The primary predictors of beauty in the female body are a low BMI and a curvaceous figure. Discover the perfect female body measurements..
*This is a follow-up to my previous post on the perfect male body measurements
The title of this article is misleading because society’s views on beauty in the female body are subjective and vary based on culture and time.
What was considered beautiful a hundred years ago is not necessarily what we consider beautiful today.
That being said:
In a social experiment conducted in 2012, researchers asked “What is the ideal body size that we find most attractive in women?”1
80 participants (40 male, 40 female, average age: 19, Caucasian decent) were selected to use an image manipulation program and set up their view of the ideal female body by altering the body dimensions.
Researchers found that the depiction of the ideal female body chosen by both men and women were fairly consistent based on:
- Body Mass Index (BMI) = masskg/heightm2
- Waist-to-hip Ratio (WHR) = Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Hips
- Waist-to-chest Ratio (WCR)= Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Chest
According to women:
- BMI: 18.9
- WHR: 0.7
- WCR: 0.6
According to men:
- BMI: 18.8
- WHR: 0.73
- WCR: 0.69
For both sexes, the primary predictor of female beauty is a relatively low BMI combined with a relatively curvaceous body.
What Does This Mean For You?
Society has conditioned us to have certain perceptions.
In terms of the perfect female body, society advertises big breasts, wide hips, and a narrow waist. This is the look that is considered “sexy” today and the one that many women strive for.
There are three ways (four, if you count liposuction) through which you can alter your body’s shape and appearance:
A lot of women are misinformed when it comes to aligning their diet and exercise programs with their goals.
Common Mistakes Women Make When Trying To Get In Shape
Women are often caught up between what they read in magazines, the advice of their unqualified husband or boyfriend, and society’s expectations of what they should look like.
The top mistake women make when dieting is to cut their calories too drastically.
This is referred to as “crash dieting”.
Crash dieting can lead to fast weight loss in the first couple of weeks.
It is not sustainable in the long run and when returning back to normal eating habits all the lost weight is regained.
A proper nutrition plan involves changing eating habits in a way that does not shock your body so that weight loss can be sustained and maintained in the long run.
Avoid the top 5 mistakes women make in the gym.
1. Too Much Cardio
Cardio is most effective for people who are overweight and/or new to exercise. Overtime, however, the body adapts and begins to use energy and oxygen from more convenient sources, i.e. muscle tissue.
Excessive cardio is also related to an increased appetite for sugary foods to replace the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is lost during periods of chronic stress.
The main way cardio hinders your fat loss efforts is through the increased production of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is catabolic, i.e. it uses up muscle tissue and slows down protein synthesis.
Less muscle mass equates to a slower metabolism and a slower metabolism leads to your body burning fewer calories during rest.
Other effects of high cortisol include:
- Increased insulin resistance making the body unable to tap into fat stores for energy.
- Imbalanced ghrelin and leptin levels (hormones that regulate hunger).
- Suppressed growth hormone and testosterone levels (associated with increased fat gain).
Avoid running on the treadmill at the same speed for prolonged periods of time.
Numerous studies have found High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to be most effective for fat loss2 3 4.
A typical HIIT session involves a brief period of sprinting followed by a longer period of walking.
Sample HIIT workout:
15 second sprint followed by 45 second walk, for a total of 15 minutes.
2. Fear Of Getting Broad
Most women either use weights that are too light or they don’t lift weights at all.
Sure, diet and cardio may help you drop a some fat.
But what will be under it?
The answer is:
Not much! You will still feel flabby.
Lifting weights is what will develop tone and reveal the overall appealing shape of your body.
You will not develop curves using 5lb dumbbells.
Use weights that allow you to complete 8-15 reps. Don’t be afraid to progress up to using the 20, 30, or even 40 lb dumbbells.
More muscle mass also means a faster metabolism. A faster metabolism means your body will burn more calories at rest.
Your muscles will not grow beyond your aesthetic ideal… unless you overfeed them.
This is where keeping your diet in check comes into play.
3. Attempting To Shrink The Waist With Excessive Ab Training
I have observed women in the gym diligently doing crunches, side bends, leg raises, and various other ab exercises day after day.
