Women’s Bodybuilding is Here to Stay!
If you are a woman and you’re attracted by the image of strength that bodybuilding has surrounding it, you are not alone. Women around the world have been drawn to bodybuilding since the Golden Era of the eighties, lured by the same attributes that men have been since the beginning of time.
Of course muscular women are not new to our culture. The legendary Amazons were known to be large, powerful women with formidable strength, for whom the only modern-day equivalents we can imagine are the IFFB Top 100.
Why Women’s Bodybuilding is Becoming Increasingly Popular
Today, the majority of women who train to become pro competitors at national and international level competitions or simply train without such a goal do so for one or more of the following reasons.
There are several categories that women can participate in today. The ‘figure’ category is all about the masculine look that you’d find in female bodybuilders of the nineties. The ‘bikini’ category on the other hand, has opened up a flood of opportunities for women that are looking for a less extreme buffing. If you participate as a bikini competitor, you can work hard to get a fabulous beach body – killer abs that are always in style – and parade on the stage in fancy bikinis while the panel judges you on your poster girl potential.
Even without a goal to be pro, the immense amount of empowerment and satisfaction that you can get from taking control of your body should not be underestimated. Many women who train for years say that they find the greatest pleasure in watching their efforts pay off in the changes that they see in their bodies.
Bodybuilding today involves resistance training along with a very specific diet to grow extreme muscle. The ‘figure’ division and the ‘bikini’ division, both introduced in the 2000s, are what made the sport more and more popular with women. ‘Bikini’ targets women who want realistic bodies that they can maintain fairly easily in their daily lives.
Within these categories, participants are split into groups based on their heights, and then they are judged on the sizes of their waists, good posture, lean abs, toned shoulders and other features.
The Challenges Women Have Faced in the Past
If bodybuilding was only about physique, it would not be any different from a bikini contest or a fitness contest. Traditionally, the biggest factor that has set bodybuilding apart from any other kind of body contest is muscle size. For women, growing muscles worthy of their goal is more difficult than it is for men. Women have a higher percentage of body fat than men. This means that women need to follow a stricter diet and training regimen than men.
To add to that, bodybuilding with the combination of ancillary and anabolic drugs for years has often led to women developing masculine features, such as deeply sunken cheeks, drier skin, facial hair, and thinning of hair on the head.
Despite these obstacles, women like Corey Everson and Lenda Murray stood before sellout audiences at Madison Square Garden in the eighties. The baton has been passed down to pro competitors like the Romanian Alina Popa and the Slovenian Brigita Brezovac.
Bodybuilding for women is no longer about sharply-veined, big-muscled women on steroids looking like The Hulk. That is what the sport grew into in the nineties, when muscles were generally bigger than you could have imagined in the Corey Everson era. Things have changed again since then. As mentioned earlier, new categories in female bodybuilding have cropped up in the last ten years or so. The goals in these categories are more natural-looking physiques, and women don’t have to compromise today’s standards of femininity in order to enjoy the biggest, strongest bodies they have ever had.
It Is Far From the End of Women’s Bodybuilding
Some misinformed critics are under the impression that female bodybuilding is dead. Their opinions are colored by the cancellation of the 2015 Ms. Olympia event by IFBB, for instance, and the apparent fact that women bodybuilding features less in many major bodybuilding magazines. There is a common misconception that the audience for female bodybuilding is dwindling because there is a certain inability to accept the masculization of female features that often happens with the drugs that pro-competitors take to bulk up.
But the fact is, there are multiple tournaments that are still held around the world, where women with strong, buff physiques get all bronzed up to go on stage. And they are usually cheered on by full audiences.
Current Tournaments and Contests for Women Bodybuilders
Ms. Olympia may have exited the stage, but the old contest has given way to the Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix bodybuilding contest for women. This contest is also organized by the IFFB like Ms. Olympia was. The prizes here are over $100,000, much more than Ms. Olympia ever paid its winners. The death of bodybuilding for women is highly exaggerated.
Other international level competitions such as the IFFB Omaha Pro, Wings of Strength Chicago Pro, and Toronto Pro give thousands of women around the world the opportunity to be empowered and have their hard work recognized.
There are also national level competitions like those organized by the National Physique Committee, and stages like the Brooklyn Grand Prix where women can flex their stuff.
This is the sport for women who want to enjoy watching their bodies change before their eyes as they train. There is always a scope for improvement in bodybuilding, something that can appeal to a lot of women. As a woman, all that you need to get the perfect beach body or the sculpted heroic ideal of a body is determination and the desire to be bigger, stronger and faster.
Even if women are genetically at a disadvantage compared to men. A body that is stronger and toned is desired. What’s not to love? Because of this, women’s bodybuilding will continue to grow. There is a very strong chance that we are witnessing the infancy period of the new-age bodybuilding. We should witness some very exciting changes as the sport continues to advance.