Ideal Body Measurements: How to Get the Perfect Body | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

Ideal Body Measurements: How to Get the Perfect Body

Since I started exercising years ago, I’ve always had a dynamic set of fitness goals.  I never had a set of ideal body measurements that I could work toward though.  What is the perfect body anyway?  Like many people, I always equated the perfect body with bigger muscles.  However, this isn’t necessarily attractive to everyone.  If that were true, then Hollywood stars would all be bodybuilders.  That’s far from the case when one of the hottest bodies in Hollywood belongs to a very lean, well defined Taylor Lautner.  So what are your ideal body measurements?  Below I describe how to get the perfect body.

This post is tailored toward men since us guys tend to have a more difficult time determining what is really considered attractive and what our goals should be.  Women could read my post on a Victoria Secret workout or Workout Routines for Women as a starting point for how to get a perfect body.  For guys, I think a lot of people are finally coming around to the fact that bigger isn’t always better.  For reference below, I am 5’8”, 140lbs, 31” waist, 41” chest, 47” shoulders.

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A Bodybuilder’s Ideal Measurements

In my quest to determine ideal measurements, I found myself staring at bodybuilding sites for hours trying to make sense of things.  As usual, bodybuilding sites don’t provide the best template for an ideal body.  According to bodybuilding legend Steve Reeve’s calculator, my chest would have to be upwards of 50”.  My waist should be around 30”.  Essentially I would have to add muscle mass to my chest to the point where it would be bigger than my shoulders currently are.  That doesn’t seem like a reasonable goal, especially if I’m also supposed to maintain a 30” waist and visible abs.  In fairness, the ideal bodybuilder weight for someone my height is 175lbs.  Either way, I imagine I’d look like a cartoon character with these measurements.

A Second Opinion on Ideal Measurements

The approach defined by John McCallum is much more reasonable.  Here are the results of this calculator with my target and actual measurements:

  1. Chest: 6.5 times your wrist (Goal = 42.25”, Actual = 41”)
  2. Hips: 85% of chest (Goal = 36”, Actual = 37”)
  3. Waist: 70% of chest (Goal = 29.5”, Actual =31”)
  4. Thighs: 53% of chest (Goal = 22.5”, Actual =22”)
  5. Neck: 37% of chest (Goal = 15.5”, Actual = 15”)
  6. Biceps: 36% of chest (Goal = 15”, Actual = 13.5”)
  7. Calves: 34% of chest (Goal = 14.5”, Actual = 13.5”)
  8. Forearms: 29% of chest (Goal = 12.25”, Actual = 12”)

Considering these measurements are for a competitive bodybuilder, which I am not, they are a relatively good starting point for being in ideal shape.  According to this, I should focus on adding a little bulk to my chest and legs, a lot of bulk to my biceps, and continue to trim a little fat from my waist and hips.  However, will these measurements make me more attractive?

The Golden Ratio: Finally a Simple Approach That Makes Sense

The best approach I’ve found when it comes to ideal measurements is the Adonis Effect.  The program was designed specifically around research that shows what body type women, and other men, find most attractive.  Essentially, there is a target shoulder to waist ratio, called the golden ratio, that every guy should aspire to achieve.  The ideal ratio is 1.618.  Furthermore, your waist should be 45% of your height.  The great thing about the Adonis Effect program is that it provides a template to guide you toward these “perfect body” measurements.

What Are My Ideal Measurements?

Using the Adonis Effect definition of ideal measurements, here’s where I currently stand:

Shoulder to waist ratio = 47”/31” = 1.516

Waist to height = 31”/68” = 45.5%

Ideally my waist would be 30.5” and shoulders would be 49.5”.  Essentially I am right around my ideal waist so I should aim to add a little bulk to my shoulders.  Visually, I’d say this feels reasonable as I’d have a nice v-shape if I achieved these goals.

Not Your Average Fitness Tips

  1. Ideal body measurements are very difficult to define.  You are the most important judge of what you consider ideal.
  2. If you’re interested in what other people consider ideal, the Adonis Effect provides research on what constitutes a perfect body and offers a diet and exercise plan that describes how to get the perfect body.  Aim for a waist to height ratio of 45% and shoulder to waist ratio of 1.618.
  3. Ideal body measurements are very difficult to achieve.  Everything looks unreasonable when you’re really far away.  Take slow steps to work toward your perfect body and realize that it could take a long time before you get there.

