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.
Nutrition is important but I find that most people over-obsess about their diets. I hear people fretting over stuff like; Should I eat a chicken breast or a fillet of salmon? A handful of almonds, or a teaspoon of peanut butter? Broccoli, or spinach? brown rice, or yams? A half cup of yogurt, or a half cup of cottage cheese? High carb, or low carb? As much widespread confusion that exists regarding diets that should be followed in order to burn fat, the premise of the whole issue is actually very simple. Regardless of what you eat, as long as you take in fewer calories than you need in order to meet metabolic and physical activity energy requirements, you will lose fat. Some people have made great progress in fat loss simply by taking my advice and eating what they normally eat, but just eat 1/3 less of everything with the exception of green vegetables which are actually negative calorie food items that you can eat as much as you want off. Don’t complicate your nutrition and make it more difficult than it needs to be. Fats don’t make you fat, and carbohydrates don’t make you fat. Calories consumed beyond the body’s maintenance and growth needs make you fat.
Resistance exercise doesn't mean resistance to exercise! Instead, it's a type of exercise that has gained popularity over the last decade or so as researchers discover the many benefits it has to offer. It's so mainstream at this point that the American College of Sports Medicine, the governing body for exercise in the United States, has included it in its recommendations for all Americans since 1998. In this article, all that you need to know about resistance exercise will be presented: what it is, how it works, how to prevent injury, some of the most popular resistance exercises, and a general resistance-exercise plan.
Intensive weight training causes micro-tears to the muscles being trained; this is generally known as microtrauma. These micro-tears in the muscle contribute to the soreness felt after exercise, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is the repair of these micro-traumas that results in muscle growth. Normally, this soreness becomes most apparent a day or two after a workout. However, as muscles become adapted to the exercises, soreness tends to decrease.[22]
A good pair of legs is as important to the body as a good set of wheels is to a car. But like a quality set of wheels, strong, healthy legs come at a high price. So, don’t take the following powerful exercises—especially the sissy squat—lightly. Because this is an incredibly intense workout that will turn your thighs into killer wheels. Serious focus and intensity are required.

As a starting point for calorie composition, Pulido recommends dividing up your macro split by taking in close to 1.5 grams of protein and at least 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. The rest of your daily allowance, which should account for 15-35 percent of your total calorie intake, should go toward dietary fat. "Fats are important for hormone balance, including testosterone production, which is critical for building muscle mass," Pulido says.

If you want to improve your shoulder width, prioritize this workout, swapping it for your regular shoulder sessions every third deltoid workout. Or, depending on present development, do it every other workout as needed. Use the sequence of exercises prescribed here: Their purpose is for progressive prioritization, from heavy weight for strength and muscle-group size to higher reps for isolated muscle size and deltoid striations that draw the onlooker’s eye to those points located at the maximum width of the shoulder girdle.
In addition, work on incorporating healthy foods with essential fatty acids into your meals. Though the word fat can scare away aspiring bodybuilders, remember that obtaining a certain amount of essential fatty acids can actually benefit your body and help you build muscle. Just as essential amino acids aid our bodies with growth and good health, our bodies require us to consume two primary essential fatty acids in our diets: linolenic acid and linoleic acid. So as you prepare your diet, consider which foods are a good source of these essential fatty acids. For example, chicken fat contains more linoleic acid (about 20%) and lenolenic acid (0.8%) than beef.
An obvious one I know, but many misjudge this. If you have two weeks to get ready for the beach then the quickest way to drop fat (and subcutaneous water that can blur muscle definition) is to drop your daily carbohydrate intake to 50 grams of fibrous carbohydrates. So say hello to broccoli, cauliflower and kale, and kiss goodbye to breads, cereals, fruit, rice and pasta. Where people go badly wrong when dropping carbs is that they simply switch to eating lean proteins and don’t replace some of the lost carb calories with calories from fat. This inevitably leads to an energy crash and the subsequent blowing of the diet because the trainee simply runs out of steam and willpower. A few whole eggs, a piece of steak and plenty of supplemental Omega 3s (I prefer 10 grams a day for carbohydrate tolerant individuals, more if there appears to be insulin resistance) work wonders. 
Major variants: incline ~ (more emphasis on the upper pectorals), decline ~ (more emphasis on the lower pectorals), narrow grip ~ (more emphasis on the triceps), push-up (face down using the body weight), neck press (with the bar over the neck, to isolate the pectorals), vertical dips (using parallel dip bars) or horizontal dips (using two benches with arms on the near bench and feet on the far bench, and dropping the buttocks to the floor and pushing back up.)
Muscle, unlike flab, is a metabolically active tissue, and you need to put away plenty of calories to keep it growing. Eat too few calories and you’ll whittle it away. When mass gain is the goal, aim to consume about 20 calories per pound of body weight each day (about 3,600 calories for a 180-pound guy). If you find that 20 calories per pound packs on mass and fat, drop to 16–18 calories. But this doesn’t mean you’ve got the green light to pound pizza. Quality matters too, so keep it clean.
Change things up. After six or more weeks of consistent strength training, which is about the amount of time it takes to start seeing improvement in your body, you can change your routine to make it more difficult. Lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. You can modify weights or repetitions, choose different exercises, or change the order in which you do them. You only have to make one change at a time to make a difference, although more is often better. 

