Effects of Training Environment on Muscle Dysmorphia Symptomatology in Men and Women


  • Mark Schafer Western Kentucky University
  • Jason Crandall Western Kentucky University
  • Rick Grieve Western Kentucky University
  • Kathryn Dispennette Utah Valley University
  • Jana Michalik Western Kentucky University


strength training; high intensity training; body image


Muscle Dysmorphia (MD) is a condition characterized by an excessive preoccupation with muscularity. The environment in which a person resistance trains may have an impact on the clinical features of MD. The aim of this study was to compare MD symptomatology between individuals who train in traditional fitness centers (TFC) and those who train in high-intensity functional training environments (HIFT). Method: Volunteers were recruited from both TFC and HIFT facilities. Participants (N=376) completed an online (Qualtrics) demographics survey and Muscle Dysmorphia Questionnaire (MDQ).  A two-way ANOVA compared the effect of training environment on MDQ scores among HIFT and TFC men and women. Results: Training environment significantly affected MDQ [F (4, 345) = 3.765, p = .005, d = 0.737]. The mean score for TFC (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]). Discussion: Participants with greater MD symptoms may prefer training in TFC, thus potentially facilitating and perpetuating MD symptomatology. The results of the present study may provide insight into creating optimal treatment programs for individuals with clinical MD.

Author Biographies

Mark Schafer , Western Kentucky University

School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport

Associate Professor

Jason Crandall, Western Kentucky University

School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport


Rick Grieve , Western Kentucky University

Department of Psychology


Kathryn Dispennette , Utah Valley University

Department of Exercise Science & Outdoor Recreation

Assistant Professor

Jana Michalik , Western Kentucky University

School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport

Kinesiology - Exercise Physiology, Graduate Student


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