In recent years, the related areas of fitness and figure competition have increased in popularity, surpassing that of female bodybuilding, and have provided an alternative for women who choose not to develop the level of muscularity necessary for bodybuilding. McLish would closely resemble what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competitor, instead of what is now considered a female bodybuilder. Fitness competitions also have a gymnastic element to them. A study by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that female bodybuilders who are taking anabolic steroids are more likely to have qualified for substance dependence disorder, to have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, or to have a history of sexual abuse.[14]
According to muscleandstrength.com, females who are trying to lose fat and develop a lean, strong body, should follow a low carbohydrate diet. Women tend to burn a higher ratio of fat to carbs than men, states muscleandstrength.com. Protein is necessary to develop muscle and should be consumed in small meals throughout the day. The protein you consume should have all nine essential amino acids. Examples of complete proteins are meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, soy and whey. Each small meal should also contain monosaturated fats such as salmon, olives, most nuts and avocados. The carbohydrates you consume, in limited amounts, should be complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates provide you with sustained energy. Examples of complex carbohydrates are fruit, vegetables, whole grain pasta, and beans.
If like most people you are eating once or twice a day or relying on fast foods to get by, then a bodybuilding diet may be absolutely different to what you are used to. If this is the case, then it is best to follow the steps provided in my article Easing Into A Bodybuilding Diet so that you slowly start changing your eating habits into the ones required to be successful at bodybuilding.
At the end of the day, you have to focus on how you feel. “Listen to your body,” says Davis. “It tells you when it needs a day off.” As a rule of thumb, take a rest day if your perceived pain is above a seven on a scale of 10, Davis advises. Or, focus on a different body part (say, if your legs are sore, focus on upper-body moves). Can't stop, won't stop—at least, till your next rest day.
You can stick to natural supplementation with things like a protein powder and creatine if you're looking for faster gains. Now don't think I mean faster like 10x faster, I just mean slightly faster, but usually worth it for the cost. But don't go overboard on supplements either. A few basics should do. I recommend a protein, creatine, EFA's (essential fatty acids), a multivitamin, and amino acids. Once you become more experienced a pre-workout N.O. product could be a valuable addition as well.
Eat plenty of carbs. Although a high-protein diet is a must for bodybuilding, you should not eschew carbs altogether, as your body needs carbohydrates to build and process energy. Instead, make sure you are eating carbs wisely; a doughnut and a bowl of quinoa are not equals. When implementing carbs, aim for whole-grain, high-quality carbohydrates, including grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley.[12]
While seasoned lifters may choose to do different exercises every day during a week-long period (and repeat the same moves the following week), there's no need to follow this type of program when you're just getting comfortable, says Davis. "Stick to the same basic moves two to three times a week to build a basic level of fitness and strength," says Davis. "Why complicate things if you don’t have to? Great results can be made by repeating the same workout but increasing weights as you become stronger." Switching things up can help you avoid a training plateau, explains Davis, but so can increasing weights while doing the same exercises.
Further suggesting that training to failure plays a lesser role in the hypertrophic response is a study that noted that training to failure with light weight did not produce marked strength gains (meaning that failure itself wasn't the most critical factor).[6] In fact, increasing the resistance of the movement recruits more motor units and is correlated with gains in strength and hypertrophy.[6,7]

"When there is a particular muscle group that I really need to focus on, I like to lift a little lit heavier than usual, lifting roughly 6 working sets for 6 reps each," explains fitness model Tricia Ashley Gutierrez. "Then, if that muscle really needs more work, I like to come back three days later and train that same muscle group using higher-rep isolation movements."

Arnold used single-joint movements to complement overhead presses and isolate each delt head individually. Here, too, he sought subtle differences that would, over time, build better overall size. For example, the cable lateral raise in front of the body has a slightly different feel than when the cable runs behind you. Knowing how to do a given movement pattern on different pieces of equipment is, according to Arnold, essential for a bodybuilder to take his physique to the next level.
In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.
The first U.S. Women's National Physique Championship, promoted by Henry McGhee and held in Canton, Ohio in 1978, is generally regarded as the first true female bodybuilding contest—that is, the first contest where the entrants were judged solely on muscularity.[13] In 1980, the first Ms. Olympia (initially known as the "Miss" Olympia), the most prestigious contest for professionals, was held. The first winner was Rachel McLish, who had also won the NPC's USA Championship earlier in the year. The contest was a major turning point for female bodybuilding. McLish inspired many future competitors to start training and competing. In 1985, a movie called Pumping Iron II: The Women was released. It documented the preparation of several women for the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship. Competitors prominently featured in the film were Kris Alexander, Lori Bowen, Lydia Cheng, Carla Dunlap, Bev Francis, and McLish. At the time, Francis was actually a powerlifter, though she soon made a successful transition to bodybuilding, becoming one of the leading competitors of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Training intensely is the key to stimulating muscle growth but don’t mistake volume for intensity. All too often, people trying to achieve a higher level of intensity in their training make the mistake of assuming that increasing volume and duration are effective methods of boosting training intensity. Let me make this perfectly clear. Volume and frequency have absolutely nothing to do with intensity! High volume training sessions can actually be counter-productive. So how do you effectively increase intensity? A. By progressively increasing the amount of weight that you use. B. By progressively decreasing the amount of time it takes you to perform a particular amount of work. (For example, I have made some of my best muscle gains from workouts that lasted no longer than 30 minutes.) C. By working your muscles at the capacity of nothing less than 100% on every set.
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