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What to Expect at your First Bodybuilding Show
Tamara Ribiero-Bailey IFBB Figure Pro Bodybuilder

What to Expect at your First Bodybuilding Show.

by Tamara Ribiero-Bailey IFBB Figure Pro Bodybuilder

So your colleague at work or your gym buddy is raving about the bodybuilding show they went to that weekend. “You have to come to the next one!” they tell you. “You don’t know what you’re missing!” Hmmm…..you’re not too sure. I mean, just going to look at muscular, tanned and oiled down bodies in teeny bathing suits flexing on a stage to pulsing music….oh wait, why am I hesitating again??

Ok so yes, obviously there will be flesh on display, but never forget that bodybuilding is a bonafide sport, not a meat market. The competitors endure several months of rigid dieting, intense workouts and the curtailment of their social life to prepare their physiques to step on the stage. They are then subjected to scrutiny and judgment from a panel of experts and quite often a less than kind audience. So it would be good to know in advance what you’re about to see in order to be able to appreciate it on a less superficial level.

Many people think of huge, freaky muscle-bound monsters, male and female, when they think of bodybuilders. Modern bodybuilding, however, comprises many different categories and types of physiques. At most international competitions, there can be several hundred competitors but at a local show, you can expect to see roughly 30 to 75 athletes. So, in layman’s terms, is some of what you can typically expect to see at your first bodybuilding show:

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Bodybuilding - so these guys, who are divided into classes based on their weight, are going to be the most muscular ones in the show with the lowest level of body fat. They’ll have those rippling six-packs and bulging arms, thighs, and backs that look like a bag of bricks. They’ll all line up on stage and show their bodies in posing briefs by striking specific required poses, called “mandatories” for comparisons. They’ll also have to perform short individual posing routines to music, no more than 60 seconds each. Some of these routines can be really exciting and dynamic, incorporating splits, breakdancing and even “wining” that leave the audience calling for more!

Classic Bodybuilding - This category is for those athleteswho don’t want to develop the high degree of muscle mass required in bodybuilding but prefer a lighter more streamlined physique. The category requires that they meet a specific height-to-weight ratio. They will go through the same poses and routines as the bodybuilders.

Men’s Physique - You know those guys you see at the beach who look like the models you see in magazines or on TV advertising the latest fitness gadgets? This is where you’ll see them. This category has quickly become a very one as it is considered the most “commercially pleasing” look. These athletes will be athletic, lean and fit looking and they will pose in colourful board shorts. They are divided into height classes and the emphasis is on poise and stage presentation as much as their physical condition.

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Women’s Physique - Contrary to popular belief, women have the right to have muscles! In this category, the women will have nice round, full muscles and a low level of body fat. Like the male bodybuilders, they will be compared while performing mandatory poses and will perform 30-second posing routines. They wear two-piece swimsuits that are often decorated with colourful crystals and because they are required to maintain a feminine look, they will be well made up and coiffed.

Body Fitness - - These women will have a fair amount of muscle but not as much as the women’s physique competitors, and will be lean, proportional and streamlined with a low level of body fat. They will perform individually by executing a “model walk” and then will be required to pose together while doing quarter turns. They will be wearing decorated bikini-style swimsuits with high heels, jewelry, makeup and sleek hairstyles. The judges will be assessing grace, elegance, poise and confidence as much as a fit physique.

Bikini Fitness - This category is arguably the most popular with the viewing public, hence the reason it is usually scheduled close to the end of the show! Muscle mass is not required in this category – rather, these ladies will have a fit, healthy and attractive “model-like” appearance. They also wear two-piece suits with heels, jewelry and the works.

They perform a model walk and quarter turns just like the body fitness athletes, however, their model walks are usually “flirtier” and their stage poses are slightly different, meant to display their feminine curves to full advantage. Yes, the gentlemen love this one!

So now you know what to expect at your first bodybuilding show, at least from the competitors. The audience? Well, you know Trinis! The athletes usually bring with them a raucous support squad to cheer them on and of course, picong abounds! All of this results in a dynamic, engaging and entertaining experience. After your first show, you will definitely leave with a new found respect for these athletes and the sport.

See you at the next show!

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