Measurements for the Perfect Physique!

Ideal Measurements for a Bodybuilding Physique

The sport of bodybuilding is all about the pursuit of building a Lean Muscular Physique.

The ultimate goal is to develop your body with the right balance of muscle size, shape, definition, symmetry, and proportion.

But what is the so called “Ideal Bodybuilding Physique” ?

Unfortunately there isn’t one set answer to this question because there are many varying opinions on what is considered ideal body proportions. And these opinions are constantly evolving.

The sport of bodybuilding has changed dramatically over the past 100+ years.
Just look at the pictures below to see what I mean…

If you think modern bodybuilders wear skimpy posing trunks, just look at what Eugene Sandow wore back in the day… Good thing no one had a leaf blower LOL

What Type Of Bodybuilding Physique Would You Prefer?

Everyone is going to have their personal preference for the type of physique they admire. However, there seems to be a growing trend among fitness enthusiasts for the classic old school bodybuilder look. Which is basically a smaller muscular build compared to the Freaky Huge Bodybuilders that we see in the pro ranks today.

While a Mr. Olympia Mass Monster like Jay Cutler is certainly very impressive. It’s not the type of body that the average gym goer would like have. Most of the guys that I coach would prefer to have a muscular build similar to what the old school bodybuilders had.

This trend is evident with the growing popularity of “Men’s Physique” competition. For a lot of bodybuilding shows the Physique Division is now getting more competitor entries than the Bodybuilding Division. And when you look at today’s Top Physique Competitors, they actually do resemble the same type of look that many of the old school bodybuilders had.

The Classic Old School Bodybuilder Look…

Steve Reeves

Reg Park

Vince Gironda

Frank Zane

What Are The Body Measurements For The Ideal Muscular Physique?

Many bodybuilding historians regard Steve Reeves as being one of the most symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing bodybuilders of all time. His build was more along the lines of what a modern day Physique Competitor looks like.

Reeves was one of the early proponents of training for balance and proportion, rather than simply trying to get big at all costs. He was always striving for perfection in this regard and came close to achieving his own personal ideal physique.


It’s interesting to note that Steve Reeves neck, arms, and calves all measured the same circumference. Having these 3 body parts all measure the same was one of his criteria for ideal body proportions.

In his book “Building the Classic Physique: The Natural Way”
Steve Reeves outlined his formula for the ideal body proportions as follows…

Muscle To Bone Ratios:
– Arm size = 252% of wrist size
– Calf size = 192% of ankle size
– Neck Size = 79% of head size
– Chest Size = 148% of hips size
– Waist size = 86% of hips size
– Thigh size = 175% of knee size

Height To Weight Ratio For Building A Classic Physique:
Steve Reeves also believed that ones height represented the limit to which they could pack on mass. His main philosophy proposed keeping your body weight within acceptable limits to prevent distorting your natural symmetry.

160 lbs.
165 lbs.
170 lbs.
175 lbs.
180 lbs.
190 lbs.
195 lbs.
200 lbs.
210 lbs.
220 lbs.
230 lbs.
240 lbs.
250 lbs.

These numbers would represent ripped contest weight. Not off-season bulked up weight.

How Do You Compare To The Classic Bodybuilders?

Right now you can have some fun and break out the tape measure and calculator and see how your measurements compare. Now while these so called “ideal measurements” can give you some direction with your fitness goals, don’t take them too seriously or get discouraged by them.

Remember that these numbers are subjective and simply based on someone else’s opinion of what an ideal physique should be, but take them with a grain of salt. We all have our own unique body types, strengths, and weaknesses. No body is perfect, and even Steve Reeves in his prime didn’t match up to all these “ideal measurements”.

But you can still use this information to your advantage and have fun with it. These ratios can be used as a general guideline to help plan out your training goals so you can bring up your weaknesses and create a more balanced muscular physique.

Would You Like Some Help With Building The Ideal Muscular Physique?