Because the upper traps get some degree of stimulation during many shoulder exercises, Arnold trained them with delts. His main upper-trap exercise was the shrug, though he noted that maximizing the size of this muscle required a number of other movements, including power pulls, cleans, and upright rows. Because the range of motion in a shrug is fairly short, Arnold recommended backing off on the weight in favor of being able to fully shrug your shoulders as high as possible.
The low volume bodybuilders would increase the intensity of their workouts by using heavier resistance and pushing a set past the normal limit of failure. Training techniques such as forced reps, rest pause, drop sets and forced negatives would push the muscles to failure and beyond. Because of the extreme high intensity, bodybuilders using these techniques would typically perform half as many sets as the high volume trainers.
It can be hard to know where to start when beginning strength training. There are countless exercises you can do, some of which work some muscles, but not others. There are safety concerns to beware of, a wide variety of sometimes confusing equipment to help you in your efforts, and so on. With some familiarity of the basics of getting started with strength training, actually doing so can become far less daunting, and you can begin to craft a routine that is targeted toward helping you achieve your personal goals.

Sometimes these do-it-yourself bodybuilding diets can lead to unhealthy habits, as in this case study about over-consuming protein and this one about over-supplementing. Consuming too much of certain macronutrients (such as protein) or micronutrients (such as zinc) can lead to health risks, sometimes long-lasting ones. And eating an unbalanced diet can affect sports performance, which does not help you reach your goals. Talk to your physician or a qualified nutritionist about any supplements you plan to take. 

For example, I had some nagging tendinitis in my brachioradialis (forearm muscle) and doing hammer curls was unbearable. So, I swapped those in for standing alternating dumbbell curls, preacher curls, and standing cambered bar reverse curls with light weight. For shoulders, I have a slight tear in my left shoulder and when it's aggravated, I avoid all pressing movements all together. Focus on side/front laterals and rear delt movements. As for knees, not allowing my knees to come out pass my toes on squats takes the pressure of the part of my knee that gets sore. Also, a few minutes on the Stairmaster Stepmill is a good way to get the knee joint warmed up and ready for work. 
In addition, work on incorporating healthy foods with essential fatty acids into your meals. Though the word fat can scare away aspiring bodybuilders, remember that obtaining a certain amount of essential fatty acids can actually benefit your body and help you build muscle. Just as essential amino acids aid our bodies with growth and good health, our bodies require us to consume two primary essential fatty acids in our diets: linolenic acid and linoleic acid. So as you prepare your diet, consider which foods are a good source of these essential fatty acids. For example, chicken fat contains more linoleic acid (about 20%) and lenolenic acid (0.8%) than beef.

Monitor your actions and results. You need to have a record of everything you do and every food you take. With today’s smartphones, you can easily find an app for that. You can also take full body pictures of yourself so that you can track your progress. By jotting down your activities in a journal, you can make accurate tweaks that can bring you better results. This is important especially if your progress has stalled.


Warm up with ten minutes of aerobic exercise. This can be with treadmill walking or jogging, stationary bicycle, cross-trainer or stepper machines. Extend this to 30 minutes depending on requirements for fat loss. In any case, we recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise at moderate intensity three times each week for all weight trainers in order to promote aerobic fitness. It need not be done at the same time as the weights session.
People who exercise have different requirements because the more you exercise, the more you have to eat to sustain that level of activity. This also applies to casual exercisers, but it may not apply to you if fat loss is one of the reasons you took up weight training. In this case, you need to create an energy deficit; which means that the energy (or calories) you consume in food is less than the energy you expend in exercise and daily living. Your weight training, in this case, is to assist with fat loss while attempting to maintain muscle.
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Use protein supplements wisely. Throwing back a protein shake every morning is not a guarantee that your body will build muscle mass. Although protein shakes are not inherently bad, they are also not a magical means of building muscle. If you decide to implement a protein supplement in your diet, make sure the ingredients are high-quality (i.e. not riddled with sugar and empty carbs).[13]

