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What Is The Best Female Bodybuilding Workout?

What is the best female bodybuilding workout? Get some great information on female bodybuilding workouts, training differences/similarities between men and women and more. Check it out!

By: Workout Of The Week


TOPIC: What Is The Best Female Bodybuilding Workout?

The Question:

Females may not put on as much mass as a male bodybuilders, but they sure do train just as hard.

What is the best female bodybuilding workout? Be specific.

Are there any kinds of differences between a male and female bodybuilder's workout routine?

What are the differences in a regular female's workout who wants to stay in shape, compared to a professional female bodybuilder's workout?

Bonus Question: Who is your favorite female bodybuilder? Why?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - redhawk76
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Women have long been considered weaker than men. The reason this is the case is simply due to hormones. Men have much higher levels of testosterone, a muscle building hormone, whereas women have higher levels of estrogen, which can lead to excess fat. This alone may be enough to discourage women from weight training; they may come under the impression that muscle building is much more difficult.

Another reason some women do not employ resistance training is because they want to have fit, toned physiques, but not bulky with large muscles. These women fear that by building muscle their appearance will actually look worse. Adding muscle will actually help support your metabolism and allow you to lose fat in those trouble areas.

When it comes to the actual sport of bodybuilding, women have made great progress in the last few years. The first contests occurred in the 1960s; however these were hardly bodybuilding contests. Miss Physique, along with Miss American was more about the appeal of these women, and less about muscularity.

The first contest that judged the women by bodybuilding standards was not until 1978. 1980 was the year that the first Nationals were held by the National Physique Committee (NPC). This was also the same year that the first Ms. Olympia was held.

In the mid-1980's the sport got more exposure through advertisements, as well as Playboy. One competitor got banned for 1 year for posing in this magazine, but the exposure for the sport itself was invaluable.

In 2007, women combined great physiques with the perfect amount of muscle. These are females, so the focus on pure muscle mass is somewhat less noticeable than in male competitions.

The abilities of many women are simply incredible, as well as inspirational. One female figure competitor in particular is one of my biggest inspirations. There is a great deal of acceptance of women in this sport, which is great.

Looking at America's history, we have not always been acceptable of all races and genders. Fortunately, bias is not a problem in this sport, and male and female are able to inspire and encourage each other.

Whether you intend to pursue bodybuilding, and I encourage you to do so, the following workout should help you with your goals. Even if your goal is to tone-up and get in better shape, you should still be able to pick up some good information.


Workout
What Is The Best Female Bodybuilding Workout? Be Specific.

The best female bodybuilding workout is balanced and uses plenty of cardio. Women tend to carry fat easier than men, so cardio is essential. In this particular plan cardio will be performed in the morning on an empty stomach (although with BCAA's).

If this is not possible however, cardio can also be performed after resistance training. Cardio will not be performed on Sunday, which is a total off day, nor Tuesday, before your leg workout.

This is just an outline, you can adjust it for your schedule.

Monday: A.M. Cardio, Chest/Triceps

Tuesday: Quads/Hamstrings/Calves:

Wednesday: A.M. Cardio, Abs:

Thursday: A.M. Cardio, Back/Biceps/Forearms:

Friday: A.M. Cardio, Delts/Traps:

Saturday: A.M. Cardio:

    35-45 minutes Low Intensity Cardio

Sunday: OFF

This split will allow you to take two days of rest from the weights, and one full day for recovery. This will allow you to come back in the gym ready to go on Monday. If you are a more advanced bodybuilder, then you can feel free to adjust the volume accordingly.

Same goes for beginners. Start out completing only one set of each exercise, and work your way into the full routine. You may also perform less cardio if you happen to carry less fat, but this is unlikely to be the case in most women. Find out exactly what works best, but for optimal results, perform as much cardio, within reason, as you can.

Do not underestimate the importance of nutrition. You will make little progress in the gym if you do not make the correct adjustments in the kitchen.


