The show “Real Sports” (which runs on the cable channel, HBO) recently ran a feature on women’s bodybuilding. You can view a clip of the segment here:
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It really is sad to see what female bodybuilding has become. Back in the 1980′s, when female bodybuilding first became a professional sport, the competitors looked nothing like the women portrayed in the video. They were toned and fit. They had physiques that other women aspired to. Their bodies appeared healthy and strong and feminine.
In case you find this hard to believe, check out the photo to the left of Rachel McLish. Rachel was the winner of the first-ever IFBB Ms. Olypmia bodybuilding contest. She epitomized the look that female bodybuilders tried to replicate. At the same time, she set a terrific example for women who simply wanted to improve their physiques, proving it was possible to develop muscle while still retaining femininity. It inspired a legion of women to get into the gym, to get into shape, to get healthier. This was the heyday of the sport. Unfortunately, it is a heyday that is long gone.
Somewhere along the way, the sport of female bodybuilding got lost. Somehow it devolved into a bizarro world of she-hulks whose gender often cannot be differentiated. The goal of today’s competitors is to maximize muscle mass without any concern for retaining even the slightest semblance of femininity. Alarmingly, this “bigger is better” mentality is pursued at virtually any cost. After viewing the video you’ll see what I mean.
It’s ironic that the competitors in the video are shown complaining about the lack of prize money. Really now, what do they expect? Professional female bodybuilding has been relegated to an ultra-fringe sport. Let’s face it, the vast majority of the population simply doesn’t want to see a stage full of massively muscled women with facial hair and cro-magnon features posing down against one another. Even the most prominent female bodybuilding competitions can’t attract sufficient interest from fans to offset promotional costs. This has forced promoters to attach female bodybuilding cards along with figure and fitness competitions in order to make the financials work. The money just isn’t there for the competitors. Sad but true.
The most disturbing part of all this is that it has given some women the false impression that lifting intensely will somehow make them look like the current crop of female bodybuilders. Rest assured, hippos will fly before that happens. As depicted in the video, professional female bodybuilders take an abundance of performance enhancing substances to bulk up their physiques. And steroids are just the tip of the growth-promoting iceberg. IGF-1, HGH, thyroid hormone, insulin, clenbuterol…the list of substances these women use goes on and on. Take away the performance enhancers and their physiques would look radically different. In fact, without supplemental help, most women cannot even come close to achieving the muscularity displayed by Rachel McLish. In addition to an extreme training regimen, she had terrific genetics that allowed her to develop her award-winning shape. Only a fraction of the population will possess similar genetics–and if you’re one of the lucky ones, give a big thanks to mom and dad!
Bottom line: Don’t worry about bulking up like a female bodybuilder. It simply isn’t possible. Lifting weights will in no way detract from a woman’s femininity. On the contrary, it will help to enhance feminine curves and shape, reduce body fat, and ultimately produce a strong, fit-looking physique. Lift regularly and lift intensely. You’ll be extremely pleased with the results.