T Nation

Bulk Belly Perceptions

An interesting research paper comparing perceptions of different male human figures. There’s a lean muscular male figure (M-) and a muscular male with a belly (M+).

Here’s the paper - it’s open access so you can read the whole thing: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0003187

Here’s the key table with the various traits and their associations: http://www.plosone.org/article/slideshow.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0003187&imageURI=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0003187.t001

Being lean and muscular is perceived as physically aggressive, strong, not lethargic, not disease prone, rough and tough, confident, conscious about looks, not money minded, not a business risk avoider, not depressed, influential, dominating, status conscious, modern, brave, not friendly, not talkative, not stupid, not greedy, not selfish, not honest, not kind and not political.

Bulky and muscular appears not swift, not conscious about looks, not a physical risk avoider, not intelligent, not loving and not honest.

The difference in the length of the two lists is, itself, interesting.

yeah alot of people, especially women perceive belly fat to imply a complete lack of physical abilities.

When in reality alot of very strong, very fast guys are 10-11% bodyfat and lack a sick pack, or even have a bulge on their waist line.

people also seem to think that a six pack means your strong and fast.

I know a lot of skinny little guys who go jogging then do crunches, eat very little food, and have a reasonable sixpack.

Are they strong or fast ? not in the slightest, do they have single digit bodyfat that makes the abs visible from cardio and diet ?

You betcha.

[quote]Westclock wrote:
yeah alot of people, especially women perceive belly fat to imply a complete lack of physical abilities.

When in reality alot of very strong, very fast guys are 10-11% bodyfat and lack a sick pack, or even have a bulge on their waist line.

people also seem to think that a six pack means your strong and fast.

I know a lot of skinny little guys who go jogging then do crunches, eat very little food, and have a reasonable sixpack.

Are they strong or fast ? not in the slightest, do they have single digit bodyfat that makes the abs visible from cardio and diet ?

You betcha.[/quote]

I agree and also disagree.

I agree that many people who carry a little extra fat are stronger and can sometimes be very athletic.

I also agree to a point about the skinny weaklings. There are some people who strive for that six pack and they are weak because they stay small and don’t want to get “bulky” but want “abz” lol

against that tho, are the freaks of nature or so I’ve been called. At one point in my life I was 5’11" and 140lbs ripped to shreds (always had the abs). I was tall for my age and very skinny, but I was physically stronger and more athletic than the 10-11% kid who was even heavier than me. My little brother is the same way. Granted we seem to have genetics on our side and put on nothing but muscle, there are those people who seem to have been born with abs, have a slightly harder time adding weight but put on quality muscle that are strong as a mofo too. lol

I guess you can’t just classify people into a couple categories as there are the skinny/strong, fat/weak, skinny/weak, fat/strong…get what imma tryin to say? lol

DG

To be honest, judging from the table, the M+ category actually suffers from LOW perception rather than negative perception. All it shows is people really have no experience with the M+ category. The reason is that when seen outside with regular clothes on, many a bulked up lifter is unwittingly clubbed into the M- category by the general population. Most people would club someone like Mark McGqire or Derek Jeter into the muscular male category rather than “bulk belly”.

If the first or even predominant thing people notice about you (in regular clothes) is the belly region, you’re doing something wrong.

[quote]tribunaldude wrote:
To be honest, judging from the table, the M+ category actually suffers from LOW perception rather than negative perception. All it shows is people really have no experience with the M+ category. The reason is that when seen outside with regular clothes on, many a bulked up lifter is unwittingly clubbed into the M- category by the general population. Most people would club someone like Mark McGqire or Derek Jeter into the muscular male category rather than “bulk belly”.

If the first or even predominant thing people notice about you (in regular clothes) is the belly region, you’re doing something wrong.[/quote]

Great points!

There are tons of guys in MMA that carry a good deal of body fat yet are very “athletic”. Fedor and Mark Hunt come to mind. Both carry a good deal of body fat, yet are very strong and have insane conditioning.

[quote]tribunaldude wrote:
To be honest, judging from the table, the M+ category actually suffers from LOW perception rather than negative perception. All it shows is people really have no experience with the M+ category. The reason is that when seen outside with regular clothes on, many a bulked up lifter is unwittingly clubbed into the M- category by the general population. Most people would club someone like Mark McGqire or Derek Jeter into the muscular male category rather than “bulk belly”.

If the first or even predominant thing people notice about you (in regular clothes) is the belly region, you’re doing something wrong.[/quote]

Very true. People are going to notice big arms, chest and shoulders in clothes LONG before they pay attention to your body fat percentage unless you are truly nearly obese. That means most people if they are very serious about weight lifting would fall into “M-” category even if they are close to 20% body fat.

This “perception” of the general public relies much more heavily on overall muscle mass and size than body fat.

[quote]Dirty Gerdy wrote:
Westclock wrote:
yeah alot of people, especially women perceive belly fat to imply a complete lack of physical abilities.

When in reality alot of very strong, very fast guys are 10-11% bodyfat and lack a sick pack, or even have a bulge on their waist line.

people also seem to think that a six pack means your strong and fast.

I know a lot of skinny little guys who go jogging then do crunches, eat very little food, and have a reasonable sixpack.

Are they strong or fast ? not in the slightest, do they have single digit bodyfat that makes the abs visible from cardio and diet ?

You betcha.

I agree and also disagree.

I agree that many people who carry a little extra fat are stronger and can sometimes be very athletic.

I also agree to a point about the skinny weaklings. There are some people who strive for that six pack and they are weak because they stay small and don’t want to get “bulky” but want “abz” lol

against that tho, are the freaks of nature or so I’ve been called. At one point in my life I was 5’11" and 140lbs ripped to shreds (always had the abs). I was tall for my age and very skinny, but I was physically stronger and more athletic than the 10-11% kid who was even heavier than me. My little brother is the same way. Granted we seem to have genetics on our side and put on nothing but muscle, there are those people who seem to have been born with abs, have a slightly harder time adding weight but put on quality muscle that are strong as a mofo too. lol

I guess you can’t just classify people into a couple categories as there are the skinny/strong, fat/weak, skinny/weak, fat/strong…get what imma tryin to say? lol

DG[/quote]

Having more bodyfat doesnt make you any stronger or faster, it might give you a little extra energy reserve in a long game or match, but it has no advantages beyond that and just added momentum.

But yeah I get what your saying, bodyfat and muscle mass are not really related at all.

Im more talking about how other perceive bodyfat, its an incorrect view for 90% of the population.

As long as your chest sticks out farther than your bulk belly (from muscle of course) then people can’t really tell you have one. It’s more of an illusion. Plus, for most of us, are arms stay relatively lean even when bulking. Any 99% of time people judge your level of muscularity by your arms, and maybe neck thickness.