Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

K. Jason Crandall (Director), Mark Schafer, and Frederick Grieve

Degree Program

Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport

Degree Type

Master of Science


Muscle Dysmorphia (MD) is characterized by preoccupation with muscularity. Although there is a growing body of research concerning MD, there is a lack of research concerning the potential role exercise training environment has on the clinical features of MD. The purpose of this study was to compare MD symptomology in traditional strength-trained (TRAD) individuals to individuals training in communal high intensity functional training environments (HIFT). Participants were recruited from both types of facilities. Participants (N=376) completed online (Qualtrics) demographics survey and Muscle Dysmorphia Inventory (MDI). One-way ANOVA compared the effect of training environment on MDI scores among HIFT, TRAD, both HIFT and TRAD (BOTH), home gym (HOME), and “OTHER.” Training environment significantly affected MDI for the 5 environments [F (4, 345) = 3.765, p = .005, d = 0.737]. Mean score for TRAD (M = 111.73, SD = 20. 39, [107.78, 115.68]) was significantly higher than HIFT (M = 102.20, SD = 19.59, [99.17, 105.23]). MDI for BOTH (M= 107.06, SD = 18.01, [100.77, 113.34]), HOME (M = 108.89, SD = 22.80, [99.86, 117.90]), and OTHER condition (M = 108.19, SD = 22.43, [97.97, 118.40]) did not significantly differ from HIFT or TRAD. Results suggest training environment is correlated with levels of MD symptomology. Specifically, males and females with higher levels of MD symptoms prefer to train in a traditional training environment, which is potentially more conducive to facilitating and perpetuating MD symptomology. The results of this study provide

insight into the social physique anxiety associated with MD, as participants with higher levels of MD symptoms do not prefer to train in a HIFT environment where training occurs communally and other gym members provide extrinsic motivation. Additionally, the results of the present study further our understanding into the psychopathology of MD in that the motivating factors related to aesthetics (high level of body focus) associated with a TRAD environment take precedence over the motivating factors relating to selfimprovement and the desire to increase functional fitness that is associated with a HIFT environment. Results may provide knowledge for creating optimal treatment programs for individuals with clinical MD.


Exercise Science | Kinesiology | Psychology of Movement