Choosing a show – How?


There are different levels of shows to choose from. The level of competition generally increases with each of the following categories:


Local, State or Regional contests, National contests, World contests and Pro contests. Plus there are several divisions within a show. There are master’s categories for higher age groups, novice classes for people fairly new to competition, and sometimes even junior or teen classes for younger age groups.


Bulletin Boards can be a great way to ask other competitors their opinions about a certain organization, promoter, or show. Some bulletin boards for this can be found at,,  and Word of mouth from others near you is also a good source for information about area shows.


For fitness and figure competitors who are deciding which division to compete in, it’s best to research the organization’s physique and routine guidelines and if possible, buy a video tape from the show or attend a show to see what the caliber of competition is like and to observe the format of the show.   Some organizations prefer a smaller, sleeker look while others award muscularity and hardness near that of a bodybuilder.  As well, some organizations require a series of poses similar to bodybuilding or entail extra rounds such as interviews, evening gowns, obstacle courses, or sportswear, while some consist only of quarter turns.

Differences in Meanings for Novice Classes

Novice can have different meanings among the various organizations. One federation may have more lenient rules of eligibility for their Novice class, and may allow crossovers from the Open. These shows could have similar competition in the Open and Novice divisions. Other organizations may limit the Novice class more and not allow crossovers from the Open division. Their shows will have truer novices in the Novice class, and there will be a considerable difference between the Novice and Open divisions. Do careful research before choosing a contest to compete in if these options are important to you.


Different Drug-Testing Procedures

If your intent is to enter a drug-free contest, be careful about the differences that may exist between shows that are promoted as drug-tested events. A particular show may claim to be drug free, but not perform any actual testing. Or a contest could be pitched as a drug-tested event but its criteria may be one year’s time being drug-free. Duration organizations consider one to be drug-free can vary. Time drug-free can be 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 7 years, or even lifetime. If these issues concern you, make sure you know the procedures before you enter so won’t object to the competitors you could potentially face.


Some organizations use polygraph testing as their screening device for use of banned substances. Shows tested by polygraph usually test all competitors, but can select athletes randomly for testing at these events too. Other organizations may use urinalysis as their screening method. Shows that test by urinalysis usually only test class or division winners, or select individuals instead of everyone because urine testing is a little more expensive than polygraph testing. Some organizations use both methods at certain shows. Urinalysis only traces substances back to about 6 months max, usually much less time than that for many substances. Plus growth hormone or insulin use doesn’t show up at all on these tests. Usually any kind of testing is a good enough deterrent to keep athletes using banned substances away from local, state or regional shows. With having to pay to enter, getting only a trophy as the reward, and not getting any major publicity or possible endorsements such as they would from a national or world event, there is very little appeal for one to enter a natural show not being natural. This becomes more of a problem with the higher scale events like pro qualifiers, World championships or pro shows.


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