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Difference between Bodybuilding vs Physique competition

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To many, the different terms and categories in the fitness world that refer to body type can be very confusing. Don’t make the common mistake of believing that these would be interchangeable. Each category comes with major differences in body type. Thus, a physique competition look is distinct from a bodybuilding one.

The differences

The boundaries aren’t always very clear. The ‘physique’ type can be mistaken for the lighter bodybuilding range. The more muscle mass one has, the closer he gets to the upper bodybuilding range. Building mass requires, besides an intensive training program and an appropriate diet, a series of muscle- and performance-enhancing supplements, such as BCAAs and creatine.

‘Physique’ is regarded as the first (and most crowded) category of men who start weight training intensely. Some of them stop there; others make progress in the desired direction. Many mistakenly believe that men in the physique division don’t train their legs enough but focus on the upper body. This is a misconception spread by the fact that they’re usually wearing shorts that cover too much of the leg and therefore it seems to be neglected.

It may sound like the easier job, but physique competitors disagree. Their category requires no flaws whatsoever. One needs great attention to detail and perfectionism in order to be relevant on stage. The poses are also challenging, whereas, with bodybuilding, competitors are free to show their strengths and hide their flaws through the poses they choose. In a physique competition, weak areas cannot be concealed.

Men’s physique competitions are on the rise, because the category is a popular one. Many describe it as “what women like”. The traditional aesthetic criterion is the most important one here, not mass. Competitors aim to achieve a well proportionate, symmetrical look. There are no exaggerations here. A bodybuilder strives to maximize their muscles and gain as much as possible, often with disregard to proportions. Most people cannot understand this obsession with mass and don’t see it as ‘beautiful’.

Bodybuilders train and eat differently. They don’t need to look perfect all the time. They have a bulking and a cutting period. At certain times, they put on mass, including fat. Then, they work out to build lean muscle and melt the fat they accumulated, to get ready for the competition. There are no such stages for men’s physique. No heavy compound exercises either. Instead, there is a permanent emphasis on looking lean. Better put, one has to be muscular (but not huge) and lean, both at the same time.

Unsure of which category is suitable to you?

The general advice when choosing your division is to go for the one that appeals to you best, in terms of body image. Some don’t like being as massive and ripped as a bodybuilder, they’re just aiming for a well-toned musculature; for them, the physique category is the most appropriate. Competing in the bodybuilding category, on the other hand, will require for all the time and resources you can give.

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