Remain Feminine as a Bodybuilder

Young woman doing workout

You are female and looking for a way to lose weight, become stronger and healthier? Why not consider bodybuilding. No. this does not mean you will suddenly look like the stereotypical “ape-man” with no neck but humungous muscles. Lifting weights will not turn you into a female version of the Terminator anytime soon – if ever. You simply need to consider the basic facts.

Females and Bodybuilding – Nothing but the Basic Facts

There are certain things that are definite about bodybuilding. They are basic, logical and practical. Yet, somehow, these common sense facts are lost in pseudo-myths and urban legends. If getting bulked up was so easy, more people would be successful at it. In fact, women do not become muscle-bound for two sound and scientifically verifiable reasons:

  1. Women do not have sufficient testosterone to result in bulky muscles
  2. Women lack the essential genetic code for being overly muscular

Lifting weights will not alter your appearance into that of a competitive male bodybuilder. It will, however, result in several benefits. The same applies to other aspects of bodybuilding including cardiovascular workouts and employing a variety of methods as part of a cross-training approach.

Types of Exercise to Consider

The most common form of bodybuilding exercise and the most noted is weight lifting. Yet, for a female bodybuilder to achieve weight loss and their goal of a finely tuned and trim body, it is better to do more than weights. It is also best to mix and match or at least provide yourself with a variety of different exercise. This is sometimes called cross-training because it selects from various approaches. Cross training can not only work on improving different segments of your body, it also helps remove any boredom and prevent injuries. If you look forward to a challenge and variety every day, you have a lesser risk of losing your initial motivation.

There are several exercises you can consider. The list below is a partial example of those suitable to build up your body’s strength while improving overall tone and conditioning.

  • Strength training
  • Weight lifting or training
  • Resistance Training
  • Aerobic – walking, jogging, steps, cycling swimming

These exercises involve various ways of strengthening your body. They involve building up your muscles and improving different aspects of your internal frame and inner systems. By combining the various components of these approaches or systems you can achieve your goal of a healthy, fit body.

The Benefits of Bodybuilding

If you include bodybuilding with its varied types of exercise as part of your weight loss program, you will be on the receiving end of several different kinds of benefits. These are both physical and emotional1. You might even include psychological and personal. Among the positive results of bodybuilding for women are:

  • Look good, and be a lean and not necessarily mean or fighting machine
  • Build up your strength physically
  • Increases your endurance level
  • Lose body fat by burning off sufficient calories
  • Increase your bone mass density therefore decreasing the risk of such health problems as osteoporosis
  • Helps to lower so-called bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing the levels of good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Reduce various other health risks
  • Improves your perspective, attitude and sense of self worth and/or body image

Bodybuilding Components

It is never sufficient to do only the recommended exercise or any exercise at all. In order to achieve a solid weight loss goal, you must include other aspects of a good weight loss program. While exercise is one component, nutrition is another. Nutrition means you must make the right choices of what food to eat and what to reject. In the case of bodybuilding, your goal of both weight loss and strength must be compatible with your nutritional intake.

A good solid diet must consist of the right type of proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and other nutrients. You must also eat them in the right amounts. Control your portion size. To achieve the necessary result, you must always remember, it is a case of energy consumed, energy used and little or no ingredients left behind as fat cells2. Talk to a nutritionist, your medical professional and an experienced and knowledgeable trainer before you decide on what comprises the perfect dieting tool.

The Problems Associated with Women and Bodybuilding

While you may start out to lose weight, bodybuilding may become a tool for less healthy physical issues. In any sport where low body weight and low body fat are required to succeed, unhealthy eating practices are very common results. Bodybuilding, if taken to a higher level e.g. competition, demands lean and very toned muscular bodies. Research has found that recreational weight bodybuilders are less susceptible than those who have become professional. Many who seek to advance further in the sport not only are subject to anabolic steroid and other supplement abuse, but also various eating disorders. Even body modification was not unusual among women entering competitions3.

Other health issues may be present if women fail to take into consideration such things as:

  • Body capabilities
  • Body size
  • Age
  • Flexibility
  • Size – normal, overweight, obese


Women are never going to be as bulky as men. Their metabolism and genetic makeup do not encourage or even permit this. They become lean, losing body fat and increasing their strength.


Garcia, L (2009). Weight Training For Women.Guillford,CT: Morris Book Publishing.

2 Coopersmith, GB (2007). Fit † Female.Hoboken,NJ: Wiley and Sons.

Goldfield, GS (2009). Body Image, Disordered Eating and Anabolic Steroid Use in Female Bodybuilders. Eating Disorders, 17(3):200-210.


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