Female Bodybuilding: types and training

13th March 2019
Bodybuilding is a practice that seeks to develop the muscles through weight training, cardio and isometric exercises, among others. It's a real challenge and a long exertion of perseverance and hard work.

Female bodybuilding is a very controversial discipline for many people. It’s a practice that transforms and proposes an image of the female body that’s very different from what people generally accept. However, it exists and comes in various forms and involves different types of training.

With the popularization of bodybuilding, trends such as body fitness emerged, which contributed to the creation of a female section for this practice. Towards the end of the 70s, women began to practice this activity and, as time passed by, female bodybuilding became popular.

Female bodybuilding can be seen as a way to represent empowerment in an area that was previously exclusive to men. Some of the pioneers in this discipline are: Lisa Lyon, Rachel McLeish, Cory Everson, Lenda Murray, among others.

Types of female bodybuilding

There are several types of female bodybuilding. They’re classified according to the type of poses and also, the way in which they’re evaluated. Here are some of these categories:

1. Traditional bodybuilding

Traditional bodybuilding consists of reducing the amount of body fat and working to develop muscle.

In a regular competition, participants must take to the stage, in groups, to be judged by experts. They’ll be asked to perform a series of (regulatory) poses to show their muscular balance. Then, in an individual round, judges will evaluate each feature in more detail to finally choose a winner.

2. Fitness competition

Fitness competition implies a good physical condition rather than an hyper-developed and bulky musculature. Unlike traditional bodybuilding, competitors can demonstrate both their training and their personality.

The competition is held in a two-piece bodysuit and there are no regulatory poses. The judges evaluate their bodies from different angles and take into consideration the strength as well as the speed and flexibility of the contestants.

Female bodybuilder

3. Figure

In this type of competition, they evaluate the same aspects as in the fitness competition, except that there’s no round to show the skills, strength, flexibility or speed. Competitors simply show up in bathing suits and heels for judges to evaluate. The goal is to carry off a perfect and athletic figure: with wide shoulders and thin thighs and hips.

4. Bikini

This category is recent and bodybuilders should be lean, but not as lean as in traditional bodybuilding; therefore, the training becomes somewhat softer.

Unlike in the other competitions, the contestants in this category are only judged by the front and back. Judges don’t take into consideration the side views. The contestant’s attitude is also an aspect that’s carefully evaluated.

Female bodybuilding training

A bodybuilder’s lifestyle leans on a specialized training routine and a healthy diet. This training can include, to a greater or lesser extent, the following activities, depending on the type of goal and, of course, the type of competition to which she wishes to enter.

  • Cardio: cardio workouts are responsible for eliminating accumulated body fat. As a result, muscles become much more defined. Normally, High-Intensity Interval Training is the training of choice.
  • Strength exercises: bodybuilders should also perform exercises to strengthen and develop their muscles. They use exercises such as squats, push-ups, leg presses, crunches, among others.
  • Weight-bearing exercises: weight-bearing exercises are an important part of bodybuilding training. This is because weights are a great ally for your muscles to hypertrophy.
Woman with ripped abs

Other relevant aspects

In addition to the training that bodybuilders must do to achieve the desired shape for competitions, there are other aspects that also play a role in having a suitable body for bodybuilding:

  • Nutrition: a balanced diet is necessary. Bodybuilders must avoid high-fat, high-sugar foods and eat protein, fiber, and vegetables
  • Rest: the body you need to develop for a female bodybuilding competition doesn’t appear overnight, it requires effort and dedication. But it’s also very important to rest since the body must recover from the exercise so that the muscles develop in the correct way.

Female bodybuilding is a discipline that requires a lot of dedication and compromise. However, it has excellent benefits such as a healthy lifestyle and a strong, toned body.

  • Todd, Jan, “Bodybuilding”, St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, Gale Group, 1999.