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A New Era in Judging Quality, Transparency, Honesty, and Integrity

  • Written by Steve Duperré

Physique CanadaAt Physique Canada, our credibility and reputation are extremely important to us. We have very high expectations and we certainly plan to achieve every single one of them. Anyone who knows any of us knows that we do not stand for mediocrity. To achieve those standards and gain any credibility, it is important to cater to the needs of the competitors and deliver on all our promises.

As a judge and competitor, I have heard many complaints and concerns over the years about judging quality. Competitors want to know much more than just how they rank -- they also want answers. Competitors want to know how their rankings are determined, how each judge assesses them compared to the rest of the line-up, and what they need to do to improve for future competitions. These are all valid concerns and are things we plan to address. And since I’m the organization’s chief judge, most of the responsibility for this resides with me.

To answer to those needs, and to demonstrate our honesty and integrity as well as improve transparency, we will be publishing all the results on our website (www.PhysiqueCanada.ca) after each contest. We will not only publish the final scores, but also each judge’s individual scores. After all, what good are final scores if we don’t know how they were determined? This will give competitors a much better idea of how they really compared to the rest of their competition and if judges were unanimous in their decisions. To the best of our knowledge, no other Canadian-based physique organization does this.

We take the responsibility of assessing every competitor’s physique very seriously. With all the hard work they put into their training, nutrition, and contest preparation, not to mention the amount of money they spend to get there, we feel that they deserve at least that kind of consideration in terms of the judging that they receive. Competitors need to be assessed honestly and the rankings need to be as accurate as possible, and that’s what disclosing these scores will help to do.

To ensure that Physique Canada has only qualified judges on their panel, we have developed a comprehensive certification program for our judges. As a result, every Physique Canada judge must go through an intensive training program and pass a test before being considered for a judging panel. Once on a panel, judges become accountable to the head judge and, ultimately, to me. They must maintain a high level of accuracy to remain in Physique Canada’s judging pool. Their performance is reviewed at the end of each contest and, if a judge’s conduct or scores are inconsistent with the rest of the group, they risk being dropped from the list or might be required to get more training. This may sound harsh considering judges donate their time for very little pay; however, the importance of getting rankings right is paramount.

201202_brian_steve
Steve Duperré talks about the finer points of the judging process with Physique Canada president, Brian Robitaille (left).

Physique Canada’s judges must also be able to provide constructive feedback at the end of each contest to those who want it. After all, who better to get feedback from than the very people who are assessing competitors’ physiques? Feedback is extremely important for serious competitors who want to know what improvements are required for future competitions. Physique Canada has developed a system to facilitate detailed notes on each competitor while still keeping the focus on ranking competitors. So if you compete with Physique Canada, know that there’s not only a process in place to assess you, but also a process to help you improve.

Physique Canada’s values are professionalism, integrity, excellence, and innovation. We will not sell ourselves short or sacrifice any of these values in any area – including judging. Competitors deserve the very best in every aspect of competition and we will do everything we can to deliver. You have my word on that!

Steve Duperré, SeriousAboutMuscle.com contributor and Physique Canada Chief Judge

Why Women's Athletic Physique

  • Written by Steve Duperré

Steve DuperreWhen we launched Physique Canada and announced the new women’s athletic physique category, one of the very first questions we received was: Why does the fitness industry need another women’s division? After all, one of the biggest complaints that we’ve heard over the years is that women often don’t know what class they should compete in, since they don’t totally understand what it is the judges are looking for. Definitions vary from one organization to another and are often very vague in the women’s categories. So will the introduction of yet another category confuse matters even further?

Before I answer that question, let me first say that when we initially laid out our plans, we did not think in terms of number of divisions across the industry. Instead, we knew we wanted two women’s divisions and wanted to clearly define the judging criteria to ensure that there was absolutely no confusion whatsoever. We want women to know exactly where they fit in, and we also want to be able to give these female competitors tangible feedback based on those very definitions so they know exactly where they need improvement in order to present a better physique the next time they compete. At Physique Canada, these two women’s divisions are called women’s muscular physique and women’s athletic physique.

Women’s muscular physique is essentially what other organizations call figure. We basically renamed the division to something more meaningful, something that would truly make sense and clearly identify what the division is all about. The word figure really doesn’t mean much. Women’s muscular physique is about – wait for it – women’s muscular physiques. It can’t get any simpler than that – a name that reflects the goals of the discipline.

