the practice of strengthening and enlarging the muscles of the body through exercise.
Q&A with IFBB Bikini Pro Elizabeth Martinez
Q: What does it mean to compete in bodybuilding?
The sport of bodybuilding is now on the rise, thanks to social media and the addition of new competing divisions in the sport. People compete in this sport to obtain their most fit physique! I’d like to get the word out on what it means to be a competitor and define some terms for people who are not involved in the bodybuilding world…
Q: What are the different categories of a competition and what do they mean?
For men there are now three divisions to compete in; bodybuilding, classic bodybuilding and physique. Bodybuilding is for men who want to have a lot of muscle mass. A bodybuilder usually has an off season where there body fat stays around 12-15% and then they lean out before a competition in order to show the muscle at about 6% body fat. Physique competitors on the other hand usually stay lean with body fat levels around 4-9% and they do not have as much muscle mass as a bodybuilder. Physique competitors try to attain the “Men’s Health” fitness model look with ripped abs, but minimal mass or leg training. Classic Physique was now added as an "in-between look".
Bodybuilders wear speedo’s on stage in order to show their whole body and are judged based on symmetry of the muscles and muscle mass. Physique competitors compete in swim trunks and judges are looking for a fit, ripped body with symmetry and extreme muscle mass is counted off.
For women, there are now four divisions to compete in; bikini, figure, physique, and fitness.
In the bikini division, contestants wear a two piece bikini. Competitors walk onstage and do their "model walk" where they walk to center stage, stop and do a front and back pose for the judges. In addition to the usual overall appearance and presentation, official rules call for "balance and shape" basically like an hour-glass figure (shapely shoulders, tiny waist, plump glutes and thighs).
In the figure division they look for small degree of muscularity, overall muscle tone with shapely lines, firmness; lean but not excessively ripped. In this division the judges look for more muscle mass than bikini but not excessive mass. Make-up, suit and skin tone is also part of the package.
There use to be the women’s sport of being a massive bodybuilding but it has died down dramatically and they have cut it from the shows, so recently the IFBB created a new division called Physique which is women with more muscle mass, but not as much as male bodybuilders.
Fitness division is a very lean and muscular look. Athletes wear a two piece swimsuit in round one, and in this division there's a second round that includes a two minute routine, scored for strength, flexibility, and cardio. Because of the dance routine round in fitness, the judging is more complex and the athletes need more skills.
Q: What does NPC & IFBB Stand for?
There are many different organizations out there that sanction bodybuilding events, but the NPC and IFBB are the most recognized organizations in the sport. NPC stands for the “National Physique Committee” and is the largest amateur bodybuilding organization. Amateur bodybuilders compete in competitions from local to national levels sanctioned by NPC. You usually have to have placed top 5 to qualify to go to the National competitions.
In the National competitions, the winning competitors become a professional competitor in the IFBB league, which stands for “International Federation of Body Builders.” When a competitor places first (or sometimes second)
at Nationals they receive a “pro-card” which is a symbol of recognition and prestige in the bodybuilding world. Having this recognition can help athletes gain sponsorships from name brand supplements or apparel, magazine features, modeling careers and more. If competitors continue to compete in “Pro-shows” they can ultimately be invited to compete in the Olympia Expo or Arnold Classic, which is the “Best of the Best” competition.