Differences
Are There Any Kinds Of Differences Between A Male And Female Bodybuilder's Workout Routine?

Based on the obvious hormonal differences between men and women, the workout routines need to be designed slightly different. Men have more testosterone, so they are in an anabolic state more often, and are able to build muscle easier. Women on the other hand have more estrogen, which can lead to quick fat gain if exercise is halted.

Because of this, it is important for women to always employ cardio in their routines, and if possible, circuit workouts and supersets may prove beneficial. The reason for these types of workouts is to keep your heart rate elevated so that you burn enough calories to burn off the fat.

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Men have a little more flexibility, unfortunately for women. Men are able to go on periods where they watch their calories, but are basically inactive outside of resistance training. They can slowly put on muscle, and some fat, but less fat than a woman would put on. This is because testosterone not only acts as a muscle-building hormone, but a fat-burning one as well.

This allows men to stay leaner as long as they don't throw their nutrition out the window. Because of this, women need to do more cardio, and as previously mentioned, circuits and supersets may help as well.

It is also important to note the obstacles that women may face, that men never will. Training can possibly be linked to irregular menstruation cycles. This can obviously be overwhelming for some women, and cause them to lose consistency in their plan.


Professional Differences
What Are The Differences In A Regular Female's Workout Who Wants To Stay In Shape, Compared To A Professional Female Bodybuilder's Workout?

There are some differences between the workout of a woman who wants to get in shape and stay healthy, and the workout of a professional bodybuilder. This difference is NOT performing and not performing resistance training. In order to stay in shape and stay healthy, resistance training is still a must. The difference, however, lies in the actual workout itself.

For a woman looking to simply stay in shape, sheer muscle mass is not exactly the goal. Many women desire to tone up and look more appealing. If this is the case, then cardio is certainly your friend. Many women and people in general for that matter, believe that lifting weights will "tone you up."

While the resistance training is certainly essential, fat loss is just as important. This is why cardio is so essential for women. They tend to carry fat on undesirable places, because of the excess estrogen. In order to combat this and stay in shape, one must stay active and perform plenty of cardio. Do not neglect the weights, however.

One looking to stay in shape could cut the workout down to almost half the volume. This way you will still be elevating your metabolism and benefiting from slight muscle gain, but you will not become bulky nor look overly muscular.

This is the best for a truly appealing physique in most people's minds. The best body will balance conditioning and aesthetics with a good enough amount of muscle. Those looking to stay in shape should concentrate on cardio, but still be 100% consistent with resistance training.

Tracey Greenwood
Tracey Greenwood
Winner, 2007 New York Pro Fitness.
Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #58 - 4/24/2007
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Bonus Question
Who Is Your Favorite Female Bodybuilder? Why?

My favorite female bodybuilder is Vanessa Adams. I met Vanessa on the Bodybuilding.com forums a couple months ago. I have only communicated with her briefly through various supplement logs, and her BodyBlog.

Vanessa Adams
Click Image To Enlarge.
Vanessa Adams.

She has been a huge inspiration to me, and many others. She won the Bodybuilding.com transformation contest. This is not, however, where the inspiration really lies. I was extremely inspired by the hard work she put in order to get on stage. Following her journey was truly special, and I am amazed, but not surprised by how far she has come.

Vanessa Adams
+ Click Image To Enlarge.
Vanessa Adams, Winner!

She has done something hope to do in the future, and demonstrated all of the qualities necessary to do so. She forewent many enjoyable foods during her contest prep, and executed her diet perfectly. She also put in the time in the gym, both with cardio and weight training.

She did everything, and made every sacrifice necessary. To me, that might actually be considered the easy part. The difficulty would be stepping on stage and having the confidence in your body. From following along her journey, I truly have a great deal of respect for her, and am thrilled to have conversed with her at all, even though only through an online forum.

Check out her BodySpace, and blog, you will be amazed at the dedication that is displayed on a daily basis.

