First and foremost, your training routine needs to fit YOUR needs. That means you should train specifically for your physique. If you carry more weight/muscle in your lower body, then don’t train heavily in those places.
Use higher reps, or circuit training, to cut down those areas that need to be a bit smaller. On the other hand, if you need to add fullness to a particular area, use heavier weight, harder resistance, and do fewer reps.
As for cardio, remember the key word: balance. If you’re trying to lose 1 pound per week, adjust your cardio to meet that goal. Use a heart rate monitor. You want to be within 60-85% of your maximum heart rate. Stay in that range for the full duration of your cardio training.
If you have big legs and you don’t want muscle, don’t do stationary bike or stairs. Try incline treadmill walking. Incline cardio digs into your glutes and thighs. Think about where you need your body fat to come off; don’t under-stimulate or over-stimulate. Try to avoid utilizing the same cardio machine to prevent bulking any part of your body.
There are 4 phases of training: (1) Growth (2) Shape & Balance (3) Fat Loss and (4) Peak Conditioning.
It’s a pretty detailed process but I want to give you a broad overview now to help you see where your training should be focused in the beginning. Learn more about the whole process here.
The key to a good competition figure is balance. Your back should V-taper from the shoulders to the waist, and then have small sweeps to the quads. Try to look at your body objectively. Ask yourself what you need to do to create that structure, and then tailor your workout to meet your needs. Figure athletes want to hit every body part once per week and then recapping upper and lower body.
If you need to put on size, use 6-8 rep ranges. For maximum size & definition, use 8-12 rep ranges. You can take longer rest periods to add more weight.
Building sets (i.e. reps 12/10/8/12) – Your goal is to add weight as you go down in reps and keep it back at the top. If not, you can revert back to original weight.
You want to have a good amount of leanness and separation but no muscle striations (that is bodybuilding and physique).
The judges at bikini competitions aren’t looking for muscle density. So do 15-20 reps for toning and shaping. If you are looking to gain, decrease reps and increase weight. Use independent machines and dumbbells; that way, each side of your body has to work hard to keep up. If you can’t get in at least 12 reps on your first set, simply remain at that weight for all your sets.
Bikini athletes generally begin their prep with split routines 3-4 days a week, so that you work one half of your body on one day and the other half on the next workout day. You can train abs 4-6 days a week.
To create the shape for your class, it’s all about angles. For example, not every back exercise is the same or should be used depending on what part of the back you are trying to build or shape for your show.
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You can get my proven Figure & Bikini Prep guide that breaks down all 4 phases of workouts & cardio, how to figure your macros (with diets pre-made to match), supplements, and more!