Bodybuilding Routines for Women

The fundamental principles of bodybuilding are essentially the same for women as they are for men. While a woman’s body is designed different than a man’s, the crucial components of proper nutrition, effective weightlifting/cardio routines and adequate recovery must be followed.

Bodybuilding routines require discipline and attention to detail. The main goal of bodybuilding is to increase muscle size and definition, while decreasing the amount of fat on your body. Any excess calories in your body will be stored as fat. A female bodybuilder needs to pay strict attention to every facet of her diet.

Bodybuilding Routines for WomenWhen it comes to adding muscle, testosterone may help a man to develop muscle easier; however, a woman can still pack on sculpted muscle by following the tried-and-true principles of bodybuilding.

Progressive Overload

This is a straightforward principle; if you want to grow, you subject your muscles to the principle of progressive overload. The most effective way to do this is to apply resistance to your muscles through weight training.

This will cause your muscles to contract and will eventually assist them in growing stronger.

Once your muscles adapt to this, the progress will stop. This is why you need to continually add weight to your resistance training routine.


Another important ingredient to success as a bodybuilder is to know when to change your weight training routine. Just as your muscles can adapt to the amount of weight you lift, they can also hit a plateau from doing the same routine repetitively for an extended duration.

The principal of periodization involves three different weight lifting components:

Timing – Involves cycles of different resistance training routines

Intensity – How much and how hard you lift during training

Volume – How many reps and sets you perform during a routine

The threefold principle of periodization involves routinely changing your exercise program and will be different for every athlete. Some bodybuilders will change up the routine every four weeks, while others might change their routine six weeks and beyond.

Listen to your body. When you feel that you have become bored from a particular program or your body has hit a plateau, it’s time to change it up.

Additionally, your weekly workouts will vary in intensity and volume. Some days you will lift extra hard, while other days, you may want to minimize the intensity and the amount of reps you perform.

Types of Exercises

Woman bodybuilders perform two basic types of resistance movements during training:

Compound Movements

A compound movement is the bread-and-butter for any athlete that’s looking to gain strength. These movements utilize more than one muscle during any given exercise.

The active use of several muscles of your body at once helps to stimulate growth. Here are a few examples of compound movements that female bodybuilders incorporate into their daily routines:

  • Bench press
  • Military press
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Lunges
  • Pull-ups
  • Dips

Isolation Movements

During the sculpting phase of a bodybuilders program, isolation movements are crucial for effective muscle definition. Isolation movements are designed to target a specific area of the body.

Examples of isolation movements are:

  • Calf raises
  • Leg extensions
  • Leg curls
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • Tricep rope pull downs

A thorough bodybuilding program will incorporate the aforementioned exercises in a carefully planned routine. If you are new to bodybuilding, train at least three times a week and allow at least 24 hours of rest between weight lifting workouts.

Once you build a foundation, you can add some of the following advanced bodybuilding routines to your daily training:

Super Sets

During supersets, you will move from one exercise to the next without taking a break. A typical superset involves working two opposing muscle groups back to back.

For example, you could perform 10 reps of bench press, and then without rest, perform 10 pull-ups. This will challenge your muscles and at the same time is an excellent cardiovascular boost. Another advantage to a superset program is that it reduces the amount of time that you need to spend in the gym.

Pyramid Sets

Pyramid sets are effective way to challenge your muscles will help to stimulate growth. During a pyramid set, you will start with a lighter weight and eventually progress to heavier lifts.

For example, you can start by performing 15 repetitions of dumbbell curls for the first set and then increase the weight by 10% for the next three sets and then back down to the original weight.

By incorporating this type of training into your routine, you will effectively shock your muscles. This will directly result in additional muscular endurance as well as gains in size.