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2nd Place - Mtguy8787
View This Author's BodySpace Here.


Workout
What Is The Best Female Bodybuilding Workout?

Many people seem to have the idea that female training and male training are two completely different things. Male and female bodies both use the same physiological processes to build muscle, and the same types of workout parameters are needed. There can be differences in the desired physique characteristics, but the training is essentially the same.

Workout Fundamentals:

    1. Proper Warm-up:

      A proper warm-up is essential to perform prior to a workout. It is important to increase performance, which will affect the results you get. It is also extremely important to prevent injury.

      In addition to the muscle tissue, it is important for tendons and ligaments to be warmed up, especially before performing heavy lifts. The primary goal of a warm-up is to increase blood flow to all the tissues that will be involved in the workout.

      Cardio machines are usually a good way to do an overall warm-up. Cardio which involves the legs is particularly good before doing a lower-body workout. The cardio rowing machine is an excellent way to get more blood flowing throughout the entire back, arms, as well as the legs. In addition to an overall warm-up, 1 or more warm-up sets that specifically target desired muscles are useful.

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How Important Is Warming Up? How Important Is Warming Up?
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    2. Progression:

      Consistent progression is the bread and butter of getting results. Without consistent progression, or an increase in the workload placed on the body, results will not happen. Often times, this is the reason why many do not get results. They think they are progressing, but when their workouts are analyzed, they are actually not - and even de-progressing in some cases.

      Attempts are made to find that magical workout program, or that magic supplement that will give them results. All while the real problem was something simple.

      Multiple Kinds Of Progression:

      Load Progression:

        The first, and most well known type, is an increase in the weights, or load used. If you are using a program such as 5x5, and you increase the weight by a few pounds each time, this is progression.

      Set/Rep Progression:

        The second most well known type involves rep/set progression, also known as workload progression. If you are using 150 pounds for an exercise, and you perform 4 sets of 10 one day, you have done 40 total repetitions. If you perform 6 sets of 8 the next time, you have performed 48 reps, which is more overall work. This is also progression.

      Time: The Less-Known Factor:

        There is a third factor, which is also important. Time is not accounted for in the majority of cases, yet it can be used to determine whether or not someone is really progressing. The rate at which work is performed, or intensity, is also a measure of progression.

        If you perform a workout in 35 minutes, and later perform that exact same workout in 30 minutes, then you have progressed. This factor can be expressed as work per minute, or work per unit-of time.

        For example, if I perform 10 sets of 6 reps of an exercise with 100 pounds, then you could say I have done 6000 pounds of work. If I take 10 minutes to do this, then my work rate is 600 pounds per minute.

        Many people will increase the weights they use in their workout, but they end up performing fewer total repetitions, or less overall work for that muscle. They may also take longer and longer to perform their workout, which also works against them.

      Putting It Together:

        So how do you put all this together? Keeping track of all these factors may seem confusing. It is not, if you follow this simple rule: When progressing in one form, all other forms must stay the same, or increase.

        For example, if I perform 5 sets of 10 for one workout, the next workout may be done with slightly more weight. If I do this, the time it takes to complete the workout should stay the same, or decrease (greater intensity).

        If you perform a workout where the same weights are used, then the total workload (sets: xreps) should increase. The intensity (workload per minute) should stay the same, or increase as well. Progression is key.

    3. Keep A Workout Log:

      Unless you have a super-memory, and can remember all the details of all your past workouts, it is important to keep some sort of record log of your prior workouts.

      Important information includes: Exercises, sets/reps, weight used, and workout times for each exercise and total workout time. Other useful details may include the time of day, hydration level, energy levels or other factors that may affect your performance.

    5. Training Details:

      Frequency

        Each person has a different rate at which their body can recover from a workout. If you workout too frequently, you will wind up in an overtrained state. On the other hand, more advanced trainees are often able to handle a significantly higher workload.

