The Low Down on Bodybuilding Competitions

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with Personal Trainer, Chloe Gilmour

Social media today catalogues bronzed figures boasting bulging arms, chiselled six packs and unusually large glutes. The fitness industry is booming and it’s no surprise to see more women and men posting selfies and videos in the gym. Bodybuilding is increasing in popularity, and not just among men.

Men and women slug it out to match this fitness trend, trying to improve themselves by growing their muscles and slimming down, to achieve their idea of the ultimate physique.
The question is why? For many people, the why is different. For some it is to satisfy a personal challenge and for others it’s a celebration of weight loss or a post baby body goal.
Bodybuilding behind the scenes is far from vain. It takes time, consistency, hard work and dedication to nutrition and fitness.

Most people think of bodybuilding in terms of hulking men and unfeminine women. For competitors there are a multitude of categories to choose from based on muscle size, age and if a woman has had children. Ultimately, a competitor chooses a physique that appeals most to them.

Bodybuilding shows are broken down into a number of categories:
Women’s Bodybuilding. Competitors should have the most bulk and muscularity of any of the female divisions, be well defined and toned.
Women’s Figure. Judged along the lines of bodybuilding but figure competitors should have less bulk.
Women’s Fitness Model. Competitors aim to have six-pack abs in this category.
Women’s Bikini Model. This is a softer, beach-body compared to the Fitness Model Class. Competitors should not have six-pack abs.
Male Bodybuilding. Competitors should have the most bulk and muscularity of any of the male divisions, be well defined and toned.
Male Physique. Judges look for fit and athletic contestants who display the proper shape and symmetry, combined with muscularity and overall condition.
Male Fitness. Male fitness models have the same ideals as their female counterparts: to present themselves professionally on stage as a model.

So, how does an individual get to the stage they want to be? The first step is sourcing a reputable, well-educated coach to guide you through the process.
Coaches are vital in this process, as they craft workouts, adjust nutrition but most importantly they provide mental, emotional and physical support throughout the process especially when times get tough.

Exercise is a daily occurrence, with heavy weights sessions being the base foundation used to increase the muscle size and mass, and cardiovascular sessions are used to decrease excess fat in two forms: Low Intensity Steady state (LISS) or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Both forms of physical exercise are vastly different from each other but with a combination of both alongside a carefully watched nutritional program provides the competitor with the best formula for success. Nutritional programs are watched closely generally weekly by the competitor’s coach and changes are made to make sure the competitor’s body fat is consistently dropping, and visible changes are being seen.

A bodybuilding preparation can take anywhere from a minimum of 16 weeks through to a year for a competitor to be stage-ready dependent on their starting point.
Once a competitor is ready, they stand on stage in front of a large audience and a panel of critical judges who are there to point out all the negatives in the individual’s physique and, ultimately, the individual with the least flaws wins. This may seem like a harsh concept but it’s crucial for competitors to receive this feedback so that once the competition season is finished they can return to the gym and make the suggested improvements, to triumph when they next return to stage.

Bodybuilding is not everyone’s cup of tea, it is an achievement in itself to have the determination and courage to get up on stage under the bright lights with all the glitz and glamour and know you have made it.

Chloe Gilmour is a personal trainer from Karana Downs who specialises in body building.