One of the absolutely key ideas related to fitness is the process. The fact that changing dietary habits and improving physique takes a lot of time and then requires constant effort to maintain. The lack of a clearly defined endpoint or specific goal can be discouraging, especially when we’re talking about something as diverse as the human body. So how do we define physique success? When can we consider that we’ve made it? I have a few ideas, so let’s dive in.
In the post about is bodybuilding a sport, I mentioned that a major challenge in that discussion is the difficulty of determining whether a particular physique is good / better than others, unlike in team sports or athletics, where success / victory is clearly defined by score, time, or a specific distance.
Therefore, if you’re training, it’s worth considering what would make you feel like you’ve achieved success. I also want to emphasize that this whole discussion is primarily directed at people like myself, who simply want to have a nice physique but have no interest in competing in any events, which can, of course, serve as a solid benchmark of success.
Having a goal
In order to talk about achieving success, it needs to be defined in some way, turning it into a specific goal.
Starting training just to look better is fine, but if you take it seriously, that goal will be quickly achieved, and you’ll need something new and bigger.
Long-term training goals are crucial for success in fitness, and although setting them individually is necessary, it may not be easy.
On one hand, your physique is always a work in progress, but on the other, you also need to allow yourself to enjoy it and feel satisfaction from what you have accomplished.
In your fitness journey, again, assuming you take it seriously, you reach a moment where you can and should feel a sense of justified satisfaction. It’s the moment when you can say, “I’ve come a long way from my first workout, and I’m clearly better than I was”.
Then, a period of refinement begins, working on weak points and possibly expanding into other athletic areas that will further define your physique.
The markers of a good physique
Alright, we’ve discussed the matter of achieving personal goals and success based on a sense of satisfaction with how far you’ve come. Now let’s move on to objective and clearly defined markers of a good physique that leave no room for doubt. If you meet at least some of these criteria, you can consider yourself successful in achieving your goal.
A solid, standout physique involves:
Body proportions – size matters, but the proportions between different body parts are, in my opinion, more important. Many people aim for shoulders broader than waist, a Y-shaped physique, but I prefer an X-shaped physique where the thighs are also well-developed.
Details – by this, I mean not only the size of muscles but also their visual details such as shoulder striations, quad or bicep separation, and distinct back muscle groups. The more muscles you have with a lower level of body fat, the more visible the details become.
Visible abs – the abdomen is an intriguing body part because it matters both for proportions and details. If you have a considerable body weight (i.e. you’re not just skinny) and have well-defined abdominal muscles, you’re doing something right.
Compliments from strangers – an interesting phenomenon in the process of improving one’s physique is that you may receive more support and words of recognition from strangers than from people you would expect, both online and in real life.
Staring people – wearing a tank top in public places attracts attention. For a long time now, it’s seemed to me that the male chest is the equivalent of the female buttocks.
Trouble buying pants – generally, the mass-market clothing industry doesn’t take into account people with large legs. Pants can be loose at the waist and uncomfortably tight around the thighs. Well, luckily sweatpants exist.
Feeling comfortable in your own body – regardless of the other things discussed here, reaching a point where you feel truly comfortable in your own body and can enjoy life to a fuller extent because of this is the greatest measure of success.
With that in mind, a question arises of whether the inability to tick off these indicators means failure? Well, in my humble opinion, if after 5+ years of diet and training you haven’t experienced any of these things, something is not right. It may not be the news you want to hear, but the good news is that the fitness journey is a marathon, and you still have time and room for improvement.
The fitness industry, regardless of the health aspect, which is largely invisible on the outside, is highly visual. While striving for our best physique, we constantly compare ourselves to others, losing perspective and a sober view of our own bodies.
That’s why I believe it’s a good idea to define a set of indicators that are broad enough for everyone to use, yet individual enough to allow for personal application.
To me, the general definition of physique success is being in a shape that clearly sets you apart from society, and it doesn’t even seem that difficult. If you look the best among your group of five friends, you have achieved success, and I’m not so much berating them as I’m recognizing your accomplishment.
However, if you want to take your fitness journey to a higher level, it’s worth having more specific goals and ways to define physique success, such as those presented in this post.
If you enjoyed this content, please consider supporting my work by sending a donation using a regular debit card or PayPal.