        This will allow someone to workout more often, and benefit from it. If you experience any of the common symptoms of overtraining, it is best to take at least 3 days off from training. The most common symptoms include:

        • Constantly decreased performance, endurance, or strength
        • Frequent pain in the muscles or joints
        • Constant lack of energy
        • A lack of desire to go to the gym

      Rest Times

        When training to build muscle, the rest times should be as short as you are able to handle. The less time you are able to rest between sets, the more intense the workout will be. As mentioned above, time is an important factor in progression.

        Rest times can vary greatly, depending on the person and the exercise being done. Bigger exercises such as squats will require slightly more rest time than something like a bicep curl.

        In general it is a good idea to try and keep rest times under 90 seconds. Smaller, isolation exercise may need only 20-45 seconds. If you need to take more time, that is OK. But gradually working on decreasing rest times should be one of the long-term goals.

      Training To Failure

        Training to momentary failure, or the point at which your muscles give out, is a popular aspect of many people's training. This has limited, occasional use for a strength athlete. However, it has virtually no use for a bodybuilder, or someone looking to improve their physique. The quick reason for this is because it stresses the nervous system, rather than the muscles, and not in a good way.

        Training to failure while working out can be harmful in two ways. First, it will cause you to fatigue much sooner. Training to failure can be a workout killer when performing a high number of sets. Second, always training to failure will compound recovery times. Since the CNS recovers more slowly than muscles, overloading the CNS in the wrong way will delay recovery.

      1 of 3: The Central Nervous System (CNS):

      CNS
      The human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.

      This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.

      The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.

      Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.


      Learn More... Back Next

      Range Of Motion

        People constantly debate about the ideal range of motion. Some people are fans of limited ROM, with more weight, while others emphasize the maximum range of motion. Who is correct? The answer is, both sides are. Both partial ROM with more weight, and full ROM movements are useful, especially with compound movements.

        When doing compound movements, there are multiple muscles that are used. Not all of them are activated the most at the same angle. Therefore, the range of motion of an exercise can influence the muscles being used the most.

        For example, when doing a squat, the quads are activated most toward the top of the lift. The glutes are activated the most at the bottom of the lift. Therefore, it is important to get full range of motion in order to fully activate all of the muscles involved with the lift.

        Doing partial movements has its place as well. For example, doing partial range squats with more weight can be used to bring up lagging quads. Doing partial repetitions with more weight is also an excellent way to increase strength.

        By using 30 percent more weight than you normally use, it will help accustom your nervous system, as well as your tendons and ligaments to handle more weight. Partial movements are also effective when used with isolation, single muscle exercises.

Michele Levesque
Michele Levesque
BB.com Fitness Amateur Of The Week.
Photo By Wade Robinson.
Week #55 - 4/03/2007
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Major Muscles & Anatomy:

    This section will briefly cover the major muscle groups, and the best way to emphasize/train different parts of them. This section will help you to identify the best exercises to improve lagging muscles.

    Quads:

      The quadriceps are made up of 4 main parts. The outer head is called the vastus lateralis. The middle heads are the vastus intermedius and the rectus femoris. The inner head is called the vastus medialis. Exercises that will heavily emphasize the entire quads are front squats, hack squats, or partial range leg presses.

      As a general rule, a wider stance on exercises will target the inner head more. A narrow stance will target the outer head more. There are studies that claim to both support and disprove this idea. However, this, like many other concepts in bodybuilding has proven themselves over time, despite the results of certain studies.

    Glutes:

      The gluteus maximus, or the buttocks, are most heavily activated when the hips are flexed. This would equate to the deep portion of a squat, or when the knees are closest to the chest during a leg press.

      The best exercises to emphasize the glutes are any forms of deep squats, as well as deep leg presses. The gluteus medius, which is above the G. maximus, is more activated by leg adduction or moving the leg sideways, away from the body.

