How do I Choose the Best Female Bodybuilding Workout?

Dan Cavallari

A female bodybuilding workout will not necessarily mirror that of a male bodybuilding workout for several reasons. Women have higher levels of estrogen, which tends to encourage fat storage, whereas men have higher levels of testosterone, which promotes muscle growth. Women, therefore, have to tailor their female bodybuilding workout routines to the specific needs of women — that is, resistance training needs to be combined with a good cardio workout aimed at burning fat. Building muscle can actually help burn more fat, so the combination of resistance training with cardio training should help a woman gain mass while losing weight from fat.

Women bodybuilders typically need to mix weight training with cardio exercises to gain muscle and definition.
Women bodybuilders typically need to mix weight training with cardio exercises to gain muscle and definition.

A common myth dictates that in order to lose weight, a woman simply has to perform a cardio workout. Such workouts can be counterproductive, however, if the woman is not also working at building muscle. The best female bodybuilding workout will be structured to help the woman become leaner and stronger through a cardio workout — running, and so on — four to six times a week, coupled with resistance training five to six days a week. Such a workout balances fat burning with muscle mass gain.

Hydration is important both during and after bodybuilding workouts.
Hydration is important both during and after bodybuilding workouts.

A healthy diet must accompany any female bodybuilding workout routine. The cardio aspect of the routine means a diet higher in carbohydrates may be necessary. Protein from lean meats will provide sufficient fuel for the body during both resistance and cardio training. The athlete should reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, fat intake during training. Hydration is important both for muscle health during workouts and recovery afterward. The athlete may want to consult a dietician for advice on forming a strong diet plan.

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A successful workout schedule should boost a bodybuilder's health, both mentally and physically.
A successful workout schedule should boost a bodybuilder's health, both mentally and physically.

The workout structure can be tailored to the needs of the individual, but one of the most effective female bodybuilding workout routines is a split workout. This involves isolating muscle groups to be worked on different days. Each day should start with a low to medium intensity cardio workout on a bicycle, treadmill, elliptical machine, or similar. The rest of the workout will be split up by day: day one may focus on the chest and arms. Day two will focus on hamstrings, calves, and hips, while day three will focus on abs. Day four may focus on another part of the body, or it may go back to the day one workout. Day five can either repeat day two, or it can be a rest day. The last day of the workout routine should be a full rest day, with no cardio or resistance training, to allow the body to fully recover for the next week of training.

Men tend to be able to achieve more muscle mass than women.
Men tend to be able to achieve more muscle mass than women.

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