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5 Reasons You Should Support Women's Bodybuilding

All bodybuilders are athletes. It's time we give the ladies the same respect we give to the men. Here are five reasons you should support brawny women!

Female bodybuilders get a lot of hate. In fact, many women who blur the lines between what is "normal" masculinity and femininity are ridiculed for their "manly" bodies. Because female bodybuilders have more muscle than most men who don't train, they're laughed at. Instead of being celebrated for their hard work and intense dedication to a difficult lifestyle, they're regarded as "unattractive," "unnatural," and, worst of all, "gross."

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that Iris Kyle couldn't care less about how "sexy" she may or may not look to some dude in the audience. Gasp! A woman may not care if she's attractive?

Reality check: not everything women do is for men's viewing pleasure. Bodybuilding is a sport. Female bodybuilders are athletes. They deserve your respect.

Still not sure you can get past the whole idea of cheering for a woman whose biceps are twice as big as yours? Let me help you out with five observations:

1 / Building Muscle Mass Is More Difficult for Women

Men are genetically designed to carry more muscle—they're generally bigger and heavier than women.

Although a lot of women worry that lifting weights will make them bulky, the truth is that most women don't have the testosterone (or eat enough) to build mass to the same degree that men do.

As a result, female bodybuilders can do the same amount of training as men, and with the same intensity, without achieving the same results. In other words, women work just as hard but get less bang for their buck. Talk about frustrating.

I know, I know, "But steroids!" Clean or not, female bodybuilders have to do a lot of work.

2 / Female Bodybuilders Compete Under More Stringent Regulations

If you've never perused the IFBB rules for female bodybuilding, you should. Male competitors don't have any limit to how big they can get. In fact, the bigger the better. Women, on the other hand, have to present a "muscular, yet feminine shape.1" "Femininity" is subjective—it's up to competitors to interpret the rules and then try to apply them.

Ben and Joe Weider with Cory Everson, 1987 Ms. Olympia

Besides putting on fake eyelashes and doing their nails, female bodybuilders have to make sure they're not too big. In fact, the IFBB regulations also state that for women, "muscular development must not be carried to such an excess that it resembles the massive muscularity of the male physique."

Lady bodybuilders have to be big, yes, but also shapely, feminine, pretty, and graceful. That's a pretty long list of attributes to fulfill.

3 / It's More Difficult for Women to Become Ultra Lean

For reasons having to do with reproduction, women are designed to hold 6-11 percent more body fat than men do. According to some studies, the hormone estrogen also makes it more difficult for women to burn fat2. So, not only do women carry more body fat than men, but it also takes more work for them to lose it.

Now, don't get me wrong—I'm not knocking male bodybuilders. But women have to fight their body to be rid of stored fat. The male body uses fat much more efficiently, and men's additional muscle mass expends more energy. For women, getting lean enough to see glute striations is probably more difficult than we fans can even imagine.

Joe Weider and Lenda Murray,
1995 Ms.Olympia

4 / Female Bodybuilders Are Less Socially Accepted than Male Bodybuilders

The stigma attached to female bodybuilding goes far beyond the steroid conversation. Our Western culture tells women to be skinny, weak, and above all, desirable.

Women who bodybuild are not weak, they're not skinny, and to most people, they're too masculine-looking to be considered desirable.

Sure, hardcore fans of the sport appreciate female bodybuilding, but the majority of people in and out of the fitness community feel discomfort with the blurring gender boundaries.

I would argue that female bodybuilders have the bravery to ignore the social standards of their culture and do what they love. To me, that's awesome.

5 / They're Breaking the Glass Ceiling!

Female bodybuilders are constantly showing the world what women are capable of doing. Women can be strong. We can have big muscles. We can be totally shredded. It doesn't matter what "parts" you were born with—you should be able to create the body you want, society be damned.

Agree? Disagree? Hit us up with your comments below!




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About The Author

Cassie Smith is a writer/editor for Bodybuilding.com and former professor & college athlete. Find out more about her right here.

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GlassMoon

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GlassMoon

:/ adam, i dint like this

Mar 26, 2013 7:54pm | report
lissylyon

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lissylyon

Great article! I agree with all 5 points. :)

Mar 26, 2013 8:51pm | report
fit2fightAF

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fit2fightAF

Great article. Especially #2. I think education and training such as these needs to be widely broadcasted at the wodest dissemination possible.

