In the last few decades, the world of female bodybuilding has grown significantly. Women are realizing that in order to have the toned, fit bodies that they desire, it will take more than just calorie restriction or endless cardiovascular workouts. Lifting weights builds muscle, which in turns burns through more calories in a given day and gives you the lean body that is in high demand. However, is it important to realize that bodybuilding for men and women is not identical, and both groups face different challenges although their workouts may often be similar.
Eating Enough to Support Muscle Growth
One of the biggest struggles for women who begin bodybuilding is that the diet of a bodybuilder is significantly different from the average female diet. Rather than worrying about calorie restriction or focusing on eating less than necessary, anyone who wants to gain muscle mass needs to eat enough to do so. Those who are serious about bodybuilding may want to begin eating frequent meals in smaller portions or start to include more protein in their daily diet. The idea of eating more calories may be counter-intuitive for women who are used to watching their figure.
Body Fat Numbers: Male vs. Female
A key difference between female bodybuilders and male bodybuilders is overall body fat percentages. Men strive to have low body fat, and obtaining single digits can be attractive and desirable. Women, on the other hand, can begin to notice symptoms like loss of their menstrual cycle or even their hair if they dip into these body fat percentage levels. For general fitness, 15 percent is the accepted cutoff for women. Competitors may need to dip below this number for a few days or weeks at a time, but it may not be recommended.
Slower Overall Growth
Because of lower amounts of testosterone in the body, women will always find it harder to gain muscle mass. Growth can still occur, but it will take much longer for women than for men.
Bodybuilding Competitions: Fitness and Bikini Categories
If you begin to look at bodybuilding competitions, you will see that some categories are only available to women. Things like fitness and bikini competitions focus on the attributes of women rather than the mass gains of men.
Men and women can both enjoy bodybuilding for fun, for health and for competition. While there are key differences between how the sexes train and see results, it doesn't look like it is slowing down in popularity for either group.