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All Bodybuilding Categories Explained





          Bodybuilding is quite broad, and few people understand the various categories therein. It is advisable to do something you will not regret later, especially when it comes to bodybuilding. Sometimes also known as divisions, these categories are what professional bodybuilders compete in during contests. These things can easily overwhelm someone, especially if you're taking part in competitive bodybuilding for the first time. Please note that you can only specialize in a few of the many bodybuilding categories available. However, before deciding on the perfect division that fits you, you need to understand what each entails and everything else you need to know to perform well. You might not get someone to sit you down and take you through the various bodybuilding categories, at least not in the gym. Here are all bodybuilding categories explained.


Shows flexing using a side pose


          It is the most popular and the most muscular division in fitness and comes in all bodybuilding categories explained. Additionally, it is broad with many classes within it. Anyone can participate in this category as there is no limit on age and the number of weights one can lift. Most importantly, this category is all about weight lifting. The bodybuilding category is synonymous with the trunk posture, where the entire leg and glutes are the main areas to show. Your butt and other regions around it are the places to focus on, alongside the hands, legs, and the posterior. It is a division reserved for people who are obsessed with building muscle. The bodybuilding category is the least favorite for women due to the need to have big muscles to participate in it.

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Men’s Physique

Shows raised arms flexing

Men's Physique

          A division created in 2013, men's physique is a relatively new bodybuilding category but is gaining popularity. It is also different from other bodybuilding categories in that the judges focus on the general body structure rather than masculinity. Although it is not a bodybuilding competition, you need to excel in it to boost your chances of excelling in competitive divisions. Additionally, new bodybuilders need an appealing body structure and ratio to maintain a lasting presence in the field. The things judges often look for include an impressive shoulder to waist ratio. A good symmetry will go a long way in ensuring the bodybuilder gains muscle uniformly once they start training for contests. And just like the bodybuilding division, men's physique has several classes, including:

Bantamweight (up to 143.25lbs)
Lightweight (143.25 – 154.25lbs)
Middleweight (154.25 – 176.25lbs)
Light Heavyweight (176.25 – 198.25lbs)
Heavyweight (198.25 – 225.25lbs)
Superheavyweight (over 225.25lbs)

         This division comes with its own set of rules; unique from all all bodybuilding categories explained here. For instance, participants should wear shorts when competing. The short has to be knee-length, and not much emphasis is given on the development beneath. It means bodybuilders who are not doing well in terms of thigh development will most likely succeed as long as they have a good structure from the shoulders to the waist. Most importantly, for participants who wish to participate in this division, their body fat must be less than 5%. That means you should get rid of excess fat before tossing yourself on stage for this division. Those looking to specialize in this division must also learn the correct poses. For instance, they should start with a front position, followed by three-quarter turns. It is relatively different from the posing routine found in other bodybuilding categories.


         Wellness is a female category that focuses more on fitness and wellness rather than muscle building. Unlike the case with men’s physique, this division involves developing the lower body (thighs, hips, and glutes) and putting less emphasis on the upper body. However, one should consider working more on the upper body to create an appealing symmetry. Ultimately, the goal of this division is to highlight and appreciate the beauty of the female body in the areas mentioned. The following classes are under this division:
Lightweight (up to 115lbs)

Middleweight (115 – 125lbs)

Light heavyweight (125 – 140lbs)

Heavyweight (over 140 lbs)

212 Olympia

          Created in 2011, this bodybuilding division is for short men who find it hard to fit into other divisions. Short men do not develop as much muscle as tall men do. This anatomical factor prevents them from competing favorably in divisions where huge muscle mass matters. Therefore, the division is only available for bodybuilders who are 212lbs and below. Additionally, they must have a height of 5’5 or lower. With only tiny underwear on, participants are to use all the seven bodybuilding poses where judges check the muscles' mass, separations, and conditioning. Flex Felix is among notable bodybuilders who have excelled in this division.

