines. It’s about lasting change.
In 2007, I was a skinny Asian boy. Well, skinny everywhere except my beer belly (I love craft beers and microbrews, heh). But I was still doing really well with the ladies and getting better. By the autumn of 07, I had some spare time on my hands, so I decided to hire a personal trainer in my gym in Beijing. That was one of the best decisions of my life (not to mention an amazing value at just RMB100/hour; now he is charging RMB700+/hour). Not only did I make a good friend of a northern Chinese hulk who sometimes acted like my bodyguard in bars and clubs, but I also got my first introduction to what a real workout feels like, the kind where you’re really ripping muscle, where you really need a spotter so that you can (barely) finish the last few (or several) reps or sets, where you’re completely exhausted at the end, and where you see significant growth week to week. I was finally getting compliments from girls on my body on a regular basis. I had been doing weight training since I was 14, but only when I was 31 did I realize that I hadn’t been pushing myself hard enough so hadn’t seen any major growth.
I trained with my personal trainer in Beijing for about 5 months, spread out over a period of about 9 months. But then I moved to Singapore where everything was more expensive and wasn’t as great of a value from what I could see. I had a great trainer in China, and it was hard to replace him. So I just coasted for over a year.
Then on a challenge from a friend in Shanghai, I started P90X. Below is a review of this remarkable fitness workout. You can read more about it here. Notice that this is NOT an affiliate link. I make no commission at all from this review. I’m just spreading the word on a very effective workout program for your benefit. I originally wrote this review in mid-December, when I had just finished the first round of P90X.
Be warned, though. P90X is tough, especially if you haven’t done anything like this before. It takes discipline, perseverance, and a hard-working attitude–all traits that will stand you in good stead when you are training in the social arts, too! I know some ex-marines and even a navy seal who say this fitness program is as rigorous in physical conditioning as they’ve had to do. I’m sure that’s exaggerated, but you get the idea. Prior to this, I looked into the stuff from Body by Science, which didn’t do much for me (though a friend of mine swears by this), and Insanity, which is by the same company but is all cardio.
Overall, I’ve been super impressed with P90X. Not only was it a great workout routine, but it has rekindled in me a love of physical sport and fitness. It is a lifestyle change. I actually am doing sports again, haha. I’ve got a private trainer in Krav Maga and getting in the cage every week. I’m doing punching bag workouts regularly. I’m also even occasionally playing sports with the guys on the weekends. When I’m stressed out about work or just plain hungover, my favorite remedy now is to do a round of Yoga X or Kenpo Cardio X. Amazing. Whereas I got pretty good results in the past from 1.5 hour workouts 3 times a week, now I’m spacing them out over 6 days, and getting many times more endorphins and better, quantifiable results.
In terms of measurements, I was mainly concerned to cut my body fat percentage and improve my shoulders to waist ratio (the ideal is 0.75 or below), which are the only proven metrics tracking the factors that attract women universally.
Throughout history and between different cultures and places, what women found physically attractive in men varied a great deal. This is even more so in the case of what men found physically attractive in women. And so far, the only feature, apart from a symmetrical face, that social scientists have found to be universally attractive across places, times, and cultures is the shoulders to waist ratio in men (0.75) and the hips to waist ratio in women (0.7). The research on this is relatively easy to find. Body fat percentage is closely related to one’s shoulder to waist ratio.
Technically, the research at Cambridge cited here used two-dimensional representations and measured the shoulder to waist ratio (SWR) as straight lines rather than as typical tailor’s measurements (Dixson, et. al., “Masculine Somatype and Hirsuteness as Determinants of Sexual Attractiveness to Women,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 2003, 32.1; see also Braun and Bryan, “Female waist-to-hip and male waist-to-shoulder ratios as determinants of romantic partner desirability,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 2006, 23.5). Using that method, the optimal SWR was 0.6. On that measuring method, my Post-P90X measurements are 28 cm at the waist and 47 cm at the shoulders, which yields a ratio of 0.596. Assuming my body proportions are normal, then a ratio of 0.6 on the straight line measurement method is approximately equivalent to a ratio of 0.71 on the tailor’s measurement method. I owe a huge thanks to FSH for alerting me to this at the recent MYSP program.
