How To Compete Safely as a Female Bodybuilder!
Women’s bodybuilding can be both confusing and intimidating to outsiders or those just joining the sport. However, it is one of the fastest growing sports, as an increasing number of women are competing every year. The sport has been around for a long time but females began competing professionally in the late 1970s. Female bodybuilding began as a development of the nineteenth century strongwoman acts in the circus, the rise in male bodybuilding gave the female side of the competition a huge push. Female form competitions have been around for much longer in the form of beauty pageants however, these decreased in popularity during the feminist movement of the late 1970s.
Most of us new to the world of bodybuilding will find the weights section of the gym completely overwhelming, there is so much going on it is difficult to know where to begin.
To reach a good competitive level of bodybuilding takes years regardless of gender. For women however, it is much harder as the female body naturally contains a higher percentage of body fat and lower muscle mass. Professional female bodybuilders have to dedicate many years and follow a strict lifestyle to achieve the muscularity familiar in bodybuilding competitions.
There are four main areas in which people can compete. The bikini competition looks for a softer less defined look and embraces the female shape. The next is the figure competition, while still looking for a feminine form it also looks for an increase in muscle definition. The physique category doesn’t consider female form as much instead it looks at the development of the muscles. The final category is the traditional body building category which is the heavily muscled look which most people are aware of.
During a competition, the participants are required to pose in a bikini, whilst holding a number of different poses such as, facing forward and to the side. The poses are designed to emphasise different areas of the body including the arms, shoulders, chest, stomach, legs and buttocks.
There are typically three stages involved in competition preparation. It is important during these stages to engage in the services of an experienced sports dietitian. They will be able to compose a meal plan to match the competitor’s goals and training levels. It is important to steer clear of diet plans available online, they will not be matched to your individual needs and usually only involve eating lots of chicken, eggs and broccoli. In the long run, this will lead to malnutrition and a variety of health risks.
Some women have the genetic makeup which is perfect for body building such as a fast metabolism and a naturally muscular tone. However, if you do not have the perfect body starting out it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.
The first stage is more commonly thought of as ‘bulking up’. The aim is to increase muscle mass through the addition of large amounts of calories from carbohydrates and proteins and high levels of training using heavy weights.
The second stage involves vastly reducing the body fat whilst aiming to maintain the muscle built up in the first stage. A dietician will devise a plan to cut calorie intake whilst keeping protein levels high. The training will continue with both strength and cardiovascular training to increase the number of calories burnt. This will result in a leaner physique with more definition. This is an especially important time to ensure you use a dietician, your calorie intake needs to be low enough to lose fat but high enough to allow high levels of training and minimal muscle loss.
The final stage comes just before a competition, known more commonly as ‘peak week’. During this stage, the competitor will aim to increase the fullness of muscles to achieve the best possible physique ready for the stage. Dangerously dehydrating in the last 48 hours is often used to give an extra boost to physical definition. A dietician will engage in a number of methods to improve performance such as, nutrition, bowel health and posing practice.
The criteria in bodybuilding competitions changes constantly so it is important to try and learn what it is the judges want. Different judges will focus on different areas of the body such as legs, shoulders and glutes. Take the time in visiting other competitions which have the same judges it might give you a few tips on what they are looking for.
If you are overwhelmed by the number of supplements available on the market you are not alone. There is such a variety available and the majority of them over promise huge benefits. It is important to bear in mind that supplements and powders should not be used as a replacement for a healthy balanced diet. Think of supplements as an extra boost on top of your training and diet. The main supplements which provide benefits to body builders are protein, green tea and caffeine based.
Try to be realistic in your goals, if you are just starting out aiming to be in the top 5 is a good place to start, it means you will be included in the lineup. This will give you enough of a drive and the enthusiasm needed to train without putting your goals out of reach and needing you to push yourself too hard.
Female body building is increasing in popularity however, unfortunately so are unhealthy eating disorders which are associated with the sport. The sport focuses heavily on appearance and requires competitors to continually monitor their weight and body fat levels, which can lead to unhealthy obsessional behaviours. More women are finding enjoyment in the sport as it is known to improve self-esteem and encourage a healthy body. The feeling women get from the sport when they accomplish their goals in achieving a new body shape is often a great driving force in encouraging people to compete.
Since women started competing there has been gender discrimination. Most people have a vivid image of how the female form should be, usually slim and slender. The discrimination occurs when people move away from the stereotypical image people believe they should have. Many female body builders experience criticism of their body as it begins to change and becomes more muscular. This is something which potential competitors need to be aware of as it can cause significant mental strain especially if it is family or friends which are discriminating.
To combat the potential unhealthy mindset which could develop it is important to use the services of an accredited sports dietician. They will be able to devise a plan for both the short and long term which will help you stay focused and reduce any risks associated with competing. They will help you manage any negative relationships with both food and your body. There has been a rise in competitors who undergo breast augmentation surgery due to the reduction in body fat. It is important that you are aware of both the physical and mental effects training could have.
The diet, weight lifting and cardiovascular training are all important components when preparing for a competition. Try to pay particular attention to any weak spots during your workouts, they will need a lot of extra work to catch up with the rest of your body.