When it comes to fitness, one of the first things a lot of people mention is aesthetics based on what they see online. Is an athletic physique the same as an aesthetic physique? What’s the harm in comparing yourself to people on social media? Do aesthetics equal success? Let’s break it down.
ATHLETICS VS AESTHETICS
- Aesthetics by definition in the world of fitness is “a dense, hard, and well-defined physique with broad shoulders, a square chest, big arms, a slim waist, and athletic legs with minimal body fat for the guys… for women it means a wide back and shoulders, a tiny waist, strong lean legs and glutes as well as symmetry.
- Goals: Strength training, bodybuilding, resistance training
- Methods: Splitting your workout plan by muscle groups to allow adequate recovery of muscle tissue between working those muscle groups.
- The set up for your splits will typically be 4-6 sets with between 8 and 12 reps
- Keep in mind, aesthetics are built by a pyramid, training + nutrition + genetics
- Athletic body by definition means that your body is the most prepared to compete and win your sport of choice… while a perfect looking body would be nice, it doesn’t necessarily equate for an athlete on a football field or basketball court.
- Goals: Performance
- Methods: We’ve covered a few examples of this methodology in past episodes, but this is a mix of several components.
- Prioritize compound movements: squats, deadlifts, OHS. Movements requiring you to use multiple joints at once
- Engage in jumping/explosive movements: those box jumps we keep talking about, squat jumps, vertical jumps
- Active recovery! Walk! Yoga! Meditation! Hiking!
- So can you be athletic with an aesthetic body, and vice versa? In short, yes… but it really depends on your goals… you can be a marathon runner with some muscle, but being a brickhouse isn’t going to be the best strategy if you want to be an efficient runner.
- Using competitive running as the example here, you still want to continue lifting as part of your strategy.
- According to Runner’s World Magazine: Strength training is an essential supplement to a runner’s roadwork because it strengthens muscles and joints, which can improve race times and decrease injury risk. … And scientific research backs this up: Incorporating weights into your regular exercise routine has been proven to increase your speed and VO2 max.
THE HARM IN COMPARISON
- It’s bad for your sense of self.
- Mark Twain said “comparison is the death of joy,” and he’s right. Research has found that comparing yourself to others constantly can lead to feelings of envy, low self-esteem, and in some cases depression.
- It can lead to taking pleasure in someone else’s shortcomings in order to feel like you’re enough. Competitiveness isn’t a friend of collaboration. It’s pretty difficult to be a cheerleader to yourself or the people you surround yourself with if you’re hyper focused on what SOMEONE ELSE is doing.
- You’re not getting 100% accurate information from what you see on social media.
- Let’s be real for a second… what we post on social media is what we decide to put out to the world… so when you’re trying to live your life based off of what you saw on Instagram, you’re doing yourself a huuuuuge disservice.
- Remember that on social media, it’s the highlight reel. You’re not necessarily seeing the downs. You’re not seeing the struggles, you’re seeing what people want you to see, which is usually the ups. Every single person’s life has peaks and valleys, and trying to keep up with someone’s highlight reel isn’t fair to YOU.
- It doesn’t get you any closer to your goals.
- Spending your time agonizing and obsessing over how someone else looks “better” or more “perfect” than you, or you are perceiving is more successful than you… sucks. Being this hard on yourself could actually kill your motivation and make you miserable, which, we’re guessing, is the complete opposite of what you are looking for.
- We’ve talked a lot on this podcast about expectations from consistency. Your body is going to look like your body. For example, I’ve always had a large rump and thicker thighs. In the 90’s I AGONIZED over getting my legs smaller because at the time that was the popular aesthetic. We all know that that has obviously changed over time. What the media and social media tells you are the “norms” are BS. Your body is beautiful, and wonderful and a machine that does SO much for you. Honoring it, respecting it and appreciating it takes time, but I can guarantee if you can accept that mindset, it will move mountains for you.
- It’s just not worth it.
- If you’re living your life based on comparing yourself to others, you’ll always be playing a losing game. Next time you catch yourself with the envy bug, remind yourself that it’s incredibly ineffective, cut off the negative thoughts and try to find a positive. Instead, refocus your attention on your own goals and what you need to do to get there.
DO AESTHETICS = SUCCESS?
- Looking a certain way is hard… because we are all built differently, genetics are awesome!
- A TON of people start their fitness journeys by saying the words “I want abs.” Well, good news! You already have abs! You always have! Will they ever be visible? Maybe, maybe not. Even if you work super hard for years, you may never see a perfect six pack, or boulder shoulders, or thighs that can crush a watermelon… letting looks drive your journey can set you up for failure, and/or giving up, when you may not ever have that look you’re going for… because, again, genetics.
- Training for aesthetics may really suck. Some people really enjoy it, most people don’t.
- It requires a lot of specific training methodology and very strict food intake, you have to be basically perfect, tracking everything all the time, and that doesn’t work for everyone. It may not be sustainable for you!
- It’s not impossible to do, but it does require a lot of attention to detail. If you hate cardio in general, you won’t have any fun training for aesthetics.
- You can be strong AF without having a perfectly symmetrical six pack.
- You can throw 200lbs over your head without having visible abs… strong is strong, no matter how you look. Remember, also, that you’re putting in hard work, you’re doing hard things, results don’t equal aesthetics
So, to summarize, comparison is the thief of joy. Your goals are yours, and you’re putting in the hard work. You’re strong, you’re capable, your body is a work of art. Sometimes it’s hard to remember those things because we can be our own worst critics, but everything you see on the internet isn’t true, and isn’t always real. Keep crushing it!