Introduction to Men’s Physique Competition

Men's Physique Competition Competitor Patrick Delgado

Men’s Physique Competitor Patrick Delgado

Intro to Men’s Physique

You may have noticed the men’s physique class taking the mainstream by storm when it comes to bodybuilding/physique competitions.  Although some aspects are similar to bodybuilding, there are some vast major differences in the men’s physique category.

What is Men’s Physique?

Men’s physique is a relatively new category in the bodybuilding/physique competition world in which contestants perform quarter turns wearing board shorts (about an inch above the knees), and are judged based upon muscularity, body conditioning, symmetry, and stage presence.  Contestants should be fit and display proper shape and symmetry, but extreme muscularity and conditioning such as what’s typically seen in bodybuilding is frown upon.

Show Day Considerations

  • Quarter Turns/Posing – During the comparison round, judges will observe competitors in group setting and have them perform quarter turns to access their physiques from the front, both sides, and rear.   Competitors should practicing posing in order to display their physique in the best possible manner.  Also, appearing confident and displaying polished posing will enhance stage presence.
  • Stage Presence – Proper stage presence and confidence is needed to successfully express personality, charisma, and charm to judges and audiences.  Although this criteria can be very subjective, this is one of the main judging components to the men’s physique class.  Therefore, having a great stage presence will be vital to any competitor’s success.
  • Tanning – Proper tanning will help display and bring out the best of your physique under the stage lights.  Most physique competitions will have a tanning specialist available on site providing tanning services for a small fee.  If you choose to hire your own tanning specialist, be sure they’re experienced in physique competitions as the tanning products are different from your everyday spray tan.  Also, if you decide to do your own tanning, be sure to buy a quality product and practice applying the tan in advanced.   The last thing you want is a bad tan taking away attention from hard earned physique.
  • Attire – Men’s physique competitors should wear board shorts that are waist high and about an inch shorter than the knee.  Spandex and Logos on shorts are usually not permitted unless they’re a manufacturing logo/symbol  such as the Under Armor, Billabong, or Nike Symbol.
  • Grooming – Removal of body hair (legs, arms, back, chest, etc) is pretty much expected for all classes of all bodybuilding/physique competitions.  Long hair and facial hair are acceptable as long as it’s not a distraction from your physique.  On a side note, keep in mind that long, thick, or bushy/poofy hair can make the shoulders appear narrow which takes away from the upper body v-taper appearance.  Long, thick, or bushy/poofy hair competitors should either get a haircut, pull their hair back, or style it in a manner that doesn’t take away from shoulder width.


As with all fat loss diets, you’ll want to take an adequate amount of time to shed body fat.  This may sound redundant, but aiming for about 1lb-2lbs of weight loss per week is a good pace.  If you feel as though you need to lose 15lbs to reach your desired level of conditioning, give yourself anywhere between 15-20 weeks to lose that weight.  I’d recommend giving yourself more time than needed if this is your first time doing a competition diet because chances are you’ll hit a few hiccups in the road.

As far as types of diet plans go, this is a personal preference. You can find some tips on diet plans and nutrition at Also, if you’re interested in the types of diets competitors follow, check out my 5 Bodybuilding Competition Diets: Pros and Cons article.


As a physique competitor, your main focus will be to have a well-developed, balanced, and symmetrical upper body (front and rear) along with a corresponding pair of calf muscles.  Your specific type of weight training should be focused around your needs and weak points.  Although you aren’t judged on your leg muscles (quads, glutes, hamstrings), for general fitness reasons I wouldn’t recommend cutting them out of your weight training routine.

Cardio will likely also be a part of your training routine.  It’s a great way to increase your daily caloric expenditure and to help shed fat.  Whether a competitor does high intensity intervals or low intensity state steady cardio, it’s really up to the individual.  Determining factors are usually time, your body’s response to each type of cardio, and your energy levels.  I recommend doing a combination of both because there will be some days where you’re too drained to perform high intensity cardio and days where you don’t have time to do long duration cardio. Additionally, this will allow you to access what type of cardio works better for your physique.

Final Advice

If you’re unsure or thinking about competing in the men’s physique competition, I recommend checking out a local show.  Not only will this give you more insight on what to expect, it will also help you decide if this is something you truly want to do if you’re on the hinges.  Although some competitors choose to go through the contest preparation stage alone, I strongly recommend that a beginner hire an experienced coach to help guide them along the way.

See Also:

Author Profile: Julian Brown, BS, ACE-CPT, NASM-FNS      Julian is the co-owner of The Yard Fitness, an established fitness writer, a professional natural bodybuilder, a fitness & sport nutrition specialist, and a certified personal trainer. He began strength training at the young age of fourteen to improve his sports performance and hasn’t looked back since. Julian is a graduate of Grambling State University, ACE & NASM certified, and he has over a decade of personal experience in strength training.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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