female bodybuilding

IT WAS 1977…

Laverne and Shirley rocked the airways. Star Wars wowed us. Elvis dies. And the first personal computer, the Apple II goes on sale. But there was another first being introduced into our culture; the sisterhood of female bodybuilding. The concept was started by a YMCA employee who carried a strong belief that women should share the opportunity of displaying their physiques and the results of their weight training the way men had done for years. His name was Henry McGhee. But it wasn’t until 1980 that both the National Physique Committee and the International Federation of Bodybuilders began officially recognized female bodybuilding competitions.


Women joined the league of those committed to a life that included grueling regimens to build a body worthy of any stage. Getting up before it’s light. Killer cardio. Tiny Tupperware tubs of steamed chicken and broccoli. Leg days. Protein shakes. Water manipulation. They put in the work. Like you do. But it won’t work the way you want it to if your hormones have their manipulating say.


By definition, a hormone is a chemical substance that is produced in one part of the body and travels by way of the bloodstream to another area where it carries out its action. Hormones are released in response to three stimuli: (a) other hormones, (b) stimulation of nerve fibers (which is what you would expect during exercise), and (c) also changes in the levels of certain nutrients in the blood. Hormones control everything from reproduction to our immune system. They are in charge of our metabolism and also influence how we build muscle, where we store fat, and our ability to lose fat. To channel your fiercest inner bodybuilder, your hormones better be in balance. If they’re not, your body will be hard-pressed to be in pose-worthy shape.


When creating a training plan, it’s important for female bodybuilders to bear in mind that hormones affect muscle growth and strength differently. During and after a workout, your body is flooded by different hormones which are either anabolic (those that use energy) or catabolic (those that release energy). Understanding anabolism and catabolism can help you train more effectively to lose fat and gain muscle.

“ANA” (bolic)

High levels of anabolic hormones are essential for all bodybuilders. Females included. Alongside resistance training, anabolic hormones are the driving force behind bone and muscle growth, strength gains, and leanness. Anabolic hormones include insulin, testosterone, and growth hormone (GH). Insulin regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates in the body. It has critical anabolic effects because it encourages the infusion of sugars into our muscle cells and aids repair after a workout. Testosterone is the master muscle builder, but in general, women have about 15-20% less concentration of testosterone in their bodies than men do. Besides helping to build muscle, boost metabolism, and burn fat, growth hormone can help to speed up healing after an injury, and repair muscle tissue after exercise. Females naturally have higher GH levels than men. This is good, considering GH levels decline with age.

“CATA” (bolic)

Catabolic hormones have the opposite effect of anabolic. While you could view these catabolic hormones as the enemy of the bodybuilder (since they can prevent or inhibit muscle growth)—your body still requires them in limited concentrations for normal metabolic function. Catabolic hormones include cortisol, epinephrine, and glucagon. Cortisol is a real killer that’s caused by chronic stress. (Know anyone who hasn’t been stressed by everything that’s been going on out there this past year?) The three main functions of cortisol are the reduction of protein synthesis, the facilitation of protein to glucose, and the halting of tissue growth. Epinephrine, along with norepinephrine helps boost performance during training. Unlike insulin that promotes muscle building and fat storage, glucagon promotes muscle breakdown and fat burning.


Prisais Townsend is a 7-year-old bodybuilder titled the “Youngest Female Bodybuilder in the World”. She started all this when she was just 10 months old. Her father, James Townsend, discovered her talent when she started following along with his workouts. Freaking amazing, right? Well, to get to the other end of the spectrum. You see a lot of women in their 40s, 50s, or 60s competing, though you’d be hard-pressed to tell the age difference from younger (we’re not talking age 7, here) competitors in the line-up on stage. The interest in the sport from older women only seems to be growing.


It seems that the transformative nature of bodybuilding is particularly appealing to those already going through a transition period. Menopause. Yuk. The “change”, can really change your goals. The more your hormonal levels diminish, the more your ability to build muscle diminishes. Your metabolism slows down, you get whacked by hot flashes and mentally, it’s hard to get your head into your program. Regardless of diet or exercise, hormone imbalances can blow your efforts. Notice we say “can”. Getting your hormones back in balance can get you in front of the judges again. In bodybuilding, “senior” doesn’t sit well with any woman.


And when it comes to getting them in balance, the hormone professionals at SculptedMD take center stage. The experts at SculptedMD have put years of training and dedication into learning everything there is to know about hormones. All of them. And there are 50 or so controlling every function in your body. Including those that can put you in competitive shape. And keep you there. At SculptedMD, they’ll talk hormones with you until you get it all. The way you put in the work, they put in the work giving you the kind of personal and individualized treatment you need.  Because everyone is different. And to everyone at SculptedMD, every patient is special. Unbalanced hormones can cut the “cut” out of any female bodybuilder’s body. Time to empower yours to be their best. Click Here to book an appointment now.


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