Effects of a circuit weight training program on the body images of college students

Int J Eat Disord. 2001 Jul;30(1):75-82. doi: 10.1002/eat.1056.


Objective: The present investigation examined the extent to which participation in a 6-week circuit-weight training program produced changes in participants' body images relative to a matched control group.

Method: The weight trainers consisted of 39 college students (27 women and 12 men). The control group of 39 individuals did not weight-train currently or within the past year. All participants were pre- and posttested on the Multidimensional Body Self-Relations Questionnaire, the Social Physique Anxiety Scale, and the Physical Self-Efficacy Scale. Weight trainers were also pre- and posttested on muscular strength and assessed on their motives for exercise.

Results: The program successfully increased upper- and lower-body strength. In contrast to the comparison group, weight trainers had a significantly improved evaluation of their appearance, greater body satisfaction, reduced social physique anxiety, and enhanced physical self-efficacy. Outcomes were unrelated to the extent of concurrent aerobic exercise and largely unrelated to exercise motives.

Discussion: Even a relatively brief weight training program can produce improvements in multiple aspects of body image. Further research should investigate weight training as an adjunct to psychosocial treatments of body dissatisfaction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Body Image*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Efficacy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Lifting*