THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN THE JUDGING CRITERIA AND JUDGING TREND
Looking to compete in the Bikini class in 2022? Let me shed some light on the physique of Today’s Bikini Competitor. If you think coming in soft without well developed muscle from lifting a lot of weight, but doing hours and hours of cardio and circuit training will put you in the top spot…think again. A few years ago, maybe. But not so much anymore.
Before you blast me and remind me of what the Judging Criteria is for Bikini, let me remind you…I am an NPC Regional Judge and I keep up with the local trends, as well as trends in each district, national level and pro. And let me tell you, the trends are very different at each level. Rarely will you find that written “criteria” followed. For one, the criteria is subjective. Two, judges see things different and have different perspectives.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying soft won’t win. You will find a few shows here and there that place the more “soft” competitor at the top…but that’s usually only when today’s bikini competitor doesn’t show up.
Sorry if that gives some of you butt hurt or it pisses a few coaches off, but this is an industry where truth and reality is required to get to the next level. Hold that back and you will have even more butt hurt when an underdeveloped/unconditioned competitor expects to win, but gets placed in 3rd call-outs. So save the sugar coating for the drama folks or sports where everyone gets a Participation Trophy.
Let me be the first to tell you, there is a distinct difference between the “judging criteria” and “judging trends.” The written criteria is one thing, but the trends are based on how Regional Judges are actually scoring since they are the ones that are sending competitors to the National shows. lately, that “trend” is fuller muscles, moderate hardness (and probably harder in 2022) with shoulders and arms that have a good amount of “distinction” between the shoulders and triceps. Notice I did not say “seperation” because that is not entirely accurate. But you can tell where the shoulder ends and the tricep begins so the word “distinction” is more accurate. That said, we are still seeing some overall winners that actually have a bit of striations in their shoulders. Just 2 years ago, they would have been marked down. Not any more.
It sounds confusing, I know. But again, judges can only judge based on who shows up, and thats what is showing up more and more at the bigger shows, and someone has to win.
Of course, well conditioned with solid glutes and hamstrings (see Team USA Athlete Valeria Ocano to the left) are still staples for Bikini, as has been the case for awhile, but a little harder now with tie-in’s that slightly show have been scoring better.
Indulge me for a moment and let me try to explain it a different way.
Take the bikini girls on the Olympia stage as a true representation of the Judging Criteria. They are there because in one way or another, they are as close to a perfect based on the judging criteria and every other competitor is missing something. At the national level, most of the time it’s going to be something related to conditioning. If the difference is one competitor being less conditioned and/or too small and the other competitor being more conditioned and/or a little big, who do you think is going to get the call? And keep in mind, this is BODY-BUILDING!
THE BIKINI DIVISION HAS FINALLY EVOLVED
Take a step back and look from the outside for a minute. The reality is, Bikini is a part of bodybuilding. We’re not judging models or beauty pageant contestants. And when most of the competitors that appear before head judges Tyler and Sandy at national shows are harder and more conditioned than the criteria, that’s all they and the other judges have to go off of and someone has to win. So bite your tongue if you feel they are not judging based on what the criteria is. Again, that is what is showing up at National Shows these days. Softer athletes may fit the criteria better, but Regional Judges are not sending many to the National Shows. They are the ones setting the trends. And quite frankly, I like the harder look myself. Again, this is BODY-BUILDING!
So, how do you get to the current “trend” and standout among your fellow competitors?
You have to lift, HEAVY…PERIOD!
When I say lift heavy, I mean it. You have to start building your base up. You have to have body curves, and some muscular curves too. You need to hit your shoulders (arms too) just as hard as you hit your glutes. As glutes are the standard from the back, shoulders are becoming the standard from the front.
Light weight, high reps, lots of cardio and circuit style training is now a thing of the past. Get over it. Those who follow this style of training will most likely continue to fall down further and further in the standings.
Don’t get me wrong…cardio and circuit training has its place. But it would be a mistake to make them the foundation of your training program. They are tools…nothing more. Anf if you are doing more cardio than resistance training, you need to re-evaluate your programming.
I recommend lots of big compound movements like squats, deadlifts, barbell hipthrust, shoulder press, and a lot of lateral raises too. I recommending putting a program together that utilized both strength (4-7 rep range) and Hypertrophy (8-12 rep range) to maximize growth.
If you think squats and deadlifts make a thicker and blocky waist, think again? That’s rubbish!!! There is absolutely zero scientific evidence that suggest such a thing. That’s just bro-science coming from people who have little to no knowledge of recent scientific research regarding bodybuilding. Byt the time our clients are stage lean, they have some of the tiny waist on the stage…and they all lift heavy. But, need visual proof? Go look at many of the top figure athletes (they need to maintain tiny waist too) these days…many are powerlifters in the offseason…just saying!
Need more proof? Go take a look at Team USA Physique Coach Molly Greer picured at the top. She does a lot of squats, deadlifts and barbell hipthrust…and she lifts heavy. Just missed her procard by one spot at her first Pro Qualifer. How about Team USA Physique Coach Valerie Ocano. Just look at those glutes and tiny waist; all built with heavy compound movements. It’s only her second year competing, and placed third at the NPC USA Championship Pro Qualifer.
Just one more? Sure! Just look those glutes, hamstrings and shoulders on McKay George. She missed her IFBB Procard by 1 spot at her first pro Qualifier, which just happened to be only the thrid time she every stepped on stage. I built her workout program with a lot of heavy Squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses and barbell hip raises. Got a problem with her waist or frame?
The point I’m trying to make here is that you need to pay attention to the trends from show to show. And in most instances now, you have to work hard, lift HEAVY and have the mindset of a bodybuilder to take it to the next level as today’s Bikini Competitor. If not, those who do will keep raising the bar out of your reach.
Lift hard. Lift Heavy. Lift Often.