We all think our battle-worn face is the epitome of a heroic alpha during those final, eye-watering moments in a set. But let’s be real: you look like a bulldog licking piss off a thistle.

Unfortunately, we can’t show you how to craft a sexy gym gurn, but we can explain why the face your mom loves so dearly betrays you in the iron room.


Training hard lets your face down

The Journal of Biological Psychology used Electromyography (EMG) to map the faces and quads of guinea pigs to see if there was a correlation between leg fatigue and facial muscles firing, and results suggest your grimacing power face reflects the effort put in during physical exercise.

It’s probably not the most surprising bit of news that as more muscle fatigue set in and RPE (rating of perceived exertion) increased, so too does the contortion of your face. But, is there something beneficial we could be doing instead of making sex faces to put everyone else off their workout?


facial expression during intense workout


Actually, yes – you could try wearing a mouthpiece. Yup, similar to the gum shields that fighters wear. Before palming this off as nonsense, hear out the theory and you may just get a little boost in performance at the gym.

Studies have supported the notion that wearing a mouthpiece in the gym could increase your strength by 10-15% on average (less for elite lifters, obviously.) It apparently does this by lining up your jaw optimally for your nerves to fire without being blocked allowing for full concentration and power when hauling the barbell where you want it to go.

Of course, while this alleviates one problem – your face will be much more concentrated while you have a clenched jaw – it does create another. Who walks around the gym with a gum shield? So, when’s the big fight, Rocky?

If we honestly cared that much for our gym peers opinions, we’d never step foot in a gym. Forget how you look inside the gym knowing that you’re working on looking better outside of it. Talk to your dentist for a properly fitting mouthpiece and up them gains.

If you decide against this route, just go forth and wear your pump face like a war wound anyway, because it’ll soon reflect much stronger muscles.


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