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Gym Training Exercise Addiction - Bigorexia

Bodybuilding / Training / Gym Addiction

In a society where being ‘ripped’ or ‘buff’ and having a steel ‘six-pack’ is revered, is it any wonder that some bodybuilders have crossed the line to addictive behavior? While many of us can barely muster the energy to walk over to the treadmill, many others spend countless hours in the gym. Exercise is a good thing; a great thing! It must, however, be done in moderation. Only you and your doctor can decide what a healthy exercise regimen is for you.

When training, exercising or bodybuilding becomes excessive it can lead to eating disorders and a generally unbalanced life. Anytime someone is so focused on anything (substance or behavior) to the exclusion of all else, they run the risk of becoming an addict.

Those who become addicted to working out and those who suffer from eating disorders are likely to have similar experiences:

  • Perhaps overweight as a child, this person has a very negative body image
  • No matter how this person looks today, they still feel like the ‘overweight kid’
  • What they see in the mirror is not truly reflective of what others see when looking at them
  • Training addiction gives some people (they believe) what they lack most: a sense of control

Another major cause of training addiction is plain ‘ole vanity. The more they work out, the better they look. The better they look the more compliments the addict gets. The more compliments he/she gets the more they crave compliments. Thus, the vicious cycle continues.

One-hour workouts are no longer enough; the addict now stays for three hours. When three hours is not enough, they stay for six hours, etc. etc. As with any addiction, there is a need to increase the substance (alcohol, drug) or behavior to get the ‘rush’ they once got much more easily and quickly in the beginning stages.

Some gym addicts become so all-consumed with working out that they are barely able to function in other areas of their lives. Following are indicators that you (or someone you care about) may be on the path to addiction:

• Isolating socially – including turning down dates or activities to work out instead. Many compulsive trainers will not attend functions where food is present – they see food as a danger which could interfere with their training progress.
• Excessive Exercising – exercising for long periods, perhaps several or many times each day.
• ‘Bigorexia’ – a term coined specifically for bodybuilders who are never satisfied with their size; no matter how ‘big’ they get, it is not enough.
• Feelings of depression – you feel worthless if you did not complete your workout fully (for many addicts ‘fully’ means exactly what was planned – one minute less is not acceptable).
• Anxiety – many addicted to training or bodybuilding feel extremely anxious (sometimes acting outwardly irritated) if they are kept from their workout
• Financial decline – the addicted individual may carry several costly gym memberships (to have 24-hour access); some spend large amounts of money on dietary supplements and/or workout wear or gear
• Priority #1 – addicts schedule their entire day around their gym activities

As is the case with any addiction, much can be lost if the person does not get help. Relationships and jobs suffer (and are sometimes lost) when the addict pays no attention to other areas of their lives. Finding a healthy balance is the key to living a happy life. If truly addicted, you may require the assistance of a professional to get back on track. Speaking one-on-one with an addiction specialist can often provide the means to begin recovery.


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