Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Shereen Bingham


Using Objectification theory this study examined several elements of the portrayal of male fitness models in three men’s bodybuilding and fitness magazines through qualitative and quantitative content analyses. The magazines ranged from an overall fitness orientation to a professional bodybuilding focus. A preliminary qualitative study developed coding categories to assess Body Type, Physical and Social Setting, Clothing and Role that were used in a main quantitative study examining male centered instructional bodybuilding and fitness articles. In Muscle and Fitness there was a balanced representation of all three body types. However, in Men’s Fitness the Strong Muscularity body type was the most common body type and Flex exclusively depicted models with the Freakish Muscularity body type. In all three magazines the fitness models were most often portrayed in the physical setting of a gym followed by indiscernible backgrounds. A solitary man was the dominant social setting in all three magazines; women were rarely observed. In M en’s Fitness and Flex a muscle shirt/sleeveless t-shirt dominated upper body workout attire worn and no shirt was often observed. The reverse was found in Muscle and Fitness: no shirt was the dominant upper body workout attire and a muscle shirt/sleeveless t-shirt was also often observed. In Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness, athletic shorts appeared most frequently, though the models in Muscle and Fitness wore tight shorts almost as often as they wore athletic shorts. In contrast, tight shorts were worn most often in Flex. In all three magazines, a substantial number of models wore lower body attire that was indiscernible, occurring most often in Flex. In Men’s Fitness the dominating role was the Step by Step role. In Muscle and Fitness no clearly dominant role emerged, while the dominant role the models filled in Flex was the Exercise-Intimidator role. Men who read the studied magazines are presented muscular men in clothes highlighting their bodies, in roles motivating them and in settings reinforcing traditional masculine ideals. Men turning to these magazines are not just shown how to perform exercises and the benefits of them, but how a man’s body should look.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communications and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2003, Jeff Long.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."