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.
Harvey R. Freeman
Rebecca Davies, Dave Smith, and Kevan Collier
This study examined the presence and experience of muscle dysmorphia among current and former steroid-using recreational bodybuilders. The Muscle Dysmorphia Inventory was given to 60 male participants, with 9 of these being interviewed to examine the predisposing factors, characteristics, and negative consequences of muscle dysmorphia comprising Lantz, Rhea, and Mayhew’s (2001) conceptual model. Quantitative results from the MDI data showed no significant differences between current and former steroid users in their experiences of muscle dysmorphia. In contrast, interviews suggested that former users appeared to be more susceptible to some of the characteristics of muscle dysmorphia, including physique protection and body distortion/dissatisfaction, which suggests perhaps a limitation in the amount of information that can be extracted from a questionnaire. These preliminary findings also raise concerns about the lack of a diagnostic tool available for the condition and are discussed in relation to Lantz et al.’s (2001) conceptual model.
Lisa Chaba, Stéphanie Scoffier-Mériaux, Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville, and Vanessa Lentillon-Kaestner
focuses on bodybuilding and running, two sports popular among male athletes, who are, thus, at risk of an eating disorder (e.g., Chapman & Woodman, 2016 ; Devrim, Bilgic, & Hongu, 2018 ; Harris & Peterson, 2020 ). Bodybuilders focus on gaining muscle mass, whereas runners focus on leaning body mass (e
Ahmed Ismaeel, Suzy Weems, and Darryn S. Willoughby
Competitive bodybuilding is unique in that participants are judged by appearance rather than performance. Through rigorous diet and training practices, a bodybuilder aims to achieve not only a muscular physique, but one that is also symmetrical and well proportioned ( Heyward et al., 1989 ). To
Robert W. Duff and Lawrence K. Hong
In analyzing the data from a questionnaire survey of 205 competitive women bodybuilders conducted by the International Federation of Body-Builders, the authors attempt to find out how these women define their roles. What emerges from the analysis is a new concept of femininity that combines aspects of the traditional definitions with added dimensions of muscularity and body symmetry. They see muscularity, fitness, strength, and health as increasing their femininity, adding to their attractiveness as women, and increasing their sex appeal to men. They do not see themselves as emulating men. Relatively few see themselves as feminists or androgynists.
Wendy M. Sandoval and Vivian H. Heyward
This paper describes the changes in the food selection patterns of male (n=7) and female (n=12) bodybuilders as they prepared for competition. Noncompetition dietary data were obtained 6 to 17 weeks (M = 12.5 wks) prior to competition using a 3-day food record. Precompetition food intake was recorded for the 3 days preceding competition. Foods were classified using the Exchange System and three additional categories which included desserts, alcoholic beverages, and other beverages. The noncompetition diets of the bodybuilders contained servings from each exchange, with the largest number of selections coming from the meat and bread/starch exchanges. Choices from the milk and meat exchanges were almost exclusively low-fat or lean. Primarily complex carbohydrates and high-fiber foods were selected from the bread/starch exchange. The number of different food items reported over 3 days and the total number of food items were greater in the noncompetition diet than in the precompetition diet. Also, variety among food groups and within some of the exchange groups was less in the precompetition diet. Although there was not much variety in the precompetition diets of the bodybuilders, the average nutrient density of their diets exceeded the Index of Nutritional Quality for all nutrients except calcium and zinc.
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.
Sharon R. Guthrie, Cathy Ferguson, and Dixie Grimmett
This research examined the nutritional practices and body images of 13 competitive women bodybuilders living in southern California and in the Midwest. Data collection included both structured interviews and survey methods. Findings indicate nutritional health and positive body image among this sample of women. None of the bodybuilders had anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R; American Psychiatric Association, 1987) criteria, were binge eaters or used pathogenic weight control measures. Instead, they reported significant improvement in their nutritional attitudes and behaviors after beginning bodybuilding training. These data suggest a relationship between participating in competitive bodybuilding and other behaviors related to nutrition and self-perception.
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.
Peggy Roussel and Jean Griffet
This paper suggests that the process of marginalization of women bodybuilders can be analyzed according to two theoretical frameworks. The first is essentially a pessimistic interpretation based on critical sociology and the concept of alienation, which discusses the limits of applying this concept to an empirical reality (in this case, female bodybuilders). The second considers the future of female bodybuilders as being constructed through the muscle cult. Our interpretation is comprehensive. The study stresses self-realization and self-fulfillment in female bodybuilders and discusses their attachment to the bodybuilding subculture.