Vocabulary Building

While The Arnold Sports Festival isn’t the place you see many first-time fitness competitors pop up, the annual event is happening this month (March 3-6) and for those interested in the big bodybuilding stage, (614) offers a primer to understand the breakdown of each division:

Arnold Classic

Attire: Men’s posing suit

As you can tell by the name, this is the big headliner of the competition—the men’s showdown made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. If someone says they “won the Arnold,” this is what they’re referring to. Think of it like Best Picture at the Oscars. Competitors are required to strike a series of poses to show off their muscle size, definition, symmetry, conditioning and vascularity. The judges look for the competitor who displays the lowest level of body fat while maintaining muscle definition and fullness.

Arnold Classic 212

Attire: Men’s posing suit

This division is separated from the Arnold Classic by the weight requirement. Competitors must come in weighing 212 pounds. They tend to be smaller in stature than those in the bodybuilding division, and competitors are evaluated on the same criteria as the Arnold Classic division.

Men’s Physique

Attire: Board shorts and a smile

This division is essentially male modeling with a fitness bent. The competitors are judged on overall appearance, presentation, muscle definition and symmetry. Specifically the judges prefer a broad back, narrow waist, and defined chest.

Bikini International

Attire: Bikini posing suit and high heels

The bikini division is what it sounds like: a beauty pageant for fitness. Competitors are judged on their level of body fat, muscle tone, and definition (specifically the glute muscles) as well as their overall presentation, appearance, and posing.

Figure International

Attire: Figure posing suit and heels

The figure division is a step up from bikini as far as muscle size and definition. Competitors here are expected to be a bit harder and more defined. Whereas bikini prioritizes the glutes, figure favors a wide back and narrow waist, similar to the men’s physique class. These ladies are also judged on overall appearance, presentation, and posing.

Fitness International

Attire: Figure suit and heels for posing round, costumes for performance round

Women’s Fitness competitors are generally former gymnasts and cheerleaders. They are required to perform a choreographed tumbling routine to music, in addition to a comparisons round of posing similar to the Figure division. The judges consider not only their overall appearance, muscle size, definition and symmetry but also their posing and performance.

Physique International

Attire: Figure suit, no shoes

This division is the “largest,” as far as muscle size and definition of the women’s classes. These competitors also perform a choreographed posing routine to music, similar to those of the male bodybuilding competitors. Points are given based on overall appearance, performance, muscle size and symmetry as well as low levels of body fat while maintaining muscle definition and fullness.