Men’s Bodybuilding

Men’s Bodybuilding is judged based upon Symmetry, Muscularity, and Presentation.  In general, bigger is better with maximum muscle definition, conditioning and vascularity.

Male competitors must typically wear v-shaped solid colored posing suits free of any wording, sparkles, jewels or fringes.  Competitors must be barefoot and jewelry is not permitted except for wedding rings.

Competitors are first introduced in numerical order in a straight line or curve facing the judges, assuming a semi-relaxed stance. The head judge will instruct the group to execute a series of quarter turns to the right allowing the judges to view them from the front, left side, back and right side before returning to the front position. During quarter turns, you must keep your arms to your sides, to not twist or turn your body.


The head judge will then instruct the group to execute a series of mandatory poses giving the competitors a sufficient amount of time to hold the poses for the judges and to rest between each pose.  After the initial comparisons are complete the head judge may shift the position of the competitors to conduct additional comparisons.  Mandatory poses may differ slightly between bodybuilding organizations.

In this round the judges are looking at the size of the muscle in relation to skeletal structure, shape, hardness and definition. This includes the separation between individual muscles and muscle groups and striations within a muscle or muscle group. Muscle shape should be aesthetically pleasing and should demonstrate development from the belly out to the extremities.

The Mandatory Poses are:

  1. Front Double Biceps
  2. Front Lat Spread
  3. Side Chest
  4. Rear Double Biceps
  5. Rear Lat Spread
  6. Side Tri-ceps
  7. Abdominals / Quadriceps
  8. Most Muscular-“Crab Shot”

Events are typically split between pre-judging, normally held during the day, and then finals held in the evening.  During the evening finals, each competitor will perform a routine which are typically 60 to 90 seconds.  However, if there are a large number of competitors for a particular event, promoters may limit the number of individual routines (ie only the top 5 competitors based on the pre-judging round would perform routines).  It is performed to music provided by the competitor and gives them an opportunity to display their physique, physical conditioning, personality, and creativity.  They normally contain some or all of the mandatory poses.


Most events will also have a “posedown.”  The posedown takes place after the judges have decided who the top bodybuilders are (typically the top 5, 6 or even 10).  The posedown is not judged but is done for the enjoyment of the fans.


Typical weight classes are:

  • Bantamweight – up to 143 ¼ lb
  • Lightweight – Over 143 ¼ up to 154 ¼
  • Middleweight – Over 154 ¼ up to 176 ¼
  • Light-Heavyweight – Over 176 ¼ up to 198 ¼
  • Heavyweight – Over 198 ¼ up to 225 ¼
  • Super Heavyweight – Over 225 ¼

The promoter may choose to have fewer classes depending upon the number of competitors.

Many IFBB Pro events will have an open class where there are no weight limits and then a 212 class where competitors must be under 212 pounds.

Some competitions will also have Masters classes for competitors who meet a certain age requirement.  These are generally over 40 or over 50.  Most competitions won’t have different weight classes for Master classes since their normally isn’t enough competitors to split the classes.  Competitors who meet these age restrictions are usually allowed to enter the open class as well.