Injuries and overuse syndromes in competitive and elite bodybuilding

Int J Sports Med. 2014 Oct;35(11):943-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1367049. Epub 2014 Jun 2.


Competitive bodybuilding is a weightlifting sport similar to powerlifting, strongman competition and Olympic weightlifting, which aims to increase muscle mass, symmetry, and body definition. Although data regarding rates of injury, overuse syndromes and pain during routine training is available for these other disciplines, it is rare for competitive bodybuilding. The aim of this study was to investigate rates of injury, pain during workouts and/or overuse syndromes, as well as the influence of particular intrinsic and external factors. Data was collected using questionnaires from 71 competitive and elite bodybuilders. The information included training routines and prior injuries. Participants were recruited from bodybuilding clubs in Germany. 45.1% of athletes reported symptoms while training. The overall injury rate was computed to be 0.12 injuries per bodybuilder per year (0.24 injuries per 1 000 h of bodybuilding). Athletes over 40 exhibited higher rates of injury (p=0.029). Other investigated parameters showed no effects. Most injuries occurred in the shoulder, elbow, lumbar spine and knee regions. A large proportion of bodybuilders complained of pain not resulting in interruptions of training/competition. The injury rate is low compared to other weightlifting disciplines such as powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting or strongman competition. In comparison to team or contact sports the injury rate is minimal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Resistance Training / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Injuries / epidemiology
  • Upper Extremity / injuries
  • Weight Lifting / injuries*
  • Young Adult