We’ve come a long way from the days during which damsels were perpetually in distress and women didn’t hit the weight room just as hard as the boys. But the seemingly outdated “find a big, strong guy to protect you” mentality might still influence which men women find attractive, according to a new study from Griffith University in Australia.

When researchers asked women to rate photos of men’s shirtless or tank top-clad upper bodies based upon either strength or attractiveness, the women tended to rate the strongest men as the most attractive. Of the 150 women who took part in the study, none of them preferred weaker men. This could have to do with the fact that deep down, women look for a man with the ability to provide for his future family, according to Aaron Sell, Ph.D., one of the study’s authors. Or maybe muscular physiques are just seen as hot in Australia. Who knows?

Physical strength turned out to be the best way to predict a guy’s attractiveness to women, but being tall and lean definitely helps too, the findings suggest. (Again: shocking.) Researchers also found that people were pretty good at gauging the strangers’ actual strength levels, which just goes to show that you can’t fake gains.


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Also notable: Both the men being rated and the raters were students at either Oklahoma State University or Griffith University; that might skew the results slightly, because college students’ desired characteristics may not necessarily line up with what other adults look for in a potential partner. The men’s faces were also blurred, so this study strictly looked at body type. That’s actually pretty good news for any gym rat, if you ask us.

And, as any bodybuilder knows, genetics are a huge part of how easily you get shredded. Apparently, the perception that a guy’s got good genes might also play a part, says Sell. “Among our ancestors, one variable that predicted both a man’s genetic quality and his ability to invest was the man’s formidability,” he told Griffith News. “Therefore, modern women should still have mate choice mechanisms that respond to cues of a man’s fighting ability.”

Our takeaway? Maybe get started on that new workout program today instead of next Monday.

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