Sthenolagnia and Cratolagnia

Sthenolagnia can be defined as “the sexual arousal from the presentation of muscles or strength.” Cratolagnia is described as “arousal from the performance or demonstration of strength.” These two sexual fetishes are not the same. Sthenolagnia puts more emphasis on the appearance of muscles. The assumption is the larger the muscle mass equates to being stronger. That is not always true in some instances.Both men and women can have this sexual fetish. People with different sexual orientations can have this fetish also. This is not a recent phenomenon. Words were just developed to describe something that has existed for many years. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) a German sexologist and physician who coined these terms in the 20th century, described what had existed for many centuries. Mainstream society considers this “strange” or “unusual.” This seems to be an exaggeration, when examining more harmful dimensions of other sexual fetishes. Misunderstandings can emerge because there is little scholarship on sthenolagnia and cratolagnia.


images (2)

A visual difference of sthenolagnia and cratolagnia. The woman above is demonstrating her strength. However, her muscles are nothing compared to bodybuilder Susan Smith’s development.

     One question that is asked is why such an attraction? There are multiple explanations for this.  The first could be that some men desire ( at least temporarily) a role reversal. Men in many societies are expected to take on numerous responsibilities, be leaders, breadwinners, work as diligently as possible, and express little emotion. Men put extra stress on themselves, because they are the pillars of society and community. Some of this responsibility has been shared with women during times of crisis. Since women’s liberation they are taking roles in the public sphere. The role reversal element in regards to the physically strong woman can be attractive to some men. Here is a woman you do not have to carry bags for or open jars. The male protector role has distorted gender roles not only for women, but men. Maybe it is not role reversal, but a move toward equality. Another explanation is the more obvious preference for a particular body type. This can vary widely among individuals. Some men just like the look of muscles on a female body. To an extent the human body is fetishized. Fitness advertisement put emphasis on women’s lower bodies and weight. The body itself is not lascivious by nature, but is made that way by a cultural context. The traditional areas of female beauty are enlarged in the muscular woman ( legs and posterior). Then there is the aspect of confidence projected by the strong woman. The conjecture is that men are attracted to women who are secure with themselves. Normally, women are not taught to be confident in themselves or show pride in their skills. The physically strong woman shows both confidence in her skills and body. This is not  a part of accepted cultural mores, but they do it regardless.


Being attracted to a woman with strength or muscle is no different than being attracted to any other type of woman. 

The woman athlete cannot doubt herself, especially during competition. She must have full belief that her diligence will lead to victory. Many women to their own admission say they developed more confidence with their new found strength.

        Cratolagnia  has more to do with action of the body.The reason for such attraction could be based on the fact that women’s bodies have been restrained for so long. Through out history women have had very little control over their bodies. These women retake control by molding it into a different model.Demonstrations of strength from a woman can be something unique. There can be pulchritude in rarity. Women in the traditionalist view are meant to expose their bodies or imply that they have a sexuality. The strong woman not only displays a body, but presents it with pride. It is not only for show, but it can do something. Seeing a female body work and exert force can be amazing. This enticing feeling maybe linked to the ancient past. Before polytheistic and monotheistic religions, humankind worshiped mother Earth. A goddess that was powerful and controlled all of nature. That is the origin of the phrase mother nature. The love of the strong woman could be a subconscious return to the mother goddess. This is speculative, but may have some truth. There is beauty in seeing the raw power of a muscular woman. It can be like looking at a sequoia tree or a mountain range ;you are in awe of the combination of power and beauty.


This woman projects a type confidence, because of her strength. This can be a positive attribute for some men. 

          There is another aspect to sthenolagnia and cratolagnia know as female muscle growth. This term is used to describe stories, cartoons, and other entertainment materials that relate to sthenolagnia and cratolagnia. This has grown to something immense due to the internet. Generally, these stories will either feature a woman gaining strength or muscle through scientific, magical, or alternative means. The woman can either be a protagonist or antagonist in such stories. Male characters are either allies or enemies. Sometimes they end with the strong woman comparing her strength to the male. These stories in some cases are close to being erotic in manner. Other times fans will produce art of particular cartoon characters with muscle. There are artists over the internet who focus solely on fmg art. The traffic for these websites are high. There possibly could be many followers, but an exact number would be difficult to calculate precisely.


