Almost every week, I get asked about how to go about competing in drug-tested/natural bodybuilding competitions. Tis the season, I guess!
Having just Facebook messaged someone the same information (for the third time this week), I thought it might be useful to actually pop it all in a blog post.
If I stuff this first section full of enough SEO phrases it might even get picked up on Google 😉 “Natural bodybuilding comps in the UK”, “How do I start natural bodybuilding in the UK?”, “I want to do a natural bodybuilding show but I’ve no idea who the organisations are or when the competitions are, help, where do I look for information?”
There are three drug-tested/ drug-free/ natural bodybuilding organisations in the UK at the time of writing.
Who, What, Where?
UKDFBA – United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association (website is in the link, and they have a FB page). They are the UK affiliate of the WNBF. The UKDFBA run a series of UK qualifiers, then a UK final. There is also a Pro Show and an International Show alongside the UK Final. They award WNBF Pro Cards at the Final. They then take a Pro and Amateur team out to WNBF Worlds.
BNBF – British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (website is in the link, and they have a FB page). They are the UK affiliate of the DFAC. They run a series of UK qualifers, a UK final, then they take a Pro and Amateur team out to DFAC Worlds. They award DFAC Pro cards at their UK Final.
NPA – Natural Physique Association (website is in the link, and they have a FB group). The NPA isn’t affiliated to an international federation. They have UK qualifers and a UK final, and sometimes then take a team out to the UIBBN competition.
Drug Free & Banned Lists
UKDFBA and BNBF are both 7 years drug free.
NPA is lifetime drug free.
They all use urine testing and polygraph testing. Although most of the “things you can’t take” are obvious (or ought to be!), some people are completely unaware of just how strict “drug free” is. So, if you choose to do all or any of the drug-tested bodybuilding organisations’ comps, it is 100% your responsibility to check the banned list OF THAT ORGANISATION and be certain you are in the clear. The information for each organisation’s rules and banned lists are on their website. If you can’t find it, contact the organisation representative.
All 3 associations have classes for men, women, teens, juniors, and older competitors (Masters). They all have Novice classes and weight classes. Some have Bikini and Men’s Physique. Some have Masters Figure as well as open Figure. Some of their women’s classes will be split by weight. Some have beginners’ shows and first-timers categories. The women’s categories tend to differ between organisations.
My (quick) advice would be:
– Choose the category your body is best suited to (or that you think your body will be best suited to, if you haven’t competed previously)
– Download the judging criteria, and/or contact the Head of the organisation to ask for the guidelines. Be sure you are clear about posing, footwear, whether there’s a posing routine or a T-walk (etc).
– If in doubt, ask advice. The organisation will be friendly and approachable and happy to help (if they’re not, find one that is!)
I’m very happy to chat more about any of this over message or email. I appreciate that it can seem overwhelming and confusing – like any new sport at first!
What To Do Next
Look at the Federations listed above, and their shows/calendars. Choose either by show dates and location, convenient to you (and your prep).
Mark your calendar. Train and diet. Keep in mind the judging criteria of your category. Put together a posing routine or T-walk to music.
Learn the poses you’ll need to do, and practice!
But more than that… do your research:
– make friends on Facebook with people who have done your category in your chosen organisation. Take a look at their competition pics and videos.
– look on YouTube for competition footage and competitors’ individual posing routines (or T-walks).
– see if you can get along to a show (ideally run by your chosen organisation, but anything will help!) Seeing a bodybuilding show before you compete is invaluable experience.
Then there’s stuff like posing suits/bikinis, tan… but that’s all for further down the line.
That was a whistlestop tour through the drug-free bodybuilding competition scene in the UK. I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten. Official folk: if I’ve got any of the facts and information wrong, please comment/messsage me and I will correct it.
And if anyone reading this ever wants any advice, tips, or “where to go next”, please get in touch. I love the sport and love to help. If I’m not the right person to ask, I’ll try to find out who is!
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.