Amateur Bodybuilders and Their Perceptions of Supplements: A Qualitative Analysis

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Kevin M. King
Mitchell T. Woltring
Colby B. Jubenville


Performance, Nutrition, Ideal Body


Introduction: Bodybuilding is a sport with an emphasis on aesthetic appearance, and therefore performance in the sport is unique in its emphasis on body image perceptions, and it centers on creating a perfectly proportioned figure of muscle.1-2 The present study sought to examine supplement perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes within the community of male amateur bodybuilders.
Methods: Interviews were conducted with thirty (N=30) amateur male bodybuilders ranging in age from 20 to 34 years old (M = 22.93, SD = 3.42) who had been engaged in the sport between 2 and 15 years (M = 3.31, SD = 2.82).
Results: Three major themes emerged from the interviews. Amateur male bodybuilders use supplements: (1) to help achieve an ideal body; (2) to increase strength and enhance performance; and (3) because of a belief that the positive benefits outweigh the possible negative consequences. Several sub-themes were present in each major theme.
Conclusions: In order to reach a tier of competition they deem satisfactory, and to reach the image they desire, amateur male bodybuilders believe supplementation is a requirement.

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