Women bodybuilders do not typically build muscle as quickly or significantly as men; but with frequent high-volume weight training, they can still see enormous muscular developments. Bodybuilding requires workouts that feature a higher number of exercises, sets and repetitions, which overload the muscle fibers. This overloading stimulates the muscle-building process. Women just starting out should begin at the lower end of the high-volume workouts and increase their load as they develop.
Novice female bodybuilders should start by weight training four days per week. Your muscles require 72 hours of rest after high-volume workouts, but you can lift four days per week by splitting your workouts into separate sessions. On Mondays and Thursdays, focus only on your legs, back and biceps. Dedicate Tuesdays and Thursdays to your chest, shoulders and triceps. After eight weeks of consistently working out at this frequency, begin working out six days per week. Target your chest, shoulders and triceps on Mondays and Thursdays, your back and biceps on Tuesdays and Fridays, and your legs on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Each workout must be of high volume. In the beginning, perform three sets of each exercise, with each set featuring six to 12 repetitions. Rest periods between sets should be relatively short, between 30 and 90 seconds. After eight weeks of performing three sets of each exercise, bump up your training volume even more by completing four to six sets of each exercise. Use an appropriate amount of weight for each exercise. Begin with a lighter weight until you are comfortable with the technique of an exercise; then increase the weight accordingly. You should be able to perform at least six repetitions and no more than 12 of an exercise.
Choose exercises that effectively target the muscle groups assigned to each day. To develop your chest, perform pushups, chest press and chest flys. For your shoulders, complete shoulder press, lateral raise and dips. Target your back with lat pulldown, seated row and chinups. You can work your biceps with dumbbell biceps curls and barbell biceps curls and your triceps with overhead triceps extension and triceps pushdown. For your legs, include squats, lunges, deadlifts, step-ups and hamstring curls. During each workout, focus on larger muscle groups first, then move onto smaller muscles. For example, on the day you work your chest, shoulders and triceps, complete all of your chest exercises first. Follow those with shoulder then triceps exercises.
The muscle-building process for bodybuilders requires an increase in calorie and protein intake. Women should take in a total of at least 1,200 to 1,500 calories every day to fuel properly the muscle-building process. In addition, ensure you consume enough protein; multiply your body weight in kilograms by 0.8 to find your daily recommended minimum protein consumption and then by 1.7 to find your daily recommended maximum protein consumption.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.