Fake tans. Biceps. The most glittery bikinis you’ve ever seen—sure, this is the culmination of bodybuilding training, if you chose to compete. But it’s also much less glamorous: dieting and meal-prepping, counting macros, waking up early to do cardio, spending hours in the weight room, and peeling calluses off your hands domestic steroids
Sound like a lot to handle? The bodybuilding lifestyle isn’t for the faint of heart.
“This does not come without its fair share of sacrifice,” says Linzi Martinez, a certified trainer and nutritional therapist “However, if this is your passion, it’s worth every second. It requires you to harness your willpower and mental strength, and you’ll reap the empowering gains across all areas of your life.” (Not to mention, lifting weights can radically change your body.)
Curious? Here, the full guide to bodybuilding for women.
What Is Bodybuilding, Anyway?
ICYDK, bodybuilding is actually a sport. It comes with a very specific lifestyle that involves detailed workout training and precise nutrition in order to strengthen, sculpt, and develop the muscles of the body (aka hypertrophy training).
While some people practice bodybuilding just to look and feel strong, for many, training and dieting culminates in a bodybuilding competition where you’re judged on your physique and muscular development—in either the bikini, figure, women’s physique, bodybuilding, or fitness categories. (More on that below.)
Before you read on, know this: Participating in a sport where you’re judged almost solely on your appearance can be rough on the psyche. “It’s important to attend to your spirit and mind in addition to your physical body,” says Ana Snyder (@littlebuffblondie), a certified trainer, fitness model, and competitive bodybuilder based in New York City. “If you already struggle with body image issues, attaining what the outside world (or judges) views as the perfect aesthetic does not guarantee that you will see a different person in the mirror.” (That’s why this other fit Instagrammer stopped doing bikini competitions and started powerlifting.)