Ultimate guide on how to start bodybuilding for women

Ultimate guide on how to start bodybuilding for women
  • PublishedJanuary 18, 2021

Bodybuilding for women enhances a woman’s strength, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. Gaining muscle can be a better way of achieving the body shape of your dreams than just losing weight. This also avoids unnecessary fat gain in the future.

Men’s bodies produce far more testosterone than women’s bodies. And since testosterone is what kicks muscle building into high gear, Men can gain muscle or attain a lean body faster and more easily compared to females. Therefore, a woman will need a little more effort to gain an appreciable amount of muscle.

In this article, we are going to help you get started with your bodybuilding goal, by offering some tips that will introduce a muscle-building phase in your workout program.

What is bodybuilding anyway?

Bodybuilding is a lifestyle that involves high-intensity training, precise nutrition, and weight loss to strengthen, sculpt, and develop the muscles of the body. Bodybuilding for women emphasizes building muscle mass, symmetry, and a lean physique

While some people practice bodybuilding to look good and feel strong, others do training and dieting for a bodybuilding competition. During these competitions, individuals are judged depending on their physique and muscular development.

How to start bodybuilding for women

Below are some of the tips on how to begin a successful journey of bodybuilding for women.

Get a personal coach

Research and identify a coach to guide you on good training and nutrition plans. Because you are putting the coach in charge of your health, don’t just pick on anyone who displays impressive videos or photos on Instagram.

Track your progress

Keep a log of your training and your food. This helps you to strategically increase your weights as well as keeping track of your macronutrients and calories. The weight loss apps here can help you track all that at ago.

Make use of machines

As a beginner in weight-lifting, it is important to make use of machines. These keep your body in a proper position throughout the exercise. However, if you have good strength you can go ahead and play with the free weights.

Be patient (Give yourself plenty of time)

To increase the size and strength of your muscles, you need time, effort, and consistency. Just so you know, strong biceps and glutes don’t develop overnight. If you follow a tailored plan by your coach, you will be safe, effective, and efficient.

Keep upping the ante

Your body will adapt to the resistance during your training program, and some weights may become less challenging. Therefore keep testing yourself regularly to make sure that you are adjusting the weights, reps, and/or the amount of rest in between sets as you get stronger. This helps to maintain or even increase the intensity of the workouts.

What are the best exercises for bodybuilding for women?

With bodybuilding, what is important is to understand how to maximize your workout for your fitness goals. Much as full-body workouts are great, it is also important to give extra attention to different parts of your body to allow them to develop to their maximum potential.

Also, as we mentioned above, you have to up your ante. Don’t stick to the same weights or type of exercise. Always shock your muscles with new and challenging routines at each bodybuilding fitness session

Building muscle is not just pumping iron or lifting heavyweights. You must balance between high-intensity cardio, resistance training, weight training, and isometric exercise all through your training program.

Examples of exercises that you can incorporate into your larger bodyweight improvement sessions are:

Isometric exercises

These are contractions of particular muscle groups. During these exercises, the muscle group in question does not change in length and the associated joint does not move. These are aimed to increase strength. These include; Split squat, Wall sits, Leg extensions, push-up, and more.

Exercises to condition the upper body: Lateral pulldowns, the bench press, and chin-ups.

Full-body exercises that focus on lower body muscle development: Squats and deadlifts

Shoulder exercises: lateral raises, push press, reverse cable crossover, Reverse pec Deck Fly, Front raises, barbell overhead shoulder press, and more

Core exercises for dream six-packs: Plank, sit-ups, bridge, lower body cardio, and fitness ball exercises

Powerlifting workouts: With barbells, dumbbells, and weight training machines

Again, having a personal trainer is very important. The trainer will help you get started with the right fitness program that will give you meaningful and timely results.

The importance of rest

When we talk about exercise and diet, most of you forget about rest. It is not advisable to work the same muscles 2 days in a row. One should have 1 to 2 days of rest after resistance training. The muscles need enough rest to recover from intensive exercise.

In case of abnormal pain, talk to a trainer to make sure the right form is applied when exercising.

What do female bodybuilders eat? 

