Where Do You Belong?

Ron Harris

Many men and women who weight train seriously eventually consider entering some sort of competition to test their strength and/or have their physiques judged. The main contest options are in bodybuilding, powerlifting, fitness, figure and strongman competitions. Some individuals have diverse enough attributes and abilities to compete successfully in more than one of those areas, but most are far better suited to one more than the others. To help you decide which one might be for you, I’ll briefly outline what makes for a champion in each.

Let’s start with bodybuilding. Ask yourself a few questions. Do people frequently comment on your muscularity? Do you build muscle size and lose fat easily? Do you have a physical shape and structure similar to champion bodybuilders—wide shoulders and a small waist, a round look to your muscles and fairly proportionate development from head to toe, with no glaring weak points? If you want to be a good bodybuilder, you should be able to answer yes to most of those questions.

Powerlifting is all about brute power and strength. If you’re exceptionally strong relative to your size, particularly in the squat, deadlift and bench press, odds are you could be collecting trophies and perhaps setting records in that sport.

Strongman competitions are for those who can demonstrate incredible strength lifting odd objects and who usually also have a viselike grip. If you’re the guy everyone calls before moving day because you have no trouble wrestling refrigerators and bureaus up and down stairs or you’re legendary in your hometown for pushing your broken-down car out of a ditch late one stormy night, I bet those events would be a great match for you.

Finally we come to fitness and figure competitions for women. Both require facial beauty and a body that looks athletic and feminine, as well as qualities like poise and grace. Fitness features routines, for which a background in gymnastics and dance would be a bonus.

Of course, you should compete in any type of competition your heart desires. Just know that there’s probably one in which you truly belong and will have a much better chance to shine.