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An 'athletic body' doesn't always look the same. (ninamatsumoto.wordpress.com)
90 points by armandososa 2453 days ago | hide | past | web | 30 comments | favorite

Most sports magazines promote very unhealthy body shapes. And often they don't report on important athletes because they don't look good. That's why I cancelled my Runner's World subscription decades ago. Once in a while I get a glimpse of their new covers and they seem to be getting worse. Like that cover "the raise of the skirts." It's more about fashion than sports.

Most runners depicted in these magazines look weak and underdeveloped to me. Then again I'm a powerlifter, so it's possible my perspective is skewed.

The Runner's World cover is always a pretty girl, but I don't think that's the case of the content, e.g. Craig Pickering (100m sprinter) looks like a perfectly normal person but he's in there almost every month. Jessica Ennis and Kate Dennison have normal healthy body shapes.

You couldn't be more correct especially regarding so called 'health' magazines. I cancelled Men's Health because it turned into a Maxim.

I've always found Men's Health to have pretty ideal male physical forms on the cover. They've had Obama on the cover, Beckham, and sometimes the cover man isn't even shirtless. In fact, when I'm at the gym talking about goals, I'll sometimes say "more like Men's Health, not MuscleMag".

Consider the comparision. Maxim isn't known for its skewed portrayal of men. It's known for only featuring "babes" and other species of "hot chicks".

That's why I miss Running Times...

Health and performance are so much more important than subscribing to some utterly imaginary idea of what you should look like as a person.

I've met some fellow cyclists on the local circuit who looked borderline anorexic, because they took the "lose all possible weight" theme as far as they could. Even some pro cyclists look unhealthy, to me. What I'm getting at is that sometimes a sport's own internal pressures may cause issues.

So, what sport creates the "best" looking athlete based on our society's standard? IMO, it would be soccer..?

You hear people often about "swimmer's bodies": broad shoulders and narrow waist (V-shape), long legs and arms, not too low body fat percentage, medium amount of mass, toned & elongated muscles.

Also ancient pentathletes (modern day decathletes). Aristotle in Rhetoric: "a body capable of enduring all efforts, either of the racecourse or of bodily strength...This is why the athletes in the pentathlon are most beautiful"

For the "current" standards of good looking and for skill levels attainable by people having a life (and/or job) it would be probably something like that (roughly in descending order):

* Basketball (for women tied with Volleyball)

* Decathlon (men)

* Sprint (men - women equivalent would be long and high jump)

* Boxing (all variants but only for lower to "normal" weight classes)

* Judo/Wrestling/BJJ/Gymnastics (lower to "normal" weight classes... maybe to sinew for women)

* Rowing/Kanu

* Olympic Weightlifting (lower to "normal" weight classes)

* Powerlifting (again lower to "normal" weight classes, additionally not at elite level)

* Swimming (men... women a probably higher in this chart)

If you allow "newcomers", I would add to above list CrossFit in the upper third for men (lower third for women) and Kettlebell (lower to "normal" weightlcasses) in the lower third.

Swimming would have been higher in the past, but for today's "standards" it allows a to "high" level of body fat compared to the other sports.

Football (aka. "Soccer") players only start to look "good" at a pretty high level (if they're not doing anything else), the same probably holds true for Baseball.

Additionally some positions in American Football (e.g. Receiver) and some Skiing variants would be ranked quite well.

Kanu? If you mean kayak, I disagree. Kayaking is good for upper body strength, but (exaggerating) atrophies the legs.

Also, I think there is a difference between 'good on average', and 'good for those who manage to do a lot of it without getting injured'. For example decathlon training is good for overall 'athlete look', but the risk of dropping out with some injury is fairly high.

For that reason, I would rank the impact-free sports such as swimming, cross-country skiing and rowing a bit higher.

I don't think judo does much to contribute to the "ideal body" at all. There are judoka with the ideal body, but there are far, far more without.

You know that the best sportsmen, and that includes the best soccer players, don't just perform their sport, but also do, say, auxiliary strength training?

I think the point is the idealized magazine "athletic" body has nothing to do with reality.

For men my vote is on decathlon. Not sure about women though.

The sprinters have to be very muscular for the short-term power they need and at the same to have very low body-fat as to not carry around any extra weight.

All of the sprinters look like they could be on the cover of Men's Fitness.

Weight lifting combined with a very carefully controlled diet.

Basketball, hands down. Tall, slim, muscular.

I've tried really hard and failed to find even a remote correlation between hacking and/or news.

The correlation, however tenuous, that I arrived at is the abiding interest in the hacker community to find a fitness regimen that interferes the least with the 16-hour workday.

I found a correlation: HN is a site full of hackers, and they upvoted it.

If you don't like it, downvote it, or don't read it.

Rulon Gardner (1st image) is on this season's Biggest Loser. He had ballooned up to 460lbs.

My hobby is olympic weightlifting. I am 6'3 and weigh approximately 300lbs, in imperial terms (190cm / 137kg), placing me well inside the superheavyweight division.

According to the BMI I am morbidly obese. According to my doctor I am in excellent health.

Actually feet, inches and pounds are imperial terms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_units

Metre (cm) and gram (kg) are SI-units (International System of Units)

You've mis-parsed my sentence. The part "in imperial terms" was meant to refer to the imperial measurements. The SI measurements were in parentheses for people who, like me, live outside of Liberia, Myanmar and the USA.

Ah, yes. Sorry :-)

While they may not look like fashion models, fitness models, porn stars or greek gods, there's one notable difference between all these people and the typical person: they all have significantly more muscle.

(Edit: a few exceptions: the long distance runners, the table tennis guy, the rhythmic gymnastic woman, and the fencing guy.)

The body needs to be fit for its tasks, not just please the snobbish beholder.

This reminded me of Nike's "Go ahead, tell me I'm not an athlete!" campaign. To open minded people, this makes perfect sense.

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