Beginner’s Guide to Competitive Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is a specific and interesting sport that requires determination and strong discipline. What makes bodybuilding so different is that unlike most sports, in bodybuilding, competitors are judged by the way they look, not the way they perform.

Pre-contest coaching is one of the most important steps towards succeeding in physique competition. The right contest prep coach is someone, who has walked the path to the stage before, has true passion for bodybuilding, and experience with training people.

Besides being the owner of [Hidden Gym], Greg McCoy has been a personal trainer and contest prep coach for over 12 years. In this video, he is answering the most common frequently asked questions, and talking about the basics of bodybuilding competitions, which is something that every competitor, or enthusiast should know.

In physique sports, there are different divisions for males and females, depending on the level of muscularity and experience.

Men’s divisions

  • Bodybuilding division – this is the most muscular division, where there is a weight limit. No matter how tall you are, your weight determines your class.
  • Classic physique division – this is a less muscular version of the bodybuilding division. In this division, both weight and height are taken into consideration. Hence, for a certain height you are only allowed to weigh up to a certain amount. This is necessary, so the physique competitors’ shape can stay more streamlined.
  • Men’s physique – in this division you can weigh as much as you want. Your height will determine the class that you fit in.

Women’s divisions

Females have a bit more options to choose from. For all of the women’s divisions apply the same rules as for the men’s physique – your height determines the class you compete in, and the weight doesn’t matter. Women’s divisions include:

  • Bikini division
  • Fitness division
  • Figure division
  • Wellness division
  • Women’s physique
  • Women’s bodybuilding

Beginners’ division

  • True novice – this division is for people, who have never competed before. You can qualify for this division only once, on your first competition.

How do you know which division you fit in? 

Keep in mind that you must pick a division that you will fit now and in the long term. There might be a division that is suitable for you in the current moment but you might have long term success in a different one.

There are a few things you can do to find the best division for yourself:

  • Online research – go online and search bodybuilders that have similar body type to yours. This will give you an idea about which division you can qualify for.
  • Speak with a coach – find a great coach and go for it. A contest prep coach would know best, which division is right for you, in order to accomplish long-term success. Trainers are able to notice things that are invisible for enthusiasts, so trust their opinion.
  • Attend workshops – look for workshops nearby that are held around the country. There are always new things that you can learn from such events.
  • Talk to other competitors – make sure you meet bodybuilders, who compete, or had competed in the past. Information from people that have been there is really valuable, because they can share with you their personal experience.

Within the divisions there are breakdowns of classes. Which are these classes?

Classes divided by experience level:

  • Open class – this is the most competitive class. The biggest awards and titles come from the open class.
  • Novice class – this class is for bodybuilders, who are still in the beginning of their competing journey. Athletes often attend this class after their first competition in the true novice division, even though you can jump straight into the open class, if you feel ready.

Classes divided by age

  • Teenage class – this class is for people who are 19 years old or younger.
  • Different classes for athletes older than 19. These ones vary in each competition but competitors stay in their own age brackets.

What happens on a contest day?

On this very special day there are two events – prejudging event and finals event.

On the prejudging event the bulk of the judging is done. The judges line you up against other competitors and do comparisons, in which they compare you to the people in your class.

Next, they do the call-outs, where they pick different competitors that they want to see next to each other. The prejudging event happens in the morning. Based on who you are up against, you can guess how you are doing in the class.

On the finals event, you do a posing routine (if you are in a division that requires a posing routine). Live judging is often done on finals, meaning that judges can re-judge some of the things that happened in the prejudging event.

Finally, there is an award ceremony, where you find out the results from the competition.

Why is it so helpful to hire a coach?

A contest prep coach will guide you through the whole process, help you choose the right division, teach you how to pose, create your workout and meal plan, and will make sure you are following the contest’s requirements.

Furthermore, a personal trainer is also someone, who will motivate you to stay focused and disciplined, which is something every competitor needs at some point.

Are you from Allen, Dallas, or Plano? Do you want to compete in NPC Texas? Then come visit us at [Hidden Gym]! Our trainers can get you ready for your bodybuilding competition and help you succeed with your journey!