Ugly Gym Face: It’s real and it matters.

So now you’re in the gym doing the thing and you’re noticing all around you people are making these faces and grunting and groaning like they’ve just stepped out of “Clan of the Cave Bear” (it’s an early Daryl Hannah film, you troglodyte LOL.)

👀 …there’s the Poop Face & Mean Mug. The Oh Face & the NO! face… all scrunched up and no where to go…And then there’s that face you make when you very nearly do poop on yourself (close the hole!!!)


I remember my first few weeks in the gym hearing all these noises. I admit, I got a kick out of it; maybe I’m just immature. (It’s entirely within the realm of possibility.) I remember thinking, “I’ll never look like/sound like that!” And all the while I was giggling I was pulling 25-50 lb weights, which, having been raised working an acre garden, were hardly work to me.

That’s probably what gave me space to be so flippant about the ugly gym face (UGF.) BUT then I started getting into the weights that did challenge me. And along came my own UGF with its full complement of gnarly grunts and sounds.

There comes to a point in your gymlife where you have to just let go of all those things you’re self conscious about. I was self conscious of grunting. It’s silly, I know. But so many of us are!

And did you know there are gyms where grunting is strictly forbidden! LoL As if!

They even ring a bell on you to shame you in to silence.

And that’s a REAL shame cause here’s the thing:

Those grunts and groans serve at least one but perhaps two important purposes:

First up-They can actually increase your strength as you execute your lift/press.

Typically, before executing a lift you take a good deep breath. This oxygenates your blood and primes your muscles. You begin the lift and at the peak of resistance-that’s when the grunt is going to happen. It’s a by product of muscular tension created by bearing down or engaging the core (depending on the movement.)

It’s a NATURAL physiological response to maximum exertion. And I should have understood that because when I weighed 370 lbs I grunted every time I had to bend over. LoL Talk about exertion!

That grunt is a good sign that you went all the way and used all the strength that was available to you in that moment.

Think of your favorite athletes-I guarantee you they all grunt!

When you don’t grunt, there’s a good chance you that you’re holding back. And if you hold back you’re not going to get as much out of your workout as you could. Matter of fact, you might even hurt yourself. How? If you’re too concerned with how your face looks, you’re not thinking hard enough about your technique or alternately, you’re just not challenging yourself.

Secondly, those grunts may serve to connect you psychologically to your “primal self”. (Hence all the cave man references above.) Your primal self doesn’t care what it sounds like or looks like. It isn’t self conscious. It’s strong, aggressive and forthright. It knows what it wants and it takes it…including that max deadlift.

So, if you’re a grunter, GRUNT! If you’re a moaner, MOAN! If you’re a growler, GROWL!

Allow yourself to tap into that place of primal strength because that’s why it’s there! You need it!

When I set out to write this entry I didn’t realize how polarizing the grunt vs no grunt argument was amongst gym goers. Apparently we’re about 50/50 split. Obviously, I’m pro growl and I’m thankful I workout in a pro growl gym.

Some info for this entry was sourced here.

One of my ugly gym faces:

Those arms tho! 🥰🥰🥰

Get to grunting, you bunch of lunks!


Joshua T.

Follow me on Instagram @thetaylormadefit

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