The sport of competitive bodybuilding is strongly associated with muscle dysmorphia, a body-image-related psychological disorder. This theoretical article draws on existing concepts, namely stereotyping, prejudice, and positive deviance in sport, to explicate the notion that competitive bodybuilding and body-image disturbance may be mistakenly conflated. The perspective offered here goes beyond the countercultural physique to argue that a negative social perception of competitive bodybuilders obscures the pragmatic necessity to develop a hypermesomorphic physique. Competitive bodybuilders (CBs) and athletes in mainstream competitive sport exhibit congruent psychobehavioral tendencies. In a competitive-sport context, behavior among CBs perceived as pathological may primarily represent a response to the ideological sporting ethic of “win at all costs,” not extreme body-image disturbance. Analyzing the psychobehavioral characteristics of CBs within a sporting rather than a pathological framework, allows for a contextual assessment of behaviors to then determine the clinical significance relative to the research population under investigation.
Lindy M. Rossow, David H. Fukuda, Christopher A. Fahs, Jeremy P. Loenneke and Jeffrey R. Stout
Bodybuilding is a sport in which competitors are judged on muscular appearance. This case study tracked a drug-free male bodybuilder (age 26–27 y) for the 6 mo before and after a competition.
The aim of this study was to provide the most comprehensive physiological profile of bodybuilding competition preparation and recovery ever compiled.
Cardiovascular parameters, body composition, strength, aerobic capacity, critical power, mood state, resting energy expenditure, and hormonal and other blood parameters were evaluated.
Heart rate decreased from 53 to 27 beats/min during preparation and increased to 46 beats/min within 1 mo after competition. Brachial blood pressure dropped from 132/69 to 104/56 mmHg during preparation and returned to 116/64 mmHg at 6 mo after competition. Percent body fat declined from 14.8% to 4.5% during preparation and returned to 14.6% during recovery. Strength decreased during preparation and did not fully recover during 6 months of recovery. Testosterone declined from 9.22 to 2.27 ng/mL during preparation and returned back to the baseline level, 9.91 ng/mL, after competition. Total mood disturbance increased from 6 to 43 units during preparation and recovered to 4 units 6 mo after competition.
This case study provides a thorough documentation of the physiological changes that occurred during natural bodybuilding competition and recovery.
Brandon M. Kistler, Peter J. Fitschen, Sushant M. Ranadive, Bo Fernhall and Kenneth R. Wilund
The purpose of this study was to document the physiological changes that occur in a natural bodybuilder during prolonged contest preparation for a proqualifying contest. During the 26-week preparation, the athlete undertook a calorically restrictive diet with 2 days of elevated carbohydrate intake per week, increased cardiovascular (CV) training, and attempted to maintain resistance-training load. The athlete was weighed twice a week and body composition was measured monthly by DXA. At baseline and every 2 weeks following CV structure and function was measured using a combination of ultrasound, applanation tonometry, and heart rate variability (HRV). Cardiorespiratory performance was measured by VO2peak at baseline, 13 weeks, and 26 weeks. Body weight (88.6 to 73.3 Kg, R 2 = .99) and percent body fat (17.5 to 7.4%) were reduced during preparation. CV measurements including blood pressure (128/61 to 113/54mmHg), brachial pulse wave velocity (7.9 to 5.8m/s), and measures of wave reflection all improved. Indexed cardiac output was reduced (2.5 to 1.8L/m2) primarily due to a reduction in resting heart rate (71 to 44bpm), and despite an increase in ejection faction (57.9 to 63.9%). Assessment of HRV found a shift in the ratio of low to high frequency (209.2 to 30.9%). Absolute VO2 was minimally reduced despite weight loss resulting in an increase in relative VO2 (41.9 to 47.7ml/Kg). In general, this prolonged contest preparation technique helped the athlete to improve body composition and resulted in positive CV changes, suggesting that this method of contest preparation appears to be effective in natural male bodybuilders.
Eric T. Trexler, Katie R. Hirsch, Bill I. Campbell and Abbie E. Smith-Ryan
The purpose of the current study was to evaluate changes in body composition, metabolic rate, and hormones during postcompetition recovery. Data were collected from natural physique athletes (7 male/8 female) within one week before (T1) competition, within one week after (T2), and 4–6 weeks after (T3) competition. Measures included body composition (fat mass [FM] and lean mass [LM] from ultrasongraphy), resting metabolic rate (RMR; indirect calorimetry), and salivary leptin, testosterone, cortisol, ghrelin, and insulin. Total body water (TBW; bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy) was measured at T1 and T2 in a subsample (n = 8) of athletes. Significant (p < .05) changes were observed for weight (T1 = 65.4 ± 12.2 kg, T2 = 67.4 ± 12.6, T3 = 69.3 ± 13.4; T3 > T2 > T1), LM (T1 = 57.6 ± 13.9 kg, T2 = 59.4 ± 14.2, T3 = 59.3 ± 14.2; T2 and T3 > T1), and FM (T1 = 7.7 ± 4.4 kg, T2 = 8.0 ± 4.4, T3 = 10.0 ± 6.2; T3 > T1 and T2). TBW increased from T1 to T2 (Δ=1.9 ± 1.3 L, p < .01). RMR increased from baseline (1612 ± 266 kcal/day; 92.0% of predicted) to T2 (1881 ± 329, 105.3%; p < .01) and T3 (1778 ± 257, 99.6%; p < .001). Cortisol was higher (p < .05) at T2 (0.41 ± 0.31 μg/dL) than T1 (0.34 ± 0.31) and T3 (0.35 ± 0.27). Male testosterone at T3 (186.6 ± 41.3 pg/mL) was greater than T2 (148.0 ± 44.6, p = .04). RMR changes were associated (p ≤ .05) with change in body fat percent (ΔBF%; r = .59) and T3 protein intake (r= .60); male testosterone changes were inversely associated (p≤ .05) with ΔBF%, ΔFM, and Δweight (r=-0.81–-0.88). TBW increased within days of competition. Precompetition RMR suppression appeared to be variable and markedly reversed by overfeeding, and reverted toward normal levels following competition. RMR and male testosterone increased while FM was preferentially gained 4–6 weeks postcompetition.
