How to Become an Alpha Male: Richard Cooper’s 4 Steps

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Unplugged Alpha" by Richard Cooper. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What makes a man an “alpha”? Why are women attracted to dominant men?

According to Richard Cooper, success with women shouldn’t be your main reason for pursuing the status of an alpha male. You should want to become dominant for yourself—success with women is just a fringe benefit. That said, the first step to becoming an alpha is to determine your current dominance level.

With this in mind, here’s how to become an alpha male, according to Richard Cooper.

1. Determine Your Level

In his book The Unplugged Alpha, Richard Cooper gives some tips on how to become an alpha male. The first step, he says, is to determine your current level. To do so, first envision your ideal self: If you had to rank yourself on a scale of 1-10, what would 10 look like? Then, determine how you rank now given factors like your finances and fitness. Once you’ve done so, go on a dating app in your area pretending to be a woman, and review your male rivals for female attention. Adjust your score if you need to, then evaluate your results. Unless you’re an eight or higher, you’re not yet a dominant.

(Shortform note: Entrepreneur Will Freemen presents an alternative way of ranking your level. Instead of basing your ranking on how you compare to other men in your area, he assigns specific scores to specific factors on two different scales. In the baseline scale, you have a score (out of 10) based on baseline factors like your fitness, although you can go over or under 10 if you fall into extremes: For example, being muscular and lean gains you two points, while being obese loses you 20 points. You then measure your finances and influence separately on an “amplifier” scale that’s also out of 10. Your ultimate level is the sum of these two scores: If you have a 5/10 on the baseline scale and a 3/10 on the “amplifier” scale, you rank 8/10 total.) 

2. Embody Masculinity 

Now that you understand how you rank, Cooper recommends that you improve yourself in the applicable areas to become a dominant in the following ways. 

1. Become (and present yourself as) strong and masculine. Start by focusing on your physical appearance. Hit the gym to tone your physique, find clothes that fit well and are flattering, and do something about your hair—whether that’s finding a hairstyle that complements your features or leaning into your hair loss and shaving it all off. 

2. Check your testosterone levels. As Cooper notes, testosterone is essential to male health. But once you hit 30, your testosterone levels begin to slowly decrease, which manifests in symptoms such as lower energy. So work with a doctor who’ll help you maintain the testosterone levels you need to function at your best (which may be higher than the levels deemed “normal” for your age). Do your best to increase your testosterone naturally, using proven methods such as reducing how much time you spend near electromagnetic fields that disturb your endocrine system—which you can do by keeping your phone out of your pants pocket and away from your testicles.

3. Own a motorcycle. Cooper explains that riding a motorcycle will help you feel powerful and thus masculine, as well as provide a space to process your emotions and thus improve your mental health. It also makes you especially attractive to young women, who love the adrenaline rush of being on a bike. If you feel unsafe, you can substitute a motorcycle with a convertible.

4. Learn a martial art. Cooper explains that you must learn how to be violent when necessary so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones. Join a Mixed Martial Arts dojo and pick your favorite; Krav Maga is beloved by specialized military units worldwide. 

3. Pursue Riches and Respect

In addition to embodying masculinity, Cooper contends that if you want to become a dominant, you must become rich and influential. To do so, you must focus on your finances. The more money you have, the more attractive you’ll be to women, who are earning more than ever but still want someone who earns more than they do due to their hypergamy. Money will also help you gain influence, which is essential to becoming a dominant and stems from earning both a high income and respect. Aim to join the top 10% income bracket where you live. Ideally, you should become a millionaire by 40 at the latest: Consider becoming an entrepreneur, as it’s often the fastest way to earn millions. 

In order to become and remain rich and influential, Cooper adds that you must learn how to distribute your energy efficiently. We have a finite amount of energy, so if we waste it on low-value activities (like complaining to customer service), we risk not having enough to spend on the high-value, energy-intensive activities that build wealth and influence (like building a business). Minimize this risk by taking regular cold showers: Since taking cold showers requires the self-control to endure discomfort, doing so regularly will increase the self-control you need to ignore low-value activities and instead focus on the activities that matter most.

4. Master Social Skills

In addition to embodying masculinity and pursuing riches and respect, Cooper explains that to become a dominant, you must master two main social skills. First, learn to take your time evaluating whether someone is a worthy addition to your life—whether in business or in your personal life. Don’t let their words distract you and instead pay attention to their behavior. If they behave badly, they’re a negative influence whom you should cut off immediately.  

(Shortform note: Research suggests that in situations where the other person’s actions are limited by an external factor, you should pay attention to their words instead of their behavior. In business, someone might be limited by what their company allows them to do. In your personal life, someone might be limited by factors like finances—like if a woman wants to go on a date with you but can’t afford to.) 

Second, you must master the ability to successfully charm women by presenting yourself in the best possible light. Cooper recommends several texts to help you develop this skill, notably The Game by Neil Strauss. (Shortform note: Cooper doesn’t give specific tips to charm women, but Strauss suggests several techniques: Consider using gimmicks (like magic tricks) to impress women. Keep her wanting more by alternating between sending signals that you like her and signals that you don’t. For example, if you’re having a good conversation (a signal that you like her), look around the room (a signal that you don’t).) 

How to Become an Alpha Male: Richard Cooper’s 4 Steps

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  • The three big lies modern men have been told about society
  • How to break free from the lies and become a high-value man
  • How you can use this newfound status to become sexually successful

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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