Bodybuilding: also suitable for women?

Male facial features, huge muscles, no breasts and a beard – these are the common associations that many women associate with the word “Bodybuilding” . In women’s bodybuilding, you automatically have images of competitions in your head in which hardened, dark-brown women’s bodies throw themselves into poses in which you search in vain for a gram of fat, but instead get to see every defined muscle strand.

Most men, but also women, find these images unfeminine, almost disgusting and repulsive. The fear of too big muscles and the loss of femininity therefore often makes women shy away from intensive strength training. In fact, bodybuilding is a male-dominated scene , but is that the reason you only ever get on an elliptical machine, treadmill and ergometer? Is bodybuilding suitable for women too? And how do you train properly so that femininity is preserved?

Slim and toned through bodybuilding?

Almost every woman wants a firm, firm and slim body . But if you dare to take a look at the German fitness studios, you will see the female sports fans mainly on the cardio machines, while the men struggle on the weight machines and in the free weight area. Iron also makes women beautiful, you just have to touch it!

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It burns Endurance sports high in calories and certainly promotes the breakdown of fat, which shows a slim, but not yet firm figure. Only with targeted muscle training can the muscles be specifically built up and the body tightened.

While bodybuilding in men is more aimed at male attributes such as greater muscle mass, women are primarily interested in modeling their own body.

But modeling is only possible with intensive strength training ! It is not that, a strong male definition of muscles that discourages most women from reaching for heavy iron. Instead, the body should have an attractive feminine shape, e.g. a round, firm bottom, firm upper arms or a firm, firm stomach. The fear of excessive muscle mass and a male-looking body is unjustified anyway.

Women-Bodybuilding: No muscle mountains, but great shapes!

Women need not be afraid of large, manly-looking muscles. Because compared to men, it is much more difficult as a woman to build muscle mass, since one decisive factor is missing: testosterone . The male hormone is an elementary building block in building muscle and has an anabolic, i.e. muscle building effect . Anabolism leads to the fact that proteins are stored in the muscles through strength training, which leads to muscle growth (muscle hypertrophy).

Some bodybuilders and endurance athletes even use testosterone supplements as doping agents to accelerate muscle building or to overcome natural performance limits.

Because of their much lower testosterone levels women can never naturally build muscle mass similar to that of a man. In the case of the deterrent professional bodybuilding women, one can assume that their mountains of muscle come from the regular use of anabolic steroids The consumption of growth hormones also leads to a strong virilization (masculinization).

It is true that there are women who gain more muscle mass than others due to their genetic disposition. Without a steroid, no woman is able to build muscle like Arnie. The strong protrusion of the muscles and the hard contours, which is a deterrent for many women, result from the fact that competitive bodybuilders reduce the body fat percentage to a minimum before competitions and, due to dehydration, hardly have any water in their tissue.

Tanning agents additionally increase the effect.

So, given these facts, there is basically no reason to differentiate between strength training for men and strength training for women. This is an important insight, because the fear of too much muscle growth ultimately leads to most women training incorrectly , namely mainly on the ergometer, stepper, cross trainer or on abdominals, buttocks and aerobics Courses. Expectations and the actual training effect often differ from one another.

What do endurance sports and courses bring?

Strength training alone is just as irrelevant as exclusive endurance training . But many women still assume that cardio equipment and aerobis courses in particular contribute to fat loss and tightening of problem areas. In fact, a woman weighing 70 kg consumes 350 calories for half an hour of jogging at medium speed, 291 calories for intensive aerobics, but “only” 238 kcal for strength training or bodybuilding.


Targeted strength training for more muscles

But the higher calorie consumption does not automatically mean that fat loss also takes place. Because the prerequisite for a reduction in body fat is that there is a calorie deficiency. This means that you have to consume more calories overall than you get from food. Only then will the body use the unloved fat deposits to cover its energy needs. So if you struggle for hours on cardio equipment and in courses, but then go overboard again while eating, you will not lose any fat (despite exercise).

In terms of body toning , endurance sports do not always lead to the desired effects. The skin does indeed become firmer with cross trainers, treadmills, steppers, as well as aerobics and stomach, legs and buttocks courses, but any other physical activity has the same effect. So you can just as easily go on a bike ride, go hiking or play tennis with friends.

Endurance sports and courses, like any other fitness training, can support fat loss , especially as part of a diet, as long as you burn more calories than you consume. However, if you think that 30 minutes of easy walking on the treadmill justify a visit to the fast food restaurant, you will quickly feel the receipt on the scales. On the other hand, due to the high calorie consumption during endurance sports, you can lose weight faster if you keep an eye on the calorie intake.

To support the cardiovascular system, the immune system and weight reduction, endurance sports are definitely recommended. If you want to lose weight, you should focus on interval training in classic endurance sports set. In contrast to the widespread, moderate, but not very effective training, interval training is the sharpest and one of the most effective forms of speed training. Typically, a 10-minute warm-up is followed by 4 to 6 pace increases and trot breaks of 3 to 5 minutes each. The interval training concludes with a cool-down of around 10 minutes.

Strength training: common mistakes by women

Although women train more often on fitness equipment in addition to cardio equipment and courses, they often train incorrectly, so that the training cannot meet expectations. A common mistake concerns the intensity of strength training . While men usually lift heavy weights and train to the limit, strength training does not look difficult for women. No wonder, after all, the women’s training plan calls for a lot of repetitions with little weight.

However, such training only improves muscle endurance, but there is no body-shaping muscle gain and increased fat burning.

In the long run, training that only aims at muscle endurance is not only monotonous, the hoped-for positive physical changes also fail, which has a demotivating effect in the long run. Moderate strength training does not lead to muscle growth; muscles burn a lot of calories, even when resting. Who as a woman can shape his body and burn more fat would like to, therefore inevitably have to reach heavy weights, even if it is of course much more strenuous.

