How to train for a female bodybuilding competition

How to Train for a Female Bodybuilding Bikini Competition

Female bodybuilding prep is a rigorous, intense, and time-consuming process. This article will go over the training, nutrition, and lifestyle aspects of female bodybuilding.

How to get fit for a competition is more than just a 12 week prep to cut and shred fat in order to be competitive. 

It takes a certain kind of discipline to build lean muscle, eat healthy consistently, and learn your posing routine in order to step on stage. 

Recommended Reading: 7 Things to Expect on Show Day



How to train for a female bodybuilding competition

How to Train for a Female Bodybuilding Bikini Competition

First off, it is important to learn about the main types of exercises in order to maximize your workouts in order to get the most out of them.

Many competitors get fit for a competition way before actually cutting for a show. It can take at least 6 months of consistent training and nutrition to change your body and build enough muscle underneath. 

However, many competitors have spent more than 1-2 years to get the level of conditioning needed. 


Strength Training, specifically Hypertrophy, is important when training for a bodybuilding competition to build lean muscle in the areas needed for your federation and division. 

Cardio exercises are necessary for prepping for a bodybuilding competition because they help you lose fat and lose weight without losing muscle mass.

Types of cardio include LISS Cardio or on any other form of aerobic exercise. 


What is Hypertrophy?

This type of strength training is defined as consisting of exercises utilizing low to intermediate repetition ranges with progressive overload.

An example of this is 3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions, performing the barbell chest press at 75-85% of the one repetition maximum (1RM) with a rest period of 1-2 minutes.

Progressive overloading the muscles means you are continually increasing the demands on your muscles in order to make gains in their strength, size and endurance.

The amount of training you will need will vary from person to person, but you can expect at least 4-5 times per week of working out for 60-90 minutes each day.


How to Get Toned For Your First Competition

We covered how to build muscle for your competition, now I want to talk about getting "toned". 

In reality toned isn't a great definition when it comes to a competition. 

The reason being is that many have this as a goal as a woman, but don't really understand what that means.

In order to have a toned look, you have to build enough lean muscle and then cut body fat down in order to see the muscle that you have built underneath. 

In other words, what it takes to compete in bodybuilding is consistency with your diet plan. 

Your pre-contest diet plan needs to have a building phase to build lean muscle and then also needs to include a phase to cut body fat too. 

It is extremely hard to do both at the same time. 


What tools and resources will I need to prepare for the competition?

For your pre-competition preparation, you will need training equipment that focuses on strength training. 

You can do this from a variety of equipment and even at home if you have the right ones, but most of the time it is cheaper to get a gym membership to have access to everything without having to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. 

The most beneficial pieces of equipment are:

  • Dumbbells
  • Cables & Attachments
  • Barbell
  • Plates for Barbell
  • Adjustable Bench

There are a ton more, but these cover the basics. 

Remember you will need to continually challenge yourself as you go on.


On top of the equipment needed, it is super beneficial to have a prep coach to help create and tailor a plan just for you. 

This takes the guesswork out of it, and allows you to focus on getting every rep and set in while also focusing on your nutrition. 

When it comes to your nutrition, it needs to fit your lifestyle and goals too. Tracking macronutrients are a popular way to help get ready for a competition and ensure you are getting all of the right nutrients in daily. 


Last but not least, having a support system. 

Competing is challenging and takes more discipline, than the average person who just wants to lose weight. You will need people who support your decision to compete and help motivate you when you least feel like it. 

This is often overlooked and can make or break someone prepping for a show. 


 Phases of how to train as a female for a bodybuilding bikini competition


What's the best way to train as a female athlete preparing for a bodybuilding contest?

When it comes to a weight training routine for women looking to enter a bikini competition, we already talked about hypertrophy, but now I want to talk more about what that can look like in a week. 

I've worked with women from all over and different backgrounds and starting points to their competition endeavor. 

  • Phase 1: Build lean muscle & the foundation for next phases
  • Phase 2: Focus on strength & challenging yourself to the next level
  • Phase 3: Bring it all together & cut body fat 

No matter where you are starting, you will need to become consistent with your training and nutrition before you can progress.


Example of 5 Day Workout Split: 

  • Monday- Legs
  • Tuesday- Upper Body
  • Wednesday- Rest
  • Thursday-Legs
  • Friday- Upper Body
  • Saturday- Full Body
  • Sunday- Rest


Tips on Posing for Your First Bodybuilding Competition

Of course your training does not just include the workouts, you will also have to learn how Female Bodybuilders Pose in order to compete and show off their best physique as this is what you will be judged on. 

When it comes to posing there are some critical posing tips: 

  • Smile 
  • Keep shoulders parallel 
  • Focus on showing off the best parts of your physique
  • Include the parts that the judges are looking for in your division
  • Make your routine around 15 sec or less
  • Should be fluid almost like a dance
  • Add some of your personality into it
  • Record yourself with your phone from lower than eye level (as if your phone is a judge)

Posing takes time to learn and will also feel like a workout in itself from twisting your body and posing in ways that you are not used to. 

Practice, practice, and practice! 

Time will make it perfect and getting a posing coach can help you to pin point areas to really improve and make everything flow together seamlessly. 



Conclusion: How to Train for Your First Bodybuilding Competition

  1. Focus on consistency above everything else 
  2. Hypertrophy to build lean muscle and maintain what you do build for your division and federation
  3. Cut down at least 3 months or more before your show date
  4. Make sure you use the appropriate tools and resources 
  5. Practice posing sooner rather than later! 


Hire a prep coach if you need to take the guesswork out of your prep and ensure your success

Top Knot Strong specifically helps competitors to feel and be their most confident when it comes to stepping on stage. 

We offer training, nutrition, posing, suits and more! 

To see how we can best help you, schedule a free 15 minute consultation below today. 

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1 comment

Hi I would like to know more!

Lauren Thomason

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