Weight lifting and bodybuilding are not just for the guys; the ladies are doing it too. Often when people think of female bodybuilders they picture women who look like men. However, most women bodybuilders have muscle, are very lean, but still look feminine. To achieve this type of physique it is essential that you cycle your bodybuilding workouts.
Women and Muscle
It is not that easy to add muscle to the body, especially for women. Building a lot of muscle mass takes testosterone and while women do have some, they don't have the natural amounts of testosterone to build huge muscles. Also, women naturally have more body fat than men which can make it harder to see muscle definition. But you can add muscle and lower your body fat with proper workouts and a diet that supports your training.
Periodization is the same as cycling your workouts, but can be very detailed. It is the preplanned, systematic variations in training specificity, intensity and volume organized in periods or cycles to promote long-term training and performance improvements, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. By manipulating the different variables after a certain amount of time, such as four to eight weeks, you will consistently see improvements in your physique, as well as prevent boredom. You can apply periodization to your bodybuilding workouts with a little planning and prep.
Changing Your Workouts
Change your workouts every four to eight weeks. To make it easy you can change them on the first of every month. To promote hypertrophy, or muscular growth, you will normally perform three to six sets of six to 12 reps per exercise. Every once in a while you can change that up as well. You can lift a little heavier and build up more strength, or go a little lighter for endurance. Then go back to lifting for size. Switch up your exercises that you perform and equipment that you use each month. All of these little things create challenges for your body.
Most women will not put on muscle easily; however, a small percentage can. To support your workouts and muscular growth, address your diet as well. Most people think they need only protein, but you need a proper balance of protein, carbs and fat for growth and energy. Aim for about 0.7 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Eat lean sources of protein, complex carbohydrates and heart-healthy, unsaturated fats -- as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables -- for the best results.
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association
- Bodybuilding.com: Girls, Get Your Guns: Why Women Should Lift Weights!
- Muscle & Strength: Women's Body Bible: Training, Diet & Supplementation!
Bethany Kochan began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked in fitness as a group instructor, personal trainer and fitness specialist since 1998. Kochan graduated in 2000 from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and certified YogaFit instructor.