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What separates good bodybuilders from great bodybuilders?


This question is directed to anyone with bodybuilding contest experience or those who have attended shows in the past. What do you think really catches a judge's eyes? I have set a goal of competing by the Summer of 2003. I've seen some shows over the past few years. I guess what stands out to me the most is upper pec development. Anyone can do flat bench presses over and over and over and build a good lower chest, but they often wind up with droopy pecs. Then, there chest seems to disappear when they hit a front double biceps pose because there's nothing up top. Other things I've noticed are poor thickness in the torso in spite of great lat width, subpar calf development in relation to thighs, and rear delts that appear to be ignored. I'm talking primarily on the local bodybuilding show scene, as it's unusual to see someone more established with serious deficiencies. So whatcha' think? Patricia? Joel? Mufasa? Jason? Heb? Kelly? Anyone? Let's see what we can come up with!




Well, I thought I had the answer you were looking for just from your subject line -- CHARACTER! But reading you actual question, basically you're looking for the one MUSCULAR DEVELOPMENT AREA that catches the judges eye and separates the champs from the also-rans. I don't think there's any one muscle group that makes the total difference.


Hi Eric! Well, what a goal for yourself, and I wish you the best in your training in achieving that goal! Kewl.

I have judged a few BB shows (been a LONG time ago, now) and the first thing I notice are the abs. Since they are at the center of the bod and are the best way of spotting the BF amount of a competitor. Then, the next thing would be the "silhouette" muscles: side/medial delts, lats, outer thigh sweep, calves. And from the back, I look for "jiggly" areas - or the least "jiggly". Then I look for thickness, and of course, hardness.

I told Ko just last night that I look for the physique which has the "least missing parts" of the whole. But also has a nice combo of thickness and hardness. I guess you could say a "poetry of muscle" that is standing before me. I don't look for freakiness.

I tell you, Eric the best experience of watching judging would have to have been the Team Universe in '95. I competed there, and while didn't do very well (it was my first National level show), I got to experience National Level judging. Amazing. A very experienced judge can spot the top five placers right off the bat.

The best thing to do at this point to train for would be for thickness. I see a serious lack of it in local shows. Probably due to the fact that many competitors train like a "bodybuilder" rather than like a "powerlifter". Since you have given yourself sometime to prepare (a good thing, too), you can train in phases. This is a good time to train for thickness and to bring up the weak areas of your physique. And before you compete next Summer, do a diet test run. Frank Zane useto do that, and well, he's got three Mr. Olympias to show that it worked for him.

I hope this helped!


Tuck a rolled sock down the front of your posing trunks. And for an even bigger eye catcher... one down the back.


damn there really are a lot of "JC's" on the forum


Thanks for the great analysis; it's definitely good to hear it from someone who's been there before. Luckily, my thickness really comes along well due to deadlifting and rowing until I'm blue in the face. Now, I'm really focusing on bringing up the legs (especially the quad sweep and the lateral head of the calves) and forearms. I've gotten some compliments from reputable sources (former competitors) on my veins of all things. Whenever I do anything that really works the grip (e.g. db lunges), it looks like I have a worm colony in my forearms. Now, if I could just get some meat to go with my worms, I'd be all set! Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to use that to my advantage down the road. Thanks again; great info!


I don't compete but from what I've seen and heard from others I would say at the local level the things that attract the judges eyes the most are the genetic things which you have little control over (broad shoulders coupled with very small hips and waist).


Well I certainly believe you'll do fine in competition. You've got a head start with the info you've gained from the forum and I know you stay in contact with Joel, who's got experience up the wazoo, as well. And combine all that with the knowledge you already have and your training background....

Just gotta keep us all informed! I'm very excited for you! And just tryin' to do my small part in helping a fellow T-Forumite. :slight_smile: But, glad to help!


genetics, lifestyle and v hard training suited to them


the amounts of drugs they use.


Hey Eric. Looks like most everything has been convered with Patricia's post. I agree with you on the aspect of upper pec development. I have been making a conscience effort through my previous phases of training to fill my upper chest up a bit. I am not working to add some thickness. You have set some solid goals for yourself. Just wanted to wish you luck. Keep us informed.


I talked to a top amateur BB'er and current judge who said that hamstrings are all the rage with judges at the moment as good development there shows true discipline and a commitment to complete development.


Shredded glutes and hamstrings will set you apart from the pack.