How to Train for a Woman's Fitness Competition


A woman’s fitness competition challenges its female participants to not only appear, but be, physically fit. The competition features both a swimsuit and a fitness routine round. The swimsuit round involves performing a series of quarter turns in front of the judges while wearing a two-piece swimsuit and high-heeled shoes. The fitness round requires each competitor to do two minutes of physically challenging dance, aerobics, gymnastics and other fitness moves. Because of the time it takes to safely develop your body, select a fitness competition four months to a year in advance.

Lifting for a Lean, Fit Body

  • In the swimsuit round, you’ll be judged on poise and presence, body condition, femininity and appearance. Your lifting program should focus on developing lean muscle. A fitness competition is different from a bodybuilding event in that it promotes muscle definition and symmetry instead of extreme muscle mass. Professional fitness competitor Linda Cusmano recommends beginning with a three-day weekly workout including the squat, overhead press, lat pulldown, pec deck, leg curl, hyperextension, calf raise, triceps pushdown, biceps curl, knee raise and hip extension. Perform two to four sets of eight to 12 reps during the off-season to put on lean muscle. Leave at least 48 hours between training a particular muscle group to allow for muscle recovery and growth. As you get closer to the competition date, increase your workout frequency to four days per week. Focus on the upper body two days and your lower body the other two days while also increasing the number of exercises you perform for each muscle group. During this period, Cusmano recommends doing 12 to 20 reps of each exercise.

Preparing for the Fitness Routine Round

  • In the fitness routine round, you’ll be judged on your execution, the difficulty and creativity of your routine and your appearance. Consult a trainer experienced in women's fitness competitions to help you organize the program and then use one day per week during the off-season to practice your routine. Most competitors incorporate dance, cheer, aerobics and gymnastics to display their endurance and flexibility, as well as extreme fitness moves such as planche pushups to show their strength and coordination. In the off-season, emphasize plyometric movements -- such as box jumps, burpees, tuck leaps and jump squats -- to develop functional fitness and powerful muscles to perform cartwheels, aerials and isometric holds during your routine. You'll also focus on mastering technique and developing your showmanship. During each practice run, imagine you're performing in front of a panel of judges so you can envision yourself looking them in the eyes. Consider videotaping yourself so you can see where you need to make improvements. As you get closer to the competition date, practice the routine three or more times per week.

Lowering your Body Fat Percentage

  • A low body-fat percentage, along with an increase in lean muscle, will give you the fit, toned appearance the judges prefer. Cardio will help lower your body fat percentage efficiently and also condition your body in preparation for the fitness round. Interval training -- which involves alternating between higher- and lower-intensity activities, is particularly effective in burning fat. Exercises such as jumping rope, stair climbing, sprints and circuit workouts lend themselves to interval training. During the off-season, when you’re working to build mass, limit your interval training to two to three days per week. These sessions should last 30 to 45 minutes each. Bouts of cardio longer than 60 minutes may start to eat into your muscle mass. As you get closer to the competition, increase interval-training frequency to four days per week to burn more calories and increase leanness.

Training in the Kitchen

  • You’ll either boost or limit your fitness and body developments by what you eat and drink during training. During the off-season, when you’re focused on putting on muscle, increase the amount of calories and protein that you’re consuming to fuel the muscle-building process. Shoot for 1 to 2 grams of protein per day for every pound you weigh and gradually increase your calories until you’re taking in about 2,000 per day during this period. As you get closer to the competition, reduce your calorie intake to about 1,200 to 1,800 to help lower your body fat. Focus on consuming mostly leafy vegetables, fruits and lean protein. Eat a serving of protein at every meal, including one to three hours before you go to bed to help your body recover and build muscle as you’re sleeping. In addition, drink about 2 liters of water every day, which will increase blood volume and thus facilitate the muscle-healing process.

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