Body conceptions and virtual ethnopharmacology in an online bodybuilding community

Aaron C.T. Smith, Bob Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to establish the common body conceptions of a serious online bodybuilding community and determine the role of the online forum in 'virtual ethnopharmacology': the word of 'mouse' sharing of drug protocols. Data were obtained from an online discussion forum dedicated to muscular development, and evaluated using a narrative-based analytical method. Forum postings were collected over a period of 36 months, transposed to software, and thematically coded. The results expose extreme, and sometimes contradictory, body-image constructs held by a devoted muscle-building community obsessed with muscular hypertrophy. Preoccupations with associated accoutrements were also identified, including nutrition and supplements, training regimes and anabolic androgenic substances. This study provides insight into the extreme body conceptions of bodybuilders normally restricted to gym insiders. It also reveals the significance of online platforms in the distribution of pharmacological knowledge and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-38
Number of pages4
JournalPerformance Enhancement and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


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