Bodybuilding Weight Classes [Explained]

bodybuilding weight classes

There are a lot of different bodybuilding weight classes, and it can be unclear to know which one you should compete in.

This article will explain the different bodybuilding weight classes for men, women, and amateurs.

Lindy Health will also go in-depth into the bodybuilding divisions to understand precisely what is involved in each competition category.

Men’s Bodybuilding Weight Classes

Men’s Bodybuilding Weight Classes are separated into different divisions and weight classes.

The divisions are Ungraded, Novice, Open, Masters, and Professional. The additional weight classes for men are Lightweight, Middleweight, Light-Heavyweight, Heavyweight, Super Heavyweight, and Men’s Physique.

The Men’s Bodybuilding Weight Classes started in the 1970s with the National Physique Committee (NPC), now the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The AAU held the first-ever Men’s National Physique Championship in 1971. The NPC then had its first Men’s National Bodybuilding Championships in 1977. In 1982, the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) held its first Mr. Olympia contest, which is now considered the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world.

The Men’s Bodybuilding Weight Classes have evolved over the years and continue to do so. The novice division is for athletes who have placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in a previous NPC or IFBB competition. The ungraded division was created for athletes who have never competed or have not put in any competition.

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and other performance enhancing drugs are often used across all of the bodybuilding divisions.

The general weight classes for men’s bodybuilding divisions are as follows:

Bantamweight: Up to 142 lbs

Lightweight: 143-156 lbs

Middleweight: 157-176 lbs

Light Heavyweight: 177-198 lbs

Heavyweight: over 198 lbs

Woman’s Bodybuilding Weight Classes

Female bodybuilders compete in various weight classes, from lightweight to heavyweight. There are also several women’s divisions, including bikini, figure, and physique.

As you can see, there are only five weight classifications for women compared to the eight divisions for men. This is likely because there are not as many women participating in bodybuilding competitions compared to the number of men competing

Female bodybuilders compete in one of five weight classes, as shown below.

Lightweight: up to 115 lbs.

Middleweight: over 115 lbs up to 125 lbs.

Light-Heavyweight: over 125 lbs up to 140 lbs.

Heavyweight: over 140 lbs.

The weights listed above are only a guide and not an absolute rule. Some competitions may have different weight limits for each class, so it is always best to check with the event organizer before competing.

It is also important to note that drug testing is often done at bodybuilding competitions. Athletes should be aware of the substances they are taking and whether or not the organization bans them.

– Note

Female bodybuilding continues to grow as women become more accepted in the sport. We hope that more female divisions are added as the sport progresses.

Amateur Bodybuilding Weight Classes

The weight classes for the Amateur division vary based on age, gender, and height.

bodybuilding amateur weight classes

The amateur division is separated into different age groups:

  • Teens (14-19 years old)
  • Juniors (20-23 years old)
  • Masters (40+ years old)

There are also weight classes for both men and women. The weight classes for men are as follows:

Lightweight: Up to 154.99 lbs

Middleweight: 155-176.99 lbs

Light Heavyweight: 177-198.99 lbs

Heavyweight: 199+ lbs

The weight classes for women are as follows:

Lightweight: Up to 121.25 lbs

Middleweight: 121.26-143.75 lbs

Light Heavyweight: 143.76-165.25 lbs

Heavyweight: 165.26+ lbs

As you can see, the weight classes for amateur bodybuilders are much different than the professional division. This is because amateurs are not allowed to use performance-enhancing drugs, so they cannot bulk up as much as the professionals can.

The amateur division is an excellent way for bodybuilders to start the sport. It is also a great way for older bodybuilders to stay active and compete against others their age.

Mr. Olympia Weight Classes

Mr. Olympia is the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world and has different weight classes than other competitions. The Mr. Olympia contest was held in 1965 and won by Larry Scott. The current Mr. Olympia is Phil Heath.

There are not any predefined weight classes in the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition.

Competitors must do one of the following to be allowed on stage at the Olympia:

  • Place in the top five in their division at the previous Olympia.
  • Win any of the IFBB qualifying contests.
  • Rank among the top three in total points awarded for second through the fifth place at qualifying competitions.

There are slight modifications for certain divisions with more than 25 qualifying events: The previous Olympia winner is automatically qualified, plus the winner of each qualifying competition and the top five in total points.

The IFBB Professional League can also extend special invites to other athletes.

212 Bodybuilding Division

The 212 Bodybuilding division is a new division that was created in 2011. The 212 division is for bodybuilders who weigh, as the name states, under 212 pounds and are below 5’5″ tall. In the first year, the 212 weight class was won by bodybuilder Flex Lewis.

212 Bodybuilding Division

The 212 weight class is similar to other divisions where muscle mass and the ability to perform the seven essential bodybuilding poses are what crowns the winner.

As bodybuilding grows, we hope to see more weight classes and divisions being added to accommodate all athletes.

Australian Natural Bodybuilding Federation Divisions

The Australian Natural Bodybuilding Federation (ANBF) is Australia’s most prominent natural bodybuilding organization.

The ANBF offers many different divisions for athletes to compete in.

The weight classes for their bodybuilding competitions are as follows:

  • Men’s Bodybuilding
  • Women’s Bodybuilding
  • Mixed Pairs
  • Novice Men’s Bodybuilding

If you are located in Australia and are interested in competing in natural bodybuilding, the ANBF is an excellent organization to join.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there weight classes in men’s physique?

Yes, there are weight classes in men’s physique. The weight classes for men’s physique are as follows:

Lightweight: Up to 154.99 lbs

Middleweight: 155-176.99 lbs

Light Heavyweight: 177-198.99 lbs

Heavyweight: 199+ lbs

What division is Ronnie Coleman?

Ronnie Coleman is a professional bodybuilder in the Heavyweight class who competed in the Mr. Olympia competition. Ronnie Coleman won the Mr. Olympia title eight times.

What division was Arnold Schwarzenegger in?

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a professional bodybuilder who dominated the bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight classes. He competed in the Mr. Olympia competition and won it seven times.

What weight class is Chris Bumstead in?

Chris Bumstead is a professional bodybuilder in the Heavyweight class. He won the Mr. Olympia title in 2017.

Wrap Up: Choosing the Right Weight Class

Whether you are just starting on your bodybuilding journey or have been lifting weights for years, there is a weight class that will fit your physique.

Choosing the Right Weight Class

We have a few tips when determining which bodybuilding competition is suitable for you:

  • Most bodybuilders choose to compete towards the high end of their body weight. This makes cutting weight much easier
  • If you want to be a mass monster, then you will want to compete in the heavyweight division
  • If you are more lean and athletic, then the lightweight division may be more your style
  • Your height also plays a role in choosing the suitable weight class.
  • If you are shorter than average, competing in the bantamweight division may be a better option

There is something for everyone with all the different weight classes and divisions available.

What is your preferred bodybuilding weight class?

Kate Ross
Latest posts by Kate Ross (see all)

Kate Ross

Kate Ross is a nutritionist at Lindy Health who lives in Breckenridge, CO. Kate has a wealth of knowledge about food and nutrition, and she competed as a bodybuilder for over 10 years. She is an avid skier and mountain biker, and she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and friends.

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