Women’s athletic physique basically came to light through the same thought process. We feel very strongly that muscle should be the foundation of all physique classes, but that not all athletic-looking women would do well or fit into the women’s muscular physique (aka figure) category. Perhaps they don’t aspire to be that muscular or simply don’t have the genetics to do so, since women’s muscular physique is basically the female version of men’s bodybuilding. This is where the athletic physique division comes in.

Women’s athletic physique focuses on healthy, athletic-looking, attractive, toned women who do not want to be perceived as bodybuilders. At the risk of being too blunt, it is definitely not about T & A, which is basically what the bikini division is in other organizations. This is something Physique Canada consciously decided not to promote.

That said, women’s athletic physique is certainly not meant to be easier than women’s muscular physique. The two divisions are for two different kinds of competitors, and in the case of women’s athletic physique, it’s about showcasing athletic physiques. If a competitor shows up at the competition well conditioned and with an athletic build, regardless of her body type (i.e., genetic shape), she will have a good chance of doing well. The final placing will ultimately depend on who else is on the stage.

There is something important to note here: Some might be inclined to equate women’s athletic physique to what’s called fitness modeling in other organizations. They are similar but certainly not the same. If you just say the names, you’ll realize that the term fitness model is vague, which is why there’s often so much confusion at these events. Women’s athletic physique and women’s muscular physique are more specific and each, just by their very name, refers to a different look.

So do we think that the fitness industry needs another women’s division? Absolutely. Do we think that women’s athletic physique will add to the confusion? Absolutely not. If anything, we strongly believe that we have made matters much simpler.

For more information about women’s athletic physique, women’s muscular physique, or about Physique Canada, please visit our website: www.PhysiqueCanada.ca.

Steve Duperré, SeriousAboutMuscle.com contributor and Physique Canada Chief Judge

Judging Women's Fitness Modeling in the IDFA

  • Written by Steve Duperré

Jennifer Lambert FosterFitness-modeling competitions are not without their share of controversy, and competitors seem to be confused more than ever with regards to what judges look for specifically when assessing the women’s physiques. The two most frequently asked questions are: How much muscle is acceptable? and How lean should competitors be? What follows should clearly explain what fitness modeling within the IDFA is about and eliminate any confusion or misunderstandings about this class. Current and future competitors will also be in a better position to decide if they belong in this class or not.

Although it is true that fitness modeling is sometimes considered a beauty contest in the industry, within the IDFA the primary focus is on the physique. According to the IDFA’s rules, fitness-modeling competitors are defined as beautiful, lean, healthy, athletic-looking bikini models. As mentioned in “Judging Men’s Bodybuilding in the IDFA” and “Judging Women’s Figure in the IDFA,” the judging of physiques is very subjective in nature. Therefore, to ensure consistency across the entire organization, the IDFA has guidelines and basic definitions that each judge is required to follow. According to the IDFA rules, women’s fitness modeling is assessed based on the following criteria:

Muscular development: This relates to both muscle size and muscle shape. It is important that fitness models look like they work out, while retaining a healthy, feminine look. However, they should not be as muscular as their figure counterparts.

Muscle definition: This refers to how lean the person is and how much muscle shows. The absence of subcutaneous body fat and subcutaneous water helps show the degree of muscularity. Fitness models should be lean enough to show the shape of the muscles, demonstrating a fit, healthy, athletic look. Although the IDFA wants to see light separations between muscle groups, competitors should display softer lines than their figure counterparts.

Symmetry: Competitors should display equal balance of muscle development and muscle definition between all muscle groups. There should be an appropriate balance between the left side and the right side of the body, the upper body compared to the lower body, and the front compared to the back.

Stage presence: This refers to the overall presentation of the athlete on the stage, including confidence, poise, skin tone, make-up, suit selection, execution of the quarter turns, and the model walk (aka T-walk). The fitness models should display a photogenic quality.

No physique is perfect. As a result, competitors present different strengths and weaknesses and display various degrees of muscle definition, muscularity, and symmetry. So, based on the definitions of the criteria, judges need to decide which combination of muscular development, muscle definition, and symmetry looks best onstage at the time competitors are assessed. Stage presence can certainly give fitness-modelling competitors an advantage when things get really close.