Mar 26, 2013 9:43pm | report
Adrian77

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Adrian77

In which planet is #2 observed? Iris Kyle would put most men (natural) to shame.

Mar 27, 2013 7:59am | report
liftstudios

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liftstudios

This did not make me want to support female bodybuilding any more or any less. It came across as a pity party and didn't give any concrete reasons as to why anyone should support female bodybuilding. It lacked focus on which generation of female bodybuilding was being referenced. Today's female bodybuilding is MUCH different than the Corey Everson days.

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Mar 26, 2013 10:18pm | report
eaglegurl

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eaglegurl

As a woman who naturally build muscle very easily this article means a lot to me. It took a long time for me to accept my 'physique' and believe I was ok. guys do have a lot of trouble with a woman who can move heavy weight. Like donkey calf raises of 400 lbs. Or curl 35 dumbells. I think this article makes the case that women of all shapes, sizes, sports or whatever deserve respect for being the best they can be.

Dec 6, 2013 9:47pm | report
liuzhoudragon

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liuzhoudragon

you say they are regarded as they're regarded as "unattractive," "unnatural," and, worst of all, "gross."...............you first name you drop is Iris Kyle who is obviously on the juice and thought of as unattractive and gross by a conservative guess of 9999 of 10000 guys. Why do they deserve respect for doing something hard if I don't value what they do? Digging an 100 ft deep ditch by yourself with a shovel in the middle of nowhere is hard too......but I don't value it so why would I respect or praise the person.

you also use this sentence " the IFBB regulations also state that for women, "muscular development must not be carried to such an excess that it resembles the massive muscularity of the male physique." I am pretty sure the fact that almost everyone,even guys that lift regularly consider the physiques of Mrs Olypmia wins like Mrs. Kyle very masculine looking.

regard womens genetic disposition to carry for bodyfat for reproductive purposes and thus it being more difficult for women to being lean enough to show significant striations. I tend to think bodybuilding show promote health also, if you being to lean that you are hurting your health then it takes away from the sport.

Also regarding your ending line of society be damed.
1 if you don't care about how/what society of pro level female bodybuilder......why right the article? Obviously you DO care since you wrote the article in a defensive manner.
2.When trying to win over other peoples opinions or make them have a positve viewpoint of a subject or group of people, I find it helps not to dam them.

please distinguish between healthy women who lift weight/bodybuild , and professional that are unatural and super juiced up athletes

Mar 26, 2013 11:06pm | report
Adrian77

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Adrian77

I can't support anyone who takes steroids, male or female.

Mar 27, 2013 7:50am | report
Beenjamminunc

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Beenjamminunc

You have to be kidding me. People make fun of women Bodybuilders because they look ridiculous. It's not natural! I'm sorry but if you have to inject things into your body to look a certain way, you probably weren't made to look that way, and shouldn't be doing it.
And please, stop with this whole bodybuilding is a sport thing. Bodybuilding is NOT a sport. Bodybuilders are not athletes. Picking heavy **** up and putting it down, and then standing on a stage flexing your muscles is not a sport.

Mar 27, 2013 8:37am | report
debrabuchanan

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debrabuchanan

spoken like someone who has never tried this "sport"....?

Apr 12, 2013 8:00pm | report
TSsavage12

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TSsavage12

This stresses my point so much! Today in culture the desired image for women is skinny and miserable to achieve. Women fight for their rights to be equal, Female bodybuilding just proves how much we can adapt and most of all, how strong we actually are. Strong should be the new sexy!

Mar 27, 2013 9:57am | report
liuzhoudragon

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liuzhoudragon

I would say that for the overwhelming majority of history in every culture the "desired"(a very subjective term) image for a women leans toward the skinny/healthy side instead of the obesse side or the juice freaks like Mrs. Klye. Plenty of women in the media are a healthy wieght or curvery without being obese or on the juice, I would argue that 99% of women find Kim K more attractive then Twigy.