    Hamstrings:

      The hamstrings are involved in bending the knee, as well as straightening the hips. For bodybuilding purposes, it is best to utilize both knee flexion exercises (leg curls), and hip extension exercises (deadlift type exercise).

    Pectorals:

      The chest muscles are divided into two major heads. The clavicular head refers to the upper chest, and the sterna head refers to the lower chest. Exercises which move the resistance at a higher angle (incline bench) will emphasize the upper chest. Conversely, exercises such as decline press will emphasize the lower chest.

      For the best chest development, dumbbells are often superior to barbell movements. Dumbbell presses tend to activate the chest better due to a greater horizontal movement of the arms, as opposed to a straight up and down movement. The 2 main categories of exercises for the chest are presses and flyes. It is best to include both types of movements in a routine.

    Lats:

      The lattisimus dorsi is the largest muscle of the back. The upper fibers are more vertically aligned, and will act more on the shoulder, such as in pull-up type movements. The lower portion will act slightly more on the scapula, in rowing type movements. For the best lat developments, include a variety of rowing movements, as well as vertical pulling movements (pull-ups, pulldowns, etc)

    Central Back:

      The middle trapezius, and the rhomboids make up the largest portion of the central, middle back. These muscles primary function is to retract the shoulder blades together. Rowing type exercises are the best choices to develop these. These muscles are activated the most when the bar/handle is closest to the body, when the shoulder blades are retracting. Thus, a full range of motion is needed to fully develop these muscles.

    Triceps:

      The triceps are divided into 3 heads. There is an outer, middle and inner head. The outer head is best emphasized with exercises where the hands are close together. The middle head is best targeted when the elbow is raised above the head. The lateral head is heavily used in all tricep exercises, but further emphasis can be placed on it by using a palms-facing-up grip, especially with cable push-downs.

    Biceps:

      The biceps are made up of an outer head and an inner head. The brachialis is another muscle which lies underneath the two heads of the biceps brachii. If the 'upper' part of your biceps seems to be lagging, you can target the biceps brachii more by retracting the elbows farther back.

      Incline dumbbell curls are excellent for this. For the 'lower' part, or the brachiallis, hammer grip exercises are excellent. Hammer grip refers to a grip where the palms are facing toward the middle.

    Calves:

      Many people perform very fast movements when working the calves. If you are lucky, this may be sufficient. However, calves are slightly unique in the fact that they have a strong stretch-contraction.

      Basically, this means that if you are lifting fast, you will not be stressing the actual muscle fibers of the calf nearly as much. Use a slower downward movement when doing calf exercises. Pausing at the bottom for 1-3 seconds is also a good method.

    Deltoids:

      The deltoids, or shoulders, are made up of 3 heads. The anterior deltoid, or front head, is activated the most out of all 3 heads when doing pressing exercise such as bench press, or shoulder presses. The lateral, or middle head, is responsible for moving the arms away from the body, as if you were flapping your arms. Often times, the lateral head needs additional work, along with pressing movements, to get the best development.

    Abdominals:

      When working the abdominals, it is important to keep the spine flexed (slightly bent forward). Many people make the mistake of having their lower back hyperextended while doing exercises. This places a lot of stress on the lower spine, and it also lessens the involvement of the abdominals, placing more of the load on the hip flexors. Keep your back slightly rounded forward when doing abdominal work.

Kristine Reinking
Kristine Reinking
NPC Figure Competitor & Firefighter.

Week #42 - 1/2/2007
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The Workout

This workout plan will be divided up into four workouts. There will be a lower body workout, a back and bicep workout, and a chest/shoulders and tricep workout. Advanced lifters will also have a specialization workout which will focus on the body parts which need extra work.

If all the muscles grew evenly, this would not be necessary. However, this is not the case, so it becomes more important. Beginners will not need to worry about lagging parts until their physique starts to develop, and weaknesses begin to show themselves.

