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.
One of the most misunderstood areas for new bodybuilders is nutrition. I talk to guys all the time that have no idea of their daily calorie intake, their daily protein intake, their carbohydrate intake. They have no idea of what types of foods they should be eating, or when they should be eating them. They don't know what supplements do what and what they should using. Let me refer readers to some of my other articles that detail these areas.
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?
Bodybuilders got into shape for competitions by both adjusting their diets and increasing the intensity of the workout. The high volume trainers would burn an incredible amount of calories just by the sheer amount of work performed at each training session. Many bodybuilders would increase the frequency of their training as the contest got closer, doing a double split routine for the last twelve weeks before the competition. A double split routine would include two training sessions per day, one in the morning and another workout about eight hours later in the late afternoon or early evening.
You may have heard hardcore lifters talk about things like "leg day," but when it comes to a beginner strength workout that's only a few days a week, a full-body workout is often the way to go (rather than splitting your days up by body part). "Full-body workouts maximize your caloric burn and the muscles worked each session," says Davis. The best way to do this is to pair one upper body exercise with one lower body exercise. "This way, the lower body has time to recover while the upper body works and vice-versa," says Davis. You should also aim for a balance between movements that feel like pulling and ones that feel like pushing. For example, Davis suggests pairing these exercises together:
The Pull-up is performed by hanging from a chin-up bar above head height with the palms facing forward (supinated) and pulling the body up so the chin reaches or passes the bar. The pull-up is a compound exercise that also involves the biceps, forearms, traps, and the rear deltoids. A chin-up (palms facing backwards) places more emphasis on the biceps and a wide grip pullup places more emphasis on the lats. As beginners of this exercise are often unable to lift their own bodyweight, a chin-up machine can be used with counterweights to assist them in the lift.
Arnold wrote that he always included at least one dumbbell movement in his routine. By supinating his hand (turning it upward as he curled), he felt he got a greater "peaking" effect because the brachialis is recruited into the motion when the hand starts in the neutral position. Arnold performed supinating dumbbell curls simultaneously and with alternating reps. The latter allows more body English and a bit of rest between reps.
Many aspiring bodybuilders find that they need to increase their calorie intake to increase their body mass. Assuming you’re training hard, you may need to add a mini meal somewhere in your day. Or, you could increase both the frequency and quantity of your meals, eating more meals more often. To hold yourself accountable, keep a log of your meals and count your calories. Especially at the start, this can help you figure out what your new normal should look like.
It also assists competitors in maintaining a healthy body fat percentage while training in the offseason. Continuing to perform strength and cardio training during this period will contribute to muscle growth and cardiovascular health. Maintenance of a healthy diet, combined with proper training and rest will provide a strong foundation for the competitor’s next contest.
Shave or wax all your body hair regularly. It's the part that's maybe the most awkward to talk about, but bodybuilders like to keep anything out of the way of those bulging muscles. That means scheduling regular body-waxing, especially before contests. You don't need to do it all the time, but you want to keep up the temple, it's usually common to shave your body a few times a month to keep things under control, then get full a full wax before you perform.
You can't scroll through Instagram without clocking a mammoth cheat day feast, but are real-life bodybuilders consuming such a crazy amount of calories every couple of weeks? Not quite. When he’s dieting for a competition, Terry incorporates ‘re-feed days’ into his schedule. This means he eats the exact same food, but essentially doubles the portion sizes.
According to The American Council on Exercise, not all females have equal capacities for gaining muscle. Genetics play a key role. For example, females who have a mesomorphic body structure, which features natural muscularity, have an advantage over ectomorps and endomorphs. Also, some females have higher levels of testosterone than others, which gives them an advantage in developing muscle. Despite these genetic differences, most women will experience a 20 to 40 percent increase in strength after several months of strength training, states The American Council on Exercise.
When trying to gain mass, eat two breakfasts. To restock liver glycogen and put the brakes on the catabolism that chips away at your muscle overnight, down two scoops of whey protein along with a fast-digesting carb such as Vitargo or white bread immediately upon waking. One of our favorite morning shakes is two cups of coffee, two scoops of whey, and two to three tablespoons of sugar. About 60 minutes later, follow up with a wholefoods breakfast that boasts quality protein—such as Canadian bacon or eggs—and slowerburning carbs, such as oatmeal.
Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.
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