Would You Rather LOOK Strong, or BE Strong?

I realize these aren’t mutually exclusive, but I was curious about this. What’s more important to you and what keeps you motivated: performance goals or aesthetic goals? I think this question also really drives what type of programs/coaches one tends to be drawn towards.

I’ll go:

For me, performance and being strong is more important than looking strong or aiming for hypertrophy. A goal like a specific number of pull ups, a mile time, or a deadlift amount will keep me motivated and working hard. Aesthetics, the number on a scale, or body part hypertrophy is not something that I could ever use for motivation.

This is probably why I love Jim Wendler programs, and Dan John workouts. This is also why I probably don’t like Paul Carter workouts, or his philosophy towards training.

Also, I’d rather have someone say “Wow, you’re much stronger and faster than I expected” than “Wow, you’re all show and no go. Is that really all you can do?”

What do others think?


I don’t think anyone is gonna be strong without looking strong. Yeah, you can be GOOD and be the master at moving a lot of weight on a few specific movements, but to be actually brutally strong, you are gonna need a lot of muscle all over your body to cover all angles. This is why Geoff Capes won World’s Strongest Man looking like a half melted ice cream sundae while Kaz looked like he had just come back from strangling the Nemean lion.

So with that said, I wanna be strong. For real strong.


I’d rather be strong. If you’re strong you’re not gonna look weak.


What do you consider looking strong?

I’m Just really glad they aren’t mutually exclusive. At different times, I value different things. If I’m on a beach well, I would prefer to look strong. When having to do manual labor And daily task type stuff I would much rather be strong. On the spectrum though, I tend to gravitate toward more Strength and athletic performance based training.

I also thing said gravitation is due in part to athletic based training being just so, so much less subjective.



this is what I would define as looking and being the part.

and just for @T3hPwnisher



For me performance is more important than aesthetics. I dont care how aesthetically pleasing my body looks. I want my body to perform how I need it to when I need it to. I have put on size that is aesthetically pleasing as my strength has increased, but I am definitely not “shredded”. I am more dad bod strong and I am very happy with that.

Would you rather look like Kaz in his prime but have the strength of Gary Coleman, or look like Gary Coleman but have the strength of Kaz in his prime?

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Watchchewtalkinbout flappinit!


100% looks. Hands down. I’d rather be huge and ripped and have a big 3 total of 700 than be small and lift huge

I guess I would say a bodybuilder look over an athlete look.

Interesting, and understandable. I get that most people that run into you day to day notice your physique, but only a few would see you perform. I personally don’t care if anyone is impressed by my physique, but do care if I can perform in sports or gym. Like I said, I’d rather surprise people with my strength because I didn’t look as strong, than I would impress someone with a physique that doesn’t translate into performance.

be strong. I get an ego boost every time I step into a commercial gym

I’ve got some pretty serious self image issues and hate myself and my body. I’m hoping once I get the body I want I can be proud of it. I’m sure it’s a never ending cycle but Atleast I’ll actually look good and hate myself vs the other way :joy:

I’d rather look awesome, because if you keep fat mass down and lift with even reasonable intensity, you’ll look good And still be “strong” by most standards.


I stopped caring about performance last year. If I can dunk, throw a baseball and hit, I’m good. Max lifts aren’t worth it to me.

Just want to look good and have a basic level of fitness.

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What happens when you can’t do that anymore?

Tricky dilemma.

I suppose I train for performance, but it feels so dam good to look jacked. I suppose training for performance while keeping body fat levels in check can almost get you best of both worlds to a certain degree.


I guess I’d say be strong. Everyone’s already said what I think, but being able to perform at a high level would be impressive. In the gym, you can impress people. In competition, you can win. If at a manual labor job, you can do it well. If in an emergency, you can potentially save yourself/others. If being attacked, better chance of defending yourself.

Looking good feels good, but there’s more bonuses of being strong.

That being said, I’d like to do both, haha.

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