By Mike Buckel
I have been judging bodybuilding contests for over 20 years. I started judging while I was still competing in bodybuilding contests. The most common question we hear as judges is “what are the judges looking for”. I will attempt to answer that.
Judges are looking for a combination of three primary things, muscularity, symmetry, and posing ability.
Muscularity is best described as the muscle size, definition, and shape. It is not just a matter of “how big”, but also the definition of the muscle. The competitor should be “big” but also defined.
Symmetry is best described as the proportion of the muscularity. A contestant with perfect symmetry would not have a body part that could be described as their best, or one that was described as their worst. All their body parts would be equal.
Posing ability is not what most competitors think. It is not the best posing routine. It is the ability to show your muscularity and symmetry. In other words we can only judge what you are able to show us.
So which one of these is the most important? The answer is none. They are all equally important. So where is the confusion? It is simple if one competitor showed up with perfect muscularity, symmetry, and could show it off he would win hands down. What happens is we usually have several competitors with varying degrees of each. Each judge chooses the competitor that they think comes closest to the perfect look. That is why we have multiple judges. We want several opinions. We prefer a diverse group of judges who are competitors and/or former competitors. Each competitor in each division receives a placing and only one placing from each judge. If there are ten competitors, each judge must place each competitor 1-10. There can not be any ties. The highest placing score and the lowest placing score is eliminated. The contested with the lowest score is the winner.
One of the best ways to understand the judging process is to test judge a show. To do this you need to call the head judge to arrange it before the show, show up early to prejudging, and sit in the row behind the real judges and place the competitors. You then will have a much better understanding of what the judges go through.
Email your judging questions to me at news@michiganNPCnews.com, and I will post the questions and answers here on this site.