Female Bodybuilding Divisions: Bikini, Figure, Physique, or BodybuildingThis article is useful for athletes making this decision female bodybuilding bikini competition themselves, as well as many coaches who have to facilitate this process with any of their female clients. While I discuss these points at length in the video below, you can also scroll down for a full-text version of the material. The four main divisions female bodybuilding bikini competition most natural bodybuilding shows right now are bikini, figure, female physique, and female bodybuilding. There are a lot of bodybuilding organizations and some have different names for these categories i. For example, bikini and figure athletes wear heels.
Female Bodybuilding Divisions: Bikini, Figure, Physique, or Bodybuilding - 3D Muscle Journey -
This article is useful for athletes making this decision for themselves, as well as many coaches who have to facilitate this process with any of their female clients. While I discuss these points at length in the video below, you can also scroll down for a full-text version of the material. The four main divisions in most natural bodybuilding shows right now are bikini, figure, female physique, and female bodybuilding. There are a lot of bodybuilding organizations and some have different names for these categories i.
For example, bikini and figure athletes wear heels. On the other hand, physique and bodybuilding athletes will be barefoot. The attire for bikini athletes is likely to have very low-cut, separate two-piece bikini.
The other three categories wear connected bikinis. This means that rather than the bikini top strand going straight across your back and connecting to itself, it actually goes down, crosses itself in the mid-back area, and then connects to the top of the suit bottoms.
In the divisions besides bikini that focus a little bit more on symmetry, the suit bottoms tend to sit up higher on your hips and taper the waist.
Also, in bikini and figure, the suits are often bedazzled. Some physique and bodybuilding organizations actually do not like rhinestones or jewels on the suits. Typically, pre-judging happens in the morning and the night show happens in the evening. Some organizations now run a single show that encompasses the entire competition, but that is still the minority.
The majority of the judging occurs during the pre-judging. They first line the girls up across the stage. Figure and bikini have what are called quarter turns. They are responsible for four poses, which are the best displays of their physique from the front, right side, back, and left side. Like male bodybuilders and depending on the organization, physique and bodybuilding female athletes have many more mandatory poses. Yes, they have their four symmetry poses, but they also will have side chest, tricep, ab and thigh, etc.
There is also a big separation between the posing routines. This short presentation usually consists of the athlete walking out from the curtain to the back of the stage after they call your name, you then walk to the front, then left side of the stage, then right side of the stage, back to the middle, and finally walk off back behind the curtain. At each stopping point, you can hit a pose of your choice to display your physique in the best way possible.
Usually you get somewhere between thirty seconds to a minute for amateurs. They have some of the better division descriptions online, and include many photographs of each pose. In this section I will talk about bikini vs. Please keep in mind that figure is further to the right than bikini, moving into physique, and then ending with bodybuilding.
Figure is a little more hard and lean than bikini, and overall size and symmetry begin to come into play. Physique athletes need to come in even leaner than that, while female bodybuilding athletes need the maximum amount of muscular size with the maximum amount of leanness. Stage presence and personality matters most for bikini, because that is what people and judges see as one of the most marketable qualities.
While stage presence is still a huge asset in all the other categories, the further you travel to the right on the continuum, the more that objective physical attributes come into play.
To put it into perspective again, looking at the extreme ends of the spectrum , there have been many times where I have seen a bikini athlete win shows without possessing the best physique on stage because of her infectious stage presence. In bikini, the judging is simply more subjective. Many things besides the physique can matter quite bit. As a general rule, the duration of prep will be longer relative to the leaner the athlete needs to get.
As we know, the more weight one has to lose, the quicker it comes off. So someone getting from bikini lean to bodybuilding lean will find that the last five to ten pounds may take the longest to shed. Then the number of bikini athletes entering bodybuilding shows is exponentially increasing , year after year. Not to discredit it, but a reason for this is that the bikini category is simply a more attainable physical endeavor.
Therefore, this entry level physique is seeing a lot more people coming into this division. In contrast, female bodybuilding does not have anywhere near as many competitors , and some shows do not have any entries in this division at all. Additionally, some organizations only have physique OR bodybuilding. They have decided that because the number of entries for each of these was so small, they should just combine the categories.
