Many women cringe at the thought of being a bodybuilder. Usually, it is accompanied by one of three fears:
- The fear of becoming too bulky, losing femininity and looking masculine;
- The fear of being ridiculed by society and not being accepted; or
- The fear of building and falling away, fearing the muscle will eventually turn to fat.
The first fear is a very common one among women. However, women tend to not realize that in order to become really bulky (extremely muscular) is a deliberate choice toward that ideal. Simply training with weights will not create the extremes most women fear. The second fear, "society's views", is something that will be there regardless of how you look or what you do or do not do. You simply must become comfortable with who you are and accept yourself, especially if you are a bodybuilder. The third fear, muscle and fat, two totally different creations which simply cannot convert into the other. This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the workings of the body.
Many women will say that they do not like the look of female bodybuilders, although, they may appreciate the fact that the bodybuilders are in great shape. Sadly, for female bodybuilding, it appears that it is slowly being phased out due a lack of support in this area of the sport, as compared to other areas.
However, there are areas in the competition circuit that a fit female is more accepted than in the bodybuilding circuit, and it is known as "Figure". Figure competitors are muscular just as bodybuilders; although, they carry more of an athletic build and are more scaled down in size and shape. Figure is actually a blend of bodybuilding and fitness. Figure is also an option for those who want to compete but do not want to build muscle to the extreme of a bodybuilder. Figure competitors grace the stage in high heels, and very ornate bikinis to show off their physiques; whereas, bodybuilders compete barefoot.
In figure competitions, the judges look for a huge degree of striations, definition, presentation, poise, and personality.
As far as training and diet as a figure competitor, it will be much the same as the training and diet of a bodybuilder. Both groups lift weights although; the figure competitors' goal is to not take on the mass of a bodybuilder. Their diet consists of clean eating, six to eight meals per day depending on their training. Cardio may be a little more utilized by a figure competitor to keep her lean and toned as well as muscular and more dialed down to the expectations of this segment of competitions.
Figure competitions will consist of three rounds: Symmetry, Mandatory and Free Posing.
S Y M M E T R Y: This is where the competitors execute a series of quarter turns, side, back and front for judges to view from all angles.
M A N D A T O R Y: This is the round where the judges call out the pose they want the competitors to execute; front double biceps, side chest, side triceps, back double biceps, lat spread, and abdominal/thigh.
F R E E P O S I N G: This is the round for your personal routine. Each competitor has a maximum of 90 seconds to display the body they've worked so hard for this very moment. It is set to the competitors personal music selection and is a time to be creative, personable and to really shine in the judges' eyes.
Competing in Figure is a definite alternative to full fledged bodybuilding, allowing you the ability to still display muscle and strength but on a level less extreme.