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Body Shape and Men

Men and their Bodies


Updated July 14, 2014

Athletic Male Lifting Dumbbells in Gym
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It has always been assumed that, compared with women, men have a much easier time of it when it comes to their bodies. Even in many male magazines the emphasis is still on the perfectly formed female body rather than the man. The critics often point out that the stereotype of, 'men look and women are looked at', are continually reinforced as a result.

More recently research has indicated a change in the way men, and women, are starting to view the male physique. One psychological investigation in the UK found that the average man is feeling a bit intimidated by the images surrounding them. Researchers said the proliferation of male pin-ups advertising products from underwear to aftershave, in the same way that female models have been used for decades, was making ordinary men feel inferior and uncomfortable about their bodies.

The study found that the emphasis on the muscular body had originated in the gay community and transferred into the mainstream over the last 10 years. Women were now being invited to look on men purely for their physical attributes as part of an equally "lookist" or superficial consumer culture. More gay men said they felt the pressure to conform with the images. Others said they believed women did not place as much importance on physical attraction as men.

Three types of body shape
Your body shape will basically fall into one of these three categories:

  • Ectomorph: characterised as tall and slim/thin.

  • Endomorph: rounded and with a generous waist size.

  • Mesomorph: muscular and athletic looking.
  • Body shape and personality
    There was a time when personality was thought to be associated with body shape. Ectomorphs were considered to be quietand morose individuals, endomorphs rather jolly, and mesomorphs a bit on the crude and vulgar side. Such characteristics figure strongly in the books by Charles Dickens. Of course if looked for these traits can be seen in such individuals but then again they can be seen in all other body shapes as well. Not surprisingly this simple association of body shape with personality type has long been viewed with scepticism at best.

    Can body shape be changed?
    Dissatisfaction with body shape is one of the main reasons men vary their lifestyle. Usually this involves diet change and exercise but increasingly may involve cosmetic surgery. Pectoral implants, liposuction and jaw enhancements are becoming more commonplace. For those more interested in lifestyle change the activities you choose will have some effect on your morphology (morph = shape).

    Body shape-The slim look Aerobic exercises that involve all the muscle groups such as running, yoga and swimming are useful. Employing a steady rate of exercise and avoiding rapid bursts of activity are thought to be important.

    Body shape-The muscular look
    Isolating each muscle group in turn and operating on a principle of short explosive bursts of activity is a basic principle. Weight bearing exercises and repeated cycles within a given muscle group are necessary - as is relaxating after normally no more than seven repetitions.

    Body shape-The well rounded look Do neither of the above. Eat too much and exercise as little as possible!

    Body shape and aging
    As men get older their metabolism slows down. Fat likes to gather around the belly of men and whilst it deposits easily it can be incredibly hard to shift. The middle age spread can be tackled with a sensible mix of exercise and healthy eating. Over a period of time most men will see fairly dramatic improvements particularly if they also concentrate on posture.

    Article source: Lee C, Owens G. The Psychology of Men's Health (2002) Open University Press, Philadelphia

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