Iain Valliere shares his opinions of pro bodybuilders sharing progress pictures leading up to a competition – and how it can both help and hurt the athlete.

Back in the day, bodybuilding fans had to wait for magazines to see updates on their favorite bodybuilders. This meant that we couldn’t get the kind of moment to moment physique updates that we see in today’s bodybuilding world. Now fans can see what an athlete’s physique looks like mere hours before they step on stage. But how does this affect the mindset of the athlete going into a competition? In our latest GI Exclusive, Iain Valliere breaks down the pros and cons of sharing progress pictures before a bodybuilding show.

Dorian Yates was known as The Shadow due to the mysterious nature of his training. Partially because of being located in the UK – he would hide all updates about his training and physique until the day of the show. His massive and shocking physique shocked audiences and judges alike. Today, that notion of withholding information is foreign for most of the bodybuilding industry. This is due to social media and direct updates from the athletes.

Iain Valliere points this out early in our discussion about progress pictures. He explains that for some athletes – mystery and anticipation work in their favor. For many others, progress pictures have become part of an athlete’s brand. Transparency, interaction with fans, and constant updates help keep a bodybuilder’s following engaged right up to the moment of the competition.

But Iain Valliere doesn’t think it’s necessarily a better thing. Ultimately, it depends on what works best for the athlete at the center of it. Post progress pictures invites not only fan feedback but also feedback from fellow athletes and coaches. That wave of feedback can get into a bodybuilder’s head. It sounds silly – but competitive bodybuilding is a sport about looks and judging looks. If comments start to cause mental turmoil – it can affect a bodybuilder’s prep.

That’s why Iain Valliere believes that a bodybuilder needs to take a deep look into what really works for each individual. If a bodybuilder has tough skin against comments online and can focus on the prep without issue – then progress pictures can be a great way to build a following and keep engagement fresh.

For others, it can lead to second guessing prep decisions. Even worse, it can lead to a bodybuilder putting energy into reacting and responding to criticism that takes away from the actual work needed to improve. If a toxic environment grows from progress pictures – it can create a mental headspace that leads to less motivation and less fruitful contest prep.

Iain Valliere admits there is no right answer as to whether instant progress pictures are better or worse than the former way of bodybuilding life. But what is important during this transitioning time of technology is for each athlete to really understand his or herself. What is the ultimate goal of posting a progress picture? Will the benefits outweigh the detriments? That depends on each person’s headspace.

While the decision is seemingly flippant – studies have increasingly shown how addictive social media can be – and how affecting it is on a person’s mood. Iain Valliere believes that, while simple on the surface, the decision to post your physique on social media should be a well thought over business decision. It can have small effects that eventually add up to hurt or help an athlete’s entire career. The decision should be treated as such.

You an watch Iain Valliere go into detail about progress pictures in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.