28 Responses to “Ideal Body Measurements: How to Get the Perfect Body”

  • Great post man. Have you also looked into the “ideal greek proportions” ==> waist = 2x arms. Arms = neck = calf


  • Yavor,
    Those are new to me. They definitely seem like realistic goals. The only flaw is that people could justify having a really big waist because they have really big arms. If you add in that waist should be between 45-50% of your height, I think you have a winning formula. Thanks!

  • Dave at first glance it seems you can justify at big waist. However – you can’t grow your arms at the rate you grow the waist. Even a slightly overweight guy with a 90cm waist will have a hard time getting 45cm arms, etc…

  • Toni:

    Once again, this article’s content manages to surprise me because I always associate ‘ideal body measurements’ as something women frequently think about in our seemingly thin-obsessed culture. I would never imagine a guy getting a tape measure out or whatever to see where he’s at. This article is just proof-positive how much the quest for a perfect physique manages to affect both genders. I wonder what the ideal female body measurements are. I’d be mildly curious to see where I fall in the given parameters of the so-called ‘ideal’.

  • Toni,
    It’s not just women that have to worry about appearance in this day and age. In some ways it’s harder to be a guy because most women think a tight, defined body is better while other guys tend to think bigger is better. It’s definitely a conflict.

    As for ideal female proportions…based on my reading, waist should be less than 50% of height and waist/hips and waist/bust ratio should be less than 0.8. For example, the ideal Victoria Secret Model is 5’8″, 34-24-34.

  • Toni:

    My waist to hip ratio is .79 so I’m good there but I fall a little short in the other measurements at: 5’6″,33-26-33. Oh well…win some, lose some. Good to know though, thanks for the new info. I have serious doubts as to whether I could cinch my waist in another two inches since essentially I’m pretty boyishly-built (again, think Gwyneth Paltrow, lol) and my waist is almost non-existent. I still believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder though.

  • Toni,
    Sounds like you’re in excellent shape and I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

  • Interesting post. I’m working hard to get there but plugging in my measurements was actually a little discouraging but also quite revealing.

    I now realize my focus will have to be more on my legs. My calves and thighs fall well short of the 34% and 53% respectively.

    I’m anxious to see what happens now that I’m shifting the focus of my workouts.

    – M

  • M,
    Remember that ideal body measurements are just a starting point. You may find that you like the way your body looks with smaller legs or wider/narrower shoulders. While these serve as a good starting point, it all comes back to what you think your perfect body is.

  • Very cool information. I have never seen proportions spelled out like this, kind of neat to take some measurements and see where you fall. It’s all subjective though, kind of a beauty is in the eye of the beholder thing. Now though I want to see what my shoulder-waist ratio is. I’m at work and don’t have a measuring tape.


  • Steve,
    Everything is definitely subjective but it gives a good starting point. If you’re getting leaner, try to keep the same shoulder size. If you’re gaining mass, try to keep the same waist size. Just make sure you don’t take things too far in either direction.

  • Chris:

    Do you think your computation apply to all races. If not, I hope you can look into the statistics for Asians as they have very different body structure. For me, as long as each body part is proportionate to the other parts, then it looks fine. But if you really want to be sexy or attract attention then you have to work out on that figure.

    Chris Rempel

  • Chris,
    I’d say all people, regardless of race, have different body types. I’ve written about that a little more here:

    These were just general starting points for someone looking for ideal body measurements based on the information I’ve seen available. I’d agree that looking proportional and being happy with your overall appearance are most important.


  • A fascinating post but I am not sure – whatever the Adonis effect claims – that physical dimensions are what women find attractive at all (wallet, power and sense of humor seem to be the key). In any case some dimensions that we have no control over at all have a major part to play – I for example have very short legs for my height and as a result have to get my bike handmade to fit. That means any calculations as to what I should be are meaningless. Sure I am not unique in this…

  • Zoltan,
    It may not be exact, but I find that your waist/height and shoulder/waist ratios at least provide a good starting point. Ultimately though, every person has to decide how they look best.

  • Great article! I want to get my perfect body. This article helped me alot. Thanks!

  • Kim:

    Excellent. At last I’ve found a health/fitness blog mentioning the Golden Ratio 1:1.618. Artists incorporate the ratio into their paintings and layouts, and refer to it as the Golden Section. A retired Maxillo-facial Surgeon called “Dr Stephen Marquardt” has already used the ratio to develop a facial mask, mapping perfect facial beauty. His mask can be downloaded and used to help people work out what part of their face could benefit from a surgical alteration, or not as the case may be. He appeared in a BBC documentary called The Human Face (presented by John Cleese and Elizabeth Hurley) back in 2001. “Pythagorus” first observed the golden ratio and other examples of Sacred Geometry in Ancient Greece.

