Why You Won’t Build an Aesthetic Physique if You Don’t Focus on Relative Strength


The Key to an Aesthetic Physique

Have you been in the gym for years packing on as much muscle as possible, but you don’t have the body you want?

Maybe you’ve even gained a lot of strength in the process, but you still don’t have the lean physique you want. That’s because you’re not focusing on the right strength. The key to an aesthetic physique is relative strength.

If you want a physique that’s not only strong but is powerful, athletic, and aesthetic, then you’re going to need to change your mindset.

Most people come into the gym with the hopes of getting as big and strong as possible and hoping to look like that action figure of Hulk Hogan you had growing up.

But it doesn’t quite work like that. If you’re getting big and muscular, but you’re layered in fat, well you aren’t going to have the physique you desire.

In order to have a downright astonishing physique that’s lean and chiseled, you need to get as strong as possible with the least amount of body fat.

This is what’s going to give you the Hollywood physique you’re looking for.

low cable fly

How is Strength Measured?

Strength is measured by a multitude of facets. There are calisthenics, weights, and some people are strong while others are strong for their size.

You can be strong with your bodyweight and be able to do one-arm pushups and chin-ups and squat twice your weight, or you can be just strong in general and be able to deadlift 500 pounds plus.

9/10 times it’s better to be the person who can do one-arm pushups and chin-ups. They likely have the more aesthetic physique.

Now don’t get me wrong, you can be both massive and strong for your size. Technically, you might be exceptionally strong for your size but not be able to do one-arm pushups and chin-ups, but these are usually elite bodybuilders.

Even though its muscle, these guys are usually too big to lift themselves up with just one arm.

But I’m talking about the mass here. Most people that are massive aren’t coated in muscle. They’re layered in fat.

They may be strong, but they have too much fat to see any muscle. While others aren’t quite as big, but they put up impressive numbers for their weight.

It’s better to be strong for your size. You want to be able to throw around as much weight as possible with the least amount of deadweight wrapped around you.

What’s more impressive to you, the guy who can do a one-arm chin-up or the guy who can deadlift 500 pounds?

I think it’s fair to say most people would agree on the notion of doing one-arm chin-ups, and he likely has a more impressive physique.

cable front raise

Absolute Strength

Absolute strength is your overall strength levels. This is how strong you are. It doesn’t matter if you weigh 300 pounds or 160 pounds. What’s important is how much weight you throw up.

The best way to determine your absolute strength is by the big three (squats, deadlifts, bench). So just add up your max on these and that will tell you your overall strength.

Someone that weighs 300 pounds but is in the 1,000-pound club is stronger than someone who is 160 pounds but can bench press double their weight.

Offensive lineman and strongman have this kind of strength. It’s impressive, but not quite as impressive nor near as beneficial as relative strength. And I’ll tell you why below.

Relative Strength

Relative strength is how strong you are for your size. The smaller you are and the stronger you are, the more relative strength you have. This is crucial for developing a well-developed physique.

Think of everyone you know that is strong for their size. These are the most ripped dudes you know.

If you can do weighted pistol squats, 100-pound weighted pull-ups, and can bench press 1.5x your weight, then you’ve got relative strength, my friend. And I bet you have a lower level of body fat with some muscle to show too.

*A fun fact: ants have incredible relative strength. They can lift 10-50x their body weight. 

deadlift socks

Powerlifters vs. Strongman

To give you some more examples, powerlifters have relative strength. They’re insanely strong for their size.

Powerlifters are lifting weight much heavier than how much they weigh. They often look much bigger than they are. That’s because they are usually very lean and maintain low-level body fat.

Strongman have absolute strength. They have incredible overall strength but are gigantic.

These guys can pull eighteen-wheelers for crying out loud, but they’re 6’8″ and weigh over 400 pounds. While impressive, they’re nowhere near as lean and aesthetic as powerlifters.

Which Physiques Are More Impressive?

Well, I guess it depends on who you ask, but for the vast majority, the powerlifters have better physiques.

That’s because they’re lean, and more aesthetic looking then strongman.

And that’s the key to a spectacular physique. Ones that’s well-developed, lean, and athletic.

Most people who want to develop an action figure like physique, go in dirty bulking and trying to pack on as much muscle as possible. The problem with this is that it may make you strong, but it doesn’t build you an amazing physique.

It builds fat around your entire body and hides all the muscle you’ve worked so hard for.

What you want to do instead is get as strong as possible, while maintaining the least amount of fat. This is the key to a lean, athletic, physique.

Key to a Lean, Athletic Physique

If you’re stronger for your size, then you have less body fat. This will make you look better naked and be more athletic.

You’ll be more athletic because the less body fat you have and the more muscle you have, the more agility, power, and speed you’ll have. All three are important components of many sports.


While having absolute strength is impressive, it wilts compared to relative strength. And if you want a body that not only looks spectacular but is athletic, then you’ll want to focus more on increasing your strength for your size and less on your overall strength.

To do this, drop body fat and get as strong as possible. Your body will thank you.

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