Although the myth of spot reducing fat stores has long been busted, many women still believe that they can shrink their waist by training their abs.
Ab training can pronounce the muscles of the core and create a tighter stomach, but it will not do much to cut down the fat.
Training your abs 2-3 times a week is more than enough.
Your fat loss efforts should be focused on diet and an HIIT routine.
4. Repetitive Workouts
When you work your muscle, you are essentially breaking it down.
In order for muscle growth, you need to allow time for recovery.
Your muscles grow outside the gym.
If you are doing the same workout everyday you are either:
2) Not working out hard enough
Break up your workout split to train each muscle group once a week.
- Monday: Chest
- Tuesday: Legs
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Back
- Friday: Arms/Shoulders
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Rest
5. Inadequate Post Workout Nutrition
After a workout your muscles are depleted of glycogen and craving nutrients.
It is important to get a proper post-workout meal in order for your body to ignite the muscle repair process.
A good benchmark for a proper post-workout meal is about 30 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs.
Experiment to see how your body best responds.
During the hour after a tough workout your muscles are like sponges. They absorb much of what is consumed. It is very difficult for your body to gain fat during the post-workout window. Your body drives the nutrients straight to the muscle rather than storing them.
The 1-hour post-workout window is also the best time for you to consume your guilty pleasures.
The 3 Key Proportions for The Perfect Female Body
In a previous post, I discussed how ancient Greek sculptors based their depiction of the perfect male body on the Golden Ratio.
The Golden Ratio (1.618…) is an irrational number, i.e. goes on forever, that occurs throughout nature and can serve as a guide for aesthetic proportions in the human body.
Plastic surgeons use the Golden Ratio in reconstructive surgery and magazine artists use it to touch up their cover models.
For a man, the closer his shoulder-to-waist ratio is to 1.618 the closer his body is to the “Divine Proportion”.
For a woman’s body, the dimensions are expressed in terms of the circumference of three inflection points:
The human eye tends to track these three points as a curve and perceives the curve as the visual shape of the body.
Our vision of the perfect female body is largely influenced by the media and tends to vary over time*.
*Check out this article on how our perception of the perfect female body has changed over the past century.
That being said, I have laid out a benchmark for each of the waist, bust, and hip measurements.
Getting closer to these measurements will not only have your body being recognized as “sexy” by society’s standards, but will also be defined as “fitness” level by the American Council on Exercise5.
Note: All measurements are in inches
1) Waist Measurement=Height x 0.375
Wrap the tape at the narrowest point around the hips
2) Bust Measurement=Waist Measurement x 1.5
Wrap the tape at the widest part around the chest
3) Hip Measurement: Same as Bust Measurement
Wrap the tape at the widest part around the buttocks.
For a woman that is 5 ft 4 in, this would imply the measurements of 36-24-36, i.e. 36″ bust, 24″ waist and 36″ hips.
Examples of The Perfect Female Body
The measurements above are for the classic “hourglass figure”.
Kim Kardashian, Jessica Biel, and Jennifer Lawrence are all women who have physiques that closely resemble the measurements as listed above.
Today, this is the look that our society considers “sexy”.
Unlike the skinny model look, these women are in good physical condition.
*Kim Kardashian has also been known for using a waist trainer as a means to get to her hourglass figure.
What It Comes Down To
What are YOUR goals?
What do YOU want to look like?
Don’t fall prey to society’s pressures of what you should look like.
That being said, most women have similar goals when it comes to getting in shape:
- Lose Fat
- Get Toned
You can check out the VFX program for a structured approach towards achieving these two goals.
- Crosley, Kara (2012). “What Is an Attractive Body? Using an Interactive 3D Program to Create the Ideal Body for You and Your Partner“. American Transcendental Quarterly.
- Gorostiaga, Esteban (1991). “Uniqueness of interval and continuous training at the same maintained exercise intensity“. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology.
- King, Jeffery (2001). “A Comparison of the Effects of Interval Training vs. Continuous Training on Weight Loss and Body Composition in Obese Pre-Menopausal Women“. East Tennessee State University.
- Talanian, Jason (2006). “Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women“. Journal of Applied Physiology.
- Calculator for Body fat norms in men and women. The American Council on Exercise