You may have noticed, in the past week, that the news has been showing close-ups of dripping wet male torsos where Donald Trump used to be. Even if you’re not that way inclined, you have to admit that this is an improvement.

Perhaps you’ve also seen and been amused by all the love online directed towards that particularly stunning Chinese swimmer (eg ‘help, I’ve fallen and I need to touch your abs to get up’).

But as a man, and presumably not an Olympic athlete, this might also make you wonder: do women really lust after men with the bodies of sporting heroes? And does this mean you need to hit the weights?

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Let’s just get something straight right now

Let’s just get something straight right now – taking care of yourself is always going to make you more attractive. That’s because getting regular exercise, eating right, drinking only in moderation and getting enough sleep does wonders for your mental health as well as your physical health, and that makes you more relaxed, more energetic, and more fun to be around.

And yes, it’s an added bonus if you’re in reasonably decent shape. But if you’re thinking you need to grow your guns and perfect your 6-pack to reach some magical point at which you become irresistible to women, you might just be wasting your time.

The way women view the male body is a little different

The way women view the male body is a little different from the way men view the female body. Just look at the stripping culture if you need an example. Strip clubs for men are designed to be seductive, men often go there alone, and are usually quietly and intensely appreciative of the women’s bodies, occasionally leading to serious attempts to bed them. Women’s bodies have been the measure of their worth for a long time, which is why we get a little touchy about objectification even as we appreciate your bodies.

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Male strippers, on the other hand, go onstage in front of large groups of women who have arrived with their friends, and are ready for a night of laughter rather than getting lost in their own personal, erotic thoughts about the men onstage. The naked men in this situation are clearly beautiful, like a sunset or a well-made piece of furniture, and are about as much of a turn-on.

That’s because women treat sex a little differently, on the whole, than men, and that has a huge effect on the way we get attracted. A beautiful naked man might inspire us to appreciate his physical appearance, but that’s a totally different thing to feeling genuine sexual attraction towards him.

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Throw us a completely unlikely candidate

Meanwhile, throw us a completely unlikely candidate – like the lawyers from Making a Murderer, for example – and we’re on fire from the waist down. Men just aren’t measured by the make-up of their parts, so you’ve got the luxury of being considered sexy for all kinds of other reasons.

Personally, I’m a woman who’s attracted to men, and I can honestly say that muscles play absolutely zero percentage of any part of my attractions to the men I’ve had the hots for. I’ve been attracted to short men, older men, younger men, weedy men, chunky men and, yes, men who work out a lot.

And in every case there was only one thing they all had in common (apart from the obvious) and that’s simply that they had a character I really liked.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good pair of arms, but it’s the man who makes me attracted to the muscles, not the muscles that make me attracted to the man. So many women feel the same that it makes us a little confused to see the fervor with which some men hit the gym, somehow linking their bicep size to their chances with women.

The message for men is a simple one: all that drooling over Olympians is just us enjoying the sunset, we’re not really looking for athletes in real life. Look after your body, because that’s important, but if we like you as a person then we honestly don’t care if you’ve got a 6-pack.

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