Muscle Worship

Muscle worship describes a fetish behavior in which an individual admires a more powerful person. This is not to be confused with mixed wrestling or session wrestling, but it could be involved.The major emphasis is on massaging, touching, or feeling the strength of the stronger person. Normally the one being worshiped is a bodybuilder, fitness competitor, or wrestler. Muscle worship can involve both men, women, and people of various sexual orientations. Bodybuilder both male and female offer muscle worship sessions. These types of sessions sometimes fund the cost of competing. It is still unknown how wide spread the practice is. There seems to be more information on women who participate in sessions than men. Although there is limited data, it appears there are more people willing to worship the muscularity of a woman. For the admirer the point is to get aroused by the bodybuilder’s greater strength. Some wonder if this practice is equivalent to prostitution. Not really, due to the fact that sex rarely happens in these sessions. That does not mean however it never happens. This practice is fascinating, because it demonstrates the nature of sexual behavior.

           When attempting to understand this practice  one must ask  what is the definition of sexual fetish. Sexual fetishism can be defined as ” the erotic feelings for an object, body part or activity.” Here the definition is applied to the muscles of a woman’s body in muscle worship sessions. The women being worshiped are not objects,so the first part of the definition would not be applicable. Males tend to make up the largest amount of fetishists in existence. That does not mean women do not exhibit fetishism as well.


 It still is a mystery why people have certain fetishes. They probably develop around the time of puberty or earlier. This is a period in which hormones do not only change the body, but change behavior. Teenage boys and girls start to have sexual interests. Sexual fetishes also focus on fantasies. This could involve some form of role play or other activity that causes arousal. Fetishes can exist on a spectrum. This means people could have some level of fetish attraction or high amounts. There is a level of sigma to the term, due to the fact people associate it with perversion or sexual predator activity. The more extreme ones are considered pathological. The truth is a majority of sexual fetishes are either harmless or to other observers comical. Sexual fetishes can involve a number activities such as high heels, toys (not the children’s type), or something more extreme like BDSM. To simplify the categories are vast. Some people have a particular type of body which they are attracted to. Muscular women would be an example. Sexual fetishism is not considered a mental disorder, but some behaviors are. Bestiality, pedophilia, and exhibitionism are severe mental disorders and criminal acts. Other fetishes are obviously not like those cases.

Liking muscular women would not be considered a mental disorder, just a preference.

 The foot fetish for example does not attempt to induce harm to anyone. The distinction is made when a fetish falls under what is known as paraphilias. What this means is that individuals will engage in abnormal and extreme activities to attain sexual arousal. This condition becomes so obsessive individuals can hardly function. Paraphilia occurs more in men than it does women.Theories have been postulated, but still there is not definite answer. The basic definition of sexual fetish and the nature of it was developed out of studies in psychology, biology, and sexology.

        Muscle worship overlaps with other activities and fetishes. Session wrestling and mixed wrestling are different, but are related to muscle worship. They are part of a muscle worship session, but not its main feature. The participant wants to feel the woman’s muscles and admire them, rather than test their strength. Stenolagnia  is a fetish that puts emphasis on the presentation of muscular strength. The type of muscle worship session that caters to the stenolagnic, buts emphasis on presentation, rather than strength demonstration. This would mean the client would do oil rubs and massage the woman’s muscle. Clients with cartolagnia  put more emphasis on strength feats.

This man prefers stenolagnia.
He prefers cartolagnia.

    These strength feats involved arm wrestling, wrestling. or another fetish referred to as lift and carry. Lift and carry is another fetish that is separate from muscle worship, but also overlaps. This fetish arouses individuals who like to be lifted over the shoulder or used as a human dumbbell. Being cradled  as well is favorable. This fetish does not always require a muscular woman to do it. To a person who enjoys this any woman capable who can pick them up is preferred. It just happens that a physically fit woman is more capable. Other times some women are naturally strong. Smaller women have been seen to perform such lifts of men who are bigger than they are. There are some methods to lifting a person larger than another and it may not just be completely based on strength.