Competitors are compared against each other and ranked accordingly. Just as when assessing bodybuilding, if ranking is close between two competitors, judges start comparing the overall structure and balance between the two. At this point symmetry and overall shape become a key factor. If a competitor displays greater flaws (e.g., overdeveloped shoulders or legs, legs that aren’t quite as lean as the rest of the body, wider midsection, too lean, etc.), then the edge generally goes to the other competitor who doesn’t show as many flaws. If the overall balance and symmetry are comparable between the two physiques, then the judges might need to decide if one’s muscularity eclipses the other’s muscle definition. As already mentioned, if things are extremely close, then stage presence can certainly be the deciding factor.

As simple as it sounds, it’s not always easy when it’s time for the judges to make decisions. The process can become quite complicated with large line-ups or when line-ups have several competitors with very similar physiques. It also needs to be done in a timely manner and the rankings need to be accurate.

2011 IDFA Pro Universe fitness-model class

One last thing that I feel is extremely important to mention: Quite often, women decide to compete in both figure and fitness modeling. Although it is possible to do well in both classes, it always depends on the line-up. Although the judging criteria are essentially the same, the definitions of what the IDFA is looking for with regards to muscle development and muscle definition are not the same for both classes. If the quality of the competitors is high in both classes, then winners of one class should not do well in the other.

Competitors are always encouraged to approach the judges immediately following the contest for feedback. This gives them an opportunity to learn about their strengths and flaws so they can decide where they should focus their efforts for future competitions.

. . . Steve Duperre, IDFA Pro

Note: Steve Duperre is a lifetime natural competitor, a pro bodybuilder in the IDFA, and the head judge for the IDFA. The IDFA is Canada’s top physique organization featuring men’s and women’s competitions.

The Importance of Posing and Presentation

  • Written by Steve Duperré

Steve DuperréIn the articles on judging men’s bodybuilding, women’s muscular physique, and women’s athletic physique, I explain that the judging criteria are the same for all three divisions. The criteria are muscular development, muscular definition, symmetry, and stage presence. The definitions, however, can vary slightly depending on the division.

With competitors presenting different strengths and weaknesses and displaying various degrees of muscularity and muscle definition, judges must decide which competitor presents the best combination of muscularity, muscle definition, and symmetry. Stage presence becomes crucial when physiques are very comparable to each other.

Since ranking competitors is not always straightforward, competitors must do their homework and focus on every aspect of contest preparation if they want to maximize their chances of doing well. After all, there is a lot more to preparing for physique contests than training and nutrition. Learning to present your physique in the best possible way is not always easy. This is where stage presence becomes important.

Stage presence includes skin color, skin tone, suit selection, confidence, and execution of the mandatory poses. Posing is just as important to showcase one’s strengths as it is to hide one’s weaknesses. Once you understand your strengths and weaknesses, learning to pose well requires time and practice – lots of practice. Flexing several muscle groups at the same time is hard work, especially if you want to make it look effortless.

I have seen competitors place several rankings lower than they would have placed if they had simply presented their physiques better. In some instances, competitors have even lost out on a first-place finish. Here are examples of how details can make a difference, especially when it comes to posing and presentation:

  • If a competitor does not or cannot flare out the lats, the torso may appear to be longer than it really is, throwing off symmetry. Similarly, when a female competitor’s bikini bottom or a male competitor’s posing suit is worn low across the hips, the legs may appear to be shorter and not match the length of the upper body. This can become a big mistake.

  • When men perform a rear double-biceps pose, they don’t always think about the position of the fists which can have a direct influence on the peak of the biceps. Also, if the upper part of the arm is slightly rotated forward, judges and the audience might not see the biceps at all, since the judges are often seated lower than the level of the stage.

  • Failing to keep the legs tight might make the legs look as if they do not match the level of development or definition of the upper body. Again, this affects the overall symmetry of the physique and can seriously affect a competitor’s ranking.

At Physique Canada, we want to see all our competitors do their very best. For that reason, we are committed to educating and helping competitors as much as possible through our various information sessions and seminars. To prove our commitment, most of our seminars are free for our members, including our Posing and Presentation Master Class, where competitors get to practice their posing and receive individualized feedback. For information on the next posing seminar and the list of all seminars available, please visit PhysiqueCanada.ca.