An example of female muscle growth 

Fmg artists usually like to make superheroines  the subject of their work. This makes sense because in comics women are portrayed with an athletic or muscular body type. She Hulk and Wonder Woman are the favorites for fan art. Original creations are popular as well such as David C. Matthews’ Tetsuko.


This is an original creation by David C. Matthews. The webcomic has generated a huge following .

The female muscle growth phenomenon is another extension of cratolagnia and sthenolagnia. Fmg is nothing new. LH-Art produced comics related to fmg before internet access was available to the majority of the public. It continues today online producing fmg comics and stories. The internet now has made a small niche even bigger. A multitude of sites have been established that focus on female muscle growth.

       A common misconception is that these fetishes are sadomasochistic. This is not true, because sadomasochism is an entirely different classification. This involves inflicting pain on a person to induce some form of sexual gratification. Men or women who have sthenolagnia and cratolagnia may or may not have sadomasochistic tendencies. BSDM functions on a dominant partner and a submissive counterpart. Dominant and submissive behavior is not an element in stenolagnia and cratolagnia. The focus is on the structure of the body and its physical capabilities. The only reason people would associate two different classifications is because of prejudice. The physically strong woman is viewed by the closed minded as aggressive, out of control, unfeminine, and domineering. Such backward thinking does not represent reality. Many women athletes are just like other women; they just happen to be strong. This fetish may seem peculiar to some, but it is harmless.

Sthenolagnia and Cratolagnia

30 thoughts on “Sthenolagnia and Cratolagnia

  1. turner says:

    I don’t think that cratolagnia should be viewed as a separate entity.Instead,cratolagnia is an inallenable part of sthenolagnia or at least a private case of it.Getting sexually aroused by feats of strength and being,at the same time,indifferent to impressive muscles sounds like a nonsense,doesn’t it?And,of course,deriving a sexual gratification through feats of strength and being sexually attracted to a muscular physique are not mutually exclusive alternatives.Saying about causes sthenolagnia results from,I think that experiencing sthenolagnia is attributed to nature not nurture;it is genetic and not a choice.Sthenolgnia has somethig to do with the structure of one’s brain and his heredity.


    1. Nonsense? Quite hardly…..I am webmaster of a site called that caters to fans of cratolagnia in more of a fantasy setting, aka superheroines and females with superpowers — with a very heavy emphasis on superstrength. The major attraction to the vast majority of our viewership is the act of a woman lifting an impossible amount of weight (tons) or doing some other superfeat to show her superiority. One needs not look further than Supergirl to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Is it common? Not as much as FMG or sthenolagnia probably, but we have a devout following and over 600 fan-fiction stories in out library with that central theme!


      1. turner says:

        It is implied that physicl strength has always been associated with strong muscles and vice versa.Muscles are responssible for any feats of strength.It would be impossible to lift anything without muscles.
        I believe both devotees of sthenolagnia and ones of cratolagnia have an attraction towards a muscular individual.However,while the formers are attracted to him consciously,the laters are done to him alternaiwely(unconsciously I mean).
        It looks like someones are more inclined to appreciate strength of muscles,whereas impressive size,shapes and definition of muscles are the main turns on of other people.
        The state of being obsessed with weightlifters and powerlifters rather than bodybuilders is the only criterion a devotee of cratolagnia is supposed to meet to be classified as such,which is laughable.
        The problem is that the very notion of cratolagnia is so blurred and undistinguished that it hard to tell about it as a separated entity different to sthenolagnia.