Another consideration is where YOU currently reside on this continuum. If they want to get on stage really quickly, bikini might be the place to go. While physique and bodybuilding are not impossible, the level of leanness required may be difficult for some first-time athletes who are not used to contest prep dieting. This is where preferences and expectations can be weighed a little more in a one-on-one discussion with your coach.
Believe it or not, wearing heels on stage is something you have to consider. I literally have seen high heels make or break placing decisions because it messes up their stage presence so badly if they are unable to walk in them. So while a female with a body for bikini MUST wear heels for that division, and a girl with a bodybuilding body CANNOT wear heels, the middle 2 divisions on the continuum can have this be a tie-breaker.
A figure girl can often do well in female physique, and vice versa , because the body required before dieting starts is very similar. I know an athlete who fell on stage in heels and vowed she would never do figure again, having decided she would do only physique and bodybuilding from then on. Some girls say they want to do bikini, because they want to feel sexy and get in shape.
Maybe they have goals of looking a bit more muscular than the average female, so figure is a good way to do that. Some other girls want to be a big badass, so physique and bodybuilding or a bit more their style. But as I mentioned earlier, the length of prep and the amount of fat you have to lose are different depending on the division. But a female bodybuilder looks very different in the offseason than she would on stage.
So ask yourself, are you comfortable with that? Can you live with the way you look in and out of prep , knowing that most of your life is off-season? Also consider, that your expectations might not be realistic. Staying near contest shape, even for some bikini competitors can be next to impossible, or at the very least detrimental overall to your body and psychology over time.
I am quite boxy and do not have a naturally smaller waist, which is not ideal for any bodybuilding division. However, this can be outweighed by creating a wide upper half and quad sweep, which could make my waist appear smaller.
Because this amount of size needed to make my waist appear smaller would be substantial, I think I am more genetically favored for physique and bodybuilding, which are long-term goals of mine.
However, since I started competing without this substantial amount of muscular size needed for the bigger divisions, I chose figure. Is this a problem? Or do you want to pick the division that puts you in the best position to possibly win? Or do you not care at all because personal satisfaction of getting on stage is all you need?
However, we know that this is a sport and winning is definitely a positive outcome. Lastly, the sense of urgency.
In my case, I knew I wanted to compete. The urge to compete was too strong, so I did what I could. In fact, some people might say this is better than what I did.
I applaud those that are able to wait and invest the enormous amounts of time where they want to be before getting into their desired division.
I think that is a great testament to their dedication and patience. But again, I did not have that, and not all of you will. I can honestly say that competing in figure has changed my life personally and professionally.
I not only have the competition experience, but I also have the experience of going through multiple contest preps on the way to where I eventually wanted to be. I can now diet like a champ and know what semi-starvation feels like. More importantly and of most difficulty for me , I know how to exit a contest prep mindset and habits, which will serve my athletic future in a big way.
I have no regrets and embrace my lack of patience to the stage. Ultimately, no one can answer this stuff for you.
Based on that answer, I get a sense of their intentions. What does an ideal offseason body look like for you?
Simply put, what words they use and what comes first to their mind is typically the most honest. If you are doing this alone, perhaps journal your initial responses to these topic and considerations. But I wanted to put this out into the world for those who are having a difficult time understanding the differences within these division, as it can be quite confusing for some who have never attended a bodybuilding show before. If you still have questions after reading, scroll up and watch the video at the top of the page for further clarification.
Or, you can follow this link to watch on YouTube — https: Andrea Valdez is a strength athlete, figure competitor, and natural bodybuilding coach with Team 3D Muscle Journey.
I am doing an NPC show in July. Can I wear the same bathing suit in physique that I wear in bodybuilding? I would reach out and send an email to the specific show promoter of the competition that you are entering and see if your suit is allowed.
I have been to shows in the past where jewels were allowed on female physique suits, but not for female bodybuilding. I have also been to shows where the same person was in three different categories figure, fit body, physique while wearing the exact same suit for all of them.
Very happy to hear that this article helped with your decision because I know it can definitely be a tough one to grapple with … Have fun waiting and growing! Your email address will not be published. Bikini, Figure, Physique, or Bodybuilding. Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.