arm wrestling is the most basic. The stronger woman challenges the man in a simple contest. The client is not trying to win per se, but to feel the force of the woman’s arm and grip strength. Most of the time the client would be physically weaker than the one being worshiped, so even if maximum effort was given it would be futile. There are of course men who don’t fit the image of typical muscle worshiper. Male bodybuilders themselves do seek out women of immense strength. Many times they are most frequent participants. This really is not a surprise considering they are around and active in the bodybuilding subculture. Men from different ethnic backgrounds and classes engage in muscle worship. The age range could be from 24 to 65 for males who find this practice gratifying. The exact number of men who do this is not known. There is even less data on women who seek men for muscle worship. There are scholars who have attempted to pinpoint just how popular sexual fetishes are. Around 2004 a research team led by Claudia Scorolli  at the University of Bologna  examine hundreds of online fetish sites and published their findings. The most popular fetish were related to feet and toes. Body type or size was third most popular according to the study. Muscle worship would fall under body type. Looking at these overlaps are confusing for the layman and professional alike. What it reveals is that human sexuality and behavior is not as simple as previously thought. When examining the practice of muscle worship fantasy wrestling cannot be ignored. This can fall under session wrestling or mixed wrestling. The difference is the challenger does not attempt to win. The client wants to feel the power of every wrestling hold. This involves headscissors, bodyscissors, and camel clutches.


12d71b9c30780582613c719bdace41be   Mixed wrestling 14   It is assumed that these practices are solely for the enjoyment of the person being dominated. The stronger woman may also enjoy overpowering a weaker subject. The female perspective seems to be ignored. Scholarship focuses on male motive, which may be evidence of certain sexist beliefs. It was believed that women had no sexual desire and were passive in passion. Only with the advance of sexology and the sexual revolution did this notion disappear. Power whether it is physical or mental is an attractive attribute to men and women. Relevant to muscle worship, this type of physical power can be irresistible.

        There are some possible reasons for why men tend to have more sexual fetishes. It could be rooted in evolution. Nature allows for different reproductive strategies.Species must survive in an environment and spread their genes by having off spring. The desire to spread genes results in different reproductive strategies. One model is the theory of male competition for females or multiple partner mating in the animal kingdom. The clues come from examination of gibbons and gorillas. Gibbons tend to be more promiscuous as a mating strategy and the sexual dimorphism in terms of size is small. Gorillas compete for access to females and are physically larger. The reason for the difference is that the males will fight. Human beings share a common genetic ancestor with apes and it is not impossible that millions of years of biological evolution still effects behavior. Paleo- anthropologists have speculated that mating  behavior of early hominins could have functioned in a similar pattern. Certain looks or attributes could be signals to potential mates of reproductive fitness. Subconsciously, the mates in the animal kingdom search for these attributes in mates. Mammals do not spend most of their time copulating. This only happens when females of a certain species are in estrus. This stage means females are ovulating and eggs can be fertilized. The human sexual cycle does not have a specific sexual receptivity  phase. It can be described to be more constant. Applying this to sexual attraction allows for a more lucid explanation. Men and women who like a particular body type could want to exchange genes with a partner  to increase the chances of better equipped offspring. This is only part of the answer. Biology does not only play a role, but sociological elements as well.

        There may be a sociological explanation into the desire and love of muscle worship. The consumption of images in popular media is powerful. There has been in recent decades an image of the strong woman presented in entertainment. Female heroines are being embraced in TV, film, and electronic media. There is a new Super Girl show and a Wonder Woman movie in development.Strength is not seen as a negative attribute in women. The rebooted version of Mad Max  featured the female protagonist more than Max himself. Even cartoons are presenting women as more than just stock characters. The Legend of Korra  did this excellently. All these images have not only an impact on adults, but most importantly children. It may change their perspectives as they reach adulthood. Being surrounded by such images could foster a love of the strong or muscular woman. Many participants who engaged in muscle worship say there was something that sparked their love of it. They either saw a magazine, read a comic, or saw on TV a muscular woman.

This is Wonder Woman from a DC comic. Normally she is drawn to be athletic looking.

