The world of female bodybuilding can be daunting to enter. While the initial images you conjure up may be of bulky, masculine-looking women with ripped muscles, this isn't always the case. In the 1990s, figure and bikini classes were introduced into women's bodybuilding for those who wanted a smaller yet defined and aesthetically-pleasing physique, says trainer Matt Weik of Bodybuilding.com. Before you take the plunge into competing, there are several important factors you should consider.
If you decide to join a gym, know that you're not expected to know how all of the equipment works right off the bat—or what to do with it. Be sure to take advantage of the free orientation so you can learn how to properly use everything that's offered and set up a basic strength-training program. At the gym, machines are preferred for beginners, because they're quite safe: Most require little coordination and offer more stability than free weights while performing the movements. 
Figure out how to pay the bills. Bodybuilders don't make lots of money, so the idea of becoming a professional bodybuilder is a lot like the idea of become a professional poet or professional painter: it'll take a lot of your heart and soul, but you'll also need to figure out how to take care of the practical details. You've got to support your bodybuilding with some other kind of work to pay the bills.
Starting in an upright position (without locking out your knees), contract your quadriceps muscles and slowly lower into a squat position. Once you reach the bottom movement (where your upper legs are just below parallel to the platform), press the sled back to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your lower back planted firmly against the rear padding to avoid a back injury.
Doing at least eight sets per muscle is enough to get some muscle growth but, it can depend on how many reps you're doing. Eight to twelve reps is great, while doing any more may be unnecessary, depending on your body type. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to do 25 sets for squats and about 10 reps, whereas his friend Franco Columbu only did five sets of squats and 10 reps.
Overeat. Increase your daily intake of energy (calories) by about 15 percent. It should not be all protein but the extra protein you consume, either in supplements or protein foods, should be low in fat. Stay close to the current guidelines for protein requirements for weight trainers. Hiring a sports dietitian with some experience in weight training is also an option.
Isolation exercises are movements which target only one muscle group at a time, movements such as preacher curl, side raises, dumbbell flyes, etc. These exercises do not benefit beginners because isolation exercises are usually meant to further define a muscle, which can be pointless if you do not have any muscle to define, therefore it is important to do compound movements.
You can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you are. So before you conduct any sort of diet overhaul, take a look at the number of calories you currently consume on a day-to-day basis. Apps like MyFitnessPal make this exceedingly easy to do. Your daily caloric intake might surprise you! And once you know how many calories you devour each day, figure out how many calories you ought to be consuming using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.

Let's face it, injury risk increases with age. Furthermore, when you’re injured, it takes longer for you to recover and eight weeks out of commission is a lot more of a life-altering event now than it was in your 20s. When something hurts, the wrong kind of hurt, either train around it by doing exercises that do not cause more pain, or take off all together.

The exercises listed in Week 1 are a collection of basic moves that, while also used by advanced lifters, we feel are suitable for the beginner as well. Notice we’re not starting you off with only machine exercises; a handful of free-weight movements are present right off the bat. Reason being, these are the exercises you need to master for long-term gains in muscular size and strength, so you may as well start learning them now. Carefully read all exercise descriptions before attempting them yourself.


I personally like to do a 5 second eccentric and the pause in the bottom of the exercise for 2 seconds and then explode up for a total of 7 second rep. This is significantly different than the 2 seconds most people do. By changing the tempo you will increase the time under tension and thus force the muscles to adapt to a different stress. This is something that should be part of your plan and it should be recorded in each session.
The third and final phase of the “25% Stronger” program helps you max out your strength levels by gradually decreasing the volume of your workouts while increasing the amount of weight you move. You’ll begin the last phase at the top end of the strength range (seven reps). Each week, you’ll perform fewer sets and reps - five of five, four of four and finally the last week in which you perform three sets of three - so your body is fresh for the final tests in Week 13.
Overtraining occurs when a bodybuilder has trained to the point where his workload exceeds his recovery capacity. There are many reasons why overtraining occurs, including lack of adequate nutrition, lack of recovery time between workouts, insufficient sleep, and training at a high intensity for too long (a lack of splitting apart workouts). Training at a high intensity too frequently also stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) and can result in a hyperadrenergic state that interferes with sleep patterns.[51] To avoid overtraining, intense frequent training must be met with at least an equal amount of purposeful recovery. Timely provision of carbohydrates, proteins, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, even nutritional supplements are acutely critical. A mental disorder informally called “bigorexia” (by analogy with anorexia) may be held accountable of some people overtraining. Sufferers feel as if they are never big enough or muscular enough, which forces them to overtrain in order to try and reach their goal physique.[52]
For us recreational enthusiasts, there are few things that provide more inspiration than the audible feats of strength that take place in our own gyms every day. The clanging of non-collared plates on a big set of squats. The seismic thud of a stacked set of dumbbells hitting the floor. The primitive, rep-beating grunt of fellow strength-seeking men. It’s this cacophony of iron that pushes us to push ourselves. We want to move more weight - lots more - and we’re ready to put in the work.
Game meat used to be a big part of the American dinner—bring it back. Bison, elk, ostrich, and venison are among the best muscle-building foods. Besides having a superior protein-to-fat ratio that helps pack on lean mass, most game is grass fed and has plenty of room to roam. This produces more fat-burning omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid. Look for game meat at farmers’ markets or order at eatwild.com. Also, keep an eye out for game meat jerky, a stellar, protein-packed snack option.

