How to Pick Your Class and Division(s) For Your Bodybuilding Competition

How to Pick Your Class and Division(s) For Your Bodybuilding Competition

So you want to compete in a bodybuilding show? Here is how to pick your class and division(s)

How To Pick Your Class And Division(s)

Did you know that “Bodybuilding” now encompasses seven different classes/categories? We have traditional Bodybuilding, which is what most people think of when they hear “Bodybuilding,” but there is so much more, and I will list everything here:

Men’s & Women’s classes

1.) Bodybuilding
2.) Physique
3.) Men only

Classic Physique
Women only

1.) Bikini
2.) Figure
3.) Wellness

Note: I will be referring to the type of competitor that you are as the “class” (e.g., Bodybuilding or Bikini), and I will refer to the specific division you are in as a part of that class (e.g., Bodybuilding Teen Competitor, or Bodybuilding Masters 50 Plus Competitor – these would be different divisions within the same class).

In this blog post, once you determine what class you want to compete in, we will discuss choosing the class that best fits your physique. After that, you need to figure out what division(s) you want to compete in (yes, this can be plural because you can do as many divisions as you want as long as you meet those individual divisions’ guidelines).

List the different divisions the show will often have; there may be less or more depending on the show you’re competing in. Note that I primarily coach and judge with the OCB Federation, so that is the criteria I will be referencing.

Example: A male Bodybuilder that is 42 years old that has never competed can do the following:

DEBUT, NOVICE, AGE 35+, AGE 40+, and open, but he cannot compete as a teen, LEGENDS CLASS 50+, or 60+. He can also only do Bodybuilding at each show he enters. He could enter a different show at another time and try Classic Physique, but within OCB shows, cross-over is NOT allowed (this is different with other federations).

I will leave the divisions for a later blog post and give more in-depth details. I recommend that you always check with the show when you are signing up, but this doesn’t affect what class you should compete in, which we will discuss in this blog.

The “nitty gritty.” How to pick what division you should compete in.

First, to avoid issues and difficulties, I recommend meeting with a trained professional with experience coaching and judging individuals to the stage. We have Coach Hunter Covalski and Tom Lazorik on staff who are more than happy to provide insight and advice. Judges and Bodybuilding prep coaches, we would be happy to help you. You Can Email: to set up a call or ask any questions.

Things to consider when deciding what class will fit you the best.

First of all, we do like to have individuals see a Bodybuilding show and take note of each individual class. If you have a specific class that you tend to enjoy watching the most or if you have a class that you could see yourself competing in, it would be beneficial to find that out during your training career so you can start tailoring your workouts around the class you want to compete in. An excellent example of this is our coaches, Hunter and Tom. Both coaches competed in several shows, and neither of them enjoyed Men’s Physique because they don’t care as much for the posing, the look, or the fact that Men’s Physique competitors have to cover up their quads with board shorts. Both coaches enjoy training legs, and have well developed muscles in their lower bodies, which makes Men’s Physique far less appealing. Hunter loves Bodybuilding, and Tom is going to try to pursue Classic Bodybuilding.

Reading the criteria for each specific class would be highly recommended. You can find this at

If you have never competed or won a pro card, I recommend that you click through the “amateur divisions” so you can observe the photos and judging criteria. An excellent example of this would be if you are a very muscular male that has been working out for over three years, and are also comfortable with the idea of getting extremely lean. If this is the case, Bodybuilding might be the best division for you. However, if you have less muscle mass and see yourself as a more general population-looking individual, Men’s Physique might be the suitable class for you.

When it comes to female competitors, if you are very muscular, Women’s Bodybuilding, Woman’s Physique, or Figure would be the preferred classes. There are different levels of leanness required for each of the three, so please review the judging criteria. If you are a much less muscular individual or if you have well-developed glutes in comparison to the rest of your body, Women’s Bikini and/or Women’s Wellness would be the classes that would best fit your physique.

To summarize, I don’t usually recommend comparing yourself to others because your body is individual, beautiful, and perfect in its own way. The best way to determine what division you should compete in is to see what physique you compare most with. After that, I recommend that you work towards the physique that you would feel the most confident in. For example, some women don’t want to look all that muscular – Women’s Bikini or Wellness would be preferred if this is the case. Another example would be that many men lack the ability to pack on slabs of muscle because of the genetic cards that they were dealt. This does not necessarily mean they can’t compete, it just means that Men’s Physique or potentially Men’s Classic Physique would be better suited for them.

Finding a suitable class requires effort and research, but it is achievable for anyone. The transformation classes cater to those who have lost significant weight. At the same time, shows offer specialized classes for individuals with special needs, such as those who require a wheelchair, as well as a new division at one of our favorite shows – the OCB Natural Viking! They now have the Adaptive Physique Competition Class for individuals facing physical and mental challenges.