Several different women’s bodybuilding competition categories exist to participate in. If you work extremely hard in the gym, there is no shortage of opportunities worldwide to showcase your physique on stage like the five ladies below. In fact, bodybuilding represents only a small division of female fitness competitors worldwide.
If you have ever wanted to compete in a fitness competition, it’s important for you to learn the different divisions that you can take part in. This will help you determine where your body type fits best and where you have the greatest chance of placing the highest.
Today, there are officially five different women’s bodybuilding competition categories. The biggest organization that represents the umbrella for all the five divisions is the NPC (National Physique Committee). When you compete, and win an NPC show, the organization will turn you into a professional bodybuilder and qualify you to compete in the elite IFBB pro (International Federation of Bodybuilders) competitions.
Below are the different divisions for female fitness competitors.
5 women’s bodybuilding competition categories:
The bikini division does not require competitors to be very muscular. However, judges look for great legs, glutes and abs.
Those competing in the bikini division must possess an athletic look, as well as be somewhat lean and toned. Bikini competitors should not have striations in their muscles.
Female bikini competitors are typically within the 15% body fat range. Bikini competitors combine lean and curvy at the same time. They typically have an hourglass shape, where the top and the bottom are in equal proportion.
Those who place in the Top 5 in the bikini division also know how to maintain their stage presence while showcasing their personality. They are themselves and, contrary to popular belief, don’t usually have huge muscles.
This division is ideal for women who struggle to gain muscle but who still want to compete on stage. Therefore, if a woman cannot get “shredded,” “huge,” or “ripped,” the bikini division is most likely a great fit.
Janet Layug is one of the top bikini competitors worldwide. She recently won the Arnold Classic 2019 Bikini.
Janet is a 30-year-old IFBB Bikini Pro based in Lakeland, Florida, US. She is currently dominating the IFBB Pro Bikini Division, with numerous wins and top five placements under her belt since turning Pro in 2013.
Janet is an inspiration to her daughter by showing her that you can be a great mom and a top competitor. She is also a registered nurse.
The figure division requires competitors to be very toned and defined. The legs should be lean and the glutes should be full and round.
Figure competitors must have small waists and wider shoulders, but not as wide as the Women’s Physique and Bodybuilding competitors. Furthermore, their delt caps should have a lot of definition. Figure competitors definitely need to have more muscle than bikini competitors but not visible striations.
Those who compete in the figure division must learn the mandatory poses, which highlight the upper body, legs, shoulders, glutes and abdominal definition. On stage, they are required to do quarter turns. Therefore, it is important for figure competitors to have muscular symmetry and proportion.
If you tend to put on muscle relatively easily and are able to get lean, then the figure division could be a good choice for you.
Cydney Gillon is one of the top placing figure competitors. She is an IFBB Figure Pro competitor based in Atlanta, Georgia, US.
She is currently 27 years old and turned Pro in 2012. Cydney is a three-time Figure Olympia Champion.
She competed in her first contest when she was only 14 years old, inspired by her parents, both of whom competed. Cydney was also a contestant on Survivor: Kaoh Rong, a reality TV Show.
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The fitness division also requires competitors to be toned and tight. Although they should have well-defined and aesthetically pleasing muscular bodies, they do not need to have as much muscle mass and definition as the physique competitors. Those competing in the fitness division typically have similar body composition to figure competitors.
In addition to looking great, those who compete in the fitness division must also create a posing routine. The routine portion of the competition allows competitors to showcase their creativity, flexibility and strength. Fitness competitors are judged on their athletic coordination and overall performance during the routine round.
After the routine round, competitors change into a bikini suit and are assessed on their body shape, symmetry, muscle tone, stage presence and style of the presentation.
This division is ideal for former gymnasts, cheerleaders, dancers, and gym enthusiasts who are looking for ways to showcase their incredible athleticism. If you are someone who loves to perform and the idea of developing an impressive routine and physique appeals to you, then this may be the best division for you.
Whitney Jones is one of the top placing competitors in the fitness division.
Whitney is an IFBB Pro Fitness competitor based in Gilbert, Arizona, US. She turned Pro in 2011 and is currently 42 years old. Whitney has consistently been placing in the top 5 for nearly a decade as a Pro, including winning the 2018 and 2019 Olympia Fitness. She is a wife and a mother of two boys.
Women’s bodybuilding competition categories:
4. Women’s Physique
The women’s physique division requires competitors to have very well-defined muscles. They must have round glutes and lean muscular legs. Additionally, they must focus on developing wider shoulders, thick back, and well-defined delt caps. Women’s physique competitors should also have small waists with defined abdominals. Also, they must possess some muscular striations.
Women’s physique competitors are required to learn mandatory poses to show off their muscle definition. They are not required to be as muscular as the women’s bodybuilding competitors but they definitely have more muscle than those who take part in fitness or figure competitions, whether that’s acquired through working with a personal trainer or alone.
When assessing women’s physique competitors, the judges are looking for muscle tone, symmetry, shape, proportion and stage presence.
If you put on muscle too easily and are too muscular for the figure division, then women’s physique is your best bet.
Shanique Grant is one of the top placing women’s physique competitors.
Shanique is an IFBB Pro Women’s Physique competitor based in Chicago, Illinois, US. She turned Pro in 2014 and she is currently 24 years old. She was badly bullied in high school and faced a lot of obstacles on her way to becoming a top placing physique competitor. Most notably, she won the 2018 and 2019 Olympia Women’s Physique.
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5. Women’s Bodybuilding
The women’s bodybuilding division requires competitors to have extremely defined, large, striated muscles. Typically, in order to reach this level of muscular development, competitors may need to train for many years. Some women’s bodybuilding competitors initially start out as figure or physique competitors before shifting to bodybuilding.
Competitors in this division must develop a big back and wide shoulders. They must also have round glutes, well-defined abs, a small waist, and lean quadriceps.
As with other women’s bodybuilding competition categories, this one requires its participants learn mandatory poses that focus on showcasing their big and tight muscles. This is the division that requires for you to get the most “shredded” and “ripped” of all the 5 women’s bodybuilding compeition categories.
When assessing women’s bodybuilding competitors, the judges are looking for the right combination of muscle size, symmetry and definition.
If you are already muscular and would like to challenge yourself to grow even bigger, then this could be the right division for you.
Alina Popa is considered one of the top women’s bodybuilding competitors.
Alina is an IFBB Pro Women’s Bodybuilding competitor. She was born in Romania in 1978 and is currently living in the United States. When Alina was a young girl, she competed in track and field. She did her first bodybuilding competition in 2000, where she placed second. In 2008, Alina got her IFBB Pro card. She currently works as a personal trainer and fitness model.
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Have you ever entered women’s bodybuilding competition categories or known someone who has?