Doug SchneiderI’ve been involved in bodybuilding since the early ‘80s, so when I go to a competition I have a very good idea about how it’s being judged. That doesn’t mean I will always agree with the judges’ decisions, but I know what they’re supposed to be looking for.

But if you’re new to bodybuilding, either as a competitor or a fan, the judging process can seem quite confusing, particularly because it’s completely subjective. In other words, there are no stopwatches, measuring sticks, or other objective means to determine the winner. There are only the judges’ eyes, and what appears to some to be a vague set of rules the judges adhere to.

I’m not the only one who realizes that the judging can seem confusing; so does Steve Duperre, one of our regular contributors who is also a professional bodybuilding competitor with the IDFA, as well as their head judge. Being a competitor and a judge means Steve knows the process very well. And having been involved in bodybuilding for nearly as long as I have, Steve knows the confusion that can arise for new competitors and fans who often don’t know what the judges are looking for.


Physique judging is subjective, but there are definite rules and guidelines that judges adhere to.

That’s why we’re publishing two articles this month by Steve: one on the judging standards for men’s bodybuilding, the other on women’s figure. In November, we’ll publish one more segment on judging fitness modeling. These articles will give a high-level view of how the three disciplines are assessed by the judges, and, hopefully, they’ll show that the rules aren’t as vague as they sometimes seem. What’s more, head judges such as Steve take these rules seriously – the judges must not only adhere to them, they must answer to Steve as well. In the IDFA, judges are held accountable for the scores they give, and if they aren’t following the rules properly, they don’t judge anymore.

So even if you’re a new competitor or a fan, after reading Steve’s articles you should be able to go to a competition with a pretty good idea of what the judges are looking for. But even if you’re an experienced fan or competitor, I suggest that you, too, should read the articles – confusion doesn’t only occur with novices but with veterans as well, since even those who have been in the game for some time don’t always know all the rules. The bodybuilding article will be online October 10, the figure article on October 20. See you back here then!

. . . Doug Schneider, Publisher

Doug Schneider is the publisher and chief photographer for