Cover your basics with a multiple vitamin and mineral formula and essential fatty acids coming from fish oils, flaxseed oil or extra virgin olive oil. Women may wish to add a calcium supplement. For convenience purposes, a meal replacement packet or protein powder is a great way to add valuable calories and nutrients to your diet. For recipes on protein shakes and protein bars, please visit the Healthy Bodybuilding Recipes page.
Stress causes trouble for all of us. But for those interested in transforming, high levels of stress can really put a damper on your progress. It can have behavioral implications, such as increasing your risk of overeating and skipping workouts, but it's also just bad for your body on a number of levels. Utilize constructive stress management techniques like journaling, meditating, talking to a friend, or going out for a long drive around the city. Learn what works for you and then put it to use.
"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."
In contrast to strongman or powerlifting competitions, where physical strength is paramount, or to Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique, bodybuilding competitions typically emphasize condition, size, and symmetry. Different organizations emphasize particular aspects of competition, and sometimes have different categories in which to compete.
OK. Imagine this: It's the end of the most intense workout you've ever had. It's gone extremely well up to this point. You just need to bust out one more set of deadlifts and then you can call it a day and relax with a nice protein shake. But when you pull the weight off the floor, it falls back down. You think to yourself what's going on, and that you know your legs have enough energy left to pump out a few more. What's the problem?
Perform three weight-training sessions per week, hitting your whole body each time. Base your routine on compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. These burn the most calories, hit more muscles and give the best bang for your buck, claims Rachel Cosgrove, strength coach and co-founder of Results Fitness in California. If you're not sure of any exercise techniques, ask a trainer at your gym for assistance.
Action: Start by leaning back slightly—this is the top position of the movement. Next, break your knees slowly and lower your body as far as you can without falling backward. If you feel like you’ve gone too far, you can use your supporting hand to pull yourself back up. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, push yourself back up to the top without “locking out” and repeat.
How you eat to recover from exercise is one of the most important principles in exercise nutrition. Glucose, or glycogen, is the athlete’s and exerciser’s main fuel. You get it from carbohydrate foods and drinks. If you don’t refuel sufficiently after each session, glucose stores in muscle can get depleted. This can lead to fatigue, poor performance, and even immune system suppression and infection. What's more, inadequate refueling after your session won't take advantage of that hard muscle work by giving those muscles an anabolic boost that repairs and builds.
In my business, (I work in a retail vitamin store), I get customers all the time who come in looking for the magic supplement that will pack on pounds of muscle overnight. When I begin to question their training, eating, etc., I discover they've been training maybe 3-4 weeks; they train every day (sometimes I get a guy who says twice a day), they have no clue about protein intake, calorie intake, recovery, and on top of all that, the routine they use is anything but logical for their experience level. This extremely common!
After a tough sweat, it's important to rehydrate your body: "Drink lots of water and thank your body for what it was just able to accomplish," says Davis. A balanced post-workout snack is also a good idea. Go for one with carbs refuel your glycogen stores (one of your body's main energy sources) and about 10 to 20 grams of protein to help build and repair your muscles. "Don’t overcomplicate it," says Davis. If you're lifting and weight loss is one of your goals, though, it's still important to keep calories in mind—a post-workout snack shouldn't be more than 150 to 200 calories. Here's a guide to how many calories you should be eating for weight loss.
In the cutting phase, the bodybuilding diet should be low in fat, around 20 percent. Maintain protein intake to help protect muscle while cutting excess fat and carbohydrates, particularly added sugar and sweets and white flour products. Keep up the supply of antioxidants with fruit, veggies, and whole grains. Aim for these proportions of macronutrients:
Warm up with ten minutes of aerobic exercise. This can be with treadmill walking or jogging, stationary bicycle, cross-trainer or stepper machines. Extend this to 30 minutes depending on requirements for fat loss. In any case, we recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise at moderate intensity three times each week for all weight trainers in order to promote aerobic fitness. It need not be done at the same time as the weights session.
One scary-sounding study says your health depends on x, but another says it depends on not doing x. One writer says CrossFit kills people, but the people in those pictures all seem ripped and happy. But so does that woman in yoga class. And, let's be honest, so does the Shake Weight guy! So does that online writer guy shouting at you about intermittent fasting, high reps, low reps, high-carb, low-carb, no-carb, steady-state, or HIIT.
Choose your favourite cardio exercises like spinning, outdoor biking, running, hill sprints, or swimming, whatever it is, hit it hard. Literally! Experts advise to perform HIIT, high-intensity interval training, to burn fat in a time-efficient manner. A 3-to-1 rest-to-work ratio is effective. It means you can, for example, go hard as you can on a hill sprint for 30 seconds, walk or jog back down the slope for 90 seconds, and repeat four times for an intense 10-minute training session.
Increase carbs over the weekend: Increase the quantities of carbohydrates over the weekend to 1.3 times your lean body mass (fat-free bodyweight) in order to prevent your metabolism from getting used to the diet. This time, divide that number by 5 and consume the carbohydrates over Meals 1-5. Try to ensure that Meal 5 is no later than 6 p.m. so that no starchy carbs are consumed after that time.
Rather than hide the glaring weakness, he famously cut off the lower half of his pants and wore shorts to constantly remind himself of his weakness and redouble his efforts to bring them up. He trained calves more frequently, early in his workouts when he was fresh, and sometimes between sets for larger body parts, a strategy that helped him claim the world's biggest bodybuilding title.

Stretching after each lifting session is extremely important in preventing injury. Flexibility allows your body to become much more able to handle the odd assortment of stresses that are placed upon it each day. I'm sure that the more hardcore of us bodybuilding fans heard that Branch Warren recently slipped and fell, landing on his outstretched hand and tearing his triceps in the process. 
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