Classic Physique

Male bodybuilder shoulders flexing

Classic Men's Physique

          Men's classic physique is one of the bodybuilding divisions where both symmetry and muscle mass matter. Participants in this division wear tiny shorts that draw to attention deep lines in the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Most importantly, conditioning is greatly improved, alongside mandatory postures and quarter-turns. The form-fitting shorts also draw attention to the trunks. You will come across the following classes in this division:

Height (cm)                      Weight (kg)

168  and below                          Height – 100 +4
171  and below                        Height – 100 +6
175  and below                         Height – 100+8
180 and below                         Height – 100+11
Over and including 180   Height – 100+13
More than and including 190    Height -100+15
Over and including 198   Height – 100+17

         Bodybuilders in this division show the entire body, including the right, left, front, and back sides. While at it, judges will check for symmetry and balance on all sides. They are also required to perform the mandatory postures and other routines at the end of the day.


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Bikini-wearing female bodybuilder


          It is the most popular women's division and rarely misses out on main bodybuilding competitions. The division doesn't require too much muscle, thus making it a favorite for women and newbies. Among all bodybuilding categories explaind, this one is attractive to women with a tiny waist, curvy body, and long, shapely legs. Most importantly, the judges are particularly interested in the participant's overall body structure, balance, and charisma. It is unlikely you will miss out on this division as it does not have many requirements. The only challenge would be huge competition from other participants. It is important to note that this division is for women in competitions.


Shows several fitness poses

          The fitness division focuses on strength and is a favorite of cheerleaders, gymnasts, and other fitness enthusiasts. Participants in this category usually have a killer body with good symmetry. It is not surprising that women are the majority in this division. You don't need a lot of muscle to excel in this division because its routine does not involve showing muscles. All you need is strength, moves or dances, and some charisma. Such movements or dances could come with good music in the background, and you could choose one for yourself. Additionally, this division is slightly different from traditional bodybuilding divisions that entirely focus on the physique. So, if you're looking for more than just muscle and body structure, it is the most appropriate division to consider.

Women’s Physique

          It is an umbrella division for all female bodybuilding classes and categories. Generally, women in this division ought to be lean, muscular, and with good symmetry. Just like with the case of wellness, emphasis is on developing the lower body more than the upper. However, judges will look for shape and body proportion, so you might want to work on the upper part. Additionally, other aspects such as marketability, muscle tone, confidence, and presence are considerations in picking a winner. Participants must be careful to balance all these things to increase their chances of doing well overall. Concerning the dressing, they put on two-piece suits with a V-shaped bottom. Posing involves quarter-turns and other routines found in traditional bodybuilding.

Games Classic Bodybuilding

          Another division for men who cannot compete favorably in regular categories, this particular one is for men with relatively small muscle mass. Therefore, more emphasis is on the participant's overall structure. Some of the things that will matter here include; symmetry and overall physique. The fact that there is limited muscle mass means the judges will look at other factors such as confidence, conditioning, stage presence, and marketability.

Mixed Pairs

          Here, a man and a woman compete in the same category, whether male or female. For instance, a female can compete with a male partner in the men’s category and vice versa. Apart from the mixed pairs, everything else about this category is similar to traditional male divisions where judges look at the symmetry, skin tone, confidence, the poses, among others. The judges also look at how the pair complement each other and deliver their verdict based on how well they match. Therefore, the kind of partner you choose determines how you will perform.


          With so many divisions and classes from which participants can choose, bodybuilding is enough cake for everyone that throws their hat in the ring. However, bodybuilders and other fitness enthusiasts need to pick a division that works for them because everybody has a unique body. Most importantly, choose a good one among all bodybuilding categories explained here that does not put too much pressure on you in the long term. But, you can always try several divisions to find out which one you can best excel in. Otherwise, we hope you find where your heart is and be the best. Remember to go through our blog for more informative articles on fitness.

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