I often find myself scrutinizing the diets, physiques, and contest preps of some of the most successful women in the physique sports - from bikini to bodybuilding, but it wasn't until recently that I started wondering what kinds of numbers these beautiful ladies of the gym were putting up. Do they train for strength? Do they train for endurance? There's so many unanswered questions when it comes to the different divisions. For example, did you know that some Bikini girls train like powerlifters? Did you know some Women's Bodybuilders actually opt for cables and ropes, as opposed dumbbells and barbells? It's true!
As usual, I went to the champions to get their feedback; I feel they are the #1 Authority on what works for women in getting into top shape for healthy living, as well as for the stage. Just remember that training, much like diet, supplementation, and rest -- requires consistency! You can't train like a powerlifter, meanwhile diet like a bodybuider - or can you? What are the limits, if any? And how hard should push yourself?!?!
For now, let's get some Numbers! Chest, Arms, Legs! Go!
"Right now, I'm trying to maintain my size in my legs. I tend to hold muscle very well in my legs and have to be careful that they're not over-powering my upper body. Currently, I'm comfortably squatting 115 x 12-15 reps for 3 sets. Deadlifts, 120-150 x 12 reps for 3 sets. Leg press, 495 x 12 reps with occasional drop sets. Like I said, I'm trying to maintain size yet still trying to bring up glute/ham area by focusing on the muscle squeeze during those particular exercises.
I usually don't bench press, like Miriam, I don't feel like I need to build up my chest. I stick to different push up variations and incline dumbbell press (20-25 lbs for 15 reps) when working chest."
Ashley Lemmons (featured on Video)
Fahrenheit Nutrition, Sponsored Athlete
Top Level NPC Figure Star
"My weight training program is based around Weilder's 5/3/1, which I love. I have made fantastic gains while running this program. I had to stop squats, deadlifts and military pressing last year due to several injuries (back and ribs), but I'm healthy again and finally back at it. Obviously, while running this program, I keep my reps very low...3-5 at the most. When I was at my strongest/healthiest, I was able to PR with Squats at 210x3, Deads (conventional) 225x3 and Military Presses (standing) for 100x3..I've only recently started working to increase my bench and have repped 105 for 3.
My numbers still arent back to my pre-injury level yet, but I am getting there and looking to keep progressing and making gains throughout my contest prep.
Champion Nutrion, Sponsored Athlete
IFPA Figure Pro
"I love lifting heavy and not being able to eek out even one more rep, going to failure is the key to muscle growth. I don't use conventional power lifts, like bench press and freebar squats, but I do variations of them on the same equipment. For example, I do dumbbell chest press instead of bench press, usually with 30s, for 4 sets of 15 reps. For legs, I do leg press with 3 plates/side for 5 sets of 12 reps. Dead lifts I don't go top heavy on because I have scoliosis, or a curved spine, I usually lift around 100lbs for 4 sets of 12 reps.
My workouts are usually rather long and detailed, incorporating many different exercises and short rest periods, so complete exhaustion on a single exercise would not work well in my program!"
Top Level NPC Bikini Star
"I always keep my rep range between 8-15 reps to help with my muscle growth. I deadlift 155 lbs for 8-10 reps , Leg press 500 lbs for 8-10 reps , Squat 155 for 10 reps, and shoulder press 30 lb dumbbells for 12 reps. Those are my main muscle building exercises that I lift as heavy as I can push myself. As far as bench pressing goes I usually don't go over 85lbs because I don't feel the need to really build up my chest muscles."
NPC Teen Figure Champion