Hear from veteran bodybuilder Ron Partlow on the difference between bodybuilding and classic physique, and how the addition of the new division is causing a wave of change in the community. Ron has been a competitive bodybuilder for over 20 years and has worked as a trainer since 1999. 

With the recent addition of the classic physique division to competitive bodybuilding, a lot of guys now face with a tough choice. In a simpler scenario, the bigger guys would compete in bodybuilding and guys with more conventional physiques would try their hand at classic physique. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. The best NPC division for you may be entirely out of your control.

Genetics Matter

Yes, your genes can help determine what kind of competition fits you best. Every competition has certain weight limits that correspond with certain heights, and a competitor’s biggest challenge is looking good without breaking any weight limits. The classic physique division is all about the old school look – broad shoulders, thinner waists, and muscle definition. Since it resolves around form more than size, classic physique has more strict weight limits. The low weight limits forces guys who normally focus on size to diet and refocus their workouts so they slim down at the waist and achieve that classic V shape. This is where genetics come in. If you don’t have naturally broad shoulders and a naturally thin waist, you might struggle with classic physique. But that’s okay! Bodybuilding puts less emphasis on your actual build and is more about honing every individual muscle to perfection. That said, the same build that does well in classic can also be ideal for bodybuilding. This has led to significant debate in the bodybuilding community.

When two divisions favor the same body type, it causes an arbitrary divide in the community. What we have seen is that a lot of the younger guys who have only been bodybuilding for a short time and have the great genetics are rushing to the stage as classic competitors because it doesn’t require as much size as bodybuilding.

A Division for Everyone

If your goal is to get massive, heavily muscled, and push your body to the limits, then I still believe bodybuilding is for you. You are free to add as much muscle as you can, and don’t have to worry about relying on tricks to create illusions that work in your favor. If you don’t have the genes to compete in classic, bodybuilding also offers a recourse. You can compensate for not having broad shoulder and a thin waist by adding more muscle. Think of it like choosing an outfit based on the season. Bodybuilding is like winter; no matter how cold you get, you can always add another layer of clothing. Classic physique is like summer; there’s a point where you can’t take off any more clothes and just have to suffer through the heat.

When it comes to NPC competition, there’s no right or wrong division, and there’s a place for everyone. If you’re thinking about competing, consider consulting a coach before you start training so you can know what division fits your body best.

Regardless of your choice, remember: train like hell!

Example of classic physique

Example of bodybuilding physique