   There may be some novel fascination at first, but this could develop into attraction. It may not always develop into a big attraction, rather a small amusement. For some when this spark is ignited they begin to crave more. While popular media provides occasionally a few powerful strong women in its content, sports has more in comparison. Women are presenting much more powerful bodies in sports than in the past. The bodies of track and field athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders delight the lovers of female muscle. To them it is their fictionalized heroines in popular culture coming to life. Although society seems to be not entirely accepting of a physically strong woman, there is a portion that is embracing it.


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The “strong is the new skinny” zietgeist  has gained traction. Now women are involved in crossfit  and other strength sports. Although this could be just another passing fad, it has gradually changed some peoples mind about what is attractive. There are a portion of people who find a woman with some muscle ( although not to the degree of a female bodybuilder) attractive. Some newcomers to the world of fitness are just discovering this for the first time. Other who have been involved in the fitness subculture were already ahead of the mainstream. The humorous aspect of this is that some women who are involved in fitness  recently think of it as something new. Kacy Catanzaro  of Ninja Warrior fame stated “men are definitely noticing strong women.” She explains further “I’ve never had issue with a guy dating  who was intimidated because   of my strength.” Anyone familiar with bodybuilding culture knows that women in the sport have die hard fans. Schomes which is sometimes used as a pejorative, but not always describes the most loyal of the fandom. It is not entirely clear how it emerged, but most are men who just love the look of the physically strong woman. Since the late 1970s there are schmoes who have sought muscle worship and session wrestling. Men all of sudden did not discover the beauty of female muscle. The idea was subcultural and underground in small fitness circles. It is now being repackaged in a mainstream format to a wider audience. However, elements of this muscle movement for lack of a better term, still remain subcultural. Female bodybuilding has never gained mainstream acceptance, because of negative stereotypes and prejudice. The sport of bodybuilding  was never really meant to be mainstream . The extremely muscular woman is then marginalized. If a woman has an “acceptable” amount of muscle then there is no ostracism. This will gradually be discarded , because women coming in sports are not longer bound by societal expectations of femininity in competition.


7b550376097cde34_452485578.xxxlarge_2x   Women have learned to define femininity for themselves. The major change is that it can be compatible with strength. Muscle worship from this sociological perspective can emerge from material culture. The consumption of media and have strong women present could make it possible. Biology does play a role in sexual attraction, but environment is also critical.

         There has been focus on the clients who participate in muscle worship, but limited focus on the women who are being worshiped.Their thoughts and motivations are  just as important to understanding muscle worship. The first seems to be a common explanation of financial incentive. The sport of female bodybuilding and other strength sports do not pay the women well. It is not just female bodybuilders who do muscle worship, but fitness and physique competitors as well. Those two divisions have grown more in terms of popularity, but are still underfunded. Muscle worship covers some of the cost of competing for athletes. The women basically have to become their own business and navigate a sports world generally hostile to them. This does not explain why some women also choose to do muscle worship for other reasons. There are women who enjoy the feeling of power and being in control. The woman in the case of muscle worship due to her immense strength is able to assert physical dominance.This is something women will rarely experience in their life times. At this stage there is a state of intense jubilation that women experience. While many observe that the muscle worshiper is there for a sexual thrill, it may go beyond  that instinct. The client wants to show respect and reverence for the woman’s power. Often the term goddess is used to describe the women. This means the one admiring submits psychologically to their power. The woman being worshiped could also like the attention. Rarely do women involved in bodybuilding get this much adoration and respect. They do not even get it inside their own fitness circles.



This is a private space in which men and women can explore areas outside traditional gender roles. Women can be physically powerful, but not seen as undesirable. Men can still be seen as  normal for liking this type of woman. Women who do muscle worship could also experience sexual thrill from the activity. Women do have a sexuality and for a longtime society sought to suppress it. Women are often viewed as passive receptors in terms of sexual behavior. This is not true, because they have erotic thoughts and urges just like men. Men’s drive may appear to be higher due to cultural mores and endocrinology. Testosterone has been known to be pivotal for both men and women in sexual function. Men produce higher amounts, which does influence sexual behavior. Other women who do muscle worship may just like the idea they can challenge men physically. Muscle worship can involve mixed wrestling, arm wrestling, lift and carry or other forms of physical activity.