Bill I. Campbell, Danielle Aguilar, Laurin Conlin, Andres Vargas, Brad Jon Schoenfeld, Amey Corson, Chris Gai, Shiva Best, Elfego Galvan and Kaylee Couvillion
Aspiring female physique athletes are often encouraged to ingest relatively high levels of dietary protein in conjunction with their resistance training programs. However, there is little to no research investigating higher versus lower protein intakes in this population. This study examined the influence of a high versus low-protein diet in conjunction with an 8-week resistance training program in this population. A total of 17 females (21.2 ± 2.1 years; 165.1 ± 5.1 cm; 61 ± 6.1 kg) were randomly assigned to a high-protein diet (HP: 2.5 g·kg−1·day−1; n = 8) or a low-protein diet (LP: 0.9 g·kg−1·day−1, n = 9) and were assessed for body composition and maximal strength prior to and after the 8-week protein intake and exercise intervention. Fat-free mass increased significantly more in the HP group as compared with the LP group (p = .009), going from 47.1 ± 4.5 to 49.2 ± 5.4 kg (+2.1 kg) and from 48.1 ± 2.7 to 48.7 ± 2 kg (+0.6 kg) in the HP and LP groups, respectively. Fat mass significantly decreased over time in the HP group (14.1 ± 3.6 to 13.0 ± 3.3 kg; p < .01), but no change was observed in the LP group (13.2 ± 3.7 to 12.5 ± 3.0 kg). Although maximal strength significantly increased in both groups, there were no differences in strength improvements between the two groups. In aspiring female physique athletes, a higher protein diet is superior to a lower protein diet in terms of increasing fat-free mass in conjunction with a resistance training program.
Elena López-Cañada, José Devís-Devís, Alexandra Valencia-Peris, Sofía Pereira-García, Jorge Fuentes-Miguel and Víctor Pérez-Samaniego
, walking, and bodybuilding, whereas the bottom 3 were dancing, basketball, and volleyball. The top most practiced activities were individual, and the least practiced were 2 teams and 1 individual activity. Figure 1 —Participation in top 12 particular PAS by gender identity before and after GD. GD indicates
Philip G. White and James Gillett
This paper provides a critical decoding of advertisements in Flex, a popular bodybuilding magazine. The analysis focuses on the visual and narrative representation of the muscular male body and bodywork practices in advertisements promoting bodybuilding technologies. The images of the muscular body found in bodybuilding advertisements encourage masculine self-transformation through bodywork. Moreover, the taken-for-granted representation of the muscular body as natural and desirable is rooted in an ideology of gender difference, championing dominant meanings of masculinity through a literal embodiment of patriarchal power. The foregrounding of the muscular body as a cultural ideal offers conservative resistance to progressive change and alternative masculinities by valorizing a dominance-based notion of masculinity.
Harvey R. Freeman
Engaging in bodybuilding, especially by a woman, may have a pervasive influence on the impressions others have of the bodybuilder. The first experiment examined the effects of the label bodybuilder on subjects' ratings of the probability that the stimulus person possessed gender-related characteristics. The second experiment was designed to determine whether female bodybuilders, compared to attractive and unattractive female nonbodybuilders, are (a) assumed to possess less socially desirable personality traits, (b) expected to lead less successful lives, and (c) viewed as less physically attractive. Results indicate that bodybuilding information plays a dominant role in influencing judgments. Stimulus persons who engage in bodybuilding are judged to be more likely to perform masculine role behaviors and less likely to be employed in feminine occupations, irrespective of gender. Female bodybuilders are viewed as relatively unattractive and are attributed with less desirable personality traits than are attractive female nonbodybuilders. The significance of these findings in understanding the perpetuation of stereotypes is discussed.
Timothy Baghurst, Anthony Parish and George Denny
The purpose of this study was to determine reasons women become competitive amateur bodybuilders. Participants were 63 adult female competitive bodybuilders who posted their biographies on a bodybuilding website. Each statement explaining why participants became bodybuilders was classified by a panel of current female bodybuilders into one of six categories. The most frequently stated category was Emulation (27%), followed by Self Esteem and Empowerment (24%), Previous Participation in Sport (22%), Health (17%), and Other (10%). These findings suggest that motivators for competitive female amateur bodybuilding stem from multiple sources, but in general are similar to those of their male counterparts. Future avenues for research are discussed.