How to Start Bodybuilding for Women

Strength training seeks to make a stronger you, while bodybuilding kicks the goal up several notches -- to make your body a visual statement of rippling muscle and taut sinew. You can become a female bodybuilder and still maintain your femininity and appeal, as demonstrated by bodybuilding icons such as Rachel McLish and Marissa Rivero, successful actresses and beautiful models. To get started, you need mainly to commit to an initial three months of dedicated work, as well as planning and tracking your progress.

Commit to the Weight Room

Two to three days a week, you need to hit the weight room for a date with your barbells. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are ideal. You can focus on the powerlifts -- the deadlift, squat and bench -- to build muscle and in the process, burn fat. Expect to warm up by lifting light weights and to spend about an hour per session. Women: Don't forget to train hard, after your first month or so of getting acclimated. Push yourself as part of serious training designed to pack on 5 to 10 pounds of additional muscle, advises fitness author Stuart McRobert, writing in "Iron Man" magazine.

Ramp Up the Cardio Intensity

Pick your favorite form of cardio -- spinning, outdoor biking, running, hill sprints, swimming -- and hit it hard. Literally. Brian Lebo of the Athletic Performance Training Center in Ohio advises HIIT, high-intensity interval training, as your way to burn fat in a time-efficient manner. Lebo advises a 3-to-1 rest-to-work ratio. In practical terms, this means you can for example go hard as you can on a hill sprint for 30 seconds, walk or jog back down the slope for 90 seconds, and repeat four times for an intense 10-minute training session.

Change Your Eating Habits

Processed and fried foods will be going bye-bye as part of your bodybuilding program. You'll need five or six small meals each day with lean protein to repair muscles, carbs to fuel your workouts and healthy fats to satisfy hunger. Lebo advises that you create meal plans for your week. Rest your muscles a full 48 hours before working the same muscle group and get plenty of sleep.

Meal Ideas for Beginners

You may need to restock your pantry with lots of tuna and whole grains. Rivero shared details of her diet with SimplyShredded.com. A mini-meal may consist of oats and cooked egg whites; sweet potato and tuna; brown rice, chicken and greens; or tilapia and a quarter of an avocado. Figure competitor Ashley Toms, who describes diet as 90 percent of success in bodybuilding, similarly combines chicken, green veggies and steel-cut oats; whey protein shakes and oats; and snacks such as protein shakes or a handful of nuts.

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