  2. Well, it cannot be said that it has a genetic basis. However, we cannot ignore the role of the hypothalamus in sexual attraction. The two fetishes can be considered different. One could easily be attracted to a woman with strength, but she has no visible muscles. The demonstration of strength induces a sexual response. Sthenolagnia is based on the presentation of muscles, not on demonstrations of strength feats. They are related, but different. As far as genetics goes I do not believe that one exists for men who are attracted to strong women. It would mostly be due to the function of sex hormones and their interactions between the anterior pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. During puberty sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen are produced more in the body contributing to the development of sexuality.


  3. turner says:

    It is a fresh approach to the issue,at least for me.I mean the function of sex hormones is really interesting.Unfortunately,I am not well versed in physiology.My belief is that sthenolagnia is a subconscious attempt of a person to make up for qualities he has a lack of.
    My question is as the follows:Does the connection between the state of being attracted to muscular women and latent homosexuality actually exist?It is well known that some people are of an opinion that the female muscle admiration indicates homosexual inclinations.As a result,devotees of sthenolagnia tend to keep their interest in muscular women under the wraps(secretly).I don’t want to be taken the wrong way.My question does by no means whatsoever imply to morally abuse anybody.


  4. Homosexuality is something different. That is the attraction to ones same sex. A muscular woman is still a female even though she does not follow the conventional concept of femininity. We cannot exclude the possibility that there are some bisexual tendencies among people as well. Alfred Kinsey a notable sexologist believed that individuals fall on a particular spectrum of sexuality ( there may not be people who are completely heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual).. There is nothing wrong with people of a different sexual orientation; it is society projecting sexist and homophobic projections. Again, some of our sexuality is not just psychologically based it is rooted in the endocrine system. Testosterone plays a major role in sexual functioning. Allegedly during copulation women’s testosterone levels rise. The reason for this is based in the millions of years of human evolution. Biochemical reactions in our brain a functioning on a feedback loop.


  5. Giwreh says:

    I’ve both in my nature. And it’s impossible to say which one of the two is most important, but it’s very easy to say WHEN one of the two is important : As long as it’s visual, arousal is provoked by the imagination of meeting the strenght. That is totally one-sided. When really meeting the strenght, everything depends of the interaction between 2 persons. Suddenly, it’s about ‘relationship’, and that can turn out good or bad, as any relationship can. So, the “real interaction” cratolagnia, everything is much more tricky. Stenolagnia is emotionally safe, as all is happening in the viewers mind. (Or, just as well the dreamers mind, for that sake) Where most presumptions go wrong, is when the two are called “fetishes”. It’s not that is would be stictly impossible that it could act as a fetish, to SOME people…, it’s that in MOST cases, cratolagnia/sthenolagnia is THE final arousal/feelings/love goal as such. May I remind that when we call something ‘sexual fetish’, it should be about something which is ONLY an intermediate game/instrument , leading to ‘classic’ sexual arousal. Stenolagnia/cratolagnia in most cases IS the full-final arrousal and sexual experience on it’s own. It’s the absolute end-of-the-road, therefore in most cases NOT a fetish. This misunderstanding (die-hard in most cases..) is so often pushing it into marginality, while people whose arrousal-experience is based on meeting muscular strenght, literally do not have anything else ! It’s essence, for them. As it is for me, as an example ! For me, NO so called classic sexual deed is / can be a substitute for bodily experiencing the engulfment of delicious strenght from the other one. And it’s VERY difficult fo find such a love-match….


  6. Grig says:

    Most men and women feel more or less sexually aroused by seeing someone make display of muscularity or physical strength because, for some reason, nature made these two an erotic thing so I wouldn’t consider it a fetish unless a person gets exclusively aroused by muscles or display of physical strength.

    Now, does this exclusively describe the viewer? What about bodybuilders, do they also get sexually aroused when they exhibit their own muscles or make display of physical strength? Is it also called sthenolagnia or cratolagnia in their case?


