Female bodybuilding for beginners

Strength training, also known as weightlifting or strength training, can often be underestimated when it comes to women’s exercises.

Research from the University of Northern Iowa confirms this hypothesis, showing that there is a huge training gap between men and women, with only 20% of women regularly undertaking some form of training in strength, compared to 50% of men.

Body image seems to be one of the main obstacles for women. There is a misconception that strength training will lead to a bloated frame, when in reality women have much lower levels of testosterone than men, so it is much more difficult for women to achieve this shape. On the contrary, women will develop muscle tone and definition without the size.

Another obstacle I encounter as a physical therapist is that slow, steady movements seem counter-intuitive for women when thinking about burning fat. HIIT rose to popularity in the 2010s and was widely considered the go-to workout for a quick fix, so women came to prioritize those short, intense bursts.

What many don’t know, however, is that weight training burns calories while you rest. So, the immediacy on the scale after an intense workout can be somewhat misleading.

In reality, what is lost initially is probably water rather than fat at this point.

What is bodybuilding and strength training used for?

Well, in short, loads! For instance…

Muscular mass

As you lift heavier weights, your muscles adapt and develop tone and definition (otherwise known as hypertrophy training).

Functional movement

Lifting, squatting, and lunging are all joint-strengthening movements to make daily activities easier.

Burn calories and boost metabolism

Strength training leads to higher excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which can last several hours and increases lean muscle mass, which helps burn the fuel you consume. This then stimulates the metabolism. For every pound of muscle you gain, you’ll burn an additional 30-50 calories per day.

Heart and overall health

A 2018 study from the American College of Cardiology determined that strength training was more effective at reducing the risk of heart disease than cardio exercise, such as walking or cycling (although it should be noted that a combination of both types of physical activity is recommended for overall health).

Strength training can also help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, which will help lower blood pressure and improve how the body processes sugar, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Diabetes.


Having a stronger body will also help you in your training and triathlon races by improving power, speed, agility and endurance.

Stronger bones

Strength training is strongly recommended for older and menopausal women because lower estrogen levels lead to a higher risk of osteoporosis (when bones become porous and weak and prone to breakage). Resistance training increases bone density and builds stronger connective tissues, increasing joint stability and preventing injury.

It can also help correct Bad postureas well as building a strong back and heart will help prevent any lower back pain.

Mental Health

According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2018, participants who performed resistance training showed a significant reduction in symptoms of the Depression. Women who train strength generally report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their workout.

Live a full and long life

Bodybuilding is increasingly linked to longevity. A 2019 review published in Frontiers in Physiology suggests that strength training may be even more effective at reducing the risk of all sorts of common age-related chronic diseases than cardio.

Strength training is increasingly linked to longevity, helping to reduce the risk of age-related chronic diseases

Best Combination of Resistance Moves

Don’t feel like you have to do one move at a time. As long as the weight is manageable, you can launch moves targeting two areas at the same time. Here are some of my favorite combo resistance moves for clients:

  • Squat in the overhead press
  • Alternate leg raise push-ups
  • Clean Deadlift
  • Lunges with side arm extension
  • Vertical row in alternate front rise or double arms
  • The triceps dips into the hand at the toes (i.e. the hand opposite the foot)
  • Buttock bridge with chest press
  • Plank row or flye
  • Heel raises in sumo or wide squat and alternate bicep curls
  • Side plank leg raise

How and where to start bodybuilding

Find a professional

As with any type of exercise, I recommend that you seek advice from a certified instructor or PT to check your form, test your strength level, discuss previous exercise history, and give you a structured plan to slowly increase your intensity.

There are plenty of introductory sessions available for this, so talk to your local gym, physiotherapist or fitness center.

Your rhythm

Try starting with simple bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups, triceps dips) before moving on to light weights. Stick with the same weight and movements to start with and gradually increase the weight and intensity from there.

Choose a weight that matches the exercise and zone, i.e. choose heavier weights for larger muscle groups like hamstrings, buttocks and quadsand lighter weights for smaller muscle groups like triceps and shoulders.

Plan your training

Whether it’s reps (the action of a full strength training exercise, short for reps) and sets (a set of reps before you rest), duration or intensity. If you find it’s not difficult enough, increase the number of repetitions or the amount of weight you lift.

If you manage to overload – about 7 reps before your form is diminished and your posture is altered – reduce the weight by a few pounds.

If you’re doing a full body workout, make sure it’s no more than 45 minutes and no more than 15-20 minutes on any one specific area.


Rest is just as important as the work itself. Factor in 1min between sets. Do good stretches and try not to work this area for at least a day. Give your muscles time to recover between sessions.

During this rest, cells called fibroblasts repair torn muscle tissue, which will then help the tissue heal and grow, leading to bigger, stronger muscles.


Consider a plan that incorporates both aerobics and strength training – perhaps 2-3 cardio sessions with 1-2 strength training sessions per week and increase as you feel comfortable.

Try different equipment like bands, dumbbells and kettlebells. Varying things up can make it more interesting, exciting, and challenging in new ways.

Find a training partner

It can make working out more fun and less intimidating, even adding a bit of cheeky competition. A buddy can also hold you accountable for your fitness goals.

Consider a protein-rich diet

Studies from the Harvard School of Public Health show that protein It has been proven to help us feel full and support healthy growing muscles. To get the most out of your workout, consume 1g of protein for every kg of body weight.

Stay consistent

Once you’ve planned your training schedule, stick to it as religiously as possible. You will achieve gains through consistent work rather than periodic bursts.

Top image credit: Getty Images

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