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How Many Types of Bodybuilding Competitions Are There?

Bodybuilding has evolved from a niche pursuit into a globally recognized sport and lifestyle. The art of sculpting the human physique has led to the creation of various types of bodybuilding competitions that cater to diverse goals, aesthetics, and performance levels. From traditional bodybuilding to specialized categories, this article delves into the fascinating world of bodybuilding competitions and their unique characteristics.

How Many Types of Bodybuilding Competitions

Types of Bodybuilding Competitions

Traditional Bodybuilding

Traditional bodybuilding is the foundation upon which the sport was built. Competitors showcase their muscle size, symmetry, and overall aesthetics. The goal is to present a well-proportioned and chiseled physique while performing specific mandatory poses that highlight various muscle groups. Divided by weight classes and sometimes age groups, traditional bodybuilding competitions often feature subcategories such as men’s and women’s bodybuilding.

Men’s Physique

Men’s Physique is a relatively modern addition to bodybuilding competitions. This category emphasizes a more attainable and athletic look compared to traditional bodybuilding. Contestants exhibit a V-tapered upper body, defined abs, and well-developed shoulders while wearing board shorts. The focus is on aesthetics rather than extreme muscle size, making it appealing to a broader audience.

Women’s Physique

Women’s Physique is a counterpart to the men’s division, emphasizing a balanced blend of muscularity, femininity, and athleticism. Competitors display well-defined muscle tone, symmetry, and an overall fit appearance while wearing a two-piece athletic suit. This category bridges the gap between the extreme muscularity of bodybuilding and the softer look of figure competitions.

Figure Competitions

Figure competitions highlight a slightly softer and more toned appearance than traditional bodybuilding. Contestants showcase a well-muscled physique while maintaining a higher degree of femininity. The focus is on muscle tone, proportion, and overall presentation. Poses in figure competitions are less rigid compared to bodybuilding, allowing for a more natural and elegant display of the physique.

Bikini Competitions

Bikini competitions are designed to celebrate a healthy, beach-ready physique. Competitors exhibit a lean and toned appearance with emphasis on a firm, round derriere and well-defined abs. The category encourages a friendly and approachable demeanor, and contestants wear a two-piece bikini. Bikini competitions attract a wide range of participants, from fitness enthusiasts to those new to competitive bodybuilding.

Classic Physique

Classic Physique combines the aesthetics of traditional bodybuilding with more restrictive guidelines on muscle size. This category seeks to capture the timeless and aesthetic qualities of bodybuilding’s golden era. Competitors are judged on muscle shape, symmetry, and proportion while adhering to specific height and weight limits, promoting a balanced and harmonious physique.

Wellness Division

The Wellness Division is a recent addition that celebrates a fuller and curvier physique, particularly in the lower body. This category acknowledges a broader definition of beauty by placing a premium on a well-developed lower body while maintaining a balanced upper body. The emphasis on curves and overall health sets Wellness Division apart from other bodybuilding categories.

Men’s Classic Physique

Similar to the Classic Physique division for women, Men’s Classic Physique focuses on capturing the aesthetics of the past. This category aims to replicate the physiques of bodybuilding legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane. Competitors display a timeless blend of muscularity, symmetry, and proportion, with specific guidelines for posing and attire.

FAQ about Different Types of Bodybuilding Competitions

What are the main types of bodybuilding competitions?

There are several main types of bodybuilding competitions, including traditional bodybuilding, Men’s Physique, Women’s Physique, Figure Competitions, Bikini Competitions, Classic Physique, Wellness Division, and Men’s Classic Physique.

How does traditional bodybuilding differ from other categories?

Traditional bodybuilding emphasizes muscle size, symmetry, and overall aesthetics. Contestants perform mandatory poses that showcase various muscle groups. It’s often divided by weight classes and features both men’s and women’s divisions.

What is Men’s Physique?

Men’s Physique focuses on an athletic and attainable look, with an emphasis on a V-tapered upper body, defined abs, and developed shoulders. Contestants wear board shorts and prioritize aesthetics over extreme muscle size.

What is Women’s Physique?

