Muscle Sport Magazine

How To Separate the Bullshit Divisions at Bodybuilding Shows

Quick show of hands – how many of you have attended a bodybuilding show to see something other than men’s bodybuilding? Barring a friend, relative or client competing (if you’re one of these ‘gurus’), there are few and far between who have plunked down their hard earned cash to watch complete strangers vie for the title of the top bikini competitor that day.

The old school crowd longs for the days when the bodybuilding stage was taken up by actual bodybuilders and they have zero desire to see the ‘board shorts boys’ and bikini girls. But those days are long gone because of greed; plain and simple. The federations – and we mean ALL off them, not just the NPC/IFBB, mind you – have come to the realization that there simply is too much money on the table to not include every type of physique out there, even if it is covered by clothing.

Yes, it has gotten so bad that some feds have added categories where the men and women are wearing clothes from head to toe. What used to be what you looked like with less on has turned into a fashion show.

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And perhaps the biggest change has become seeing the elite on stage to seeing the guy or girl in the next cubicle at the office up there. No longer has it become at the best of the best, but rather everyone and anyone. And the result has been shows of the infinite variety with throngs of cardboard cutout looking competitors lining up shoulder-to-shoulder much to the chagrin of the bored-to-tears audience awaiting their chosen one to finally get up there for a few seconds.


If it were up to us (and a lot of other people, as well), this is what you would have seen:

*Men’s Open Bodybuilding¬†

*Men’s 212 Bodybuilding

*Women’s Bodybuilding¬†

*Women’s Fitness


Adding the 212 (formerly 202) division was a great idea and actually brought back the under/over 200 pounds days of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu. The one aspect that they didn’t bring back was pitting the two champions against one another for the overall title.

Women’s bodybuilding had been a staple of the industry since 1980 and if the judges would have kept on rewarding the more aesthetic physiques, they could have kept it under control and then there would have been no need for the women’s physique division. (More on that in a bit.)

Fitness was the first non-bodybuilding category to make its way to the pro stage and is the only one where being athletic is a must. And the swimsuit round is figure, if you will. Considering that the bodybuilding/physique industry is always hearing arguments stating if it is an actual sport or not, it is puzzling that they have made fitness – the only category where athleticism is involved on stage – an afterthought and possibly going by the way of female bodybuilding.

These divisions separate the elite from the rest and if a woman is not willing or capable to put on enough muscle to be a bodybuilder, or athletic enough to perform a fitness routine, then perhaps this is not the path that they should seek.


In our scenario, there is no place nor need for women’s physique or figure. That leaves us with three other divisions to get in the path of the proverbial weed wacker – classic physique, men’s physique and bikini.

The same as we suggested with the judging for female bodybuilding, the new classic physique could have been prevented if the judges set some basic standards regarding waist size and reward the more pleasing physiques. The mass monsters could still be up there for their cult following, but they would not be seeing many winner’s checks.

Now on to MPD and bikini. Neither of these should ever have been made official categories and were fine as a fringe one with the male and female model searches. These smaller and common bodies would get their time on stage and even win some prizes from sponsors, but it is pretty ridiculous that they have become part of Olympia Weekend.


Even in their current state, the competitions can at least group the obvious divisions together so the fans have an option as far as when they want to attend and/or get up and leave. Here’s a suggestion to make these shows doable:

*Men’s Open Bodybuilding

*Men’s 212 Bodybuilding

*Men’s Classic Physique

*Women’s Physique Division¬†


*Men’s Physique Division




Separate these two groups of four by either days (at longer shows) or day/night. There is no need to make people sit through all of these categories together. And the way that the IFBB separates them now at the big shows (Olympia, Arnold, etc.) makes no sense, either. So if you’re gong to have the opportunity to do so, at least have some rhyme or reason behind it.

With our scenario, the bodybuilding (open 212, classic physique) is grouped with WPD, which has taken the place of female bodybuilding. And then the next group has all of the ‘filler’ categories in our opinion… other than fitness, of course. The only reason why that is with the MPD/bikini/figure group is to even them out.

Photo by Andrzej Jaworski/AJ JAWA Photo


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