There are four different categories of women's body sculpting competitions: bikini, figure, physique and bodybuilding. Despite subtle differences between them, they all require you to be in fantastic shape, with low levels of body-fat, a high degree of definition and excellent muscle symmetry. Training for body-sculpting is highly demanding, and you'll go through a number of tough times. Stepping on stage in the best shape of your life at the end of it all, however, is immensely rewarding.
Split your workout up over five days, training your shoulders on day one, chest and arms on day two, legs on day three, back on day four and light shoulders again on day five, advises professional Nicole Nagrani, 2011 Ms Bikini International. Rest over the weekend, then go back to your first workout again on Monday. Base your workouts around multi-joint compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, as these burn more calories and are far more efficient than single-joint movements, advises strength coach Rachel Cosgrove. Make exercises such as squats, bench presses, rows, pull-downs, deadlifts and dips the foundation of your routine.
Add in exercises that focus on the key areas competition judges look for. These are mainly the glutes, hamstrings, quads, back and abs, according to trainer Jimmy Smith, author of "The Physique Formula." Perform five to 10 minutes of ab training at the end of three sessions each week and use both high and low repetitions. Single leg exercises such as step-ups or lunges, along with stiff-legged deadlifts and Good Mornings should be your go-to movements for your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Incorporate plenty of chin-ups, pull-downs and rows on your back day to fully fatigue the muscles and bring them out come contest time.
Train twice per day, with cardiovascular work in the morning and weight training in the evening, recommends figure competitor Ashley Toms. A 45-minute cardio session each morning in the fat-burning zone -- during which your heart rate stays at around 50 to 65 percent of its maximum -- combined with your five weight sessions each week will get you leaner and more muscular than ever before. Use the treadmill, bike, elliptical, stepper, rower or stair stepper for your cardio sessions.
- Check your weight, measurements and physique photos every week to gauge progress.
- Hire a bodybuilding coach or talk with experienced competitors to give you the edge over your competition.
- Combine your training with a calorie-controlled diet containing plenty of protein, slow-digesting carbohydrates, healthy fats and vegetables.