Being dedicated athletes the idea of a new experience and challenge is a thrill. Co-ed sports competition  or play is rare due to differences in physiology. This provides an opportunity for women to experience it, at least in wrestling. Here anatomical and physiological differences are not effecting anything, due to the fact most men who participate are not athletes themselves. Women would have the greater physical advantage. The objective is not to win in a fantasy wrestling match, but to experience the strong woman’s full power.This can be gratifying to women who do muscle worship. The only way this practice and be fully understood is when there is complete examination of the women who do it.

           There is a habit to confuse muscle worship with femdom. This refers to a type of  bondage, dominance, submission, and sadomasochism (BDSM).While there could be an element of female dominance in muscle worship it is not exactly  the same. Bondage involves chains, whips, or physical restraints. It is rare that women use these items for muscle worship. Submission requires another to bow to the other’s power. This could be part of muscle worship, but not always. When wrestling is offered in a muscle worship session it can be competitive or semi-competitive. The only element that comes close is fantasy wrestling. Sadomasochism is also different. The goal of that practice is to gain pleasure out of pain or humiliation. A client who is in a muscle worship session may not be seeking harm. Some sessions do not involve wrestling at all, but allows the client to simply rub and oil the woman’s muscle. The point of wrestling the woman is not to inflict maximum damage, but see her total force of her physical strength. Clients are allowed to tap out if it gets too intense and the women are mindful not to harm them. The sadomasochist wants to have pain inflicted as the ultimate objective. Although strange to some observers, sadomasochism is not considered a clinical paraphilia. More extreme cases would fall under sexual sadism disorder. There are times when the lines and denotations are ambiguous when explaining muscle worship and female dominance.

         The root of this muscle worship fetish is due to the fact that the muscular woman is fascinating to supporters. They combined beauty and strength, which was thought to be incompatible. They are a unique group of women, because women this strong are not common. This aesthetic even though criticized  does accentuate the traditional beauty  mark areas of a woman’s body ( legs and posterior). Women who are involved in the sport do say  they feel better about their appearance and feel more desirable.


09df0eb1558955dc7cbc2b5f2c2d5254    Then the fitness industry does encourage a level of fetish. Many advertisements, magazines, and other entertainment use sex as way to sell products. When looking at photographs in magazines or websites its would be hard not to develop a love a  fetish. Fans are not solely driven by a fetish, but a love a particular sport. They were either introduced to it by friends, a media outlet, or some other way. What started as a simple fascination develops further. The fan does become interested in a particular athlete and if she offers muscle worship they may participate. This is not a disorder unless it stops a person from functioning. The individual will not stop liking different types of women.Clients normally have an eclectic mix of attributes they consider attractive in a woman. What muscle worship reveals is that human desire can be induced by a multitude of factors.

         Muscle worship is still a mystery. While there are some speculative reasons for its origins and practice, there is no concrete proof. Other fetishes seem to be more prevalent like foot fetishes, leather, or BDSM. There are fetishes that are disorders and would be considered clinical paraphilias. The reason there is a level of stigma is due to ignorance and myths that are repeated. Nor all fetishes are harmful or evidence of a mental disorder . Muscle worship is not considered a parahilia  or referenced in the DSM. It is difficult to get an exact number of participants globally, but it does have a far reach. Both men and women from Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania have done this. The academic fields of  psychology and  psychiatry are attempting to understand human sexual practice. They are behind in a sense, because study has not been done seriously up until recently. People are still uncomfortable discussing sexual behavior. Many parents refuse to let there children learn about sex education in school. Human sexuality is something that should not be feared. It is a part of biology and examining it can help comprehend human function and behavior.

Further Reading

Abrahams, Marc. “Sexual Fetish Research Shows There Are Few Limits to Erotic Desire.” The Guardian. N.p., 14 July 2015. Web. 4 Apr. 2015. <;.

Weiss LCSW, R. (2012). What’s In A Fetish? Maybe Not What You Think. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 7, 2016, from

Muscle Worship

2 thoughts on “Muscle Worship

  1. turner says:

    Muscle worship is thought to be synonymous with sthenolagnia.The point is that the term “sthenolagnia” is not in popular usage,and most sthenolagnia devotees define themselves as “muscle worshippers”.This is my perception of the problem.


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