Women Bodybuilding: Then & Now

Everyone has heard of or is knowledgeable about the sport of competitive bodybuilding. The female part, which is called girls bodybuilding, started in the late 1970s as women started to take part in competitions. Now, over three years later, women bodybuilding is a huge area of the sport, and it has started to garner the respect it has strived for since it’s beginning.

Although physique contests for girls can really be recorded in the 1960s, they were little more than bikini contests. The first true girls bodybuilding contest is considered the one held in Canton, Ohio in 1978. Promoted by Henry McGhee, the first United States Women’s National Physique Championship was the first competition where the entrants were judged solely on their muscularity compared to how well they seemed in swimsuits.

By 1979, more girls bodybuilding contests were being held. The game, however, didn’t have a sanctioning body till 1980. Called the National Physique Committee, this business hosted the first women’s nationals and became the top amateur level contest for women bodybuilding in the USA. Additionally, 1980 marked the first Ms. Olympia contest, that’s the very honored competition for girls bodybuilding professionals.

As the game continued to grow and increase in general recognition, opponents found themselves needing to train harder and enhance their general muscular physique. By the 1980s, women bodybuilding was no more a bikini competition or seeing who could pose in the greatest heels. It was becoming a popular game with championship titles and increasing fan attendance.

With films which were produced in honor of girls bodybuilding contests, coverage on major television programs and despite several controversies on the way, women bodybuilding has more than demonstrated it’s ability to stay in the ranks of the popular sport. As further evidence, the IFBB established a Hall of Fame in 1999, which would honor bodybuilding’s top athletes. Up to now, 14 girls bodybuilding competitors are inducted. One of them, Carla Dunlap, Cory Everson and Rachel McLish, Bev Francis, Lisa Lyon and Abbye Stockton, Kay Baxter, Diana Dennis, Kike Elomaa, Laura Combes, Lynn Conkwright, Ellen Van Maris, Stacy Bentley and Claudia Wilbourn.

In late 2004, the IFBB introduced a new rule that required women bodybuilding participants decrease their amount of muscularity by 20 percent, which is now referred to as the’20% rule.’ The rule applies to people whose body requires the decrease. In 2005, another rule was introduced which would abolish the weight class system starting with the 2005 Ms. Olympia.

Along with girls bodybuilding, there are two additional categories which are closely related and frequently held as part of the exact same event. The fitness competition comprises a swimsuit round, together with a round which has the entrants judged on their performance in aerobics, dancing or gymnastics. The second group is a figure contest, which is a newer format, and contains the participants being judged solely on their symmetry and muscle tone. This class focuses less on muscle size than does girls bodybuilding.

Although girls bodybuilding has continued to grow in popularity, the prize money remains considerably less than is given to male bodybuilders.

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