Exercise dependence and muscle dysmorphia in novice and experienced female bodybuilders

Bruce D. Hale, Danielle Diehl, Krista Weaver, Michael Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background and aims: Extensive research has shown that male bodybuilders are at high risk for exercise dependence, but few studies have measured these variables in female bodybuilders. Prior research has postulated that muscular dysmorphia was more prevalent in men than women, but several qualitative studies of female bodybuilders have indicated that female bodybuilders show the same body image concerns. Only one study has compared female bodybuilders with control recreational female lifters on eating behaviors, body image, shape pre-occupation, body dissatisfaction, and steroid use. The purpose of this study was to compare exercise dependence and muscle dysmorphia measures between groups of female weight lifters. Methods: Seventy-four female lifters were classified into three lifting types (26 expert bodybuilders, 10 or more competitions; 29 novice bodybuilders, 3 or less competitions; and 19 fitness lifters, at least 6 months prior lifting) who each completed a demographic questionnaire, the Exercise Dependence Scale (EDS), the Drive for Thinness scale (DFT) of the Eating Disorder Inventory-2, the Bodybuilding Dependence Scale (BDS), and the Muscle Dysmorphia Inventory (MDI). Results: Female bodybuilders scored higher than fitness lifters for EDS Total, BDS Training and Social Dependence, and on Supplement Use, Dietary Behavior, Exercise Dependence, and Size Symmetry scales of the MDI. Discussion and conclusions: Female bodybuilders seem to be more at risk for exercise dependence and muscle dysmorphia symptoms than female recreational weight lifters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-248
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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