To attain your desired results, you need to do things the right way. You shouldn’t focus on exercise alone. Adding the right diet is also part of the equation. Exercise and diet need to be structured and designed to suit your fitness goals and your body

With bodybuilding, you have to learn your body and food and how certain food types work on your body so that you can get the best results possible

All you need is to design your meals such that you have protein and carbohydrate-rich meals to refuel the body, energize you, and support muscle building.

If you have a fitness coach, he or she will guide you on weight gain strategies, fat loss, pre-workout meals, and post-workout meals.

In general, the groups of food to include in your bodybuilding diet include;

Protein: for growth and maintenance of body tissues

Water: Hydrates your body for healthy muscles.

Fats and oils: keep you satisfied and provide energy as well

Fiber: Keep you satisfied and support maximum absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Carbs: Energy to fuel your workouts

The foods to include in the diet therefore include;

Lean meat like turkey, duck, goose, pork, kangaroo, and chicken is a good staple food for bodybuilders. It has a low calorie/protein ratio

Omega 3 fatty acids from cold-water fish such as tuna and salmon for muscle growth

Sweet potatoes to keep you satisfied and energized throughout the day. They have both fiber and carbs

Green vegetables such as kale, spinach, cabbage, watercress, and romaine lettuce have vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These keep you feel full longer, support weight loss, and muscle growth.

Egg whites provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. They are low in fat and easily used up by the body

Beans and Legumes like kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas are rich in both fiber and protein

Water to hydrate your body since the body loses a lot of water in form of sweat during your workout sessions.

What foods are bad for muscle growth in females? 

While bodybuilding for women requires you to add a variety of foods to your diet, some foods should be limited as well. These include;


Alcohol negatively affects the ability to build muscle and lose fat, more so if consumed in excess.

Added sugars

These add too many calories without nutritional value. Foods high in added sugars include candy, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, cake, and sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and energy sports drinks

Deep-fried foods

These may lead to inflammation and disease. So avoid deep-fried fish, French fries, onion rings, chicken strips, and cheese curds

How much and when you should eat to build muscle? 

 Our bodies are like machines that run constantly. Every minute of the day, the body breaks down its own tissues and replaces them with new stuff from a combination of the food you eat. During workouts, the protein in the muscles break down and build up much faster than it does in normal situations.

So, how much protein do you need to eat?

According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, it was discovered that muscle size increases 0.2 percent per day during the first 20 days of a strength-training program.

This is why as a beginner; you need more protein than someone who’s been training for months without a break. Therefore, 73 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day is a good start. A person who weighs 180 pounds can have about 130 grams of protein per day.

When to eat during bodybuilding for women

Most beginners tend to backload their daily protein intake, but this won’t improve the results. According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Nutrition, you turn more of the protein from your meals into muscle tissue when you distribute protein evenly at each meal.

During the study, participants who ate 30 grams of protein in each of the three daily meals had 25% higher protein synthesis compared to their counterparts who ate the same total but most of it on dinner.

Therefore, have a low-protein, high-carb breakfast, a moderate-protein lunch, and a high-protein dinner, with a large piece of meat or fish. You probably need at least three protein-rich meals a day, especially in the first stages of a new training program.

For the case of pre-workout and workout meals, A 2013 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that muscles are most receptive to protein two to three hours before training and another within an hour or two after you finish.

How long does it take to build muscle for females? 

This is a common question that most beginners ask. But to be honest, Women find some difficult to put on lean tissue. They don’t have enough testosterone to support faster muscle growth. This however doesn’t mean that women cannot gain muscle. It only takes longer compared to men.

On average, an adult woman can gain 1lb of muscle per month, which is about 10 to 15 lbs of lean mass per year. This doesn’t take into account other factors like genetics, the intensity of training, and nutrition. Some ladies may be “genetically” prone to putting on muscle, with elevated levels of testosterone.

In a nutshell, if you are training, eat right and have enough rest consistently, you should be in a position to see noticeable changes every three months.


To gain muscle, you need patience and consistency, knowing that muscle gain will not happen overnight. You need a combination of a high-quality protein diet and a great strength-training that disrupts your muscles to get bigger and stronger.


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