Women’s Physique balances muscle tone, symmetry, and femininity. Competitors display a well-defined physique while wearing a two-piece athletic suit, bridging the gap between bodybuilding and figure competitions.

What are Figure Competitions?

Figure Competitions highlight a toned appearance with an emphasis on muscle proportion and overall presentation. The poses are less rigid than traditional bodybuilding, allowing for a more natural display of the physique.

How do Bikini Competitions differ from other categories?

Bikini Competitions celebrate a lean and toned physique suitable for the beach. Contestants showcase a firm derriere, defined abs, and wear a two-piece bikini, promoting a friendly and approachable demeanor.

What is Classic Physique?

Classic Physique combines the aesthetics of traditional bodybuilding with specific guidelines on muscle size. It aims to capture the timeless qualities of bodybuilding’s golden era, emphasizing shape, symmetry, and proportion.

What is the Wellness Division?

The Wellness Division celebrates a fuller and curvier physique, particularly in the lower body. It places importance on curves and overall health, setting it apart from other bodybuilding categories.

How does Men’s Classic Physique differ from Classic Physique of Women?

Men’s Classic Physique aims to replicate the aesthetics of bodybuilding legends from the past, with guidelines for posing and attire. It focuses on balanced muscularity, symmetry, and proportion.

Who can participate in these competitions?

Bodybuilding competitions are open to individuals of various fitness levels and backgrounds. Whether you’re a seasoned bodybuilder or new to the sport, there’s likely a category that suits your goals and preferences.

How are winners determined in these competitions?

Winners are determined based on various factors specific to each category, such as muscle development, symmetry, proportion, posing, and overall presentation. Judges evaluate contestants and assign scores to determine the winners.

Can I participate in multiple categories within the same competition?

It depends on the rules of the specific competition and organization. Some events allow participants to compete in multiple categories, while others may have restrictions.

How can I prepare for a bodybuilding competition?

Preparing for a bodybuilding competition involves rigorous training, proper nutrition, posing practice, and attention to detail. Working with a coach or trainer experienced in your chosen category can greatly enhance your preparation.

Is there a specific physique I should aim for in each category?

Each category has its own set of guidelines and expectations for physique. It’s important to research and understand the specific requirements of your chosen category to tailor your training and preparation accordingly.

Are there age or gender restrictions for participation?

While some categories may have age or gender restrictions, many competitions offer divisions that cater to various age groups and genders, ensuring inclusivity and diversity in participation.

Are bodybuilding competitions only about physical appearance?

While physical appearance is a significant aspect of bodybuilding competitions, factors like presentation, posing, confidence, and overall stage presence also play crucial roles in determining the winners.

How do bodybuilding competitions promote a healthy lifestyle?

Bodybuilding competitions encourage participants to adopt disciplined training routines, balanced nutrition, and healthy habits. The pursuit of a competition-worthy physique often leads to improved fitness and overall well-being.

What should I expect on the day of the competition?

On the competition day, you’ll likely go through registration, tanning, and final preparations. You’ll perform your posing routine on stage, showcasing your physique, and await the judges’ decisions for the results.

Are there opportunities for sponsorship and recognition in these competitions?

Successful competitors may attract sponsorships, endorsements, and recognition within the bodybuilding community and beyond, especially if they excel at the national or international level.

How can I get started in bodybuilding competitions?

To get started, identify the category that aligns with your goals and physique, then begin a structured training and nutrition plan. Consider working with a coach or joining a local gym with experienced trainers who can guide you on your journey to the stage.


Bodybuilding competitions have diversified over the years, accommodating a wide spectrum of aesthetics and goals. From traditional bodybuilding to modern categories like Men’s Physique and Bikini, each division offers a unique platform for individuals to showcase their dedication, hard work, and passion for the sport. As bodybuilding continues to evolve, new categories like Wellness Division ensure that the sport remains inclusive and reflective of changing ideals of beauty and athleticism. Whether aspiring to the extreme muscularity types of bodybuilding or the balanced aesthetics of classic divisions, bodybuilders have a multitude of avenues to express their dedication and love for the art of sculpting the human physique.

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