Judges look for a range of aspects of the physique.
- Muscularity – the amount of visible muscle on a competitor.
- Condition – the definition or separation of individual muscles, and muscle groups.
- Size – the overall size of the physique, or parts of the physique, relative to the competitor’s height.
- Shape – the aesthetic quality and curvature of individual muscle groups.
- Proportion – the relative size of one individual part of the physique as compared to another.
- Symmetry – the relative proportion of the left and right sides of the physique.
- Balance – the relative proportion of the lower and upper halves of the physique.
In addition to the physical aspects of judging, competitors should also consider the importance of their Stage Presence. That is the confidence, and overall positive energy they project while on stage. This is especially important for Model categories.
Each one of these aspects plays a vital role, and depending on the category, may be weighted differently in terms of judging the physique.
Bodybuilding and figure competitors complete three separate rounds of judging wherein the panel will determine the winner based on the various aspects of the physiques on stage. The first round is the 60 second individual free posing routine. The second and third rounds are judged in groups; the symmetry round (quarter turns) and the muscularity round (compulsory poses).
Models are judged in two rounds – individual stage walk, and group stage walk. The individual stage walk usually consists of a T-Walk, V-Walk or catwalk depending on the size and configuration of the stage. The group stage walk consists first of moving in a line from the front of the stage to the back, and then returning to the front. The second part of the group stage walk consists of a circle parade of the stage in one line.
The ideal physique for any category will meet all of the aspects of the criteria to the requisite degree.
A competitor should aim first to build a physique that is well proportioned rather than growing muscle for the sake of putting on size.
The judges will be looking closely at the individual muscle groups and the overall proportions of the physiques on stage.
Common weaknesses in proportion are:
- Shoulders too small compared to chest.
- Triceps too small compared to biceps or shoulders.
- Lower body too small compared to upper body.
- Calves too small compared to thighs.
- Upper back not wide enough compared to lower back.