Andrea Shaw opens up about the delicate balance of expectations in Women’s Bodybuilding by judges.

Andrea Shaw is the current reigning 2x Ms. Olympia champion. And she has no expectations to slow down anytime soon. Her goal is to break the world record and win 11 Ms. Olympia titles. But how does one master the Women’s Bodybuilding division? How does the judging differ from the Men’s Open category? In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Andrea Shaw goes into detail about the delicate balance of building massive size but not growing too large in order to stay in judges good favor.

The classic saying in bodybuilding goes – bigger is better. This is largely in reference to the Men’s Open division. Ever since Dorian Yates started the mass monster era of the sport – it seems every champion tries to out-do the other by getting as massive as possible.

Women’s Bodybuilding is the female counterpoint to Men’s Open. However the same mantra has not always stuck throughout the division’s history. It’s been notoriously known to rattle back and forth between emphasizing femininity while also building massive muscle. This expectation is rather vague – and has led to legendary women’s bodybuilders in the past – such as Bev Francis – to transform her muscle mass back and forth desperately seeking the judges approval.

With the reintroduction of Women’s Bodybuilding to the Olympia weekend – we seem to be in the beginning of a new era of the sport. And Andrea Shaw is the shining light and prime example of what a Women’s Bodybuilding champion should be. It wasn’t easy – and she has been competing since before the Ms. Olympia returned.

During our conversation with Andrea Shaw, she discusses the delicate balance of building the right physique to meet judges expectations and criteria. She breaks down her max lifts and her overall strategy for contest prep.

ABOVE: Andrea Shaw in recent guest posing.

Andrea Shaw grows muscle rather fast. It’s something she’s learned to accommodate for as she trains for the Ms. Olympia. This is especially true due to recent feedback she received from the judges last year. They told her that she no longer needed to build any muscle.

But Andrea Shaw knows she’s capable of getting bigger. This means she needs to be very aware of her diet and training to ensure she can improve – without building more size. While there is no weight limit to the open divisions, this is an example of the different expectation placed on Women’s Bodybuilding.

Not that this is a complaint, Andrea Shaw is taking the advice seriously and changing up her workout routine to focus more on more body fullness, hardness, and conditioning. Rather than bulk up with more size. Much like any other division with a weight limit – Andrea Shaw is using her weight last year as the limit to her size going into the Olympia 2022.

You can watch Andrea Shaw go into detail about Women’s Bodybuilding judging, her training routine, and how she’s balancing out her size in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above! You can also listen to our archive of full GI Exclusive conversations by visiting our Generation Iron Podcast homepage.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.