There comes a point in a person’s training journey when noticeable changes in body and fitness level cause them to think about something bigger. Bodybuilding is, of course, that something bigger.
Maybe you’ve thought about getting into bodybuilding after witnessing the huge muscles in your online instructor’s videos. Perhaps you’ve done some research into what it would take to become one of those faintly superhuman-appearing folks you admire. Often, our enthusiasm in bodybuilding ends here because it is intimidating, and who wants to live on chicken breasts and protein shakes?
But what if we told you that bodybuilding is absolutely doable? That you, too, can become a powerhouse with the correct background, training, and nutrition (other than chicken breasts and protein shakes)? It may not be the easiest undertaking to begin, but the good news is that bodybuilding may be far less intimidating than you may believe. We met with Katie Kollath and Donna Walker, two fitness trainers who are both bodybuilders, to learn everything we could about how to get started with bodybuilding.
What Exactly Is Bodybuilding?
Bodybuilding is the act and practice of improving one’s physical form, as the term suggests. It is accomplished through exercise, particularly weightlifting, and muscular growth and/or definition is essential. “Bodybuilding itself is the process of enhancing the body’s muscle and symmetry and the promotion of overall health and fitness,” says Kollath, adding that bodybuilding as a competitive sport is “the pursuit of the ‘ultimate’ physique that is symmetrical from top to bottom. It is the sport of aesthetics.”
Being a bodybuilder means you are dedicated to the pursuit of physical perfection. This means that a person who is a bodybuilder is committed to improving their physique and challenging themselves physically. A person who commits to the pursuit of physical perfection will often engage in other health-related activities, such as nutrition counseling and fitness training. A bodybuilder may also increase their knowledge on fitness equipment, bodybuilding supplements, and healthy eating habits. This dedication can make a person much more active concerning their health and well-being. When a person wants or needs to change the way they look, they may engage in bodybuilding. A bodybuilder’s goal is to develop a new physique that is different from their current one.
How Does Your Diet Need to Change When Bodybuilding?
If you’ve ever worked on growing muscle, or even if you’ve done long aerobic workouts, you know that when you exercise more, your appetite and dietary needs shift dramatically. This is especially true for bodybuilding, as adequate nourishment is required to accomplish both muscular growth and tone.
“In general, you want to eat full, natural things,” adds Kollath. “From there, you want to make sure you know how much you’re eating on average weekly, and your caloric maintenance (how many calories you can eat daily while maintaining your weight).” She advises bodybuilders to “make sure you are consuming around 1 gram per lb. of body weight in protein. This will ensure adequate muscle growth and recovery from workouts. From there, you can manipulate your fats and carbs based on how you feel and/or look.”
Special Considerations for Those Assigned Female at Birth
People of both genders who intend to start bodybuilding have concerns and considerations. There are risks for everybody who tries to get into fitness, from training injuries to obsessively over-exercising. There may be even more reasons to be concerned for persons who were assigned female at birth.
There is no complete agreement on what those causes are. “Men and women can lift in the same way,” Walker explains. Kollath, on the other hand, advised us of a variety of increased risk factors for AFAB (assigned female at birth) people.
Loss of Monthly Cycle
Excessive exercise might be an endocrine disruptor. This can interrupt a person’s monthly cycle. According to Kollath, “be especially careful when dieting down to a very low caloric intake as well as a very low body fat percentage,” because doing so “can induce a plethora of hormone disorders, including the loss of a menstrual cycle (dysmenorrhea).”
To avoid this, she advises menstruating bodybuilders to “ensure you have built up your caloric maintenance range to the high 2,000s—anywhere from 2,500-3,000 calories per day—to maintain weight,” so they are better prepared when they begin decreasing calories before contests.
Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia
People of all genders are at risk of developing eating disorders, although they are three to four times more common in women than in males, according to statistics. For disorders such as anorexia, the gap is even more pronounced, with one resource stating that “between 0.9 percent and 2.0 percent of females and 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent of males will develop anorexia.”
Kollath claims that female-presenting people, who are often assessed harsher than male-presenting persons, are more vulnerable in this situation. “You’re being judged based on how your body appears, which might be dangerous for some individuals,” Kollath says. “This can lead to too compulsive behavior around body image, which can lead to eating disorders and severe body dysmorphia in some.”
More Muscle Damage
There isn’t much explanation yet, but it looks that women are at a higher risk of muscle damage from prolonged endurance training. According to PubMed, “new research have revealed that women may endure higher muscle injury than men, based on indirect assessments.”
Building a Bodybuilding Workout Routine
When you’ve chosen to give bodybuilding a shot, it’s time to start planning your journey. Kollath advises “at least two years of resistance training experience in order to build adequate muscle and healthy eating habits before embarking on the journey to a bodybuilding competition.” She also advises “focusing on building your caloric intake to a high enough level where you can build muscle and maintain that muscle before embarking on the journey to a bodybuilding competition.”
“The training plan can and should vary during your competition prep,” adds Kollath, once you’re experienced enough to start bodybuilding. “You always want to make sure that there is some sort of progressive overload in your routine in addition to the main compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, etc. Most bodybuilders will eventually work their training split into body parts to incorporate more isolation movements to build the ‘details’ that they’ll show off on stage,” she says.
- Monday: Legs, calves, core
- Tuesday: Back, biceps, forearms
- Wednesday: Chest, triceps, core
- Thursday: Shoulders, legs, calves
- Friday: Chest, back, triceps, biceps
- Saturday: Cardio, core
- Sunday: Rest and/or easy cardio
She also provided an example program for a Monday (legs, calves, core) workout:
- Back squat: 4 sets x 8 -12 reps, rest 90 seconds
- Romanian deadlift: 3 sets x 10-12 reps, rest 60 seconds
- Walking lunges: 3 sets x 8-12 reps per leg, rest 60 seconds
- Farmers carry x 30 seconds superset with reverse crunches x 10-15 reps x 3-4 sets, rest 60-90 seconds
- Standing calf raise: 3-4 sets x 15-20 reps, rest 30 seconds
Bodybuilding is the process of improving your physical appearance via exercise. Muscle growth and tone are common goals, and some bodybuilders compete in competitions to determine who has the best physique. To begin bodybuilding, you need have a multi-year foundation of exercise and correct diet; this is the greatest method to assure you do it safely. If you have AFAB, you may have extra problems, such as a loss of monthly cycle and significant muscle injury.
When broken down into a weekly cycle, getting started with bodybuilding is rather simple, and workouts don’t have to be complicated. If you’ve been on the fence about giving it a shot, you now have the information you need to leap over that barrier and into the gym.