T Nation

The Mirror Lies to You


So I've managed to climb from approx 135lb to 180lb in the past couple of years (minus leg training, which I can't train for other reasons)

I used to call this progress. Mirror confirmed this for me.

Then I took some pictures for the first time and holy shit, I look totally different in the pictures to what I do in the mirror.

Now, my progress doesn't look so much like progress, but more like I've been stuffing my face and putting fat on with small muscular development.

To all those who are training, if you're only using the mirror as a guide to how you 'look' definitely try taking a few photos. It will give you a nice ego check.


Without question the mirror has been tricking Ho's into thinking they are supermodels since the dawn of the reflection.

I was dropping down last year trying to drop some lard. Kept track of shape by taking pics instead of using th scale. Man a photo in the same lighting taken over the course of a months will never lie to you. A mirror and your memory will show you what denial really is


I think people naturally gravitate toward their most flattering angles when looking in a mirror, so yeah it can be a little bit deceiving lol.


There's this one mirror at my school that if you stand just the right distance from it and make sure the lights are not all on then I look like I think I look.


Exactly! I've managed to trick myself into thinking that I was making progress and looking better. Now that I've seen these pictures, I'm never looking in the mirror again.

I got obsessed with getting my weight up, which of course I ought to be doing. However, the scales didn't tell me whether it was muscle or fat that was going on. Neither did the mirror for that matter.

I feel like I've wasted a good 18 months of 'training.'

Oh well, suck it up and move on.

To everyone on here, try it. No joke, you're in for a surprise.


x2. I am best viewed from afar. When it is rather dark. And when the viewer's beer goggles are especially thick.


The trick is to get to the point that the mirror and the camera both show the same image.

Me getting ready for work..also my sunday-go-to-meeting outfit.




If you check my pics in my profile you'll see that I turned the exposure down so the pic comes out a bit darker and thus more forgiving.
Not many people look good with a 300watt flash going off on them.


OP, three points to consider:

1) While it's no doubt more reliable and less subjective than the mirror, the camera can also lie. Like Nards says, bad lighting can make you look worse than you really are. So can a bad camera angle, lack of a tan, etc.

2) There is a third way to tell if you're improving: a tape measure and/or clothing fit. If your waistline measurement shrank while your torso size increased, I would bet you have lost some fat and gained muscle. If your shirts are tighter on your arms and shoulders but feel looser at the waist, you either need a remedial laundry lesson or you're making progess.

3) What's with the lack of leg training? If you mean you have orthopedic issues or an old injury, get it addressed and fixed. If you mean you can't squat without folding like a lawn chair, find a competent teacher. Nothing will spur real, all-over progess like serious leg trainig. Even doing ONLY heavy lower body training would do quite a bit for your upper half as well. But training only uppoer body will actually slow your overall progress and give you the ridiculous chicken leg look.


I always look like a beast in the gym mirrors.


All good points, and I'll incorporate them. Perhaps my full-on flash with the camera did me a bit of dis-service! As for lower body training, it is my wish that I can start doing this, but right now, I'm finding it almost impossible.

Re leg training - I'm in the UK, so it takes me 6 months to see a doctor, and if he can't see what's wrong with my leg, I wait 6 more months to see him again etc. For two years, they haven't been able to diagnose me, but gave me a diagnosis a few weeks ago, after horrendous daily pain.

Left knee: Hoffa's fat pad disease + fibular cartlige and cartlidge on the medial side of the knee. Also, damaged ankle ligaments.

Right knee: Tendinopathy - just can't seem to beat it. I've paid a ton of money to private physios etc to sort the problem out and their advice is always the same - here's an A4 sheet of exercises to do, you'll feel like gold in 6 weeks.

Two years later, nothing. I'm working hard on trying to correct this since I'm missing out on a shit load of sprinting sports which used to be my forte.


Get in touch with Bushidobadboy!


My mirrors are broken, I believe.


Have done. Cheers mate.


I always look ripped in the changing room mirrors in Macys. I want to steal one and use it in my house to stroke my ego.

As far as pictures go, take your progress pictures in the same spot in your house with the same camera , camera settings and angles.


Phoenix Jones? :slight_smile:




Most of the time I think I look small. Then I'll see pictures of myself or a glance in the mirror and think "Is that how I really look? I thought I was a lot smaller than that." lol (not that I'm so hyooooooge or anything but to myself I look/am kinda small. Then I'll see a picture or a mirror shot and I look much different)


^ Greg make friends with midgets and you will always look big. :slight_smile: