J.P. Morgan said, “A [person] always has two reasons for doing things: a good reason and the real reason.”
Likewise, despite claims to the contrary, I’m confident that more than 90% of people work out to look better.
I’ll also make the bold generality (but not guarantee) that women often want to be smaller and men usually want to be bigger. In fact, many women who start a training program are afraid of getting “big”, and men who diet to get lean are afraid of getting “small”. This typically translates as women not wanting to be overly muscular and men not wanting to appear under-muscled.
I will argue that’s it’s not primarily size that creates a visual impact, but proportions. Think of a Ferrari: if you’re wowed by its visual appeal, do you really wonder how much it weighs or what its dimensions are? Or when getting a new hairstyle, do you measure how much hair is cut away?
Imagine having wide shoulders but an even wider waist. Your shoulders would appear narrow no matter how wide your shoulders are. In contrast, a person with an average shoulder width may appear wider if they have a small waist. It’s an optical illusion.
What’s the point of gaining 20 pounds if it all goes to your belly and backside? Likewise, what’s the point of fitting into the smallest size if there are no curves to the body?
Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and proportions. If you have genetically large, muscular calves for example, consider yourself blessed. Once you get lean enough to reveal them fully, you will get the”diamond” shape that people envy (consequently, the inner calf curve is one of the most visually appealing curves of the body).
Take home point: for maximum aesthetic appeal, train to maximize your muscular development. Structure your caloric intake to stay reasonably lean. Let your genetics determine the rest. The most pleasing look will be you at your best!