  • Jared:

    Hey Dave,

    Wanted to thank you very much for your detailed response to my post on the “Fitness Models Workout Routine” article in regards to my water and protein intake as well as the type of training I’ve been doing.

    Per your suggestion of checking out your best tips, I wound up on this article on ideal measurements last night and came up with some measurable goals for myself to work towards. The goals I chose are somewhat of a hybrid of the Adonis and the Grecian goals.

    Wondering if you have any tips on the type of exercises I should be doing on a weekly basis and whether I should be cutting out long distance running and subbing in HIIT or yoga (to improve flexibility as I’ve been having some low back pain due to tight hips). The other change I was thinking was reducing the lower body workouts I’ve been doing since I’m pretty much “on spec” with my lower body. Here are my goals:

    trim waist down to 33″ – 1″ difference
    build upper arm (bicep/tricep) up to 15″ – 3″ difference
    build forearms up to 12″ – 1″ difference
    build shoulder circumference up to 53″ – 4″ difference – I’m guessing this can be spread out between arms, chest back and shoulder for a total circumference gain?
    build chest up to 42″ – 1″ difference
    maintain lower body toned roughly at current measurements
    keep butt toned
    keep working at 6 pack and revealing it.

    Any advice or suggestions would be most appreciated!


  • Jared,
    If you’re open to giving up direct weight training for you legs, I’d highly recommend that approach. The only thing I do besides HIIT is kettlebell swings and plyometrics. Other leg exercises like squats always seem to add inches to my waist. Frankly, I’m happy with the appearance of my legs and since I’m not a professional athlete, don’t have any reason to get unusually strong or big legs.

    In general, looks like you should do a full upper body workout. Should for 3-4 times per week. Perform HIIT 2-3 times per week to help you legs stay in good shape and help burn fat. The last thing would be to get your diet in check. That might mean eating mostly good foods, performing intermittent fasting, doing calorie cycling, or some other approach. Put it all together and you should be able to build some upper body muscle and lose some fat which should help you trim you waist and revealing your abs.

    Happy to answer more follow-up questions as well.

  • Bert:

    Thanks Dave, very scientific, I’m inspired. I never really thought about working my body to a formula like that but I’ve hit a spot in life where I’m ready to get mechanical about this. I’ve always just hit it hard on my skis and bike and taken what I got. I’ve bookmarked the post and I’m getting organized. Thx.

    Can’t wait to see how pissed my wife gets with all the babes checking me out! ;o)

  • Bert,
    Good luck fending off the legion of women who will be following you around!

  • I need to get a slightly smaller waist and shoulders that are inches bigger. Damn, how the heck to I bulk up that much in the shoulders.

  • Wayne,
    Definitely not an easy thing to accomplish. A slight caloric surplus combined with some sarcoplasmic hypertrophy shoulder training might help get you there. Genetically we’re all built differently so I wouldn’t stress too much especially since you’re in good shape already.

  • Arul Mark Cutinha:

    My shoulders are 97.5cm and my waist is 61.2cm so my shoulder:waist ratio is 1.593 which is very close to 1.618.My waist:hip ratio is 0.74 and my waist:chest ratio is 0.765 both of which are normal(<0.9) and my chest:hip ratio is 0.967 because my body is flabby from belly to feet but skinny from head to waist. I'm satisfied with my shoulder:waist ratio and also my unusual body fat distribution due to which my body adiposity index(19.3) is in the normal range. Height 5'7.1", age 26, male.

  • Ayan:

    hello sir,

    after some grow up my biceps are stopped growing for 4months. so what can i do in this situation. i need your help sir

  • Ayan,
    Have you changed up your workout routine? If not, start by doing that. Otherwise, you might have just reached a peak for your biceps. They can’t keep growing forever…otherwise imagine all the people who have exercised for decades who would have 25″ arms.

  • Adil:

    Hello mate need help with the measurements. Not sure what my ideal measure will be!! Could you please help!

  • Adil,
    Here’s one site to try based on wrist size:

    Otherwise, multiply your height in inches by 45%. That is your ideal waist size. Multiply your ideal waist size by 1.618 to get your ideal shoulder size.


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