Not-Too-Muscular Bodybuilding Competitions For Female Bodybuilders

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So you feel you do not want too much muscle, but have gone serious in your physical workouts and have been considering diving into the competitive arena. You might even already have an idea which contest you wish to compete in and all your diet, nutrition, supplements, and workouts are geared toward that particular event. However, if you have not decided yet, here are some basic details about the competitive events based on category in the sport of female bodybuilding today.


Fitness is the only competition that requires a short routine involving a show of athleticism. Most, if not all, female contestants have a sporty background. Stage presence is elicited through stage performance where female competitors do dancing, gymnastics, or other physical activity to demonstrate how being fit reflects in their lifestyle. Typical moves to get the judges nodding are front and side full split, and high kicks. Aside from scoring high on being fit and flexible, other metrics that also count are music, tempo, and presentation. Like figure and bikini categories, physique emphasis is on muscle definition and not size. As for physical guidelines, there should typically be a small amount of muscular mass, clear separations between muscle groups (but, no visible striations), and leanness.

IFBB-sanctioned fitness contests are the Fitness Olympia and the Fitness International. For Wally Boyko Productions, there are Ms. Fitness USA and Ms. Fitness World. While the Fitness Universe organization, there are Fitness America Pageant and the Fitness Universe Pageant.


Figure competition is a category that is somewhere between Fitness and Bodybuilding. Unlike Fitness, there is no athletic round. And unlike Bodybuilding, there is no demand for heavy muscle mass but there should be a show of muscular symmetry and definition. Typically, there are two rounds. First is the symmetry round where competitors appear on stage lined side-by-side in high-heeled shoes and a one-piece swimsuit. In front of the judges, they do a series of quarter-turns. Here, they are judged from all angles for symmetry, presentation, and other aesthetic qualities such as skin tone, hair, make-up, and stylishness of clothing. Next, they appear in groups wearing high heels and a two-piece bathing suit, executing a series of quarter-turns. Metrics include conditioning, leanness, femininity, and athletic look. Overall, they are judged on presentation, gracefulness, confidence, poise, and professionalism.

IFBB have Figure Olympia and Figure International while Fitness Universe organization has Figure Universe Pageant.


Like Figure competitions, there are quarter-turns and mandatory poses for Bikini contests. Currently, Bikini competitions are the more popular events possibly because the physique required to qualify is the more attainable for a greater number of women. As the name implies, female competitors are expected to wear a two-piece swimsuit in style, elegance, and feminine roundness. The female competitor should not be too skinny nor muscular. The winner is the female competitor who feels great in a bikini and looks every inch of what a woman, in the eyes of the judges, should be, in bikini should be. Metrics include proportion, symmetry, balance, shape and skin tone.

In 2010, IFBB’s Bikini Olympia became an independent contest category.

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Lori Braun

Lori Braun

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