Athletes train to develop all bodyparts and muscles to maximum size but in balance and harmony. There should be no “weak points” or underdeveloped muscles. Moreover, they should follow a special pre-competition training cycle, to decrease the bodyfat level as low as possible and remove the underskin water to show the quality of muscles: density, separation and definition. Who can display more muscle details is scoring higher at the contest. And the other matter to be assessed is general view of the physique, which should be proportionally built. It means broad shoulders and narrow waist as well as adequately long legs and shorter upper body.
These qualities are displayed during two physique assessment rounds when competitors do 7 compulsory exercises during comparisons of 3 to 5 athletes proposed by the judges. Athletes perform barefoot, in posing trunks. There are 10 bodyweight categories for men: 60 kg, 65 kg; 70 kg; 75 kg; 80 kg; 85 kg; 90 kg; 95 kg, 100 kg and over 100 kg.
There is also a routine round when athletes can show their physique during 60-second free posing routine performed to the music of their choice. It is an attractive, artistic presentation, including compulsory and non-compulsory poses and other type of movements. There are three rounds. In each round each panel judge must put the competitors in order, giving them individual places from the first to the last.
Bodybuilding photo: World champion Hadi CHOOPAN (Iran)
It is a version of bodybuilding for those male athletes who don’t want to develop their muscles to their “extreme” full potentials but prefer lighter “classic” physique.
To create the equal chances to them, the competitors’ bodyweight is limited according to their body height, following the special IFBB formula for each body height category (currently there are five categories: 168 cm; 171 cm, 175 cm, 180 cm and over 180 cm).
Since muscle mass is limited, special attention is paid to the overall view of the physique, body proportions and lines, muscle shape and condition (density, bodyfat level, definition and details).
These values are assessed by the judges during Rounds 1 and 3. In Round 2, like in bodybuilding, free posing routines are performed to music of athlete’s choice.
Classic Bodybuilding photo: World champion Kikwan SEOL (Rep. of Korea)
This concept has been introduced by the IFBB in the early 90’s, starting as official competition in 1996 in response to the increasing demand for competitions for women who prefer to develop a less muscular, yet athletic and aesthetically pleasing physique and also to show their physiques in motion. In Women Fitness, the emphasis is placed on a shapely, athletic-looking physique, assessed by comparisons of four quarter turns and athletic ability, assessed during a very attractive and dynamic fitness style routine. Currently, there are two Women’s Fitness categories: up to 163 cm and over 163 cm.
The judges are looking for strengths elements, flexibility movements, high tempo, technical perfection, elegance and grace. Competitors may use small props, associated with their attires.
As it is a physique sport as well, there are also two physique assessment rounds beside this artistic routine rounds. In Round 1 and 3 competitors perform four quarter turns in bikini suit, during which the judges assess their figures and body contours, bodypart shape, bodyfat level, body firmness and muscle tone, overall stage presentation (self-confidence, poise, coordination of movements) as well as the overall style of presentation.
Eliminations (if more than 15 athletes), Round 1 (comparisons in quarter turns) and Round 2 (90-second routine) are performed during the Prejudging. In the finals, the top 6 competitors perform their posing routines once again (Round 3) and then quarter turns (Round 4). The subscores from these two final rounds are summed up to create the total and final places of the competitors.
Women’s Fitness photo: European champion Kristina KOROLJAK (Estonia).
This new sport discipline is similar in structure to Women Fitness; however the body mass is limited according to the formulas established for all four body height ranges: 170 cm, 175 cm, 180 cm and over 180 cm. Currently, there is one open Men’s Fitness category.
The contest also includes four rounds, with the artistic fitness routine in Round 1 and Round 3 plus quarter turns in Round 2 and Round 4. During the quarter turns competitors wear the swim trunks only and the judges assess the overall male athletic physiques. Posing routines should include strength and flexibility moves, gymnastic moves or other ways of displaying of their athletic talent and capacity.
At the end, the subscores from two final rounds (Round 3 and Round 4) are added to produce the final scores and to reach the final places of the top 6 competitors. Competitors in places from 7th to 15th remain with their scores from the Prejudging (Round 1 and Round 2).
Bodyfitness has been implemented by the IFBB in 2002 to give a chance to compete for wide group of shapely women without the routine rounds, just the physique ones. This formula has proved to be useful and the number of participating competitors increases each year. Later on IFBB created for them the possibility to show their figure in motion during a short individual onstage presentation called “T-walking”.
Currently, there are two rounds of quarter turns in the bikini-style costume of their own choice and classic stiletto pump of any color. At the beginning of Round 2 (finals) top 6 competitors perform individual “T-walking” presentations and then quarter turns as group.
In all rounds judges should assess the overall athletic appearance of the physique, taking into account symmetrically developed physique, muscle tone and shape, with a small amount of body fat, as well as the hair, makeup and individual style of presentation, including personal confidence, poise and grace. This sport discipline is widely open for all well-shaped women working out in the fitness centers and following the healthy sport diet. And they take the advantage of it! Like in fitness, subscores from the final round are used to get the final total and places. There are four body height categories: 158 cm, 163 cm, 168 cm and over 168 cm.
