Choose a Federation

The first step in choosing a bodybuilding contest is choosing a federation. There are many bodybuilding federations. These are the organizations that determine the rules, standards and judging practices for their sanctioned contests. Of all of the federations, Center Podium is associated with the National Physique Committee (NPC) and the International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB).

The goal of most competitors is to one day achieve the title of “IFBB Pro” and compete at the Mr. Olympia contests and vie for the coveted title of Mr. or Ms. Olympia. The NPC is the only American federation that is associated with the IFBB and the Mr. Olympia contests.

The NPC is the largest bodybuilding organization as such earning pro status is more highly regarded than pro status in other organizations.


How to Go Pro

When you compete as an amateur in an NPC “National Qualifier”, such as the NPC West Coast Classic, NPC Mother Lode, or Tahoe Show, in an “open” class and place 1st or 2nd, you qualify to compete in a national bodybuilding contest. Examples of these contests include the IFBB North Americans or NPC Nationals. When competing at these “national level” contests you are competing for IFBB professional status.

An “open” class is a class that is not restricted by age and is not novice. For example, novice bodybuilding or master’s bikini would not be considered an open class and therefore do not qualify you for a national contest when competing in these classes.

The top 2 who will win most national show will then earn their Pro Card but it varies from show-to-show. Once pro status is earned,  the competitor can compete free of charge and for a cash prize.

The IFBB is the sanctioning body for professional athletes similar to how the NFL is the sanctioning body for professional Football. By either winning a show or earning the most points, top pros will then qualify for the Olympia. This is both an honor and an opportunity to become the best in the world. Other major IFBB shows are the Arnold Classic and the New York Pro. The Ferrigno Legacy is both an NPC and IFBB shows with divisions for both pros and amateurs.

Choosing a Show

Many factors go into choosing a show.

  • The most important factor is timing. As a rule, you should prep for a show for at least 12 weeks. This is assuming you are in decent shape and have achieved the muscular development required for your division. If you have significant body fat to lose, you may need more time. Many athletes find that if they stay on diet after 12 weeks they can continue to improve for several months becoming more and more conditioned, gain lean mass and better muscle shape.
  • Size of the show. There are few consistencies from show-to-show. Some may be small with just 100 competitors, some maybe large with over 300. In a small show, you will have an easier chance to win a medal. But does that medal feel earned if there were only 2 people in your class? Small shows can often be much less organized. They are small because they are new or may not have a great reputation. Review previous shows from the same promoter, look at photos and ask former competitors if they had a good experience. A rule of thumb: if a show has a lot of bodybuilders it is a good show. Why? The bodybuilding division takes the most time and experience, therefore these athletes will know the most about the shows and support the shows that they feel are best run. You should also review the show’s website. A quality show typically follows a quality site.
  • Divisions and Classes. There is a total of 8 classes; Bodybuilding, Classic Physique, Men’s Physique, Women’s Bodybuilding, Fitness, Women’s Physique, Figure and Bikini. These divisions are then broken up into classes. Classes are delineated by age, height, weight and novice or open.
  • View Center Podium Contest Dates HERE

Shows can vary drastically.

bodybuilding contest, ferrigno legacy

npc, bodybuilding contest

Divisions and Classes will vary from show-to-show. Most shows no longer include Women’s Bodybuilding due to lack of demand. Fitness is also on the decline because of the difficulty of the routine. Be sure to review a show’s division and classes to be sure your desired classes are available.

Number of and which classes will also vary from show-to-show. An “open” class is open to all ages and levels. These are the main classes. Open classes will be divided by height or weight depending on the class.

The show may not have all the classes. For example it may have only 4 height classes for Figure. Heights are then delineated differently based on the standards set forth by the NPC.

The same is true for classes that are not considered “Open” These are known as “Cross-overs”. These classes are limited by age  or experience in which case they are called “Novice”.  Novice division will vary from show to show. Be sure to review the show to assure it has the classes you plan on competing in.

Example Figure with 6 Classes

  • Class A -Up to and including 5’1”
  • Class B -Over 5’1” and up to and including 5’ 2 1/2″
  • Class C -Over 5’2 1/2” and up to and including 5’4”
  • Class D -Over 5’4”and up to and including 5’5 1/2”
  • Class E -Over 5’5 1/2” and up to and including 5’7”
  • Class F -Over 5’7″

Example Figure with 4 Classes

  • Class A – Up to and including 5’2”
  • Class B – Over 5’2” & up to & including 5’4”
  • Class C – Over 5’4” & up to & including 5’6”
  • Class D – Over 5’6
Back to Contest Prep Chapters
Chapter 2 – Training