Mar 27, 2013 8:07pm | report
TSsavage12

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TSsavage12

Well comparing Kim K to Twiggy is ridiculous as they are both from different eras, generations and are famous for different things. From where i am from, I would say about 70% of the young girls idolise Cheryl Cole so much that i know of some girls that have tried to lose dramatic weight to look like her. I think that admiring strong, muscley women is something new, and brave. I can tell you that i am sick of hearing/ trying the new "cabbage soup diet" or "maple syrup diet" that guarantees 10 pounds lost in a week. Steroids being left out of this, female bodybuilders promote a healthy image that shows women how to look as powerful as we are.

Mar 28, 2013 3:30am | report
Adrian77

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Adrian77

Well, that's kind of the point. You don't get to look like Iris Kyle without a lot of steroids. And steroids will shorten your life more than cabbage soup will. I'd also argue that the amount of training to look like a female pro body builder is more demanding than trying to look like Cheryl Cole. Putting someone like Iris up as a role model is to put forward an equally unrealistic and predominantly unattainable expectation on women. You are shooting yourself in the foot with your argument.

Mar 28, 2013 8:51pm | report
liuzhoudragon

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liuzhoudragon

The Kim K to Twiggy point was that men now and arguely back then perfer a healthy weight women (meaning not Twiggy and not Iris Kyle). If you are on a cabbage soup diet then you are stupid and headed towards the Twiggy side of the scale, that being unhealthy and too skinny, where as Iris Kyle is the other extreme, that being lot of roid usage and being too muscular. My issue is the article presents Kyle as a promotable attractive healthy image for women where I belive it would be better for humnaity to promote women with a more middle ground body that is ACTUALLY healthy.

Mar 28, 2013 10:51pm | report
TSsavage12

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TSsavage12

I really don't understand how you can try and argue with an opinion. Attractive is seen differently in everybody's eyes. I wasn't talking about steroids, My comment never mentioned anything about steroids nor did i have an opinion on it with this article. I do not believe that the "middle ground" has been found in society to be deemed as the ideal body to have. Everyone has an ideal body they want to look like, if that is a bodybuilders body- then why does gender really matter? It doesn't, because it has nothing to do with anyone else. I don't tend to judge people unless i know the full story, and if mentally someone feels better looking less feminine than the "ideal" woman, then it doesn't bother me.

Mar 29, 2013 4:28am | report
shingshong12

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shingshong12

good article

Mar 27, 2013 10:34am | report
Shimarie27

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Shimarie27

Absolutely AGREE! Well said!

Mar 27, 2013 12:52pm | report
DocFunky

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DocFunky

I'm just amused that the article that asks us to support the juice-heavy and unnatural side of women's fitness is written by someone who's not a participant.

"They're so great and they're so awesome but obviously I have no interest in looking like them!"

Mar 29, 2013 10:22pm | report
debrabuchanan

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debrabuchanan

great article!

Apr 12, 2013 7:59pm | report
best_dayz

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best_dayz

Cassie your 5 points in this article hits the nail on the head, well done,
I get sickened at how the news media caricatures FBB's as women that overcompensate for drawbacks in their life or that they want to be mannish . I wrote an article once myself along the same theme of yours, I'd love to get your feedback on it
Terry

Apr 14, 2013 12:12pm | report
SarahWrestler

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SarahWrestler

I agree completely, wish I had the courage to do this and not care what others think. Huge amount of respect to everyone (female and male) who bodybuilds.

Apr 30, 2013 4:31am | report
MassFreak2063

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MassFreak2063

Well I've ALWAYS supported women's bodybuilding and always will. Are all of them attractive to me? No. But a good number of them are, Shannon Courtney for example, new IFBB pro, is GORGEOUS. Anyone that says otherwise is too insecure with themselves and their own strength. I get a lot of what they go through, but obviously to a lesser degree since I'm a guy, and at least no one is threatening to cancel my competitive division because of blatant stupidity and complete lack of respect. Because of what's being done in Columbus this year I will never go to another Arnold...it's appalling and an affront to all of those women's hard work.

Dec 8, 2013 9:42am | report
sahipps

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sahipps

here here!

Dec 8, 2013 10:49am | report
sahipps

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sahipps

here here!

Dec 8, 2013 10:49am | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 27 Comments

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