History of Female Bodybuilding
Bodybuilding competitions for women take their roots from 1960s, with contests such as the Miss Physique and Miss Americana. These initial ‘bodybuilding’ competitions had really not been more than the bikini contests.
The first US Women’s National Physique Championship, sponsored by Henry McGhee, held in Canton, Ohio in 1978, is commonly considered as the first original female bodybuilding competition, i.e. the foremost contest in which the competitors were evaluated solely on the basis of muscularity.
The advent of modern era – the year 1980 and onward:
The year 1980 witnessed the National Physique Committee (NPC) commissioned the first women’s Nationals. The NPC from the very onset has been the top-ranking amateur rank contest for women in the United States. Laura Combes bears the credit to win the very inaugural contest.
Usually, contestants ought to qualify for ‘the Ms. Olympia’ by securing a specific standing in lesser pro contests. Nevertheless, with the termination of the Women’s Pro World contest in 1990 only the Ms. International as a Ms. Olympia qualifier was left.
Accordingly, the IFBB planned to allow the Ms. Olympia to all women having pro cards, and a field comprising of thirty contestants came forward. A new pro from Michigan, Lenda Murray, secured a marked triumph and surfaced as the true successor to Cory Everson. This made her the next leading figure in the world of sport and athletics.
Developments in 2000
The IFBB introduced numerous modifications in female bodybuilding program during 2000. The Ms. Olympia competition was no longer held in isolation, rather as part of the “Olympia Weekend”. Weight classes, that had long been a standard part of amateur competition, had been incorporated in the pro ranks. Moreover, new performance evaluations guidelines for athlete presentation were instituted.
A letter to the contestants from Jim Manion, chairman of the then Professional Judges Committee, explained that women would be judged on the basis of ‘healthy appearance, face, and skin tone’. The standard given in Manion’s letter incorporated the famous statement “symmetry, presentation, separations, and muscularity BUT NOT TO THE EXTREME!”
Rule changes of 2005
In a memorandum, dt. 06.12.2004, IFBB Chairman Jim Manion instituted the ’20 percent rule’, appealing that ‘female athletes in Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure reduce the magnitude of muscularity by a factor of 20%’. The memo further stated that the request ‘is applicable to female athletes whose bodies need a reduction’.
An additional change was incorporated in a memo from Manion dated April 26, 2005, which declared that beginning with the 2005 Ms. Olympia, the IFBB was going to annul the weight class system in vogue since 2000.
Filed Under: BodyBuilding & Exercise