How Did You Shift Your Focus From Appearance?

Thanks for sharing your story, brother. Your journey makes perfect sense. Glad you’re in a much better headspace now! The wisdom is clear.

I think this is a pretty common thing among people who get big into BBing. I also doubt it’s healthy for a lot of people’s mental well-being. Not saying it’s bad for everyone, as some seem to handle it well, but dangerous territory if you have those OCD tendencies (as I do).

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Nothing wrong with admiring the fruits of your labour imo, although from what I seen in commercial gyms, some individuals are truely obsessed with themselves lol.

I was always more into strongman growing up, with that said, even a strongman or PLers with a high bf percentage will flex an arm here and there, so even with them theress a degree of appreciation for a certain level of development.

From an evolutionary perspective, i guess its built into us to look are best, peacocking to an extent. I dont think it ever completely leaves us. I’ve met plenty of older gentlemen over the last 29 years who still train/trained to look and appear a certain way for the ladies lol. Far be it from to tell them to grow old gracefully Haha



I definitely don’t think it’s bad to admire the fruits of your labor! I think healthy vanity is a good thing, for sure. I just think it can become an obsession, an over occupation, and that’s what it’s become for me - especially considering I have no desire to ever compete. But your point is duly noted, sir!

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Please stop teasing us big guy :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

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:rofl::rofl: yeah trust me … that not going to happen. The motivating sure the hell isn’t there. Besides… i have no urge of removing my glorious body hair!:upside_down_face:


Glorious body hair🤣 brilliant.

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I am not 35, actually younger than OP asking the question, but I had a shift in my focus a few years back, maybe it gives you some direction.

From 14 to about 19/20 it was all bodybuilding for me, not leaning out, just size, more and more. Think I was 20 when I got into Muay Thai and getting ready for a fight I had to change my training if I wanted to make anything of it. Not long after the fight my daughter was born as well, there was college and night work, I had to look for other alternatives, and because of fighting I already changed my focus in my workouts.

In short, I found 531 which was more strength focused, then as I read more from Jim Wendler, he basically says Be Awesome. And his programs are designed in such way. Lift heavy, use smart assistance work, do regular jumps, throws, stretching and mobility work, and regular conditioning. Runs, sprints, prowlers etc.

The more I got into his work, the more my focus went to strength and performance over looks. And here is the kicker, I have more muscle, lift more, and have less fat than ever in my bodybuilding focused time of training.

Hope I could help


Although I have a chuckle at those guys in the commercial gyms obsessed with themselves, I do get it, competing or not, it’s really an art form. Having the perfect physique goes back to ancient Greece, possibly earlier.
I’m just jealous I cant see my 6 pack anymore lol


Great to know, brother, and so happy to hear about how you’ve evolved. I’d love to follow a similar progression. Is there anything in particular from Wendler you read that you’d recommend?

Thank you.

Well since I’m biased because so far it all worked the short answer is I recommend every single article and book he wrote haha but if someone said that to me I’d have been like the hell am I reading that much. But over time, I did read all of it anyway.

In all seriousness, since you were very phisiqe focused, I’ll make a bit of an assumption that you like pump and muscle focused work, but I may be wrong. If I’m right, then what I would say is pick a template that allows for a bit more assistance work, instead of the big movements only, although all his templates call for squat, bench, deadlift and military press as main moves, some adding the power clean in as well. However, some have a focus on less work on the main lifts and more room for assistance which would make the transition smoother.

On the other hand if you enjoy variation and new things, dive into a template that’s more focused on main lifts and leaves room for only necessary assistance work, like leg raises, face pulls, chin ups and rows.

One template that’s good to start with if you have the time of 4 days a week is the Triumvirate, its available on T-Nation for free as an article, think it’s called something like ‘How to build pure strength 531’ also explains the basic concept of Wendler’s principles of program design.

The only thing is, he doesn’t go far into conditioning in that article but in his later books it becomes one of the pillars of the program, mixing light conditioning like weight vest walking with hard conditioning like prowler and hill sprints, and daily mobility work like Agile 8.

If you are interested in more, I’d very much recommend his newest book 531 Forever, but previous ones like Beyond 531 and the first book he wrote about the program are also useful and worth buying if you are curious, although you will find you know most things already if you read his articles and buy Forever. He has tons of free templates he wrote on T-Nation and his own website as well, like 531 Beach Body, Building the Monolith, Boring but Big, Rest-Pause challenge, Beyond 531 template, Krypteia Redux, just to name a few.

All brilliant and effective programs but I would say start with Triumvirate to get a feeling of the program, maybe with some added prowler work once a week for starters and not too heavy first, and read the full article of it, that way it will be easier to understand his evolved concepts like Beyond or the Templates in Forever.

Well this got a bit long but I hope you can find something helpful in it

Edit: forgot to mention, in regards to your phisique, as long as you keep improving the main lifts and push the assistance work hard but smart so they don’t end up taking away from the main work, you will still maintain if not actually improve your phisique, provided you eat enough protein, and enough calories to recover from the workload

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Interesting topic. I’m not sure have much to contribute and here’s why:

The sole motive for me to go to the weight room was to improve my appearance. I wasn’t blessed enough to play college sports, apart from rugby (which I loved, and played into my mid 20’s). So, I didn’t lift weights to improve my sports capability. I did so to improve my appearance.