Equipment and free weights training, e.g. Lat pulldowns, leg presses and sit-ups can only be used to build muscle. So if you don’t want to build muscle on machines or with weights, you should keep your hands off it.

Another common mistake women make when doing strength training is the misconception that certain machines break down fat deposits in certain places. It is not without reason that leg abductors and adductors (spreading and closing the legs) are one of the most popular fitness equipment for women, as they are supposed to reduce the unpopular fat deposits on the legs. Unfortunately, this assumption is wrong, because the body does not only break down fat locally in the stressed areas, but everywhere.

Intensive strength training for certain body regions or muscle groups leads to growth of the trained muscle group and tightening of the body part, but not to fat loss.

Advantages of bodybuilding for women

In order to achieve the optimal training effect in strength training, women should train with the same intensity as men. This is the only way to build muscles and tighten the trained body regions. More muscles mean higher energy expenditure and therefore act like real fat burning ovens . In contrast to endurance training, muscles burn loads of calories even when you are resting and help you lose weight.

Bodybuilding can therefore make women slim. One kilo of muscle mass burns an additional 100 calories per day, even if you do nothing! Weight training is not immediately noticeable on the scales (muscles weigh more than fat), but the more fat tissue is converted into muscle mass, the higher the calorie consumption. With a conscious diet, the successes on the scales will not be long in coming.

Another advantage of bodybuilding is that the proportions can be formed with intense weight training – for every figure type! A typical “pear” figure with a wider pelvis looks more harmonious when the upper body, i.e. shoulders, back and arms, is trained. Targeted back training also has a positive effect on posture and makes you look taller and slimmer. Even with an “hourglass figure” with a narrow waist and a balanced relationship between the upper and lower body, training the back muscles ensures good posture. Abdominal muscle training is recommended to maintain the wasp waist; thigh muscle training also improves the silhouette.

A “tube figure” with a narrow waist, narrow hips and little bust can provide feminine charm with a tight buttocks and a defined waist. Lean, muscular arms and trained shoulders also appear curvier and more attractive. “Apple” -type women who have slender legs and a stronger upper body can use strength training to create more harmony. With leg training, the advantages of the legs can be emphasized, while training for the upper arms, upper body and waist nicely shapes the larger, stronger or more rounded areas.

Bodybuilding: correct training for women

Bodybuilding i.e. Forced muscle building training for women differs significantly from strength endurance training and gentle muscle building in terms of the training goal, number of workouts and exercises, and the scope of the load. Strength endurance training primarily aims to improve coordination between the different muscle groups, as well as cardiovascular and fat metabolism training. With 2-3 workouts per week, 6-10 exercises with 1 to 2 exercises per muscle group are performed.

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Depending on the duration of the training, endurance training includes 1 to 4 rounds of 15 to 25 repetitions each, a 30-second break is provided between the rounds. An exception is circuit training, where a constant change of equipment without breaks is provided. You train with 30 to 50 percent of your maximum strength . This is the greatest possible force that can be arbitrarily exerted against a resistance (e.g. dumbbell or device).

gentle muscle building training represents an increase in intensity for strength endurance training. The training goals here are the complex development of strength and the improvement of the coordination ability between the muscle fibers. Moderate muscle growth is also promoted for some or all muscle groups. The number of workouts is 1 to 3 training days per week, depending on the level of training.

With gentle muscle building training, 8 to 10 exercises are performed with only 8 to 12 repetitions. There is a break of 60 to 120 seconds between a total of 1 to 4 rounds, and a break of 120 seconds after completion of the entire exercise. The exercise intensity is 40 to 60 percent of the maximum strength.

As already mentioned, long-term muscle building training does not lead to optimal training effects. In order to get the body in shape, you have to reach for heavier weights. Gentle muscle building training goes one step further, but if you want to see optimal training results, you should do forced muscle building training. And with “optimal training results” we don’t mean muscle mountains that appear masculine, but tight, crisp shapes.

What does optimal bodybuilding for women look like? If you want a toned body, you have to build muscle. Forced muscle building training serves not only to build up muscle mass, but also to develop complex strength and improve fiber coordination within a muscle. With 2 to 5 workouts per week, only 4 to 6 exercises are performed. A big difference is the extent of the load, 4 to 6 rounds with only 5 to 8 repetitions each are carried out. The break time between the rounds increases to at least 120 seconds, after each completed exercise to at least 180 seconds rest. With forced muscle building, 60 to 80 percent of the maximum strength is trained, which is very close to the maximum strength training in bodybuilding (80 to 100 percent).


Instead of training at intensities that are far too low and waiting long for the training success they are hoping for, women should rather train with maximum strength and don’t always measure the success of your training on the scales. Those who build muscle do not lose weight immediately, but they increase their basal metabolic rate and burn a lot of calories even when they are resting. Much faster training successes, which are noticeable both in strength and in the mirror, motivate you to continue.

In order to support fat loss, it is advisable to do additional endurance training (preferably interval training) . If there is a calorie deficiency, the body is forced to fall back on its own fat reserves. Over time, the percentage of fat decreases and the percentage of muscle increases, which results in you becoming leaner and firmer and burning even more calories.

Bodybuilding für die Frau

In addition to intensive training, proper nutrition and sufficient recovery between the training days are also important. The best thing to do is to have a trainer create a muscle building plan in the gym, which also introduces you to the equipment. The training plan should be varied at least every three months.

Only those who, as a woman, have the courage to reach for heavy iron and also to work hard in the gym can expect great results in the form of a slim, firm and well-formed body . And they won’t be long in coming with intensive strength training!

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