T Nation

What Do Judges Look for?


In your experiences do judges look more for symmetry and definition or size? It seems like in the old days with Arnold and Franco judges looked more for symmetry and definition, then starting with Chris Dickerson or Samir Bannout judges were going more on size. What are your thoughts?




All three, amongst other things, are criteria on the scorecards.


I know they're all looked for but there seems to have been a shift where sheer size was the most important factor.


Better/more drugs now compared to 40 years ago. Hence, the upper limit for size has increased.


The only thing I don't get is, when did judges start demanding all competitors look like they just took a bath in vegetable oil right before jumping on stage?

Yes even the oldschool guys used oil, but COME ON what is with this modern look? I do not understand the appeal of having everything gleaming and moist like that, in my opinion it actually hurts definition because it has a glaring kind of affect... besides just looking strange, and in combination with a way-too-intense tan? Some of the pictures of competitors I've seen look fucking radioactive or something.

Pet peeve.


Things change slowly, it's not like the day after Arnold competed at 235 that Yates walked onstage at 269. Obviously training and (moreso) the drugs and practices have changed, but it was a gradual effect which as the competitors' physiques shifted, so did the audience's perceptions and expectations.

Ideally though, a judge would look for the best combination of all requisite traits.





I'm beginning to wonder if bodybuilding judges are actually cannibals.


Ideally, judges should look for the best complete package of symmetry, definition and size. However, from experience I can tell you, that the best answer to your question what judges are looking for would be "it depends".

Sometimes sie is more on vogue than symmetry and classic lines and in some competitions judges seem to punish the athletes for too much size and go for hardness and symmetry.
If sompeted in contests where fairly soft but very massive guys took the overall and in others, where hobby marathon runners beat the mass monsters in the overall.


I'm covered in oil right now


First time I saw a body-building competition as a kid I thought that all the guys were black!


you racist ass mother fuu........




That brings up another point, coloring, if you don't have enough tan, you get marked down. If OP is asking because he will compete, conditioning, size, sym, AND, color and posing are important also.


You've got to be white...


Sorry about that, somebody hijacked my account


I think judging on coloring is fucking stupid, personally.

Obviously you can be so pale that it hurts your definition, but I don't see why somebody should get marked down if they are bigger, leaner, and in better condition than all the other guys... just because their skin wasn't dark enough.

We all know that everyone's skin is different, but we often think the only difference is in shades of brown. This isn't true though, and there are many different factors that go into making each person's skin unique that can affect look and condition... Seth Feroce and Dennis Wolf are two good examples of what happens when light skinned guys go too dark with their stage coloring - they get muddied, and it takes away from their lines. So they opt for the "orange glow" instead, which is only slightly less obnoxious.


Dennis Wolf looked quite a bit lighter at the Arnold, it prob showed his defintion better and he was pealed.

I've been told i lost points because of not enough color back in my early days.


I completely agree. I have seen pictures of people right before the show where they had amazing definition, but the fake tan just took too much away. Plus, it looks stupid and does not help in the appeal of bodybuilding.