Training, Supplementation, and Pharmacological Practices of Competitive Male Bodybuilders Across Training Phases

J Strength Cond Res. 2022 Apr 1;36(4):963-970. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003989.


Hackett, DA. Training, supplementation, and pharmacological practices of competitive male bodybuilders across training phases. J Strength Cond Res 36(4): 963-970, 2022-Bodybuilding involves the pursuit of muscularity and leanness primarily through the use of progressive resistance training in combination with other practices such as manipulation of diet and use of ergogenic aids. This study aimed to compare the training practices and ergogenic aids used by competitive male bodybuilders across training phases. An online survey was completed by 235 competitive male bodybuilders with a median age of 26.0 (interquartile range 23.0-31.3) years. Results showed that most respondents performed split-routines (85.5%), 4-7 sessions per week (95.7%), trained major muscle groups twice a week (>50%), and session duration being 60-90 minutes (55.7%). Off-season resistance training sessions mostly comprised of targeting 2-3 muscle groups (56%), 2-3 exercises per muscle group (60.4%), 3-4 sets per exercise (73.2%), 7-12 repetition maximum (RM) per set (71.6%), and 61-180 seconds recovery between sets and exercises (80.5%). At the precompetition phase (6 weeks before competition), there was a decrease in the number of muscle groups trained per session (p = 0.027) and a greater number of repetitions performed per set (p < 0.001). A significant increase in the reported aerobic exercise volume was found during precompetition (<0.001). Performance enhancing drugs were used by 53.6% of respondents who did not compete in natural bodybuilding competitions. Dietary supplements were used by 95.7% of respondents with the most common being creatine monohydrate (80.4%) and whey protein (65.8%). Findings suggest that competitive bodybuilders follow resistance training practices consistent with the broad muscular hypertrophy recommendations but a notable shift in practices occur in the weeks before competition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Creatine
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances*
  • Resistance Training* / methods
  • Young Adult


  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Creatine