I’m pretty sure everyone at some point has trained for purely an aesthetic purpose. We chase the gains, the muscle definition, the quad sweep, the delts of doom – and yet we never seem to be satisfied with where we’re at. Something isn’t big enough, lean enough, symmetrical enough. It’s a never ending pursuit for some ideal physique that seems to always be just out of reach.
But what if the reason you’re never satisfied is because you’re chasing these goals? What if training for aesthetics was actually stopping you from achieving muscle growth and changes in body composition?
Have you ever noticed actors can get into superhero shape for movie roles but then you catch them on social media looking nothing like what they did on the big screen? Yet pro athletes seem to have a similar physique both in season and off season.
This mostly comes down to training intent.
Actors are training to look a certain way and, with help (lots of it), they get there. But once the movie has wrapped and they no longer spend 4 hours a day with their trainer and have the doctor help them with the “supps’, their body returns to its set point.
Athletes on the other hand aren’t training to look a certain way, they’re training for the function of their chosen sport. This is a way of life for them and they enjoy it, so they’re consistent with their training and nutrition. Not to say they don’t have off-seasons where they are more relaxed with their training and nutrition but for the most part, they’re consistent and have consistent body composition as a result.
Professional athletes are an extreme example, but this applies to the rest of us as well. If you train because you enjoy it, set objective performance and process goals, and make it part of your lifestyle, you’ll recognise your progress because it’s no longer subjective and tied to your reflection in the mirror. And by focusing more on athletic performance, you’ll build a stronger, more powerful body that is more capable and resilient than when you were just training for how your body looked.