PT on the Net Research

Female Fitness Competitions


I am looking for information on training programs and requirements on fitness competitions for women. I would like to know how to prepare routines for maximum results to be achieved along with some diet tips for caloric intake to maximize the "shredded" yet toned physique.


While the judging criteria for fitness and figure competitions continues to evolve, a few of the common denominators that all judges look for are symmetry, proportion and a certain degree of muscularity and conditioning. It's in these latter two areas that the criteria seems to be constantly changing, which sometimes makes it hard to know exactly what "package" to present. The move has been towards women who carry slightly less overall muscle yet are still muscular and who are lean but not as lean as their bodybuilding counterparts. From a development standpoint, the key areas for this class of competitor are the shoulders, lats, glutes and legs. Of course, everything should be developed appropriately, but these are the key muscle groups that optimize that "illusion" the judges seek.

Much of what goes into successful training programming for a competitive fitness or figure competitor is similar to what goes into effective programming for dieting and training for a physique competition in general. Assuming the individual already has the development she needs, the goals of resistance training while dieting are to preserve muscle mass and strength while allowing the nutritional strategy, and for cardio programming, the goal is to drop body fat. To that end, there needs to be a strength focus in training.

When training for fat loss, it's a good idea to stick to upper/lower splits or full body programs. Even for the competitor, there is no good reason to use a bodybuilding split when you stop and think about the goals for resistance training while dieting for fat loss – namely, to keep the muscle and strength you've built.

You'll also want to avoid a lot of high rep, low load training while dieting. Your body already has a limited capacity to recover due to a lack of fuel when on reduced calories. Light weights while in caloric deficit will likely run the risk of more muscle loss, especially the leaner you get. What builds muscle is what keeps muscle, and if you don't use it, you'll lose it. A person trying to lose fat needs to give her body a reason to hold onto the muscle, and this requires her to be training above a minimum intensity threshold.

To sum up training a competitor for a physique competition, the basic points to be cognizant of are:

Keep the following points in mind with cardio programming:

Nutritional points to be aware of include:

Good luck!