Women’s Bodybuilding: A Guide

An Easy to Understand Guide to Women’s Bodybuilding

Side chest pose by Nikki Fuller.
Side chest pose by Nikki Fuller.

Women’s bodybuilding can be confusing as it has many more categories than men’s bodybuilding. Here’s an easy to understand guide to women’s bodybuilding for those interested in competing!


Women's bikini
An example of women’s bikini


Bikini may be the “easiest” form of women’s bodybuilding. The bikini category was created to make bodybuilding more accessible to women. It focuses much more on the conventional bikini body and an emphasis on glutes. Bikini is definitely a great stepping stone for those thinking about competing in bodybuilding. Those with an athletic background can be ready for a show with 6 months of prep and training.


A figure competitor
A figure competitor

Figure is much like bikini but requires a leaner body and more muscle mass. Instead of poses focusing the glutes, figure competitions emphasize more of a bodybuilding aspect with quarter turns. Figure competitions can be accomplished with slightly more training, around 1-2 years of training.


Women's Physique

The equivalent of men’s physique, women’s physique has much more emphasis on muscle  tone and the flow of the physique. Much like men’s physique they have mandatory poses such as front double bicep and side tricep. Striations and muscle mass are positives; however too much muscle mass can dock you points. Women’s physique can take 5-6 of training.


Women’s bodybuilding is much more competitive and difficult to succeed in. The “hardest” category of women’s bodybuilding, taking many years of training. Women’s bodybuilding is also unfortunately on the downturn with the Olympia this year not even offering women’s bodybuilding. It takes roughly a decade of very intense hard training to achieve this physique. A true women’s bodybuilding body cannot be achieved naturally.

Now you’re all set to compete!

The Absence of Women Lifting Science: How to Find Your Own

The Absence of Women Lifting Science: How to Find Your Own

Svetlana Podobedova preforms a clean and jerk: lifting science
Svetlana Podobedova performs a clean and jerk. A complicated lift with lots of interesting fitness science behind it.

“Fifty males between the ages of 20-54 were recruited from blank for blank study”. How many fitness studies begin, with n count of males being participants in a fitness study. The results from these studies often do not translate well to women and leave women lacking any solid studies to base their training off of.

This theme of neglecting women in studies is not only seen in lifting studies but also in medicine too. Many of us may know the F.A.S.T. or S.T.O.P. acronym for spotting common signs of stroke and heart attack; however, women often can experience different symptoms that few have been taught to spot. Medical studies are also often conducted on men, causing women to not be properly represented in scientific studies.

Unfortunately, the fitness industry pushes women toward pink 5 pound weights and a 100 rep range to “tone”. Women who venture into heavy lifting and other male dominated fitness areas find advice or training isn’t relevant to them. For example, many beginner lifting programs for men usually progress around 10-15 pounds a week for bench; for women that is nearly impossible linear progression to keep up with. There are few beginning powerlifting routines that are women oriented.

How do you break out of this unjust social mold? Simple. Take initiative and join Facebook groups, online forums, and college powerlifting clubs to find other women with a mindset just like yours. Utilize the internet to connect with other women who will help you learn more about fitness in a male dominated world.




“An Acronym Can Save Your Life – ArtChester.net.” ArtChesternet. N.p., 09 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

Moyer, Melinda Wenner. “Women Aren’t Properly Represented in Scientific Studies.” Slate.com. Slate.com, June-July 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.