Understanding the motivations behind the "iron sport" among Greek competitive bodybuilders using interpretive phenomenological analysis

Constantinos Karavaglides, Nicola Cogan

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Bodybuilding has generated debate and controversy, with research having largely focused on pathologizing the sport. This study aimed to gain insight from the accounts of bodybuilders regarding their personal meanings, experiences, and motivations for engaging in the sport within Greece. Semi-structured interviews with six 'elite' competitive bodybuilders were conducted. The themes to have emerged using interpretative phenomenological analysis were: the need to stand out vs toll of being different, self-affirmation through challenges and personal sacrifices, the importance of the mind in bodybuilding, and the impacts of a transformational body. Suggestions for future research and theoretical implications of these findings are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)167-180
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Qualitative Research in Sports Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2018


  • bodybuilding
  • qualitative
  • motivation
  • competitive bodybuilding
  • IPA

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