Bodybuilding is bodybuilding — right? Well, yes for the most part, but not necessarily. There are essentially four different types of bodybuilding — and within those types, there are different types of competitions. The four types of bodybuilding are professional bodybuilding, natural bodybuilding, female bodybuilding, and teenage bodybuilding.
A professional bodybuilder is someone who has won qualifying competitions, and has earned a professional bodybuilder card from the IFBB, or International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness. A professional bodybuilder can compete in sanctioned competitions, and if they place high enough in sanctioned competitions, they can compete in the Mr. Olympia competition.
A natural bodybuilder is someone who competes in competitions where the contestants are tested for illegal substances. In other words, if you used steroids to beef up, you are not a natural bodybuilder, and cannot compete as one — ever. It isn’t just illegal drugs that are banned from natural bodybuilding, however. Anabolic steroids, diuretics, and prohormone drugs are all banned. Natural bodybuilding has its own organizations, including the North American Natural Bodybuilding Foundation (NANBF) and the Natural Physique Association (NPA).
Female bodybuilding is as the name implies. It is bodybuilding for females. Women started appearing in the sport in the 1970s, and because their bodies are physically different from male bodies, they obviously cannot be judged against each other in competition. Therefore, there are now female-only competitions. Women also have fitness and figure competitions, as opposed to just bodybuilding competitions. The Ms. Olympia competition has been around since 1980.
Because a teenage body cannot be compared to an adult body fairly, just as women and men’s bodies cannot be compared fairly, there is a division for teenage bodybuilding as well.
As you can see, the divisions are clearly defined, and it isn’t hard to figure out where you belong in the grand scheme of things. Of course, the ultimate goal for almost all competitive bodybuilders is to become Mr. or Ms. Olympia!
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