As someone who has always loved and followed bodybuilding, I have noticed there is a distinct and obvious difference in bodybuilding competitions today versus as early as 5 or 6 years ago (especially at the local and state level). Some of the differences are pretty drastic. While contestant participation at bodybuilding/physique contests appears to be up, the type of competitor has changed. The contests themselves have even changed, and it’s questionable to determine if the change is for the better or not.
Bodybuilding has always been king at body comparison competitions. People would come to watch the contests to see which guy had the most incredible body. That is not as true today. While bodybuilders probably still get the “wow” response from the crowd, the percentage of participants in contests today that are bodybuilders is in the minority. To people who love bodybuilding, seeing this trend can be a bit frustrating.
Ten years ago, if a local or state level competition had 200 people in it, it was a smashing, unbelievable success. Now having 200 contestants in a show is becoming more and more the normal thing. So how can more competitors be a bad thing? Consider the following and form your own opinion (the ones listed below are obviously mine):
• A few years ago, bikini and physique categories were added to competitions. This brought in a whole different type of competitor and a new set of judging criteria for those 2 new classes. This change, more than anything, is the reason participant numbers are up in competitions. The problem in both of these categories is there is little or no posing performed. When there is little or no posing performed, it makes it even harder to determine a winner, let alone places 1 thru 5. More posing allows for more objective scoring. Also, bikini competitors in particular do not have to be in the same level of overall condition as say, figure competitors. Conditioning also makes it easier to score and judge. Since the conditioning requirement isn’t as strict in the bikini class, you can have many people in a class that essentially look the same. I’ve never been sure exactly what the judges are looking for in the bikini class. I’m not convinced the judges even really know what they are looking for in the bikini class. Having women walk away from you and stop and stick their rear ends out as far as possible can’t possibly be the determining factor for picking out a winner…can it?
• There are too many classes within a category. It seems that in every contest, bikini competitors compete in 3 categories each. This is both confusing and makes the competition really long. I’ve even seen bikini contestants defeat another competitor in one class, only to be placed lower than that same contestant they defeated in another class. Yep, makes no sense. The same can be said for the physique class contestants to a degree. However, physique category contestants typically aren’t as likely to be in 3 categories every competition.
• Physique classes for men are essentially upper body competitions. However, I don’t have an answer to fix this dilemma. If you put them in trunks you have bodybuilders. So how do you fix it? The men’s physique class has the same problem as the bikini class…virtually no posing. There is only so much subjective judging that can take place when the contestants are only allowed to stand with one hand on their waist (or in their pocket) at all times. But, since a lot of guys hate working legs, at least the men’s physique class allows guys with poor leg development, who would not otherwise compete, do so. This does not imply that all men’s physique competitors do not have leg development. I have seen several with great leg development.
Having a successful contest overall is a good thing. And I certainly want promotors to make money and be successful. This article is not meant to discourage people from competing. Competing is usually a good thing and should be encouraged. Making the competitions better is the goal. Hopefully there will be a way found to shorten the shows (yes, people get bored sitting through a 5 hour show) and develop better criteria for judging certain classes. And, as far as I am concerned, make bodybuilding the main attraction and draw again at competitions.
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