If you would like some help with building the ideal classic bodybuilding physique, than I recommend that you download a copy of my Free e-Book:

The 3 Keys To Building Muscle – PDF

In this 51 page PDF download you’ll get insider tips & tricks about Bodybuilding Training, Nutrition, and Mindset that top level Bodybuilders & Physique Competitors use to quickly fill out their frames with Rock Solid Muscle Mass!

Click Here to Download Your Copy for Free!

About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...


  • This topic is always up for debate but i like how you gave a great article on what the ideal measurements for a bodybuilding physique. For me, building your muscles depends on your purpose of doing it. So whether you are competing or just going for a great looking body, one should take a read of this article to help them be guided on their goals.

  • I’m a big fan of old school aesthetic bodies like Steve Reeves and boy does Vince Gironda have an amazing body too on that pic!

    I don’t like big stomachs in nowadays bodybuilding.

  • Tanya Steele

    From one female perspective, I prefer the classic body building physique for both men and women. My opinion is the freakishly huge muscles are a total turnoff and I regard it as looking like deformed monsters. It’s painful to look at. I have never heard a woman comment that she wanted to be with someone who looks exceedingly muscular so I assume that this is done solely to impress other men.

  • Tim

    Anthony has it right.

  • Riaz

    I would highly recommend you check out the muscle measure meant chart for men by Dennis B Weis. His one is more accurate and appropriate. His justification of the details is more well explained. He has 2 types of ideal measurements 1. For serious bodybuilder so 2. For average people who want to be in good shape.
    Besides that, he has many other charts that determine an ideal nutrition for calorie intake, 1 rep max, workout training guideline (based on individual preferences), and many more. Everything is given for free, in one webpage…

    Please visit, and click’strength and measurement charts’
    I found it very informative and Dennis weis, was very way ahead of his time..

  • Flex Moore

    Lee, I personally prefer the Classic Physiques like Frank Zane, Vince Gironda, Robby Robinson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Feriggno, Serge Nubret, Dave Draper, and etc. Those are the physiques that I love and going for to obtain. I’m finally at the point or close to the point in which I obtain a physique similar to these types of physiques! They created a division in the NPC called Classic Physique! I feel I’m ready to compete and going for my first show in May! What better way to do so with the new Classic Physique Division of the NPC! This is perfect for me because this the type of physique I’m going for, striving for, and absolutely love! Classic Physiques define bodybuilding as an art and not just being a freakishly huge mass monster packing on as much muscle mass as possible! Anthony said it pretty well in his comment and fully agree! So the Classic Physique ftw!

  • Steve Reese is amazing and Vince Gironda too… wow so cool!

  • Robert Steiner

    Good article indeed.
    However there are some points I disagree with.
    I started bodybuilding in 1988 at age of 14. I strongly believe that the Golden Era of Bodybuilding was still there until it was over in about 1991. Anyway, I started competing in 1994, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
    From my experience and observation, yes, today’s modern bodybuilding (since 1991) as a general became a crap!!
    -I disagree that physique of Jay Cutler is impressive. It never was! Same as Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates and many more disproportional freaks!
    -I disagree that classic bodybuilders like Steve Reeves, Reg Park, Vince Gironda, Larry Scott and many others looked like today Men’s Physique Divisions’ competitors. They’ve certainly been more muscular and proportioned (and didn’t hide their thighs). To me Men’s Physique is not bodybuilding at all, it’s a beach fashion for men who want to please girls! THE REAL DIVISION that is close to OLD GOOD CLASSIC BODYBUILDING OF GOLDEN ERA is MEN’S CLASSIC PHYSIQUE introduced by NPC in 2016! I regret that it wasn’t introduced about 20 years ago. There was already great need for it!
    -I also disagree that only average “gym rats” want to look like classic bodybuilders from 60s, 70s, 80s. Many competitive bodybuilders (including myself) hate the way modern bodybuilding is today and think more and more about competing in REAL (old-good-like) Bodybuilding -MEN’S CLASSIC PHYSIQUE Division, present in bodybuilding federations of many countries today.

