What exactly are the IFBB & NPC judges looking for?


We are committed to making your feel confident not only on stage, but during your entire competition prep journey. This blog will teach you what the judges will be looking for on stage this year.

We’ve got that covered for you! Many competitors come to us and tell us that it is very hard to determine what the judges are looking for. One of the reasons is they see a competitor win a show who they feel is too hard. In other shows a competitor may win who seems softer. Still yet in other shows, a competitor may win with very little muscle so that her resulting physique just appears thin and less shapely. Are any of these just the results of “bad judges” or “politics” or “judging criteria or judges making it up as they go?” The answer is No. Someone has to win each show.



There will always be a first place competitor, even if only one competitor is competing. If that person is out of shape, you’re going to have an out of shape winner. It doesn’t means that person is what the judges are looking for. This person winning a show does not make them our new standard. Simply put, out of those who showed up on that day, this person was the closest to the standard. You cannot lose sight of the fact that regardless of how lean you can come in or how shredded you appear in your mirror, if you have a clear strength, that means you have a clear weakness. We will start this series off with what the judges are seeing when looking at the ideal bikini competitor.

We are not looking for great glutes or a tiny waist or nice shoulders and triceps. We are looking for all of those and much more!



Look at the athletes that compete on the Arnold and Olympia IFBB Bikini Stage. These 2 competitions bring in the best of the best from around the globe! If an athlete has earned the honor of competing on either of these stages, you can use them as a representative for what the standard currently is.  IFBB Bikini Pro Ashley Kaltwasser is Ms. Bikini Olympia x3. She is one of the current Gold Standards for the division in both the IFBB and NPC and is exactly what judges are looking for. Notice that she has a very balanced frame. You do not look at her and see shoulders or glutes or quads or obliques or hamstrings. Ashley has built a very symmetrical physique. She has muscle mass but it is not overbearing. No single body part is more developed or less developed than the rest. There are no striations and you don’t really see a lot of cut up definition. You can tell by looking at her in movement that if she flexed a particular body part, she would likely show that definition. However that definition is not displayed in the bikini poses.

Ashley Kaltwasser Olympia 2019 


The photo below features IFBB Bikini Athletes: Daraja, Casey, and Ashely,These athletes show different body types but all fit into what the judges are looking for. In the athletes front pose, you can see that the bulk of their upper body width almost mirrors their lower body width. You see a nice rounding of both shoulders in their front pose due to the amount of torso twist they have. The arm that is down has the lat flared, lending to the fabulous tiny waist and accentuating the S curve that they get with her lat out and their glutes lifted. Their glutes are flexed enough to see a distinction between the glute and the quad muscle, which is different from actual muscle head separation, which would be detrimental to their look as bikini competitors. They lift their torso and stretch their abs upright, simultaneously holding them in. They have nice oblique lines and you can clearly see ab distinction, but not thick overbearing obliques or a protruding 6 pack.

Daraja, Casey, and Ashely


From the rear, we see nice rounded delts with a nice amount of distinction. There is no individual deltoid head separation and no striations. The athletes hold their heads upright, and their upper back flat. This allows judges to see the width created from nice lats and softly rounded shoulders. This tapers down to a small, narrow waist. Their glutes are nice and high due to a low back arch. There is no flex to the glutes, no striations, and they still look soft and feminine without any visible hardness. The glutes are nice and rounded up top. The shape and placement of their suit bottoms, The Micro Cut from mimics the curve of the bottom of the glutes. The suit bottoms reinforce the illusion of a rounded peach shaped bottom that the judges are looking for.

Daraja, Casey, and Ashely


As they walk, moves, and transition, they show off their narrow waist. When they walk, they cross one foot in front of the other, keeping their glutes nice and high. They always keep their elbows at about the same level in their arm movements. Their hands never raises higher than eye level at any point. They are always posed and poised. Each movement is purposeful and intended to showcase their physiques in its best light, without regard to what may work better for another competitor. Makeup is quite a bit darker on the outer edges, leading into a brighter center. This gives them depth and contrast under the harsh lighting. Their hair is soft and styled nicely, complimenting the very feminine look overall. It is not so full as to cover their delts from the rear.

Bodybuilding posing, in all divisions, is about showing off all your hard work and strategically minimizing any weak points. Their suit fabric contrast nicely with their hair color and is far from the undertones in their tans. This allows judges to quickly see where the suit ends and the physique begins. The suit connectors are high on the hip, The ACBikinis High Hip fit, elongating their legs and reinforcing the V taper of their waist. The back of the suit bottoms dips down in the center, to complement the rounded glutes.


“The suit bottoms reinforce the illusion of a rounded peach shaped bottom that the judges are looking for. ”


We’ve broken down all aspects of the IFBB’s top bikini competitor’s physique and stage presentation, but what does this all mean? Judges are looking for the entire package. We are not looking for great glutes or a tiny waist or nice shoulders and triceps. We are looking for all of those and much more! The judging criteria doesn’t change from show to show, the competitors who show up change. Don’t base the physique you’re building off of the last winner of that show. Build a well balanced physique and learn how to properly show it off. Now you know exactly what the judges are looking for out of today’s bikini competitor!  It’s time to start shopping for your next competition suit to excel your confidence on stage!

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