From the book, “How To Build A Classic Physique”
Chapter Nine: Realistic Results
Otto Arco, 1931.
I've given you all the tools you need to build your own lean, muscular, “classic” physique.
In this chapter, I want to give you a glimpse into the future. I want to show you a method for figuring out exactly how lean, muscular and fit you can get with this classic method of fitness. By using classical formulas for strength and muscle size, you can actually figure out what you will look like when you've accomplished your goal of obtaining a classic physique.
Building A Classic Physique: By The Numbers
Sculptors in Ancient Greece had a simple, mathematical formula they followed when creating statues of their top warriors. To make the statues the most aesthetically pleasing, the sculptors aimed to have the circumferences of the neck, upper arm (biceps) and calves equal in measurement. While today's modern bodybuilders ignore symmetry for the sake of size, the classic bodybuilders from yesteryear payed close attention to building a symmetrical physique. Classic bodybuilder Steve Reeves is the hallmark for symmetry.
His neck, upper-arm and calf all measured 18 inches – perfectly symmetrical. But you don't have to build up your arms to 18-inches to get a classic physique. In fact, it may not even be possible for you to build 18-inch biceps – sorry if it pains you to hear that but it's the truth.
It's All In The Wrist
Believe it or not, it's the size of your wrist that ultimately determines just how big your biceps can grow. Because the size of your wrist determines whether you have a small,medium or large skeleton. Your skeleton determines who big you can ultimately get. If you have a small skeleton, your “frame” cannot support a large amount of muscle mass. If you have a medium frame, you can “carry” more mass and those with larger skeletons will be able to carry even more muscle.
Obviously, without use of a complicated full-body X-ray machine there is no way to determine whether someone has a small, medium or large skeleton. That's why we use the wrist (and sometimes ankle) measurement. Your wrist is basically skin & bone – there simply isn't much muscle or fat on your wrist (unless you are grossly overweight). So by measuring the wrist, we can get an accurate determination as the size of your skeleton. And once we've determined the size of your skeleton, we can predict what level of muscularity and strength you could one day achieve.
The Classic Physique Formula
Here's my own personal formula for figuring out what measurements you need to obtain a “classic physique.”
Step #1: Measure your wrist.
Step #2: Add 10 inches to your wrist to get the projected size of your biceps (flexed.)
Step #3: Now double the size of your biceps (flexed) to obtain your maximum waist size.
A trainer with a 7-inch wrist will have a projected biceps size of 17-inches. 17-inch biceps are impressive – but not when accompanied by a 40-inch waist. So we double the biceps measurement (17) to obtain our maximum waist size: 34 inches.
So for a person with 7-inch wrists, they need to build up their arms to 17-inches (flexed) while keeping their waist measurement at 34 inches or smaller to obtain the “classic physique” look. This formula provides REALISTIC milestones to aim for and base your training around.
The McCallum Formula For Individual Measurements
John McCallum – a popular iron-game writer from decades past, proposed the following formula for determining MAXIMUM POTENTIAL muscle size:
Chest: 6.5 x wrist
Hips: 85% of chest
Waist: 70% of chest.
Thigh: 53% of chest.
Neck: 37% of chest.
Upper Arm: 36% of chest.
Calf: 34% of chest.
Forearm: 29% of chest.
So if your wrist measures 7-inches, your potential measurements would be as follows:
Chest: 45.5 inches.
Hips: 38.6 inches.
Waist: 31.8 inches.
Thigh: 24.1 inches.
Neck: 16.8 inches.
Upper Arm: 16.38 inches.
Calf: 15.47 inches.
Forearm: 13.1 inches.
Keep it mind – these are proposed as maximum potential measurements and if you were to achieve these measurements, you'd have a stunning physique.
Predicting Muscular Body Weight
Dr. Casey Butt did some statistical analysis on all the past drug-free bodybuilding champions over the past 40 years. Then he created the following formula which you can use to determine your maximum muscular body weight.
Maximum lean body mass = (3.285H + 9.437A + 5.840W – 186.449) x (%bf / 227.27 + 1)
H = Height in inches
A = Ankle circumference at the smallest point
W = Wrist circumference measured on the elbow side of the styloid process.
(The styloid process is the bony lump on the outside of your wrist.)
%bf = The body fat percentage at which you want to predict your maximum lean body mass. If that formula makes your head hurt, fear not. Casey's got an online calculator up at his site that does the math for you.
Keep in mind, this formula predicts your MAXIMUM muscular bodyweight. Unless you've been gifted with great genetics, it's unlikely you'll ever achieve the proposed maximum muscular body weight. But that's okay – shoot for 90% and when you achieve that shoot for 95%. When you hit somewhere between 90-95% of your maximum muscular body weight, you'll have a jaw dropping physique.
I've never been happy with any of the charts or calculators that predict you maximum strength in certain exercises. So let's keep this simple:
Overhead Pressing 1x your bodyweight.
Bench Pressing 1.5x your bodyweight.
Squatting 2x your bodyweight.
Dead lifting 2.5x your bodyweight.
When you can do that AND carry 10% body fat or less, you'll have a true classic
physique. If you weigh 185 pounds, that works out to...
Overhead Press: 185 pounds.
Bench Press: 277.5 pounds.
Squat: 370 pounds.
Dead lift: 462.5 pounds.
Keep in mind, this formula is NOT flawless because height and bone size make a huge difference. The 6'0 tall trainer with 6.5-inch wrists may weigh exactly the same as the 5'6 trainer with 8.0-inch wrists so according to the chart above they would be treated the same. But in real life the shorter guy will have a much easier time achieving those numbers and the taller, frailer guy will have to work longer and harder to hit those marks.
Quick Note: Of all the formulas and figures presented above, in my opinion the most important one is the ability to overhead press your body weight. The old time trainers and classic bodybuilders put a great premium on overhead pressing strength and I once heard it said that not one man in 10,000 can overhead press his body weight in strict fashion. So when you can hit that goal, you'll be in rare company.
Woman should shoot for 66% of their body weight in the overhead press.