Female bodybuilding has a rich history full of impressive physiques. If you’re a woman looking to get into bodybuilding, get ready to put in work to balance beauty and brawn to become one of the most dominant females on the planet.
Here, we show how to become a beastly female bodybuilder, what the sport's history can teach you about bodybuilding strategy, and which factors are most important to focus on as you begin your journey.
The History of Women’s Bodybuilding
The female division in bodybuilding began in the 1970s with the creation of Ms. Olympia and other bodybuilding competitions. Men’s bodybuilding events back in the 50s and 60s used to have a women’s beauty contest or bikini event attached to their main show. The feminist movement of the 70s and female powerlifting competitions was the catalyst to female bodybuilding becoming legitimate.
From 1999 to 2011, there have been 21 women inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame. There are also Fitness and Figure competition categories, adding to the versatility of the sport. Throughout the 50 years of professional female bodybuilding, it has been rife with sexism, doping scandals, and other controversies similar to the male division. Despite this, women’s bodybuilding has become a mainstay in the bodybuilding world, giving you all the tools and resources needed to craft the ultimate female physique.
The Ultimate Female Bodybuilding Strategy
Bodybuilding as a woman is akin to a male bodybuilding strategy. It’s all about aesthetics, so adding muscle while dropping fat in the correct proportions of each body part is the name of the game. Like men’s bodybuilding, this is dictated by three bodybuilding facets: training, diet, and recovery.
Training as a bodybuilder requires plenty of volume and decent intensity. Progressive overload – i.e., increasing the weight and/or reps on an exercise constantly over time – will lead to incredible muscle adaptations. The 8-16 rep range is ideal for lifting heavy while getting in the volume necessary for hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Diet is where fat loss occurs. Dialing in your protein, carbohydrate, fat, and overall caloric consumption will determine what your body becomes from all that training. What you put in is what you get out, so finding high-quality food sources is pivotal.
Protein sources include chicken, lean ground beef, whitefish, eggs, and vegan alternatives such as tofu. Quality complex carbs – which lead to longer-lasting energy and decreased blood sugar spikes – include rice, sweet potatoes, and other starches. Fats that would help your crusade for a next-level bodybuilding figure include nut butter, avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil.
As for recovery, you want to get in the gym as often as possible. With the volume mentioned above, recovery must be a focal point in your routine. Sleep 8-10 hours nightly, take supplements like magnesium and vitamin C for inflammation and immunity, and find ways to destress throughout your day.
If you can train and improve in the gym while adding protein and complex carbs into your diet while getting enough sleep, you’re well on your way to becoming a badass bodybuilding woman.
Other Factors to Consider for Bodybuilding Women
There are other tenets to being a female bodybuilder, including:
Cycle Bulking & Cutting: You’ll want to begin with bulking up, followed by a strategic cut a few weeks out from an event.
Compound Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises: Compound exercises will make up most of your training — chest presses, squats, and deadlifts. Isolation exercises like curls help lag body parts that would do well with extra volume.
Posing: How you showcase your muscles will determine your success in a women’s bodybuilding event.
Cardio: Cardiovascular exercise – HIIT and steady-state cardio – is that extra percent or two that lifts your physique into the upper stratosphere. Treadmill or stair stepper work for half an hour every other day is ideal for steady-state, while one HIIT workout a week will keep your entire physicality really pop.
Event Prep: Hydration tactics, bronzing, event-specific rules and regulations, final posing practice…all must be 100 percent on before you grace the stage.
Bodybuilding as a woman is a unique challenge but one well worth it. With dedication, tenacity, and a determined support crew, you can and will achieve an eye-popping, aesthetic physique. And become one of the most powerful women in the modern age.
Article by Terry Ramos