  • Robert Steiner

    Also, the photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the middle between photos of: Eugen Sandow and Jay Cutler doesn’t come from 1970. It comes from 1975
    Mr Olympia contest in Pretoria, South Africa where Arnold won his 6th consecutive title.

  • Robert Steiner

    Tanya Steele,

    I can assure you that freakishly muscular physiques presented in today’s modern bodybuilding absolutely don’t impress normal, down-to-earth, mature-thinking MEN and serious bodybuilders (including myself). I personally wish bodybuilding has stayed the way it was back in 70s or 80s.
    These disproportional (and often “pregnant”) mass monsters impress mostly spoiled, grown on XBOX and PlayStation guys born in 1992 and after.
    And not necessarily gays, if you mean that.
    I’m fed up with stupid female stereotype that all bodybuilders are gays.

  • The Eugene Sandow physique has the best balance to my tastes. He has the most credibility because there is a beautiful eloquence in his mastery of language in his writings, a classic style that only the finest 18th and 19th century authors can achieve. Look up some of his disquisitions on his advice on healthy living and observe the sheer lyricism and beauty of how he composes every sentence and the tight structure of his paragraphs. He does not refer to sports or pop culture songs, but rather to the higher forms of culture that were esteemed during the turn of that century. This is consistent with the balance he offered.

  • Robert Steiner


    Not: Steve Reese, but: Steve Reeves.
    Kyle Reese was a warrior from the future that came to year 1984
    to protect Sarah Connor targeted for extermination
    by the cyborg model: CSM 101 also sent from the future,
    starred by Arnold Schwarzenegger. :)))

  • Robert Steiner

    But YES. I agree: Steve Reeves, Vince Gironda, Reg Park and many other REAL bodybuilders were BY FAR BETTER,HEALTHIER then today’s so called “bodybuilders”. As I mentioned earlier:

  • Sam

    Hey Lee, great article,
    When steroids came to be known, people went berserk over them and started injecting the stuff. A true strongman is a thing of the past.

  • Tim

    Old School exemplifies the best form for body development. Without the more modern distortion. Mr. Reeves is the finest example of this type of body development without distracting distortions.

  • Tanya Steele,

    Hi Tanya, I think it’s just ego. I wish I could’ve looked like that. But I didn’t realize until too late that, and I’m only assuming, that is only possible with steroids. I have been training my ass off and I tried but I’m only putting on fat. I’ve accomplished most of my genetic potential. When I get the fat back off I’ll look like Steve Reeves

    • B.A.S.D.D

      Hey Lee.. it’s me Sanju.I think his is very good article.My personal opinion is,we are good to build our muscles with natural things.i totally disagree with any I would like to tell we should maintain our muscles with general fitness,flexibility,coordination and other biomotor abilities.

  • It’s really a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this.

  • Dr Andrew Agona

    I prefer the lean, muscularly athletic look.

  • John Boutin

    Many of today’s “mass monsters” actually looked better aesthetically in their amateur days. If you’ve ever seen the picture of a young Ronnie Coleman as Mr USA with a tiny waistline, it’s hard to believe why he wasn’t Mr Olympia then, rather than the older version of him with slightly bigger muscles, but with a huge distended gut to match.

    • I have to agree with you John, the best Ronnie ever looked is the year he won his first Olympia. From then on his look just went down hill as he added more and more mass. The same with Dorian Yates, he looked his best in 1993 and went down hill from there. There comes a point where more size doesn’t look good, even in bodybuilding.

  • Well Written. Learned some new stuff with very detailed information.

  • Joe


    Vince Gironda was as big as anyone needs to get. He really worked his delts..which I wish I had done “back in the day”. Too many bench presses, not enough “flyes”. I met Zane in 1976, He was VERY thick. A scientific bodybuilder, he had a written record of his countless sets & reps of each exercise. He got a little too big for his height, but was truly aesthetic.

  • Lee Joo Mong

    Can be better those bodybuilders dedicate more due diligence to the heart (to avoid heart attack), lungs (to avoid lungs failure), hip (to avoid bunion/cranked toes/wheelchair-bound). Too many died before age 50?