A Means to an End: Weight Training and Muscle Dysmorphia
Body image disturbances are on the increase within the male population (Buhlmann, et al. 2010; Pope et al, 1997). A high rate of dissatisfaction with overall muscularity is also evident (Buhlmann et al., 2010).
Muscle Dysmorphia (MD) is a preoccupation with and perception of insufficient muscularity (Pope, et al., 1997).
MD seems to impair individuals’ social functioning, cause distress and have some control over their lifestyle (Olivardia et al., 2000; Cafri et al., 2008; Cella et al., 2012 ).
There is little known about the development of MD. Therefore the present study aimed to explore the feelings, emotions and experiences of weight training males in order to understand the risk of MD development.
- MD has been related to several factors such as:
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (Lambrou et al., 2012)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Maida & Arsmtrong, 2005)
- Physical Factors; Fat Free Mass (Kuennen & Waldron, 2007)
- Psychological Factors; Body Dissatisfaction, Anxiety (Olivardia et al., 2000; Chandler et al., 2009)
- Sociocultural Factors; Media (Leit et al., 2001; Arbour & Ginis, 2006)
- Proposed frameworks of MD development suggest that it is the interaction of variables, such as the above, that contribute to MD. The quantitative findings in the literature regarding these variables do not explore the true experiences of the individuals potentially prone to MD or what weight training means to them. Hence the aim and purpose of this study.
- Participant Recruitment
- 5 participants
- age 23.8 ± 6.3 years
- Train 4.2 ± 4.4 days/week
- Regarding weight training
- Transcribed and initial codes identified
- Similar codes categorised into subordinate themes
- Further categorisation into superordinate themes
- Final Concepts
- Formed from superordinate themes
The three concepts that emerged were cognition,affect and behaviour. These concepts also formed part of the framework proposed by Tod and Lavallee (2010).
The risk of MD development doesn’t appear to be directly caused by weight training. It is seems that predisposed concerns, thoughts and feelings direct behaviour, such as weight training. This behaviour then can become dysfunctional and allows for the accentuation of these feelings.
Therefore, from this study, it would seem that the next step in reducing the risk of MD would be to target these predispositions and the external influences. This could involve educating, those deemed “prone”, about media literacy, and safe strength training.
- Arbour, K., P. and Martin Ginis, K. (2006). Effects of exposure to muscular and hypermuscular media images on young men’s muscularity dissatisfaction and body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 3, 153-161.
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- Chandler, C. Grieve, F. Pitt Derryberry and Pegg, P. (2009). Are anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms related to muscle dysmorphia? International Journal of Men’s Health, 8, 143-154.
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- Lambrou, C. Veale, D. and Wilson, G. (2012). Appearance concerns comparisons among persons with body dysmorphic disorder and nonclinical controls with and without aesthetic training. Body Image, 9, 86-92.
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- Maida, D., M. and Armstrong, S., L. (2005). The classification of muscle dysmorphia. International Journal of Men’s Health, 4, 73-91.
- Olivardia, R., Pope, Jr., H., G. and Hudson, J., I. (2000). Muscle dysmorphia in male weightlifters: A case-control study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 1291-1296.
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- Tod, D. and Lavallee, D. (2010). Towards a conceptual understanding of muscle dysmorphia development and sustainment. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 3, 111-131.