  7. It would be hard to say what a female bodybuilders thoughts are when they are posing on stage. There are many who got involved because they do love the look of a muscular physique. Like you said it is not a fetish unless one is exclusively aroused by it. There are people who are aroused by a multitude of attributes. It is not impossible that women who are involved in the sport have some level of sthenolagnia and cratolagnia.


    1. Grig says:

      It would be interesting to read if bodybuilders derive any sort of sexual pleasure from the exhibition of their muscles or by making display of strength. I don’t think there is content to read anywhere because most of the time it is the viewer who is the object of analysis while it is forgotten that bodybuilders are also sexual beings.


  8. turner says:

    Sthenolagnia should not be confused with narcissism and exhibitionism.I mean person’s excessive interest in or admiration for his own physical appearance indicates narcissism as a mental condition.
    If a person is given to getting sexualy aroused through showing his own body or parts of the body publicly,in that case we can rather tell about exhibitionism.Sthenolagnia is different to these conditions as we can see from its definition.Nonetheless,it is not necessary that a person has only one inclination of the mentioned above.


    1. Ariel says:

      I don’t know how it works for female bodybuilders, but I know a few male bodybuilders who get sexually stimulated by the competition. It has all to do with emulating the alpha male. They’re not sexually aroused by their own display of physical strength, instead, what gets them sexually aroused is comaparing masculinity and the attractiveness of their bodies compared to the other bodybuilders on stage. One of them once told me who felt like a super hero and seeing people’s faces made the experience even more thrlling.

      He told me he loved to flex his muscles as hard as he can, even in that area he loved to outshine the other contestants because it made him feel even manlier.

      For some of the bodybuilders I know it is mildly rewarding sexually the very act of just being on stage; for the others, the experience is more animal, you know “I can flex harder than you. I look bigger than you. I am manlier than you”, etc. People reacting to their display of muscularity and strength makes the competitiom more rewarding for them.

      I guess you can call it exhibitionism although bodybuilding requires a degree of exhibitionism even if there is no sexual motivation in competing.


  9. turner says:

    I am afraid person’s disier to build muscles and brag about them can not be attributed to sthenolagnia.At least it is not always the case.Sthenolagnia is a clinical term describing one’s sexual attraction to muscular people.In fact,there are rather puny and slim persons out there who consider themselves as muscle admirers and yet don’t want to be muscular, because those people’s awareness of how much weaker and less muscular compared to a certain athlete they are is namely what drives them.It may sound stereotypically,but a mesomorph is more likely to be attracted to a slim person.


  10. Turner says:

    Is sthenolagnia only such whenever a person is sexually aroused by females exhibiting their muscles or strength? I was browsing the internet in search for this word and all material is related/focused on females bodybuilders. What is it called when it is about male bodybuilders?

    By the way, I didn’t know female bodybuilders were such a fetish. I actually remember I once watched a documentary on the fetish with female bodybuilders on Youtube and the females doing all these erotic/sexual stuff with male fans seem much open and unashamed about their “side job” than male bodybuilders,… Is it more acceptable for females or do they do it because it perhaps provides them with a rewarding feeling of dominance over men? If you could write an arctile on this very topic…


    1. The term can be applied to both men and women. There are men and women who are aroused by physical strength or muscular appearance. Women who do muscle worship do it for a variety of reasons. They may actually enjoy the physical challenge or they get the same level of thrill out of it as their clients. Another reason is that it is a source of money that goes to competing costs. There is a double standard, because men who do muscle worship are rarely criticized.


      1. You are actually talking about PROSTITUTION. Whatever type of feelings should be considered in the circles of friendship and love. Please, leave out that who prostitution story.


  11. Hal says:

    I am married to a woman who appreciates her ability to make me submit to her arm wrestling and wrestling. It allows us both to experience sexual arousal when she dominates her strength and I am submitting to her muscular superiority. What began in our bedroom , now Pat has begun to tell friends and family about her being the stronger partner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hal says:

      No actually Pat did not pursue weights until she was forty. She was active in competitive swimming through college, we had a daughter, then she showed little interest until that “dreaded” 40th birthday. With a gym membership she became dedicated to increasing her strength. The results perpetuated the arm wrestling to showcase her physical development.


