The NPC is a great place for women to get involved in bodybuilding competition. The first women’s competition held by the NPC was the Women’s National’s in 1980. Since then, it has been the top amateur level competition for women in the U.S.
Women’s Competition Categories
Below are the women’s division categories.
See which one feels right for you and go for it! (Note that national-level contests do not permit competitors to cross over into Bodybuilding, Figure or Bikini divisions in the same event. All other competitions are permitted to have cross overs, with approval by the promoter.)
- Bodybuilding—This is considered the highest level with emphasis on muscle size, definition, poise, stage presence and more.
- Figure—This competition is judged on muscle tone and symmetry. There is less focus on muscle size than in bodybuilding.
- Physique—This is a new division that will be judged on symmetry, shape, proportion, muscle tone, poise and beauty flow. Contestants should avoid these bodybuilding qualities: ripped, shredded, peeled, striated, dry, diced, hard, vascular, grainy, massive, thick or dense.
- Bikini—This division is judged on balance and shape as well as overall physical appearance—including complexion, skin tone, poise, and overall presentation.
- Fitness—This division has a swimsuit round and another round involving aerobics, dance and gymnastics.
Women’s Competition Judging
At the NPC bodybuilding competition, the judging for each class happens during a pre-judging stage (there are some exceptions). The overall winner among class winners happens at the finals—the posing and music is for the audience—the winner has already been chosen.
At the pre-judging, each bodybuilder performs a free-posing routine for one minute with no music. Then a series of comparison poses takes place. There are no mandatory poses but contestants are asked to do the most common ones, such as front double-biceps and side-chest, although judges do have the option of asking for a specific pose such as “your best lat spread.”
Another note about NPC competitions is that judges do not score rounds separately. Instead, they create a rank of each contestant after the pre-judging and the score represents an overall evaluation of the competitor–not a critique of any one aspect.
A good way to check out the different divisions and overall competition is to visit the contest schedule page and come to a show. Try to attend during the day as well as the big night show. All of the pre-judging is done during the day and you’ll get a chance to see where you want to compete.
After that, join the NPC and just go for it. After all, the best way to learn where you fit and how you’ll do is to enter a competition!