Bodybuilding isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s a process and a commitment, a lot of sweat and regimentation. It’s not just a matter of being toned and tanned; it requires you to harness willpower and mental strength in order to sculpt, and develop the muscles of the body. It’s also mercilessly structured into hourly segments; which are calorie counted and spreadsheet-controlled. bodybuilding routines in general involve training twice a day—approximately one hour of lifting and anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of cardio per day. So why there are more and more ladies over 40 turning to this sport?
For someone like me who hits the gym once in a while hoping to keep fit, it was quite an eyeopener and I had to investigate. I’ve found out that while for some ladies’ training and dieting might culminate in a bodybuilding competition, for many others practising this sport is a way to look and feel strong and it goes beyond lifting more and gaining mass; it’s a way to bring order to life’s chaos and the sport’s very emphasis on structure seems to help them in some way. Lots of women come into this sport to say they accomplished something or even to overcome a difficult past.
It became personal growth for me – says Charlotte S., 51, from Brighton-. After my divorce, I was looking for something to help me get my mojo back and improve my confidence and self-esteem; I was in need to create some victory for myself. When I looked at bodybuilding and saw how hard it is I thought that was probably the best way for me to really change my mindset and habits.
On the other hand, for those ones competing in a women’s bodybuilding contest, it’s the culmination of months of hard work.
To some friends and family, it seemed superficial – confesses professional bodybuilder Anne Marie Chaker to the Wall Street Journal– But beneath the layers of fake tan and blue eye shadow, the sport of bodybuilding had transformed me. A few years ago, I stopped taking care of myself after two kids, my father’s death and the end of my marriage took a toll. Then, I discovered bodybuilding—and my outlook on life changed. It gave me confidence and reshaped how I view my physique, valuing strength over skinniness. The discipline the sport required was daunting, but also held a powerful appeal for me. I once would have been likelier to jump out of a plane than put myself on display in such skimpy attire. But here I was, flexing to thumping house music in clear four-inch heels as judges ranked my 45-year-old body.
Most of all, bodybuilding is a way to slow down the ageing process. According to several studies, training with weights not only increases muscle mass but improves everything from cognitive function and health to glucose control and insulin sensitivity, while preserving metabolic rate and leading to a better hormonal environment in the body.
As for me, I’m not sure I will ever start lifting weights but I will never miss the thrill to see a female body-building competition if it occurs; it’s like attending a major beauty-contest – the bikini, the high heels, the posing. In this case, however, there’s more to it than just looking good as a successful figure competitor has a great body but even more importantly, a great stage presence and personality.
And you? Are you a female bodybuilder? Do you compete? Have you considered competing? Keep in touch, CrunchyTales wants to hear from you.