Bodyfitness photo: European champion Kinga SZWEDA (Poland)
This category has been introduced in 2011 and is aimed at women who keep their
body in shape and eat healthy. Overall body lines, balance and proportions, body
tone and healthy appearance are taken into consideration. High-intensity weight
training and hard, lean muscles are not necessary. The emphasis is on a well-shaped, fit, healthy and attractive appearance, similar to that of models.
Competitors are assessed in two rounds, wearing a two-piece bikini and high-heels.
In both rounds, quarter-turns, including front, back and both sides stance, are
performed. As well, the final round begins with “T-walking”, which gives each
competitor a chance to present her body and her charm on the move. This
competition started with one open class and – due to the extreme popularity –
expanded to six body-height categories nowadays: 160 cm, 163 cm, 166 cm, 169
cm, 172 cm and over 172 cm.
Bikini-Fitness photo: Amateur Olympia winner Maria PAULETE ARANGUREN (Spain).
In 2012 the Men’s Physique division was officially launched as a new IFBB sport discipline.
It proves to be a very popular category and within a short period of time, the IFBB has increased the number of Men’s Physique categories from 2 (two) to 4 (four): 170 cm, 174 cm, 178 cm and over 178 cm. They perform two rounds of quarter turns, wearing board shorts of their choice. The final round (Round 2) begins with a short individual onstage presentation of each competitor.
It is aimed at men who do weight training, keep fit and eat a healthy balanced diet, but who prefer to develop a less muscular, yet athletic and aesthetically pleasing physique.
They are fit looking contestants who display proper shape and symmetry, combined with some muscularity and good overall condition. The athletes should have stage presence and poise and their personality and ability to present themselves onstage with confidence, should be visible.
Men’s Physique photo: Amateur Olympia winner Juan FARO BARROS (Spain)
This is the latest IFBB official division, introduced with the beginning of 2013 for women who want to prepare heavier, bodybuilding-style body but not extremely dried, lean and muscular, yet athletic and aesthetically pleasing.
Altogether, there are 3 rounds. In round 1 (semi-finals) competitors’ physiques and muscularity are assessed during quarter turns and four compulsory poses. In the finals compulsory poses and the posedown are performed in round 2 and a short, 30-second posing routine to music of competitor’s choice in round 3.
This sport is placed somewhere between Bodyfitness and former Women Bodybuilding which has been removed from the IFBB list of official sports in 2013.
Competitors are expected to present the overall athletic development of the musculature but also balanced and symmetrical development of all muscle groups as well their sport condition and quality, with visible separation between them.
There are two categories in this division: up to 163 cm and over 163 cm.
Women’s Physique photo: World champion Silvia FRAGA (Brazil)
Mixed-Pairs was officially recognized as by the IFBB a sport discipline in 1983 as a bodybuilding mixed pairs; however, the 2013 IFBB International Congress in Marrakesh, Morocco, finally cancelled women’s bodybuilding, so nowadays IFBB Mixed Pairs category is open for athletes representing all current IFBB sport divisions, except children. However, men from Mixed-Pairs perform mandatory poses in the same manner like in Men’s Bodybuilding, while women perform these poses in the same style like in Women’s Physique. Men competitors wear the same attire like in Men’s Bodybuilding, women competitors wear the same attire like in Women’s Physique.
Mixed Pairs competition consists of three rounds: Round 1 in the semifinals (comparisons) plus Round 2 (mandatory poses) and Round 3 (posing routine) in the finals.
In the Mixed Pairs category judges assess the overall physique of both partners for the degree of proportion, symmetry, muscle size and quality (density, separation) as well as skin tone. The couple will also be assessed as a unit with particular attention being given to how well their individual physiques complement each other and how well they move in unison.
In the routine round judges pay particular attention to how well each couple display their physiques to music. Judges will look for a smooth, artistic, and well-choreographed routines which may include any number of poses; however, the mandatory poses must be included. The couple must also include intermittent pauses so as to display the muscular development of their physique.
Mixed Pairs photo: World champions: Blanche COPPOLA & Ralph DECELIS (Malta)
Children Fitness is the only IFBB sport division available for children, with no lower age limit. The upper age limit is 16 years old. Then children move to the junior age division. Currently, there are the following Children Fitness age categories (girls and boys): up to 7 years, 8-9 years, 10-11 years, 12-13 years, 14-15 years old.
The semifinals as well as the finals consist of two rounds each: fitness routine round (90 seconds) and quarter turn round. The routine round is more important as its results are multiplied by 2 (two). Judges assess the routine with a view towards style, personality, athletic coordination and overall performance. Judges will also look for competitors who perform strength and flexibility moves, as well as gymnastic moves. The routine may include aerobics, dance, gymnastics or other demonstrations of athletic talent.
In the quarter turns round judges assess the overall appearance of the physique, taking the whole physique into account. The assessment should take into consideration the overall development of the body; the presentation of a balanced, symmetrically developed physique; the condition of the skin and the skin tone. At all times the children competitor must be viewed with the emphasis on a “healthy, fit, good-looking physique”.
Children Fitness photo: World Championships runner-up Kristina JURICOVA (Slovakia)