You’re always hungry for more: A Phenomenological study of the Drive for Muscularity in weight-training men
Objectives: Historically, concerns of body-image have been considered by society as an issue affecting only females (McCreary & Sasse, 2000). Whilst females are said to experience a drive for thinness, for men it is said that they experience, in parallel, a drive for muscularity. Psychological research has only begun to attend to this issue of drive for muscularity as it applies to men, only in the last two decades. Whilst there is a reasonable body of literature surrounding this topic, much of this research has been of a quantitative nature. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of weight-training men, and how they make sense of a drive for muscularity and the associated influences and outcomes of such experience. Design: A qualitative approach was adopted, namely Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. This approach was selected in order to provide detailed experiential accounts of drive for muscularity in a small sample of regularly weight-training men. Method: Four men between the ages of 18-35 took part in face-to-face semi-structured interviews. Data was transcribed verbatim, with these transcripts providing the data to be analysed using IPA. Results: The process of analysis produced four main themes, presenting the unique experiences in the lives of participant’s in the context of drive for muscularity. These themes were: Sociocultural Motivations, Muscularity-Enhancing Behaviours, Positive Outcomes and Body-Image & Self-Esteem. Conclusions: The findings of the present study allowed a deeper understanding of the drive for muscularity phenomenon, which has so far been explored mostly in purely quantitative research. These experiences may allow psychology to stimulate positive changes in the understanding of body image as it applies to men. Implications for future research is addressed.