Athletes train to develop all bodyparts and muscles to maximum size but in balance and harmony. There should be no “weak points” or underdeveloped muscles. Moreover, they should follow a special pre-competition training cycle, to decrease the bodyfat level as low as possible and remove the underskin water to show the quality of muscles: density, separation and definition.
It is a version of bodybuilding for those male athletes who don’t want to develop their muscles to their “extreme” full potentials but prefer lighter “classic” physique.
To create the equal chances to them, the competitors’ bodyweight is limited according to their body height, following the special IFBB formula for each body height category (currently there are five categories: 168 cm; 171 cm, 175 cm, 180 cm and over 180 cm).
This concept has been introduced by the IFBB in the early 90’s, starting as official competition in 1996 in response to the increasing demand for competitions for women who prefer to develop a less muscular, yet athletic and aesthetically pleasing physique and also to show their physiques in motion. In Women Fitness, the emphasis is placed on a shapely, athletic-looking physique, assessed by comparisons of four quarter turns and athletic ability, assessed during a very attractive and dynamic fitness style routine. Currently, there are two Women’s Fitness categories: up to 163 cm and over 163 cm.
In 2012 the Men’s Physique division was officially launched as a new IFBB sport discipline.
It proves to be a very popular category and within a short period of time, the IFBB has increased the number of Men’s Physique categories from 2 (two) to 4 (four): 170 cm, 174 cm, 178 cm and over 178 cm. They perform two rounds of quarter turns, wearing board shorts of their choice. The final round (Round 2) begins with a short individual onstage presentation of each competitor.
It is aimed at men who do weight training, keep fit and eat a healthy balanced diet, but who prefer to develop a less muscular, yet athletic and aesthetically pleasing physique.
Women are judged on their athletic physique showcasing femininity, symmetry, muscle tone, poise and beauty/flow of physique. They have an individual choreographed routine set to music as well as comparison judging by height classes with mandatory poses such as front double bicep, side tricep with front leg extended, side chest with arms extended and front leg extended. Visible muscle separation and some visible striations are desired but are not to be excessively muscular or shredded. Generally in the 8-10% body fat range.
Figure competitions are a blend of bodybuilding and fitness. During comparison judging in height classes, woman will line up and do a series of quarter turns to the right (front, left side, back, right side) being judged on symmetry, presentation, and other aesthetic qualities such as skin tone. The “X” factor is important. Shoulders, back, quads and glutes are very important muscle groups to give the “x” type of shape (well formed shoulders and upper back, small waist and shapley glutes and quads). Visible muscle separation but no visible striations is desired. Figure woman are generally in the 8-12% body fat range.
This category has been introduced in 2011 and is aimed at women who keep their body in shape and eat healthy. Overall body lines, balance and proportions, body tone and healthy appearance are taken into consideration. High-intensity weight training and hard, lean muscles are not necessary. The emphasis is on a well-shaped, fit, healthy and attractive appearance, similar to that of models.
Children Fitness is the only IFBB sport division available for children, with no lower age limit. The upper age limit is 16 years old. Then children move to the junior age division. Currently, there are the following Children Fitness age categories (girls and boys): up to 7 years, 8-9 years, 10-11 years, 12-13 years, 14-15 years old.
Judges assess the routine with a view towards style, personality, athletic coordination and overall performance. Judges will also look for competitors who perform strength and flexibility moves, as well as gymnastic moves. The routine may include aerobics, dance, gymnastics or other demonstrations of athletic talent.