      1. Hal says:

        What I am trying to say is I know I love to feel the power of a strong woman, I didn’t understand the feminine perspective. Since then Pat has dominated our relationship, physically and verbally. She now challenges me to wrestle her because she wants to experience my submission to her strength. It is done with love and respect, yet she leaves no doubt that she can and will defeat me in a test of strength.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I never disparaged people who engage in sex work. I see nothing wrong with something done between two consenting adults. My view on that is mostly Libertarian. All I was expressing was that it is ludicrous to say women who do session wrestling are prostitutes. That claim has sexist overtones. Session wrestling rarely involves sex, but obviously their is a fetish element to it. Some sessions are not even wrestling at all. There are fans who just want to see their favorite female bodybuilder do a posing routine for them. It’s like they are the judge, but one contestant is present. Clearly this is not prostitution. By definition it is” the practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment.” Wrestling is not sex.


      1. I will disagree completely with your “libertarian vision”. The only thing “libertarian” in it, is the glorification of the business. And you’re accusing without grounds with your remark “sexist overtones”. To start with, you confuse totally legal categories around prostitution (what is allowed by law, what is not) with the basic morality. The broad moral definition of prostitution, is completely different from your oportunistic ‘legal’ narrowed definition. It is : “Selling for money, deeds or acts and (faked) feelings that intrinsically belong to the precious private environment of friendship and love.” By bringing these very precious deeds & acts into a trade environment, the participants are destroying their unique value, not just for themselves, but also as a devaluated moral value that is spread amongst others. The mutual consent also has nothing to do with it. (A sales contract = mutual consent, but will not change a bit to the very prostitiution nature of transaction.)


      2. I think you are confused. Yes, your comments do have sexist overtones because it functions on the whore-mother dichotomy. I never glorified prostitution, making it illegal seems to be a waste of police resources. Arresting prostitutes seems ludicrous. The libertarian perspective on this is a rational one if you like freedom and personal choice. Your concept of “basic morality” is centered around a Judeo-Christian philosophy, which sees everything in black and white Ethics is more complicated than two opposing view points.Session wrestling is not unethical, because it is not promising the client love or companionship. It offers a client wrestling or autograph sessions. Your complaint is that it is exploiting people, but it is not. Again, there is consent between two individuals and terms are made clear. This is not about finding love or a partner;it’s a subcultural activity. It is not harming anyone. The fact you keep trying to equate the women who do wrestle as prostitutes, proves your bias. They just found a business model to finance their competition costs in a sport that does not want them involved. Men do wrestling sessions as well, but are not faced with the same amount of ostracism. According to you “definition” of prostitution every man who takes a woman out to date is basically prostituting them. Could we say eHarmony the dating website is reducing what you call “unique feelings” by saying it can result in long lasting marriages? Like I said, your arguments lack cogency. By the way here is the legal definition of prostitution: ” the profession of performing sexual acts for money. Prostitution is a crime throughout the United States, except for a few counties in the state of Nevada, where it is allowed in licensed houses of prostitution. Soliciting acts of prostitution is also a crime, called pandering or simply, soliciting. Pandering on behalf of a prostitute is called pimping.”

        Read more:


