Why a wellness division is sensible for bodybuilding

There is such a prevalence of divisions in women's bodybuilding and figure competition that it is often difficult to keep track or understand the standards of each. First there was bodybuilding, followed by the fitness department, where physical performance was also very important. Then came the figure section, which didn't involve performance but focused on an aesthetic muscular physique in the best possible condition. and now the wellness division.

In 2010, the "Fit Bikini" category was introduced (as opposed to "bikini" as we see in traditional beauty pageants) where the women are firm and in great shape, but tend to be much smaller than other categories. The challenge, however, is that fit bikini competitors tend to have only about 50% of the muscle cells in the upper body, as would be the case for a man of comparable size. But they have an average of 90% of muscle tissue in their legs. This means that for women in a category like bodybuilding it can be a struggle to get the upper body in proportion to the legs. Very many achieve this, but it is difficult.

The Wellness division is for women with more muscle mass, particularly around the glutes, thighs and hips, without extremely low body fat percentage. wings of strength

Most people know that women tend to carry a disproportionate amount of fat under the waist to lower their center of gravity to make it easier when pregnant. But women also have a disproportionately large amount of muscle below the waist. So it's easier to build muscle mass in the lower body than mass above the waist.

The problem for bikini competitors has been the effort it takes NOT to gain too much leg size. When female athletes train with weights, they grow taller, including and especially below the waist. For example, eight-time Ms. Olympia Lenda Murray wanted to be a pro football cheerleader, but her legs were too big and her years of competitive running left her with very large and muscular legs, and there was nothing she could do to reduce them sufficiently.

Wellness Side Pose-NY-WOS 2022 Some women have genetically smaller legs and are therefore best suited to wearing a bikini rather than a spa. wings of strength

Here's what the NPC has to say about fit bikinis:

  • A muscular base that gives shape to the female body
  • Full rounded glutes with a slight separation between the hamstring and glutes
  • A small amount of roundness in the deltas
  • Conditioned Core
  • Overall impression – hair, make-up, suit and tan
  • Bikini athletes should NOT show themselves –
  • Muscle density as seen in a fitted physique
  • Square glutes
  • Muscle separation seen in figure competitors
  • graininess
  • stripes everywhere

Photo-Wellness-Comparison-NY-WOS-2022 In a direct comparison, the leg and buttocks development of Lauralie Chapodos Bikini Pro and Cassandra Gillis Wellness Pro is very different wings of strength

Many bikini fitness competitors face the same dilemma. They will be slim, shapely and defined in the upper body, but their legs remain too large for the standard judging criteria in the bikini division. Hence the development of the “Wellness” category – which could be defined as a bikini with larger lower bodies – glutes and legs.

Here's what the NPC has to say about the Wellness Department:

“What is the wellness department? So what is the new division people are talking about in women's bodybuilding and what makes it different? Well, the Wellness division is for women who are aiming for a slightly taller and more muscular physique than bikini division athletes, without muscle separation and banding. Basically, this subdivision is for women who have more muscle mass, particularly around the glutes, thighs, and hips, without a very low body fat percentage. You also need to carry bulk on your upper body, but not to the same extent as your lower body. If you're familiar with NPCs and women's bodybuilding in general, your typical wellness athlete will fall somewhere between a physique and a bikini. They should be slightly more muscular in the lower body and their physique should not generally be considered too muscular or too lean and muscular.

Wellness Awards-NY-WOS-2022 The wellness department rewards most women's natural structure. wings of strength

When the federations announced this split, there was a sigh of relief from women everywhere in gyms and a simultaneous exodus from fit bikinis to this new category. This division allows many women to build and develop a competitive physique that inherently has too much lower body muscle to meet competitive bikini fit standards. It meant you no longer had to rely on extreme diets or endless hours of grueling cardio. It meant women were in a category that rewarded the natural structure of most female bodies.

It also means that to a bodybuilding audience, the women on stage look more muscular than is appropriate in any type of real physique competition. This also makes it better for the judges because when you're judging a muscle contest, the more muscle you see in the contestants, the easier your job becomes.

So here's the Wellness Division, which recognizes the natural tendency for women to build more muscle below the waist than above. It's a realization that trying to fool Mother Nature isn't pretty.

Wellness Molly White - Bill DobbinsWellness competitor Molly White says her legs are just too big for her to ever succeed in Fit Bikini. Bill Dobbins

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