The Basics of Bodybuilding Symmetry
How does a man five feet six inches in height appear six feet tall standing alone at a distance in the street or on a bodybuilding stage? How does he look like he weighs 215 muscular pounds when he barely tips the scale at 176 pounds? Why does his waist look 28 inches, when its actual measurement is 32 inches? How does he step onstage at a bodybuilding competition and blow away competitors who outweigh him by 20, 30 even 50 pounds or more? Why does this man’s body look like a beautiful piece of classical sculpture, while much larger men look misshapen and blocky? The answer - in a word - is symmetry.
The late Vince Gironda, trainer of champion bodybuilders and movie stars, was the true pioneer and master at the art of creating symmetry. He called it “cosmetic bodybuilding” or “creating an illusion.” Vince believed that adding muscle mass did not always improve the physique. “Size without shape is grotesque and the overall appearance is positively revolting.” said Vince. However, when new muscle is added in a manner that enhances your symmetry, the result can take your breath away.
What is Bodybuilding symmetry?
Symmetry was first described by the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who explained it in terms of mathematical relationships (which were also used to construct Greek temples). Leonardo DaVinci later expanded on and explained these concepts by way of his “Canon of Proportions” (also known as the “Vitruvian Man”). This illustration depicted a man standing with his arms outstretched within a circle and a square.
The perfectly symmetrical physique is often described as the “X” shape. The top of the X represents broad shoulders, the “V” in the top half of the X represents a wide upper back, narrowing into a small waist with small hips; and the bottom half of the X represents long legs with a flowing outer quad sweep, full calves and upper thigh muscles that seem to connect directly into the waist.
When you think of those who have achieved such classical proportions, they are few in number and include such elite company as Steve Reeves, Frank Zane, Bob Paris, Francis Benfatto, and Lee Labrada.
Genetics and symmetry
Many people suggest that you must be born with a genetic gift in order to attain such a physique, and there’s a lot of truth in that statement. Three time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane was once asked, “You are particularly famous for your body symmetry. Is there a special way that you train which gives you such great proportions?” Frank replied, “Blame it all on my parents. I guess I was just fortunate to have inherited good bone structure in the first instance.”
If you didn’t “choose” the right parents, what then? Don’t worry. There are specific qualities that create “the illusion” which are obtainable by all. Although not everyone is capable of developing the symmetry of Reeves, Zane or Labrada, every person can improve their muscle shape and symmetry above and beyond where it is today.
Some of the left-brained scientific types throw a tantrum the minute a bodybuilder mentions “muscle shaping.” It may be true that you can’t change your bone structure, muscle insertions or other genetic factors, but you can certainly change your overall body shape and improve your symmetry if you know how. In fact, that IS the very essence of what bodybuilding should be.
In Part II of this article I will cover various bodybuilding techniques that you can use in order to improve your symmetry and create the impression of a bigger looking you!
Go to: The Basics of Bodybuilding Symmetry, Part II.
About the Author
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success coach and author of Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men's Exercise. Tom's inspiring and informative articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and motivation are featured regularly on dozens of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" e-book, visit www.freefatlosssecrets.net. To subscribe to Tom's free monthly e-zine, visit www.tomvenuto.com