A bodybuilding contest is conducted in two sessions, the Prejudging and the Final Presentation.
Prejudging: Elimination: All competitors come into the stage together and five at a time are required to strike the seven mandatory poses. The 15 best competitors are selected by the judges and the other are eliminated from competition.
Prejudging: Semifinals: The 15 competitors are then called back on stage as a group, in a relaxed stance in frontal and back positions for comparison. They will then strike the seven mandatory poses, five or six athletes at a time. After this, the six best competitors are selected by the judges as finalists.
Final Presentation: Finals: The six finalists perform their free posing routines individually with music and then collectively strike the seen compulsory poses for comparison, as in the Semifinals. The competitor with the best score is declared the winner.
During the entire process, judges are guided by rules and criteria laid down by the IFBB. Their assessment of the competitor’s physique is based on muscle size, overall body shape, symmetry (the balance between the upper and lower body, and the left and right sides of the body), proportion (balance between various body parts), muscle definition (percentage of body fat), and finally, the artistic posing presentation with music.
ROUND ONE – SYMMETRY
In this round Competitors will face the Judging panel and perform four quarter turns. This displays their physique from every angle. The quarter turns are performed with both feet flat on the floor with arms at either side. Bodybuilding competitors should not twist or turn their physiques during this round.
In this round we are looking for the following:
- Structural flaws – Faults within the competitor’s skeletal structure
- Proportion – The balance of one muscle group to another e.g. lower body to upper body, biceps to calves, waist to quadriceps etc.
- Balance – The left side of a competitor’s body compared to the right, the front compared to the rear.
- Symmetry – The competitor’s overall shape and line.
In this round a competitor losses one point for every fault found. So that the competitor with the fewest points is ranked 1st. In the front-on position, look for balance – even development on each side of the body. Also proportion, is the lower body developed to the same extent as the upper body? Is the neck the same size as biceps and calves?
When competitors turn to the side, the ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should be in a straight line. There should not be excessive curvature of the spine. The back should have the same degree of muscle thickness as the chest and the hamstring and gluteus should be as full as the quadriceps. When the competitors turn to the rear, check that the spine is straight and does not curve to either side, also check the muscular development of each side of the back.
In this round judges take into account the muscularity of the particular muscle groups. Judges assess a physique as consisting of nine major muscle groups: Chest, Back, Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps, Abdominals, Quadriceps, Hamstrings and Calves. Competitors should lose points for having too much fat on each muscle group
ROUND TWO – MUSCULARITY
In this round competitors perform the following compulsory poses. Muscle size and dimension is emphasised – judges reward bodybuilders.
- Front Double Biceps
- Front Lateral Spread
- Side Chest (either side at the choice of the competitor)
- Side Triceps (again, either side)
- Rear Double Biceps
- Rear Lateral Spread
- Abdominal and Thigh
In this round judges are comparing competitors for the following:
- Muscularity – The shape, thickness and quality of muscle
- Proportion – The balance of one muscle group against another
- Definition – Muscle separation, definition and vascularity
- Balance – Left side of the body compared to the right, front compared to rear