Introduction to Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is the art of sculpting a balanced and muscular body through resistance training, diet and rest. At a competitive level it is all about impressing a panel of judges, who are looking for the most aesthetically pleasing and balanced physique.

Bodybuilding competitors perform a series of well-practised poses designed to show off their physique to best effect. A good pose can make the difference between winning and losing. Body builders are required to perform seven compulsory poses: front double-biceps, front lat-spread, side chest, back double biceps, back lat-spread, side triceps, and abs and thighs.

Unlike weightlifting, strength has no relevance to bodybuilding. The judges are only looking for the competitor with the best overall size and shape, with emphasis on four categories: muscularity, definition, proportion and symmetry.

Spectators eagerly await the final posedown, with the top competitors sharing the stage for the final time before the results are announced. The posedown has no relevance in the final scores. It is simply a chance for the bodybuilders to offer one final performance for the often fascinated and enthralled audience.

Famous former bodybuilders include Charles Atlas, Steve Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.



The first evidence of weight training comes from 11th century India, where athletes made wooden dumbbells. Bodybuilding as an aesthetic sport however, did not develop until the late 19th century.

Prussian Eugen Sandow is generally regarded as the pioneer of modern bodybuilding. After successfully touring Europe and the US with his "muscle display performances", Sandow organised the first ever formal bodybuilding contest at London's Royal Albert Hall in September 1901. The huge success of this event led to similar contests on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1939, the US amateur weightlifting governing body, the AAU, added bodybuilding to its list of events. Seven years later, brothers Ben and Joe Wieder set up the first professional bodybuilding federation, the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB). In 1965, the IFBB started the Mr Olympia contest, currently the most prestigious title in the sport.

The sport was finally recognised by the Olympic movement in 2000 when, after many years of lobbying, the IFBB obtained provisional IOC membership.



Competitors in each weight category first take part in pre-judging, where they perform seven compulsory poses in front of a panel of seven judges and one alternate judge.

Each judge must then rank the bodybuilders in order. Bodybuilders are given a ranking according to a scoring system where the competitor with the lowest score equals the lowest rank and wins. Each judge awards a score of one to the competitor they thought was the best. They then award a score of two to the competitor they saw as second best. The highest and lowest rankings for each competitor are discarded, and the five remaining rankings added together for the pre-judging "sub score", with the lowest score the best.

The top five qualify for the finals, where they perform their own personal 60-second posing routine, followed by the compulsory poses again and finally the posedown, with all five sharing the stage in a final attempt to impress.

Again, each judge ranks the competitors in order, with the highest and lowest rankings discarded, and the remaining five rankings added together for another sub-score. The bodybuilder with the lowest score wins the competition.