The good news about the 0.75 ratio is that you don’t have to get huge muscles to look attractive. You can still be relatively thin and have the girls loving your body, as long you have the right waist to shoulders ratio and some muscle tone.
Here are my before and after stats on those metrics. Keep in mind that I was 33 years old when I was doing this, and I got in the best shape of my life.
Body fat percentage (measured on same machine)
Before: 82 cm (32 in)
After: 74 cm (29 in)
Before: 101 cm (39.8 in)
After: 104 cm (41 in)
Shoulders to waist ratio (goal was 0.75)
I also lost 6.5 pounds or 3 kg (I was about 67 kg in the “after” pic).
For comparison purposes, the photos are a little misleading as the lighting and distance distort the effect somewhat. But you get the basic idea.
I took one week off because of a bad flu. I also missed a day here and there because of travel and other things. But I never did the workouts out of sequence. I never skipped a workout in that sense. I would just postpone it until I could start up again. It took me about 103 days to finish the 90 day calendar. I always did the Ab-Ripper X right after the resistance workout (no break of more than 5 minutes in between the resistance workout and the ab workout).
I followed my own diet, which was very consistent.
The bare bones DIET was the following:
Breakfast was a Muscle Milk (160 calories, 16 gm of protein, also some fiber, carbs, and good fats–google it for the details) or something equivalent (MRP), with a Mega Men multivitamin. I’d also have another meal during the day of two servings of Muscle Milk spaced out over two hours. Right after the workout and a half hour before bed, I’d have a protein shake (20-24 gm of protein, ~160 calories).
Within an hour of the workout–during that crucial glycemic window–I’d have a solid meal of high protein, low carb, low fat. For my solid meals, I chose one of: spinach and chicken salads, soups (tomato basil from Soup Spoon was my favorite), yong tau foo with no noodles (Singaporean boiled vegetables and tofu), or sashimi. In the second month, I ate sashimi almost every day until I became sick of it
I aimed to get 150 grams of protein six days a week while keeping the carbs to a minimum. No bread, rice, or noodles.
My snacks were limited to nuts (mainly almonds or cashews) and yogurt.
One day a week, I binged on anything I wanted: Dark chocolate, burgers, pizza, fries, gelato, ice kachang, hotel buffets, whatever. This spiked my metabolism to keep it high. It was also something I could look forward to every week. I first read about this strategy from Tim Ferriss. Worked great!
A brief note on taking protein shakes: I’m shocked at how many times I see guys fill up their shakers to the top with milk and add one scoop of protein powder, and then call that one serving. That’s 20 oz. of milk! No wonder they’re having such a hard time getting their protein.
Except for extenuating circumstances, read the instructions on the label and follow them, which for most protein powders means that you mix one scoop (20-24 grams of whey protein) with 4-6 oz. of water. That’s about two shooters. I usually down my protein drinks in a few gulps and barely taste it.
Also, the most optimum time to get your protein intake, indeed any nutritional intake, is about an hour after your workout. In comparison, taking protein at any other time is almost a waste. The next best times are a half hour before the workout and before you go to bed.
Nowadays, I only use whey protein as a back up (because it’s so readily available). I prefer non-dairy protein, like vegan protein, or what I’m having now, which is collagen protein.
The pace of all the exercises was intense. Tony Horton is unbelievably upbeat, funny in a quirky way, and an excellent motivator.
The muscle confusion here was key. I could literally feel my body plateau at the end of the third week, which is right when P90X changed things up.
The resistance days are like circuit training. You only get 30 seconds rest between sets, and a 1 minute rest in the middle of the hour. This really makes you sweat. I had never sweat so much during a weights workout. This also meant I had to lift lighter than I was before I started, but by the third month, I was lifting heavier than before. After a P90X resistance workout, I was sweating as much as I would running 30 minutes on the treadmill. I ended up burning fat AND building muscle at the same time. Also, you’re never doing the same exercise twice in a row. Tons of variety here. I don’t think I could ever go back to traditional weight lifting again. There are just too many bulk heads in the gyms with big bellies and too much fat.
