How IFBB Bodybuilding Contests are Conducted

How IFBB Bodybuilding Contests are Conducted

When a bodybuilder does a bodybuilding posing exhibition, he just goes out onstage and does his routine. But to learn how to pose effectively in a contest, you need to understand something about how The International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) bodybuilding competitions are organized and conducted.

The International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) sanctions international amateur competition and all authorized professional events. In amateur events, competitors are divided into weight classes:

  • bantamweight
  • lightweight
  • middleweight
  • light heavyweight
  • heavyweight
  • super heavyweight

In professional contests, there are no weight classes. All bodybuilding competitors are put in one class, regardless of size. In the past, height was used rather than weight to determine which bodybuilding competitor was placed in which class. However, over time it was realized that using weight classes created a much more closely matched group of bodybuilding competitors, with much greater similarity of development, than did separating them by height.

Until 1980, IFBB pro events were conducted in two weight classes, with 200 pounds being the dividing line, and the winners of each class would compete against each other in a posedown for the overall title. However, for an event as important as the Mr. Olympia, this meant the judges would have all the time they needed to compare bodybuilding competitors in each class but only a few minutes to determine which of the class winners should take the coveted Mr. Olympia title. Having all the competitors, regardless of size, compete in one class may seem to put the smaller bodybuilders at a greater disadvantage, but this is not necessarily the case. When the judges compare bodybuilders of different sizes over an extended period of time, they are better able to look at the actual quality of the various physiques onstage, to examine them in detail and to notice any superiority of development displayed by the smaller competitors. On the other hand, when bodybuilders of different sizes compete in different classes and the overall winner is chosen in a brief posedown, the judges have to make their decision much more quickly, and the larger bodybuilder, who can make a greater impression in a short time, has a clear advantage.

IFBB contests today are divided into two parts and four rounds. The first part is the prejudging, Prejudging is clinical and technical, highly interesting to bodybuilding fans, but not that entertaining for those who don't know what they're looking at. Prejudging consists of two rounds.

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