That said, you used the word “focus”, which if I am allowed to interpret as the dedication and sacrifice necessary to get shredded for a bodybuilding competition, I can appreciate. I have never been one to “checkout myself” in a mirror if anything more than a casual glance. My weight training focus has always been on increasing my strength. If my strength is increasing, my muscle is increasing, and hence my appearance is improving.

I trained at around 240lbs and competed around 220lbs. If I had never competed in bodybuilding my life would have maintained a healthy balance. I allowed 12 weeks to drop from 240lbs to my contest conditioning. The last 6 weeks took much sacrifice in the balance in the rest of my life. The contest ruled! Everything else didn’t really matter.

I suppose the point of my post is that I don’t believe I ever had excessive focus on my appearance during off-season training.

Disclaimer: I have not competed since 1997. I was diagnosed with Dermatamyositis, and lost 40lbs of muscle in 5 weeks, and though I haven’t had a flare up past the first 5 years, I was only able to recoup about 70% of my strength, before I turned 60, which I have said in a previous thread that I have since been steadily losing muscle and strength


Just did my first day of the Triumverate — awesome stuff! Really enjoyed the long rest periods, which allows you to truly recover between sets, and minimalist approach. Seems like the program is all about maximizing bang for your buck. The relatively limited number of sets also allows you to focus on the skill of the movement. I think I need more of that.

I started by listening to Wendler on a podcast and reading the article you recommended. Probably will make my way to the book for more detail but it’s $40 so I’m gonna think about it, lol. I’m also using the 531 Strength app to track workouts/progress.

Do you do 3 or 4 days a week?

Awesome man I’m glad I made an impact, wish you all the best on the journey.

You’re quite right, it is focusing on bang for your buck. After training at Westside and using their not complicated but not quite simple approaches, he hit his goal of a 1000lb squat and moved on with his life. He used to play football and wanted to be able to do basic human things again like running, sprinting, jumping and not dying after just walking. He went back to basics as he wanted to enjoy training instead of programming every inch of it. And slowly the principles and the core concept of 531 evolved.

Most programs that focus on main lifts incorporate the ability to focus on skill of movement over reps and muscle pump. The rest periods I’d say are individual, some of his more conditioning focused programs don’t allow for much rest, not even a minute except maybe between the 3 or so main work sets of the main lift. But those programs strictly state that you must have a good grasp of the technique of the main lifts because doing them for example in circuit with the accessory movements, it will take a toll on your energy and focus, you’ll be winded like hell if your not used to that type of work, and any lifts you suck at, all you technical flaws will come out instantly. Which is why I suggested something like Triumvirate which allows for focus on main lifts and gives you accesories to push volume on the important areas. Even still, I’d say an hour should be ample each day in Triumvirate.

Wendler podcasts are brilliant I always get a good laugh from them. You will see yourself, if you end up really buying into the concept and Wendler, you will read through more of his content overtime, there is a lot to learn from him.

The strength app is fine, although it was not created or approved by Wendler, but if you prefer to keep track that way its handy for sure. I just do a log book, pen and paper, but that’s really about personal preference.

I ordered the book from the UK along with one of his t-shirts, which meant I had an extra i think £18 to pay to my local post office for receiving my international package, but it was still worth it.

My training changes with my life a lot. There were times I was on 4 day plans and only had 2 days a week to train for 2-3 weeks due to work. You just stretch it out and make it work, maybe throw in a day of sprints to keep you active in the gaps. Initially I would do what the program calls for, so with Triumvirate I’d aim for 4, but wouldn’t lose my shit if one week I could only do 3, I would just roll the next day to next week and keep on. If you know you have a tight period coming, you can do say squat and bench on one day and deadlift and press another, just have to adjust the assistance work, he’s got some kind of an article about that too.

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I honestly cannot fathom what this feels like. I’ve always had a weak lower body (I attribute it to poor mechanics, as I feel the squat way too much in my knees and have never felt it in my glutes), so despite lifting for 10 years, I struggle to even squat 225.

I was doing 3 minutes for all sets, but I’ve found that can really make the workouts drag. Now I’m doing 3 minutes for all sets on the compound movements, but 2 for the accessory sets. Think that’s sufficient?

I recently discovered the work of Dr. Roberto Olivardia, pioneer of ‘bigorexia.’ He was so good in interviews that I ordered his book, The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat and Prevent Body Obsession in Men and Boys.

You might not be as interested in the topic as me, but I’ll report back on takeaways and whether it’s worth your time (if you are interested in learning more).

Hi @bkb333 - theres been a lot of ground covered but I thought I’d get back on point. As I think its a great subject.

A question if I can?

Why do you feel that its better to guild them to lifting for strength performance then appearance performance?

It IS possible to have a healthy relationship with your body/food and be in good shape…

Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree. Plenty of bodybuilders are psychologically healthy. I just know for me, the emphasis on physical appearance has gotten unhealthy and is negatively impacting my quality of life. I also think that happens for a lot of folks into bodybuilding with OCD tendencies.

You certainly can become obsessive about strength or performance, but I seem to come across fewer mental health issues in those areas than I do in the physique-oriented crowd. Does that make sense?


100% understand - but maybe your question should be:
How do I work out my own issues so I don’t pass them on.

Not - what do I have to give up to hide them.

Issues like this have a way of coming out somewhere somehow. Kids are amazing at picking up on things.
But by seeking help - you’ll be able to help your children if/when they need it.

Just a thought man.

I think you have to be honest with yourself… is your motivation to train is to achieve a personal goal. Or are you overly concern about how people view you.