Increase the frequency of workouts, keeping in mind that each muscle needs at least 48 hours of recovery time. Once you are more experienced, you may like to consider splitting body parts over the different days of the week – for example, chest, shoulders and triceps in session one, back, biceps and abdominal muscles in session two, and legs in session three.

Weight trainers do not use as much glucose fuel as higher intensity or longer duration aerobic sports like track and endurance running and cycling. But even so, it pays to keep those glycogen stores topped up if you want to be at your best in training. Low numbers of repetitions with heavy weights develop strength, whereas lighter weights and more repetitions build muscle size and endurance. The latter is likely to expend more energy.


You may recruit more muscles than just the group you're focused on. Getting back to dumbbell presses, you not only use the pectorals, anterior deltoid (front of the shoulder) and triceps, but you may need other shoulder and back muscles to coordinate and hold your body steady during the exercises. Likewise, if you're doing standing front raises, you will naturally recruit muscles in your abdomen and back to steady your body.

Processed and fried foods will be going bye-bye as part of your bodybuilding program. You'll need five or six small meals each day with lean protein to repair muscles, carbs to fuel your workouts and healthy fats to satisfy hunger. Lebo advises that you create meal plans for your week. Rest your muscles a full 48 hours before working the same muscle group and get plenty of sleep.
You've been surfing Bodybuilding.com for weeks, looking at the incredible transformations that other people have experienced and the plans that got them there. Now, you think it might be your turn. You've been peeking into training systems like LiveFit and Kris Gethin's Hardcore Daily Trainer, and thinking a lot about time: Is 12 weeks as long as it sounds? Is it long enough to make a genuine change?
^ Mangano, Kelsey M.; Sahni, Shivani; Kiel, Douglas P.; Tucker, Katherine L.; Dufour, Alyssa B.; Hannan, Marian T. (February 8, 2017). "Dietary protein is associated with musculoskeletal health independently of dietary pattern: the Framingham Third Generation Study". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 105 (3): 714–722. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.136762. PMC 5320406. PMID 28179224 – via ajcn.nutrition.org.
Attend local competitions. When you are just starting out, visiting local competitions will be helpful for a few reasons: you will be able to get a feel for competitions and what will be expected of you, you will be exposed to your potential competitors, and you will be able to speak with like-minded men and women who also enjoy the sport. You can make connections at a competition you might not be able to make at your local gym.

Walking into a gym to work-out for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you don't have proper guidance. Many new lifters either find themselves in that situation or are just training at home on some flimsy bench with a bar and a few plates. So, mistakes are common. Mistakes in terms of the exercises you're doing, how long you work out each day, how many days per week, the exercise form you're using, not to mention your eating habits.
Once you feel comfortably balanced, contract your quadriceps and gluteal muscles and lower your body slowly. When you reach the point where your upper legs are just below parallel to the floor, push back up to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight to protect your lower back, and keep your head up and your eyes fixed ahead as you perform this exercise.
I've been training for 20 years and to commemorate that long training slog, I sat down and compiled my 10 best training tips. After I wrote them down, though, I realized that while they'd no doubt be valuable to the novice trainee, they're probably things that the advanced trainee already knows. So I also compiled a second list to augment the first. The second list gives my best advanced tips. The end result is, I hope, something that's valuable to both levels of trainees.
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