Workout Frequency:

    Beginner trainees will not have the work capacity of a more advanced athlete. Because of this, the workout frequency will be lower. If you have been lifting for less than 1 year, use the first schedule. If you have been working out regularly for more than 1 year, use the second option.

    Keep In mind that everyone is different, and while this frequency chart will work well for most, it may be overtraining for you. If you find that you need an extra rest day here and there, take it.

    Frequency Schedule 1 - Beginners

    • Day 1 - Workout A
    • Day 2 - Workout B
    • Day 3 - Rest
    • Day 4 - Workout C
    • Day 5 - Workout A
    • Day 6 - Rest
    • Day 7 - Workout B
    • Day 8 - Workout C
    • Day 9 - Rest
    • Repeat for as long as desired

    Frequency Schedule 2 - Intermediate/Advanced

    • Day 1 - Workout A
    • Day 2 - Workout B
    • Day 3 - Specialization Day
    • Day 4 - Rest
    • Day 5 - Workout C
    • Day 6 - Workout A
    • Day 7 - Workout B
    • Day 8 - Rest
    • Day 9 - Workout C
    • Day 10 - Workout A
    • Day 11 - Specialization Day
    • Day 12 - Rest
    • Day 13 - Workout B
    • Day 14 - Workout C
    • Day 15 - Rest
    • Repeat as desired

Workout A - Lower Body:

Workout B - Chest, Shoulders And Triceps:

Workout C:

Specialization Day:


Gender Differences
Are There Any Kinds Of Differences Between A Male And Female Bodybuilder's Workout Routine?

Other than emphasis on slightly different muscles, there are no differences between a male and female bodybuilding workout. Both male and female bodies respond in the same way to exercise, and muscles are built using the exact same methods.

Crystal Matthews
Crystal Matthews
Fitness Model.
Photo By Ron Avidan.
Week #57 - 4/17/2007
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Professional Differences
What Are The Differences In A Regular Female's Workout Who Wants To Stay In Shape, Compared To A Professional Female Bodybuilder's Workout?

The workout program of a female trying to stay in general shape and that of a bodybuilder's would be similar. The process of getting into shape, or getting a good beach body and the process of bodybuilding are the same; bodybuilders just do it longer, and to a greater degree.

There are a few extra tips for the females simply looking to get into good shape.

Don't Be Afraid Of Building Too Much Muscle:

    Building muscle is a long and slow process. You will not simply wake up one day to find your muscle undesirably large. Your workouts should be geared toward building muscle; this will enhance the shape of your body, increase firmness and tone and will help to maintain the curves of the female body. Use the mirror to judge when you have reached your desired physique.

Often Forgotten & Important Muscle Groups:

    Gluteus Medius

      This muscle occupies the 'upper and outer' buttocks. It is mainly responsible for moving the leg sideways, away from the body. Developing this muscle will help to enhance the shape of the hips, and will also help make the waist appear smaller. This muscle is best worked by using the leg abduction machine.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Leg Abduction.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

    Lats

      Many women neglect their lats. Developed lats are important for the average female looking to get into shape, as well as a female bodybuilder. Developed lats will enhance the hourglass figure, which is the goal of many women who begin a workout program.

      It will also make the waist appear smaller, which is desirable for bodybuilders and any female looking to improve their figure. Movements such as pull-downs or pull-ups are excellent for this.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Pulldown.
Video: Windows Media - Real Player


Click Image To Enlarge.
Pullups.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

    Shoulders

      Developed shoulders will make the waist appear smaller, similar to developed lats. Many women neglect their lateral shoulders, focusing more on pressing movements, which will develop the frontal part much more than the lateral part. Lateral side raises are excellent for targeting this part of the shoulder.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Side Lateral Raise.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod


What Is The Best Female Bodybuilding Workout?

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So, here I go again.....I'm going to incorporate this info into my existing training program. Basically I add cardio, because I'm female, to my workouts. Okay, now somebody pray for me, I need all the help I can get! ;)

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