I remember when I first started to get 'into' the world of physique competition, I had a lot of questions and confusion. Luckily, Max has had an interest in bodybuilding for nearly a decade, so I had someone to ask! Nonetheless, I wanted to do a Q&A post because I know this can all be somewhat confusing and foreign.
So here we go!
Allie asked, "Is long hair a prereq for bikini/other categories? It seems like you never see medium or short-haired ladies!"
Long hair definitely is not a requirement! =) However, I have frequently heard the ideal female physique competitor described as "Barbie with muscles" (the amount of muscle and leanness, of course, determined by the category in which she competes).
Brittany asked, "Do you think one should go with their dreams or go with the division that seems best for them?"
I'm torn on this one. As you all know, I initially intended to compete in Figure. However, as the show approached, it became obvious that I wouldn't be a good fit for that category. At the advice of a local NPC judge, I switched to Bikini because I didn't want to be the least muscular girl on stage - I didn't want to be the girl everyone was looking at, thinking, "Why is she up there?"
So I guess it depends on what's important to you. If you want to be able to hold your own physique-wise, choose the category closer to your look. If you want to be able to hold your own in terms of posing, choose the category with posing that fits your personality.
If you do think you want to qualify for Nationals down the road, choose the category you ultimately want to compete in so that your feedback from the judges will be based on how well you performed to that category's standards.
Josie said, "I don't understand the difference between figure and bikini, so that's my question."
Figure girls are more muscular than bikini girls.
At my Level 2 NPC show, these were the Short Bikini girls:
and these were the Short Figure girls:
So as you can see, even at a level 2 show, these competitors are much more muscular and lean than bikini competitors. At the pro level, the difference is even more obvious:
This is Nathalia Melo, the winner of the Bikini Olympia:
And this is Erin Stern, winner of the Figure Olympia:
In terms of posing, Bikini posing is more 'flirty,' sometimes even described as 'sexy.'
Per NPC News Online, Bikini judging is based on "balance and shape" first, then "complexion, skin tone, poise, and overall presentation." Figure, on the other hand, is scored based on "Muscularity with separation, no visible striations; overall muscle tone with shapely lines, overall firmness, not excessive leanness; full general assessment; healthy appearance; make-up and skin tone."
Anonymous asked, "Do you think long-distance running and figure competitions are mutually exclusive?"
I am not a distance runner, so take everything I say with a large grain of salt! I think both goals could be pursued, but the athlete in question would have to focus on one activity at a time. In the final weeks leading up to a show, many competitors will simply not have the energy to perform very well in cardiovascular activity. Additionally, in my experience, long duration, steady-state cardio makes people very hungry. You probably won't want to make yourself more hungry during the pre-contest period.
I did receive more questions, but I think this post is long enough! =) I'll continue the Q&A later this week.