Like women, men also had to deal with body ideals throughout history. In fact, there was more pressure on them than women. The ultimate proof of this is art like paintings and sculptures in Greece or Egpyt, for example often depicted men as having tall, lean, muscular bodies. During times when the gym or weight training didn’t exist, this would mean that the man would have to be very active and can perform challenging labor just to look like that ideal.
In the later years, industries such as the film industry, the fashion industry, the music industry, or even business and politics often had different ideas of how a man should look like. From the chubby members of exclusive clubs just for overweight men in the 00’s, to the lean, matinee idol types of old Hollywood, to the androgynous, lanky frames of the 70’s rockstars, to the huge bodybuilders of the 80’s and 90’s, men’s ideal body shapes have changed significantly over the years so that that living up to it is unreasonable. Like women, men should embrace and work with what shape they are born in.
Here are the most common male body shapes, and how to look your best in them:
1. The Rectangle
Your body is straight from top to bottom. Your shoulders are the same width as your waist and hips.
Exercise: You should aim to shape and tone your entire body. This type usually has a fast metabolism but tends to gain weight in the midsection so you are at a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes. A healthy mix of weightlifting for the entire body and cardio will help you look and feel your best.
Diet: You should eat for overall health while practicing portion control. A good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat is recommended. Since you’re at risk for heart disease, consume more healthy fats like fish, coconut or olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Avoid sugary, processed food to prevent diabetes. Eat more whole food such as fruits and vegetable, whole grains, and legumes as your protein source.
2. The Oval
You generally have slim arms and legs, small hips, and you carry most of your weight in your upper body. This is the male equivalent of the apple shape in females.
Exercise: Exercise is very important. You should aim to increase your metabolism because your body shape makes you prone to sluggishness. A mix of high intensity and low-intensity cardio sessions at least three times per week is recommended. Since you’re top-heavy, compound exercises like squats, leg presses, and deadlifts can help add mass to your lower body, making you look more balanced.
Diet: Like the rectangle, you are also prone to heart disease and diabetes since you store most of your weight on top. Lower your carbohydrate intake and consume more healthy fats like fish, coconut or olive oil, avocados, and nuts. This will help your metabolism burn fat more efficiently. Eat moderate amounts of fiber-rich, complex carbohydrates like beans, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
3. The Triangle
You are the male equivalent of the pear shape in females. You carry most of your weight in your lower body most particularly your hips, buttocks, and legs. You have a smaller upper body, usually with narrow shoulders.
Exercise: You should add some size to your shoulders and upper body to balance out your lower body. Do heavy weight training for your shoulders, arms, chest, and back. Since you’re bottom-heavy, exercises like running, cycling, or plyometrics are recommended to tone your legs.
Diet: Your body has a tendency to store fat in your hips and thighs but the carbohydrates and protein you consume tend to be burned off. In this sense, you should lower your fat intake. A diet rich in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, root crop, legumes, and fiber-rich fruits and veggies will help melt off excess fat.
4. The Inverted Triangle
The upper half of your body is muscular, with broad shoulders. Your shape tapers down to a small waist and your hips are narrower than your shoulders. Just as the name suggests, you will look like an inverted triangle.
Exercise: Adding mass to your lower body by lifting heavy weights with compound exercises like squats, lunges, leg presses, and deadlifts are good along with more isolated movements for your calves like calf raises will help balance your shape. Avoid too much weight training for your upper body.
Diet: This body shape tends to have a fast metabolism so you can get away with a treat once, maybe twice per week. Portion control and a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates like whole grains, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables are still advised for weight management and overall health.