Paul Ryan has posed for beefcake photos in which he flexes his biceps while doing reps of what high school gym coaches nationwide call "curls for girls," bicep curls that make your arms beefy for the ladies but don't really make you stronger or better at sports.

You can mark this as one more data point in the critical debate over Ryan's workout routine, his unbelievable 6 percent body fat, and whether it's better to be jacked or ripped. Unfortunately, the Time photos do not display Ryan's wildly famous but as-yet-unseen killer abs. The photos were taken in December last year, when Ryan was a finalist for the magazine's Person of the Year, and when documenting his elusive abs was not such a pressing election issue. 

Gazing at Ryan's admirable muscle mass, you can't help but think of Sarah Palin's modeling of tights and shortish shorts for Runner's World. Both are a slightly awkward, somewhat self-conscious attempt to bring some youth and sexiness to a Republican brand. But Palin, at least, waited until June 2009 -- when it was safe to fan speculation about her own presidential candidacy long after John McCain lost the 2008 race. The day of the vice-presidential debate, Ryan might not want to encourage that comparison.