Eugen Sandow & The Grecian Ideal

Eugen Sandow has been called the Father of Modern Bodybuilding because of the work he did, and if you look at the guy it’s not too difficult to see why. He didn’t just leave us with a body to admire, he gave us a way that we could get the same body too.

So what am I getting at? Basically Sandow helped to develop a formula that modern bodybuilders now refer to as The Grecian Ideal.

If you want to see a sculpted physique, there’s no where better to look than actually sculpted bodies – this is what Sandow realised too.

In ancient Greece there was a specific physique for males that was considered to be ideal, and rather than being lost for all time, fortunately artists like Michelangelo decided to sculpt examples of these.

By measuring the circumferences of body parts on these statues, Sandow noticed a lot of the proportions were consistent. The consistent features include:

  • Small waist
  • Defined core
  • Wide shoulders
  • Flat chest
  • Symmetrical

The Grecian Ideal came from this to establish the ideal body based on exact measurements. Go ahead, find an online calculator for it, all you need to know is the circumference of your wrist.

For example, a man with a 7 inch wrist should try to have a 46 inch chest, a 32 inch waist, 17 inch biceps, and a whole other host of defined measurements.

Just by knowing your wrist size you can find out which of your body parts are too big, too small or just right! Or at least by the standards of the ancient Greeks.

There has been a change in modern standards though. Eugen Sandow didn’t have the assortment of chemicals that we do today and unfortunately for some it’s just too easy to use steroids to get to where they want to be.

The desire to have a natural looking body is less now as a result. The stereotypical bodybuilder is associated with size and muscle mass, and plenty of people want to emulate that look whatever the cost might be.

You might think that makes sense though – how many of us can really hope to have a body like the statues you see in the museums, right?

This is where some people might tell you they aren’t the right shape, they don’t have the genetics, or something like that. Genetics might mean that the shape and length of your muscles differ to other people, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be in proportion.

Setting targets is so important and it isn’t always easy. By using the formula of the Grecian Ideal, you get predetermined dimensions that you can aspire to achieve.

In reality this method probably won’t work for all of you, and for others size might be more important than aesthetics. But if setting yourself goals and targets is something you want to get better at, then take a look at an online calculator and see what dimensions you would want in ancient Greece.


Ollie Lawrence
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