A Systematic Review of the Effects of Resistance Training on Body Image

J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Oct;31(10):2880-2888. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002135.


The purpose of this systematic review was to identify and appraise the literature that has specifically tested the independent effects of resistance training (i.e., weightlifting) on body image in adults. A comprehensive search of electronic databases PubMed, Scopus, PsycNET, and Web of Science for relevant studies published in peer-reviewed journals through December 2016 was conducted, and PRISMA guidelines were followed. Inclusion criteria were that a study had to be (a) written in English, (b) published in a peer-reviewed journal, (c) conducted an assessment of body image using a validated scale before and after a stand-alone resistance training intervention (i.e., not coupled with another mode of treatment), and (d) excluded participants younger than 18 years. Methodological quality was assessed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale. A total of 7,324 studies were identified, and 11 were included in this review. The majority (8 of 11) of studies concluded that resistance training can significantly improve multiple dimensions of body image, including body satisfaction, appearance evaluation, and social physique anxiety; however, only 3 studies were considered high quality based on their PEDro score, and several methodological limitations exist. Overall, resistance training seems to have the potential to improve body image in adults, but future high-quality studies with more rigorous testing methods and study designs are needed.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Humans
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Resistance Training / methods*