If you're planning on competing in any fitness event (Bodybuilding, Physique, Bikini) it is important that you understand exactly what they are looking for in competitors.
Luckily most federations tell you in advance what it is they are looking for in their potential winners.
This article will take a look at the specifications that the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation gives for their competitors. We will also take a look at a non-natural Bodybuilding competition so that we can see the differences.
WNBF Natural Bodybuilder Criteria
Outfit = Bodybuilding Posing Suit (M), Two-Piece Bodybuilding Posing Suit (F)
Rounds = There are two rounds of judging, the first round concentrates on symmetry whilst the second round concentrates on muscularity and conditioning.
Poses = Front Double Bicep, Side Chest, Side Tricep, Front Lat Spread, Rear Double Biceps, Rear Lat Spread, Abs & Thighs, Most Muscular. If any of the poses are performed incorrectly or forgotten, the judges will remove a point from their score.
The Bodybuilding Section is split into Amateurs and Pros.
WNBF Figure Division Criteria
This part of the competition is for women only and focuses more on beauty and how the competitor performs on stage. Symmetry and tone are also considered vitally important.
Outfit = Two-piece figure suit, in which you are allowed to add costume jewellery (i.e. Rhinestones). High-Heeled shoes are also necessary. Body Jewellery is allowed but must be tasteful and unobtrusive.
Rounds = There are three rounds of judging in the Figure Division. The first round will concentrate on symmetry (as with the bodybuilding comp). The second will focus on Tone, with an emphasis on lean muscle without bulk. Whilst the third will be judging the Stage Walk as well as the beauty of the competitor.
Poses = The poses are performed during rounds one and two, and they are quite difficult to those performed by the bodybuilders. There is a front pose, a side pose (a quarter turn to the right), and a rear pose which is a further quarter turn to the right.
WNBF Fit Body Division Criteria
Unlike the Figure division, the fit body division is looking for more athletic looking women. There is more of an emphasis on muscle than Figure but less than Bodybuilding.
Outfit = Two Piece Figure suits with costume jewellery. High heeled shoes are required, and body jewellery and piercings are allowed so long as they don't obscure the physique.
Rounds = There are two rounds for the Fit Body division, the first one concentrates on symmetry whilst the second one concentrates on muscle tone. For perfect symmetry no muscle group should make the rest of the body look small, so no big legs but skinny arms. For perfect muscle tone, the body should not be too muscular, nor should striations in the muscle be visible.
Poses = Side pose, Rear pose, Front Double-Biceps, Side Chest, Side Triceps, Rear Double-Biceps, Front Abdominal Pose.
WNBF Men's Physique Criteria
Physique competitions are very different compared to bodybuilding competitions, the main difference is that Physique contestants wear board shorts rather than posing suits.
This may not sound like much of a difference but when you consider that the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings are completely covered by the shorts you understand that this competition is focused almost exclusively on the upper body.
Judges will be looking for guys who have a lean and athletic physique, something that would look good on a beach. When we talk about being lean though it is not to the same degree as in bodybuilding shows. Small waists and wide shoulders are ideal, whilst a high degree of grooming will improve your score.
Outfit = Board Shorts, they have to be no longer than 11 inches and no shorter than 6 inches, this will be enough to cover almost all of a competitor's upper thigh.
Rounds = There is one round which lasts around 30 seconds, it includes 3 poses and a walk.
Poses = Front Pose, Side Pose, Back Pose. No Bodybuilding poses are allowed and marks will be deducted if any are performed.
WNBF Bikini Division Criteria
The bikini division is the nearest competition to beauty pageants, in this division hair and makeup are also factored in to the score. The judges are looking for a much less muscled and toned look compared to the other female divisions.
Outfit = Two piece bikini or swimsuit, high heels, and costume jewellery.
Rounds = There are three rounds, Overall Fitness and Balance, Beauty Presence, Presentation/Model Walk.
IFBB Judging Criteria
Now that we have looked at the different judging criteria for the WNBF we will take a look at the criteria for the IFBB to see the differences. The IFBB is the most well-known governing body in the bodybuilding world and the judging panel is probably the most respected.
There are three rounds for competitors to be judged on the following criteria: Symmetry, Muscularity, Size, and Presentation. For the IFBB each rounds score is separate and then they are all added together for a total score.
During the symmetry round they stand relaxed (or as relaxed as they can get away with). This allows the judges to see how well the competitors look when not posing.
For some this is a huge benefit as they may look better as an overall package, but for others this can show any weaknesses that they may have.
Round two is where they go through the mandatory poses such as Front Double Biceps, Side Tricep etc … Some poses will suit them whilst some may prevent them from looking their absolute best. In some ways this is the most important round.
The judges will be concentrating on muscularity and size during this round (but will also be looking at them in terms of their overall score – so symmetry and presentation is still important).
The third round is where the competitors are allowed to perform their own posing routine, in this round they can perform poses that magnify their strengths and hide any weaknesses that they might have.