Bigorexia: bodybuilding and muscle dysmorphia

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2009 May;17(3):191-8. doi: 10.1002/erv.897.


Muscle dysmorphia is an emerging condition that primarily affects male bodybuilders. Such individuals obsess about being inadequately muscular. Compulsions include spending hours in the gym, squandering excessive amounts of money on ineffectual sports supplements, abnormal eating patterns or even substance abuse. In this essay, I illustrate the features of muscle dysmorphia by employing the first-person account of a male bodybuilder afflicted by this condition. I briefly outline the history of bodybuilding and examine whether the growth of this sport is linked to a growing concern with body image amongst males. I suggest that muscle dysmorphia may be a new expression of a common pathology shared with the eating disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / etiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Weight Lifting / psychology*