Let’s Go: Muscle dysmorphia is a psychological condition some believe results from an overfocus on the physical ideal.


The perspective through which men view their appearances impacts their fitness aspirations, which differs from the perspective through which women view their physiques. Because of their greater emphasis on a muscular physique, men workout to increase their morphological size.

Besides, the desire for muscle mass may be linked to the increased danger of anabolic-androgenic steroids and other health supplements whose efficacy has yet to be proven.


In extreme cases, the desire for muscle mass can emerge as a type of body dysmorphic disorder known as muscle dysmorphia.

Still, not all men are concerned about their muscle mass. Homosexual men are often more prone than heterosexual men to have the drive to be skinny due to media portrayal, and they are more likely to suffer from dietary and body image disorders.

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Stage 1:

Men’s emphasis on the desire for muscle mass can have a significant influence on how they approach fitness and diet. For instance, men frequently concentrate on obtaining a muscular shape and showcasing that form to its full potential because they believe they are less muscular than they are and equate a lack of muscle with a lack of masculinity. They may then use a variety of nutritional tactics to boost their effort to gain muscle.

Muscle Dysmorphia:

A type of body dysmorphic disorder, it is characterized by a collection of attitudes and actions displayed primarily by men who have a strong need to be more massive, even though they are already objectively thicker than the majority of other men

People with muscle dysmorphia frequently wear baggy clothing to cover up what they perceive to be an incredibly insufficient level of muscle mass and suffer high degrees of anxiety and guilt about exhibiting their bodies in society. Grieve lists four broad groups of factors that, in his opinion, affect the onset of MD: socio-environmental (such as media representations and influences), emotional (such as negative feelings), psychological (such as the perfecting of the ideal person), and physiological (such as muscle mass). A greater likelihood of using anabolic-androgenic steroids exists among men with muscle dysmorphia.

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Dysfunctional Eating Patterns


Modifying eating habits or the specific foods or nutrients one consumes can result in a change in one’s perception of their body (i.e., to grow physically or psychologically larger or thinner). This is likely most evidently observed in bodybuilding and combat sports, where participants may significantly lower their overall caloric intake before a match before consuming a large number of calories afterward.

Several men who are not participating in athletic competitions indulge in eating behaviors and techniques that may be incompatible with fitness and optimal nutrition. Dieting to gain muscle requires extreme eating behavior, including five to six daily meals. Alternating between phases of weight gain and loss is another common trend. To achieve the ideal physical state, this cycle is frequently repeated periodically.


The likelihood of excessive weight or fat gain over time with this form of cycling is a huge concern. Also, repeated cycling may cause undesirable physiological changes, such as blood fat rises, kidney alterations, and detrimental consequences on blood pressure.

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Performance-Enhancing Drugs

There is mounting data that suggests a connection between men’s desire for the bodybuilder ideal and their usage of performance-enhancing substances. PEDs, however, are rarely consumed by themselves and are frequently combined with a variety of both legal and illicit substances, including thyroid stimulating hormone, fat-burning supplements, and painkillers.

These supplementary treatments are intended to lessen the severity of certain PED-related side effects. PEDs are often consumed in “cycles,” or according to set dosages and consumption times. The minimal data available indicates that there is a growth in cycle quantity throughout the duration, with the typical cycle of PEDs reaching roughly 1,000 mg/week.


PEDs can have a wide range of negative side effects, including serious psychological and physical issues. The majority of users do experience negative effects, the most frequent of which are acne, testicular shrinkage, sadness, anxiety, and hostility. However, these side effects usually go away at the end of a cycle. Cardiovascular complications are the most severe physical adverse effects.

Sexual Orientation

In a population-based survey, gay male teenagers reported BID at a rate of 27.8%, compared to 12% for heterosexual male teenagers. The same goes for eating disorder screening tests, where gay men do much more.

Throughout all previous years, homosexuality portrayed through the media as femininity. For instance, the media frequently portrays Latino or African American homosexual men as having female identities and/or being female impersonators.


On the other hand, homosexuals who adopt a more masculinized body image are more likely to have body image problems related to muscle mass. Concerns about steroid use, workout obsession, and heavy drinking behavior are of the utmost importance for these people.

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The investigation into men’s body image and the desire for muscle is still in its infancy, as are those into its causes, effects, and relations. Men exercise to increase lean muscles and dietary strategies to achieve the physical ideal; however, a few men who pursue this goal may develop MD; additionally, some will indulge in risky dieting cycling, the use of nutritional supplements, and the use of PEDS to maximize their desires.


Conversely, homosexual males are more susceptible to ED and BID than heterosexual men, indicating that body image impacts may be more complicated in this demographic.

Future studies should investigate these problems and broaden our knowledge of men’s body confidence difficulties, with an emphasis on how these challenges might affect diagnosis and treatment.


Bergling, T. (2013). Chasing Adonis: Gay Men and the Pursuit of Perfection. Taylor & Francis.

Eating disorders in college men. (1995). American Journal of Psychiatry, 152(9), 1279–1285. https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.152.9.1279

French, S. A., Story, M., Remafedi, G., Resnick, M. A., & Blum, R. (1996). Sexual orientation and prevalence of body dissatisfaction and eating disordered behaviors: A population-based study of adolescents. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 19(2), 119–126. https://doi.org/10.1002/(sici)1098-108x(199603)19:2

Hudson, J. I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H. G., & Kessler, R. C. (2007). The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348–358. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.03.040

McCreary, D. R. (2007). The Drive for Muscularity Scale: Description, Psychometrics, and Research Findings. The Muscular Ideal: Psychological, Social, and Medical Perspectives., 87–106. https://doi.org/10.1037/11581-004

McCreary, D. R., Hildebrandt, T. B., Heinberg, L. J., Boroughs, M., & Thompson, J. K. (2007). A Review of Body Image Influences on Men’s Fitness Goals and Supplement Use. American Journal of Men’s Health, 1(4), 307–316. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988306309408

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