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Why a Wellness Division Makes Sense for Bodybuilding

There is such a proliferation of divisions in women’s bodybuilding and figure competition that it is often difficult to keep track or understand the standards of each. First, there was Bodybuilding followed by the Fitness division, in which athlete performance was very important in addition to physique. Then came the Figure division, which did not include performance but focused on an aesthetic muscular physique in the best possible condition. and now the wellness division.

In 2010 the category of “fit bikini” was introduced (as opposed to “bikini’ as we see it in conventional beauty contests) where the women are firm and in great condition but tend to be much smaller than in other divisions. However, the challenge is, that Fit Bikini competitors tend to only have about 50% of the muscle cells in the upper body, as would a comparably sized male. But they have on average 90% of the muscle tissue in the legs. This means it can be a struggle for women in a category like bodybuilding to build the upper body in the appropriate proportion to the legs. A great many achieve this, but it is difficult.

Here is what the NPC has to say about fit bikini:

Many bikini competitors in fitness face the same dilemma. They get lean, shapely, and defined in the upper body, but their legs remain too big for standard judging criteria in the Bikini division Hence, the development of the “wellness” category – which could be defined as bikini with bigger lower bodies – glutes and legs.

Here is what the NPC has to say about the Wellness Division:

“What is the Wellness Division? So, what’s the new division people keep talking about in women’s bodybuilding, and what sets it apart? Well, the Wellness Division is put in place for women that are looking to build a physique slightly bigger and more muscular than Bikini Division athletes, without muscle separation and striations. Basically, this division is for women carrying more muscle mass, especially around the glutes, thighs, and hips, without super-low levels of body fat. They will also need to be carrying mass on the upper body, but not to the same degrees as the lower body. If you are familiar with the NPC and women’s bodybuilding in general, your typical wellness athlete will sit somewhere between physique and bikini. They should be slightly more muscular on the lower body, and their physiques, in general, should not be considered too muscular, or too lean and ripped either.”

It also means that, for a bodybuilding audience, the women on stage look more muscular as is appropriate in any kind of genuine physique contest. This also makes it better for the judges, since when you are judging a muscle contest, the more muscle you see in competitors, the easier your job becomes.

So here is to the Wellness Division, which recognizes the natural tendency of women to build more muscle below the waist than above. It is a recognition that it’s not nice to try and fool Mother Nature.

Manion expressed his full support for the athletes on “Femme Flex Friday.”


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