Physique or figure? Bodybuilding categories for females explained.


Are you a female looking to compete in a bodybuilding or figure competition? If you love training with weights, enjoy eating healthy and want to take your body to the next level, the bodybuilding stage may be your calling… Before you commit to a comp, decide which category you want to do, today we are explaining the different bodybuilding categories for females.

Although each bodybuilding federation varies slightly, and some of the newer ones offer brand-new classes, the basic choice for female bodybuilders is between Physique (female bodybuilding) and Figure. So, what’s the difference, and how will it affect how you train, diet, pose and prep for stage.

Figure classes at female bodybuilding competitions
Figure is the softer, smaller category for females who want to compete. They tend to have fewer compulsory poses than female bodybuilders (Physique category). Check with your specific bodybuilding federation to be sure of which poses you will need to do. Your poses will all be performed with open hands, rather than the clenched-fist poses of female bodybuilders. Emphasis is on a trained, toned look to the body but without the striations, extreme muscularity, vascularity, separation and dryness of female bodybuilding. Many women find Figure a look they aspire to as it is more marketable, easier to live with on a day-to-day basis (away from stage) and easier to achieve. Although that’s not to say it’s easy! Figure athletes still need to train hard, diet down to unnaturally low levels of body fat, practice posing, and design either a T-walk or a free posing routine.

Female bodybuilding or Physique category for competitions
The female bodybuilding classes at bodybuilding shows are sometimes called the Physique category (it can get a bit confusing!) and, essentially, this refers to the most basic category of bodybuilding for females. Female bodybuilders are expected to do the same things on stage as the male bodybuilders: the poses are the same, and they have to do a free posing routine to music. Female bodybuilders will be judged on symmetry, muscularity and over all condition (low body fat), so need to pay attention to building a balanced physique. Bigger is usually better, but female bodybuilders shouldn’t train any body part so it becomes dominant or overpowering. And leanness is very desirable, but female bodybuilders need to be careful not to diet so harshly that they lose muscle tissue. The ideal is a large, but proportionate, balanced, flowing physique with very low levels of body fat, yet a full (not flat) look.

  • May 11, 2016
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