Steve Duperré, SeriousAboutMuscle.com contributor and Physique Canada Chief Judge

Judging Women's Figure in the IDFA

  • Written by Steve Duperré

Women's figure line-upFor as long as women’s figure has been around, there has been much confusion among competitors across all organizations with regards to what judges look for specifically. Should the most muscular woman on stage win? What about the leanest? Should really skinny women do well? Are six-packs necessary to win? What follows should clear up most of the confusion.

Since the IDFA’s core values focus primarily on drug-free competition, women’s figure becomes comparable to bodybuilding. To retain their femininity, however, women’s physiques are displayed via quarter turns rather than mandatory bodybuilding poses. According to the IDFA’s rules, figure competitors are defined as lean, healthy-looking, female athletes . . . with muscle. I mentioned in “Judging Men’s Bodybuilding in the IDFA” that the judging of physiques is very subjective in nature. So, to ensure consistency across the entire organization, the IDFA has guidelines and basic definitions that each judge is required to follow. According to the IDFA rules, women’s figure is assessed based on the following criteria:

Muscular development: This relates to both muscle size and muscle shape. Although judges are looking for a muscular physique, it is important that the athletes still look feminine. Therefore, excessive muscularity should be avoided as it will take away from that feminine look.

Muscle definition: This relates to how lean a muscle is. The absence of subcutaneous body fat and subcutaneous water helps show the degree of muscularity.

Figure competitors should be lean enough to display the shape of the muscles and show light separations between the major muscle groups. However, looking excessively lean and hard will take away from a woman’s femininity. Deep muscle separations, striations, and excessive vascularity should be avoided.

Symmetry: The athlete should display an equal balance of muscle development and muscle definition between all muscle groups. This means there should be an appropriate balance between the left side and the right side of the body, the upper body compared to the lower body, and the front compared to the back.

Stage presence: This relates to the overall presentation of the athlete, including confidence, poise, skin tone, makeup, suit selection, and execution of the quarter turns.

No physique is perfect. With competitors presenting different strengths and weaknesses and displaying various degrees of muscle definition and muscularity, judges need to decide which combination of muscular development, muscle definition, and symmetry looks best onstage at the time competitors are assessed. Similarly to men’s bodybuilding, stage presence can give figure competitors an edge when things get really close.

Women's figure line-up

Competitors are compared against each other and ranked accordingly. Just as when they are assessing bodybuilding, if ranking is close between two competitors, judges start comparing the overall structure and balance between the two. At this point symmetry and overall shape become key factors. If a competitor displays greater flaws (e.g., poor shoulder development, legs aren’t quite as lean as the rest of the body, wider midsection, etc.), then the edge generally goes to the other competitor. If the overall balance and symmetry is comparable between the two physiques, then the judges might need to decide if one’s muscularity takes over the other’s muscle definition. As already mentioned, if things are extremely close, then stage presence can certainly be the deciding factor.

As simple as it sounds, it’s not always easy when it’s time to make decisions. The process can become quite complicated with large line-ups or when line-ups have several competitors with very similar physiques. It also needs to be done in a timely manner and the rankings need to be accurate.

Competitors are always encouraged to approach the judges immediately following the contest for feedback. This gives them an opportunity to learn about their strengths and flaws so they can figure out where they should focus their efforts for future competitions.

. . . Steve Duperre, IDFA Pro

Note: Steve Duperre is a lifetime natural competitor, a pro bodybuilder in the IDFA, and the head judge for the IDFA. The IDFA is Canada’s top physique organization featuring men’s and women’s competitions.

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2014 Canadian Competitions

June 14 - Physique Canada National Classic (drug-tested, men's and women's categories)

June 14 - SAF Summer Spectacular (women's categories only)

July 12 - Physique Canada Concours Xtreme Physique Naturel (XPN) du Québec (drug-tested, men's and women's categories)

Sept. 13 - Physique Canada Toronto Classic (drug-tested, men's and women's categories)

Sept. 13 - SAF Toronto Spectacular (women's categories only)

October 18 - Physique Canada Canadian Championships (drug-tested, men's and women's categories)

October 18 - SAF Fall Spectacular (women's categories only)

Note: Competitions and dates subject to change without notice.

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