How to Start Bodybuilding (Fitness) for Women? Let me tell a bit about bodybuilding for women, what it means to be a female bodybuilder, and how to women fit into this sport. I’ll also tough upon topics of diet and exercise.
The phrase „bodybuilding” for the bigger part of the society stands for muscular men and extremely muscular women, which is why when referring to women bodybuilders I would like to use the word “fitness”. This, however, can be misinterpreted since fitness actually refers to any strength and aerobic exercise, or sports as such. For various reasons bodybuilding is associated with overly huge muscles, but it is not the case nowadays. A female bodybuilder develops a beautiful and muscular physique without losing her feminine shape.
Women in bodybuilding
First of all, it is much harder for women to grow muscle because their testosterone levels (masculine hormone) are much lower. However, women produce feminine hormone – estrogen, which ‘makes’ the body store fat to create fat reserves in order to carry children (note that the last layer of fat is stored under the belly button – this can be observed when preparing for bodybuilding competitions). Thus it becomes clear that without using illegal substances that raise the testosterone levels, women simply cannot look overly muscular to the point that they become manly in appearance.
Genetics plays an important role in bodybuilding since each person can be grouped according to their body shape. For instance, people who belong to the normosthenic body type (great proportions, well developed limbs and muscles) have the upper hand in sports – they are more nimble, strong, and will achieve better results, that’s just the way it is. In addition, women who naturally have increased levels of testosterone will develop muscles more quickly.
Women naturally have a higher body fat index (higher body fat percentage) than men, which is why it is important for women bodybuilders to have aerobic and cardio exercises in order to lose the layer of fat stored under the skin. As regards cardio workouts, you basically have to measure your body fat index (in %) – if the layer of fat is thin, you don’t really need intense cardio. This intensity also depends on your goal – the more excess weight, the more cardio you’ll need. When preparing for a competition, the frequency of cardio workouts should increase. If you have doubts or lack knowledge about this topic, it’s best to consult your trainer.
Women who want to lose weight and develop a sculpted and muscular physique should stick to a carb, protein and fat diet with the approximate proportions of 70:20:10. Protein is crucial to ‘feed’ the muscle and promote muscle growth (but don’t get me wrong – they will not grow a centimeter by day!) The main sources of protein in a plant-based diet include soy and soy products, lentils, cereals, nuts and seeds. As for carbohydrates, opt for complex carbohydrates since they provide energy gradually in the period of several hours. The main sources of complex carbohydrates include brown wholegrain rice, wholegrain oatmeal, fruits and vegetables.
Overall, women should exercise in the same way that men do, i.e. their exercise plans would not be that different (however, some men will tend to focus more on base-type exercise). The biggest difference between men and women is that women exercise with lighter weights and will have a higher repetition of the exercises to develop the appearance of muscles. Here, however, you also have to take into account the goal of the process – if you with to add muscle mass, you’ll need fewer exercise repetitions and heavier weights. Beginners may start with training programs aimed at exercising multiple groups of muscle at once; afterwards when the variety of exercises is increased, the program must be divided with each day of training dedicated to a separate group of muscle.