Dangerous Lies #3: The only thing that matters is strength by Sarah Sweeney

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The reality is that the only thing you should be training for and setting goals for is something that will truly light your fire. Humans are visual creatures and we are motivated by what we see in the mirror. Whether it’s socially acceptable or not, we care what we look like and we like to know that how we look is generally pleasing to others as well. Strong is beautiful and becoming strong is a transformative experience. Often our pathway to that strength is purely a desire to uncover the beauty of our incredible bodies. That is fine and good and wonderful.

PC Lie #3: Focus on strength, not looks.

Do this insteadTrain for anything you want. Tackle your aesthetic goals shamelessly.

One trend in internet guru fitness advice is telling lifters not to work out in order to improve the way their bodies look. Some will even say, “You are not your body parts” or to “separate the person from the problem”.  Well obviously, but that’s a silly argument. Of course I’m not my legs, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like mine to look spectacular.

They like to brag about this idea too: “I only train for performance.” Performing what? Mirror selfies? Because you’re sure post a lot of them. Hey, we all like to look good. Admit it. You’ll be okay.

Want perky glutes? Monstrous traps? Round shoulders? A tapered waist? Scary arms? There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’d like these. What’s lame is denying you do and bashing other people for having these goals.

Of course, you can set goals that have to do with looks, but only if…

  • You’re willing to be consistent. If you lift regularly, you’ve earned the ability to choose your goals, no matter how frivolous they seem to others. But don’t fantasize about looking better when you can’t commit to being in the gym. Make getting to the gym regularly and often your first goal.
  • You’re not going to develop a complex. There are things that truly matter and things that don’t. Being able-bodied matters. Getting stronger matters. Avoiding injury matters. But year-round ab definition? It doesn’t really matter. So, if your mind is consumed by your lack of abs, then zoom out for a while and set some goals that won’t make you a mental case. I work with clients all year around to develop targets that truly serve their needs on a deeper level than how much they can bench press.
  • You’re not trying to look like someone else. Striving to look your best is different than striving to look like some celeb, athlete, or fitness guru. If you’re trying to look like someone else and you’re over age 20, it’s honestly a bit creepy.

The Best Way to Set an Appearance Goal

Most people believe that in order to reach one goal you must pursue that one thing alone, with little regard for anything else you’d like to achieve. But there’s another way.

Think of it as the corkscrew method. Instead of going full-tilt towards one goal in a linear manner, you’re inching closer to it, while gradually strengthening everything else along the way. Like a corkscrew digging deeper into the wine cork, you’re hitting other little goals as you get closer to the one that you want to achieve the most, and you’re keeping it from becoming all-encompassing.

It’ll also keep you sane. Because even if you’re not perfectly satisfied with your (insert body part here), it doesn’t matter that much because your work capacity, strength, speed, skill, or any combination of the these, will have improved. So, you’re forced to drop the one-track mind and take look at your capabilities from a big-picture approach.

Unless you’re a paid athlete, stop being extreme and unbalanced in your pursuit of goals, and instead become better in multiple aspects. This doesn’t mean you should sign up for a marathon and a strongman competition in the same week. It does mean that you can put a bit more effort into building a body part while also improving other facets of your athleticism and allowing that to have a ripple effect throughout your entire life.

You don’t have to sacrifice everything you’ve already got going for you in order to have nice glutes. Become more awesome overall, give a little extra attention to something you value, and reap the benefits all around.

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