Men and women:Women become equally dependent as men on lifting. This may be surprising.
More addictive than running:Lifters describe themselves are more dependent on exercise than even runners.
Poorer, unhappy people:They are most afflicted. They have the highest rates of exercise dependence.
Answer:We know weightlifting dependence exists because research has shown it has many things in common with other addictions.
And:These are people in the lower socioeconomic classes, who are single and unhappy.
Note:Read the next section for the scientific description of weightlifting dependency.
Definition:In an article from the University College Chester in the United Kingdom, we define exercise dependence.
Exercise dependence, a process in which a person feels compelled to exercise and suffers physical and psychological symptoms when exercise is withdrawn, appears to be commonplace among bodybuilders.Validity of the bodybuilding dependence scale
Factor 1:Bodybuilding (or any sport) involves a community of people. With big muscles, we identify with other "big arm guys."
Factor 2:Another factor is the workouts—these affect your hormones and your energy levels.
Factor 3:The third factor is the challenge of planning your training. Should you do squats or deadlifts for optimal results?
Social dependence appears to reflect the need to be in the bodybuilding social environment, training dependence appears to reflect dependence on the actual activity of lifting weights, and mastery dependence appears to reflect the need to exert control over training schedules.Validity of the bodybuilding dependence scale
But:This is not the only possible path of addiction. Women too can become dependent on strength training.
Female bodybuilders:It is less common, but female bodybuilders are equally dependent as male ones.
Bodybuilding dependence appears to affect male and female bodybuilders equally, despite previous claims that this is predominantly a male problem, but competitive bodybuilders of both sexes score higher on all three factors than non-competitive bodybuilders.Validity of the bodybuilding dependence scale
In one study:A survey showed that "fitness lifters"—people less serious than bodybuilders—are less dependent.
Bodybuilders:The survey found that bodybuilders are less dependent than power lifters.
Results showed that bodybuilders and power lifters were significantly higher than fitness lifters on [Exercise dependence] scales. In contrast, power lifters were found to be significantly higher on [Drive for muscularity] scales than bodybuilders. The regression results suggest that exercise dependence may be directly related to the drive for muscularity.Exercise dependence and the drive for muscularity
Instead:People most dependent on weight training tend to describe themselves as power lifters.
Thus:Let me restate this in psychological terms. Bodybuilding is an answer to disappointment and unhappiness.
Pearson correlations also revealed significant negative correlations between all three [Bodybuilding Dependence Scale] subscales and [Satisfaction With Life Scale] scores.Exercise-dependence in bodybuilders
[An analysis] revealed that working class participants scored significantly higher on all three [Bodybuilding Dependence Scale] subscales than intermediate class participants who, in turn, scored significantly higher than professional class participants.Exercise-dependence in bodybuilders
Significant:This change is "significant." A partner reduces bodybuilding dependence (and increases happiness).
Participants who were not currently involved in a romantic relationship scored significantly higher on all [Bodybuilding Dependence Scale] subscales than those who were romantically involved.Exercise-dependence in bodybuilders
So:A romantic relationship is effective in reducing a person's interest in fitness—even in terms of bodybuilding dependence.
Note:It is unclear why this occurs. Perhaps "power lifter's high" is a useful term.
Scores on exercise dependence examined among a sample of 14 competitive power lifters showed higher exercise dependence among lifters than those previously reported for endurance athletes.Exercise dependence among competitive power lifters
Anxiety:Bodybuilders have less social physique anxiety. But they become even more addicted to weightlifting.
Experienced bodybuilders exhibit more exercise dependence, show greater social support behavior, and experience less social physique anxiety than inexperienced bodybuilders and weightlifters.Exercise dependence, social physique anxiety
However:Unlike some addictions, this does not lead to death. You cannot die from bodybuilding overdose.
And:There is a positive aspect to this. They have more social support over time and feel better about their physical appearances.
In retrospect:My body was not overly fat or weak-looking. But my negative self-talk built up a desire to change.
And:The depression continued like a river though all parts of my life. It nearly destroyed me.
And:I had, naturally, a muscular and thick build. I have 15-inch arms even before lifting at all.
But:My depression, my desperation, set bodybuilding in a whole new light in this summer.
Eggs:I ate thousands of eggs, some raw—and drank many gallons of milk. I physically changed.
Barbells:The weights changed from dumbbells to an Olympic barbell and hundreds of pounds.Barbell, Dumbbell
And:The exercises changed from biceps curls to dips to heavy back squats. I became more serious and my body became thicker.CurlsSquats