Training vs. body image: does training improve subjective appearance ratings?

J Strength Cond Res. 2004 May;18(2):255-9. doi: 10.1519/R-13203.1.


The purpose of this study was to determine if a short-term exercise program (6 weeks) could improve subjective physical appearance ratings. Twenty-five previously sedentary adult men (aged 18-40 years) were randomly assigned to one of 3 training groups: cardiovascular, strength, or control. Subjects participating in an exercise group trained for an average of 34 minutes, 3 times per week. All subjects were pre- and posttested to determine body composition, strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Subjects were also digitally photographed from 4 angles. The photographs were rated by the subjects and by a panel of 6 judges using an analog scale. There was no significant difference in the groups by trials interaction effect for pre- and post-Vo(2)max, percent fat, total lean tissue, percent limb fat, percent trunk fat, lean trunk tissue, or lean limb tissue. The subjects rated themselves higher than the panel, with average scores of 4.74 vs. 3.46, 4.26 vs. 3.10, and 4.61 vs. 3.49 for the cardiovascular, strength, and control groups, respectively (p < 0.05). The men of the panel rated the subjects significantly higher than did the women, with average scores of 4.61 vs. 2.31, 4.13 vs. 2.06, and 4.53 vs. 2.18 for the cardiovascular, resistance, and control groups, respectively (p < 0.05). This study showed that a 6-week training program did not change self-rated or panel-rated appearance scores.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Image*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / psychology