T Nation

Exercise Addiction to Weightlifting/Getting Big


So i'm new to this forum, but interested in this topic. Does anyone on here think an "Exercise Addiction" is a real thing for those trying to gain mass/definition? Or would you say that would never apply to you. For some peole would it be considered a cumpulsion?

In full disclosure, I am a TV producer looking to do a show on this topic, but I do seroiusly just want to see what you all would say about this topic. I'm just looking to learn more about it.



I think to compete at the Olympia level one must be borderline obsessive. The dedication it takes to reach that level is almost unparalleled.

I just watched a show last night about the same topic you are trying to research. A guy ran all the time and it eventually came between him and his girl. It was also to the point of being unhealthy both physically and mentally.

My strange addiction I believe was the name of the series.


Listen man, I think the basic principle for most people that do bodybuild is that they just want to look better.

After a period of time gains diminish and people aren't happy with certain aspects of their body. Proportions is a big part of your questions. As you get bigger through hypertrophy some muscles are going to start standing out more than they used to. Pretty obvious considering they've got bigger. Once that happens, you need to start considering the muscles that are now lagging behind.
Proportions are a big thing. I've seen some guys walk around with truly weird proportions. If you look to my image you'll see what I mean.

There are always going to be a few freaks out there who take things too far such as Greg Valentino but for the most part, all the bodybuilders on here at least are very down to earth, nice and mostly an intelligent bunch of guys. They have no mental health issues and it's as much about self-improvement and preservation as it is about sheer vanity. I'm not saying bodybuilders are by nature vane though. So many go for long periods of time at higher bodyfat percentages than a lot of male models who tend to keep that leanness year round and hold considerably less muscle usually.

A lot of us do love the pump or just the whole experience of going to the gym. There is no denying that, the sort of exercise we do lets of endorphins... But there are a lot of people who equally hate the gym and find putting themselves through rigorous training awful.

It's a huge topic but I'm going to let the rest of the guys on here who are considerably more experienced and knowledgeable of the world of bodybuilding answer your questions.


I'm addicted to my quest to become defined!!!

Pick me pick me!!


To do anything elite in life you must be obsessed, Bill Gates didn't half ass his early life. Putting a label on it only makes it popular for the media and TV.


We should have like buttons on this forum

CAUSE DJHT is dead on the money


He dropped out of Harvard. Now that's half ass!

Nah, I agree completely.


:slightly_smiling: That is the other thing is having the balls to be your own man. Not following the masses.


dedication =/= addiciton?


I've read that one bodybuilder would take a microwave everywhere he traveled in case his hotel didn't have one. I call that obsessed or being a great boy scout.


hhhmmmmm Pro Athlete, He will always have hot food. Becuase anyone will tell you HOT Chicken and Brown rice Will always beat cold chicken and brown rice. Sounds smart to me.


Still one of my favorites:


"Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated."


I think you need to consider your definitions very carefully.

"Gaining mass" can be applied to those looking to gain weight in whatever form while bodybuilders really are only looking to gain muscle at the end of the day.

"Definition" is promised by tabloid/infomercial diet and exercise plans. It is not about gaining muscle but about losing fat.

My point is neither of these terms are defined by nor define bodybuilding. The terms have larger cultural meanings.

I am not trying to be persnickety but I think in the pool of those who do suffer/have "exercise addiction" few are going to be bodybuilders.

How you define bodybuilding is important as well. As with any endeavor, those who excel (in general) are going to be more focused on the activity than the general public - who may perceive the focus as obsessive.

Also, the length of time someone is involved in an activity matters. People who start lifting seriously tend to be more "obsessed" in the beginning because there is a lot to learn and work through. Those who have been doing it for years/decades have probably already found a way to balance their lifting/diet with the rest of their lives. Again, those outside the sport may find it excessive but I doubt that is always terribly objective. The focus on diet is probably similar or less than those who are vegan, suffer gastrointestinal problems, dieting, etc.

When you consider the amount of time people in general spend watching TV/movies, talking on phones, shopping, playing video games, etc. and then compare that to the time 'gym rats' spend in the gym, I would expect that in the vast majority of bodybuilders would be spending less time lifting that others spend on entertainment.

Those who I have seen (having worked and spent over a decade in the gym) who I would be tempted to say are exercise obsessive lived mainly in the cardio part of the gyms. The might lift but that did not seen to be their focus. This includes the people who would weigh themselves when they came in, when they left, and sometimes at different points in their workouts.

Short answer: I think "exercise addiction" is rare in the bodybuilding/weight-lifting community. I think it is more common in those who are trying to lose weight and or gain definition as their main goals.


Psychological obsession, maybe. Actual dependency to the physiological response, also maybe.

It may be a misnomer to call it an exercise addiction for those trying to get mass/definition just as it would be to say that the guy who habitually or demonstrates addictive drinking is trying to get a beer gut.

You have to examine the motives and psychological components of what drives the behavior to really determine if it is an addiction or just mis-prioritizing of a goal. I think it would also require professional evaluation of whether or not the actions sum total is affective or effective in how the person lives their life.

I would say that this would never apply to me. As an actual drug addict my experience with chemical dependency has been diametrically opposed to my experience with weight training. It has actually been instrumental in my recovery as an outlet for negative emotions, and has had a net positive effect in my life with regard to goal setting and achievement, general sense of well being, and numerous other aspects that increase the overall quality of life.

Maybe, as people are strange, and come up with some very interesting ways of coping with life. But once again, would probably best be evaluated by a qualified professional.


The truth is, most people watching this show (if it ever gets aired) probably watch more TV per week than a typical bodybuilder spends in the gym. Now THATS an addiction.

Can you imagine a TV show about a typical american's addiction to TV?


obsession is obsession is obsession.

Whether you're a recovering crack addict who found Weight training as an outlet, or a lifelong health nut who likes to push heavy things, its an obsession.

But- an addiction? That word is used to describe an activity that harms more than the person involved in the obsession.

I wouldn't call it an addiction, but perhaps an unhealthy obsession.

If I take more than a week off from the gym, I do go through withdrawals, mentally, emotionally and physically.

for what its worth.


This. I get called obsessed when I spend what, under an hour in the gym each day on average? Most people spend more time every day watching television or plucking pubes.


I'd be obsessed with watching it.

Now, you know there are people who are exercise bulemic. I suppose I would call that an obsession/addiction. But the people who are at that level of dependency are few and far between, whether they are trying to get HYUOOGE or trying to get tiny.


This is really great information and backs up what I've been hearing from health professionals as well. There is absolutely a difference between dedication, obsession and addiction, and the difference is usually in amount of negative ramifications.

What we definitely want to make sure to do with this show (and it's in production, it will air, lol) is show true addiction. Lots of people have written in to us saying "I miss a day or two at the gym and I feel like a slob, rofl." That's not an addiction. An addiction is missing the birth of your first child because you have to get a run in. Addiction is the pursuit or dependancy of anything that is destructive to your life and we want to make sure that's what is shown on the show, and not "OMG, I totally can't go a day without my eliptical."

I/We make no assumptions about bodybuilders being unhealthy or personally destructive, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to post and ask if its actually a real thing in this community.

I understand there is a medical definition of "Bigorexia" and so I understand it must have some basis in truth, but accept that its exceedingly rare.

But that's also why we need help casting this show, as we want to show what REALLY goes on, and not present a stereotypical "meat head" and call him/her an exercise addict.

Truth is usually more entertaining than fiction anyway. Keep writing, this is really helpful for us! Thanks!