The biggest surprise was Yoga X, which for the first month made me sweat as much as running 30 minutes on the treadmill. It was nothing like the Yoga that my ex-girlfriend used to do in front of the TV. Some of the poses were extreme, and I couldn’t hold the last third of the lunge poses until the second month. As with all the routines, you can always modify the exercises to make them harder. Sometimes, I skipped the balance postures and stretches to save time. I love the part where Tony says to one of the other guys, “Drop down in your stance. This is Yoga X, my brother. If you’re dogging it, I want you down in it.” The “Yoga Belly seven times” exercise was crucial for working the abs during the recovery weeks. Now I do Yoga for the endorphins, flexibility, and to burn calories!
The legs workouts are phenomenal. I hardly used to work my legs before, which annoyed my trainer. I’d do 3-4 sets of squats once a week and that would be my entire legs workout. I was more about the glamor muscles. But with P90X, I work legs in Plyometrics X (tons of squats), Yoga X (all the lunges), Kenpo X (lots of kicking), and most of all, in Legs and Back X. It turns out that working the legs makes you burn three times more calories than any other parts of the body. So this was a huge factor in the fat burning. Now, I always make sure I do a full legs workout with weights at least once a week.
The diet was even more crucial than the workouts. I’d say DIET accounts for 60-70%, WORKOUTS 20-30%, and getting 8 or more hours of SLEEP every night accounts for the rest, at least that was the way it seemed to me whenever I adjusted any one of the variables.
THE BAD (or “stuff I’d change”)
1. The chest workouts in P90X are mainly variations on push-ups. You can do push-ups forever but you won’t get big muscles that way. Midway through the second month, I started substituting my own chest workouts with barbells, dumbells, and machines in place of all the pushups. Before I did this, my chest had actually shrunk a centimeter from my original measurement.
2. I did the aerobics exercises in my living room, so I did not wear shoes (in Asia, it is wrong to wear outdoor shoes inside the house). So I was doing Plyometrics X in socks and on the yoga mat and on my rug. After a few months of this, the high impact exercises really wore out my ankles and knees. After I busted my left knee and left ankle (unrelated accidents), I took as much of the high impact out as possible. But then I wasn’t able to get as much out of it as before. If I continue with Plyometrics or Insanity (which uses a lot of plyo training), I’d have to buy gym shoes I only wear inside the house.
Overall, I absolutely loved this and got a lot for my investment of time and money. Tony Horton basically becomes your personal trainer, and he really is a gifted motivator.
If you’re outside North America, you can buy it on ebay. I saw the complete set recently for sale from a Shanghai ebay seller for about US$45.
I’ve since done P90X Plus, which has even better cardio workouts–Kenpo Cardio X and Intervals X Plus. And they are only 40 minutes long!
UPDATE: It’s been about 6 years since I first did P90X. After the first round (90-day cycle), I repeated it again two more times. Then, I did a full cycle of Insanity and experimented with Insanity Asylum. On Insanity, I lost muscle mass. I also did GSP’s Rushfit, which was THE BEST for functional fitness — I could jump and spring faster than ever — but I lost a lot of muscle mass. I then tried out Body Beast, which was good, but the rep counts they have on there are too high (generally 8-15 reps) to build solid muscle for my body type. I then went on to try Bodybuilding.com’s Arnold Blueprint, which at the moment, has been the most effective muscle gaining workout I’ve ever tried. But it is hard. Body parts twice a week. But if you’re a beginner and don’t have at least a 0.75 shoulders-to-waist ratio, I recommend P90X as the best all-around fitness program. It’s the best “first program” a guy can do.
So there you have it. Just an hour a day, 6 times a week. That six pack was one of the best gifts I’ve ever given to myself. Many people waste an hour a day surfing the internet. Use your time wisely. How badly do you want it? It’s time to man up! 😀
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“Man Up” Show (Ep. 12): Hooking Up on the First Date: Good or Bad?
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