      3. Oh my goodness. You’re such a typical American, with a lawyer in your pocket ! I started out explaining that (1) the moral meaning of prostitution is DIFFERENT from the limited legal one. You just act blind in reading capacity, and repeats the legal version. I’m not even interested in it, as it differs in every corner of the world. (2) Prostitution, morally, has NOTHING to do with one sided men versus woman, it’s irrespective of sexes or genders and their directed interaction. Your statements are making you show up as hyper-conservative (“… every man who takes a woman out to date is basically prostituting them…”) There is not one tiny piece of a phase I wrote, that is suggesting anything in that way, you’re making this up. I repeat the general moral definition of prostitution once again : “Selling for money, deeds or acts and (faked) feelings that intrinsically belong to the precious private environment of friendship and love.” Key word one : SELLING. Key phase two: ‘the precious private environment of friendship and love’ …. (3) OF COURSE, if you (I’m just guessing) are earning your bucks in that business yourself, you will actually turn around like a devil in a holy-water font, and go fishing for local legal stuff, that has no relation to morality studies. But it’s useless. (4) You tried to dump me cheaply in some Judeo-christian box, and you got it completely wrong, there. I’m 100% atheist. Morality has nothing to do with that box. Morality is a division of free philosophy.


      4. Actually that’s wrong. Morality used in your context fits in with the monotheistic religions. That’s why people use the the broader term ethics in the philosophical tradition to explain a general set of principles in which people live. Morality has a religious connotation, because it can be defined as ” principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.” Religion focuses right and wrong in absolute terms, while ethics puts emphasis on debate of the code of behavior. There is Christian ethics, but there is no room for debate of that code because Christians must adhere to the Ten Commandments (preached but never done). Your imaginary definition of “prostituting” hardly describes what the women are doing. Their sports organizations has underfunded them with low prize money and limited sponsorship. They started session wrestling to cover the cost of competing, otherwise they would not be able to. The business clearly is not about finding love, because the women are not advertising that. The fans of this know the terms and conditions. You claim that the women are exploiting people and their emotions, but that is not correct. I find it odd that you do not criticize the IFBB or the Weider Corporation who actually does exploit the athletes that come to compete in their events and even do photo shoots for their magazines, but pay them less than men. Now that’s exploitation. Yet, this does not anger you. If anything you should have a problem with capitalism and business function. However, you decide to direct your contempt against women who are in a male dominated sport and figured out a clever way to finance their pursuit in the face of obstacles. By the way the “typical American with a lawyer in their pocket” comment was just ludicrous. There is something called the rule of law it is a concept that is pivotal to every functioning nation-state. There is a reason why the US has one of the longest lasting constitutions, it operates from a point of logic. May be you should try using it. Session wrestling or the muscle worship is not causing harm or damage to anyone, so therefore it is not unethical. As long as the parties involved understand the terms or conditions no is selling “fake love.”


  12. Hal says:

    It is interesting how these changes reflected on our family.
    One evening Pat and I were starting an arm wrestling match while our daughter was on a date (she was a senior in high school – a very accomplished swimmer on her HS Team).
    I glanced up and Pam came in with her boyfriend, before I could say anything she asked what are you guys doing? Her mom calmly explained that she was showing your dad who is stronger. My daughter squealed COOL, I want to watch! For the next several minutes she watched as her mother pulled my arm down, left and right handed. Come on dad she pleaded, yet as the outcome became apparant she was cheering for her mom. Pat was thrilled, proud, and eager to flex for both kids, she explained to our daughter that if she wanted she could join her lifting and then she could also be strong enough to beat her dad.
    I felt humiliated in defeat, YET with my daughter’s acceptance of her moms victory, I saw Pats dominance so perfect for our family. As Rick was urged by Pam he reached over and squeezed Pat’s flexed bicep …. His eyes widened and Pam told him she was joining her mom at the gym.
    We were laughing as the kids left …..


  13. Hal says:

    Thanks to everyone who posts on this topic. Since puberty I have experienced sexual arousal when feeling the strength of females, even early girl friends were encouraged to arm wrestle.
    For many years I struggled on why I felt this way, did anyone else, what did the lady feel, all unanswered questions. As my life expanded I accepted the fetish and looked forward to the internet as the volume of work became available.
    As Pat and I began sharing in her 40s and then after Pam brought our arm wrestling out of the bedroom, the stigma was out in the open.
    Now I can accept a strong wife, an athletic daughter encouraging her mom to become stronger….. I don’t have all the answers “why me”, but I am enjoying the ride.


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