NPC Figure Division Criteria for 2020 – What The Judges Are Looking For Now

You have the desire to step on stage in figure. And, you want to know EXACTLY what the NPC figure division criteria for 2020 is.

Well guess what… This article (and video) is for you!

Today, let’s break down exactly what you need to bring to the stage to look your best – and win.

From the shape that the judges are TRAINED to look for. To the specific level of muscularity and leanness that wins shows.

NPC Figure Division Criteria for 2020

You have the goal of stepping on a bodybuilding stage, and your main interest is in the figure division.

You love the lights, the posing, and the glam of the division!

Now, you want to know how you can bring your best…

And, also figure out what it is the judges are looking for – so that way you can step on stage looking like a winner.

But before we dive into that, let’s dive a little behind the curtain within the figure division.

A Quick Overview: Who Is The Figure Division Perfect For?

NPC Figure Division Criteria for 2020

Figure has been around for a very long time now, so it’s well established in the sport of bodybuilding across different federations.

The good thing about figure is that even within the different federations that there are, the criteria is pretty much almost exactly the same.

You’ll see some differences in the posing and presentation, but the way that the judges look for and how they judge the physiques on stage are relatively all the same.

Let’s just start off by saying that figure is a great division for those of you who already carry above-average muscularity, when it comes to the female frame. It’s a great place for women who have a lot of experience with working out and being in the gym. If you’ve been doing it for years, and you want to take your body to the next level… You’ll love what figure has to offer.

Figure is also a really great place for women who have a lot of muscle maturity and density that comes from years of training.

This is especially true for women in their 30s, 40s, or even 50s and beyond. Particularly if you’ve been training for a really long time in the gym, and you already have a really great shape… Well this is a great division for you because the muscle maturity and density that you have from the years of training helps so much in getting leaner and harder for the final look that wins shows.

NPC Figure Division Criteria


What’s The Difference Between The Wellness and Figure Divisions?

By this point, you’re probably asking what’s the difference between wellness and figure?

One of the things you want to keep in mind is that figure competitors are going to have a more balanced symmetrical shape than a wellness competitor. When I say symmetrical I’m talking about top to bottom symmetry.

The wellness competitor is going to be typically smaller in her upper body with well-developed legs. Whereas with figure, you’re going to be more developed in your upper body and have pretty equal development in your lower half.

3 Divisions

There’s definitely more of a balance in shape for the figure competitor where the judges are going to be specifically looking for an x frame.

Figure competitors are also going to have more density, symmetry, and size in their back and shoulders versus the wellness competitor.

So choosing which of the two division is right for you is going to be a matter of shape and size. But also consider how you pose, as that’s going to bring out whether you’d be suited for one division over the other. This is we’re working with a qualified coach is going to be really important in helping you to determine where you should be.

Another aspect about figure that differs from wellness is that the competitors are going to be a little bit leaner in figure.

The judges want to see more conditioning and separation of the muscle – without striation.

I know… You hear that thrown around a lot (separation without striation)!

Of course, nobody really seems to know what that means before they really start competing. So let me break that down for you…

Separation Without Striation – What Does That Mean?

NPC Figure Division Criteria

When a judge is looking at a row of competitors, they’re looking to see who basically matches the division’s “ideal”.

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Here’s What Muscle Separation Actually Breaks Down To…

In figure, the judges want to be able to actually see the separation of each muscle. And they want to see it in ALL of your poses (front, back, and side).

So if we’re looking at your quadriceps, we want to clearly see all heads of your quads.

If we’re looking at the abdominals, we want to be able to see a nice six-pack.

When looking at your upper body with your shoulders , for instance, we want to be able to see  capped delts.

In your back pose, we want to be able to see the definition and width of your actual back.

Finally, when we look at the lower half to the back, we want to be able to see the separation of your glutes into the hamstrings. Even more, we’re looking for that beautiful heart shape in the middle that you get in the glute/hamstrings when you’re super lean.

NPC Figure Division Criteria

Be Careful – Watch Out For Striation!

You’re probably wondering what exactly IS striation, right?

Well, really all it is (in the case of bodybuilding) is when the striations of your muscle can be seen under your skin while posing.

You’ll often hear the words diced, shredded, or peeled when describing this level of conditioning. It’s this level of conditioning that is more often seen in women’s physique and female bodybuilding.

NPC Figure Division Criteria

However, for figure, the judges don’t want to see heavy feathering or striations when you pose. Keep in mind that this can be a hard thing for those of you who tend to get very lean.

In fact many competitors will attempt to come in “softer” to avoid this. But this can actually cause you to miss your mark entirely with your conditioning.

What I like to say to competitors is not worry so much about coming in “hard” or too lean.

Absolutely DO NOT limit yourself by attempting to train to be softer.


Continue to train to be as hard as nails as your body can be, and then adjust how the look of that muscle is displayed by your posing. You can also play around with your diet at the end to fill out by masking some of that hardness with more carbs or fats in your diet.

So go ahead into the gym and work hard!

Do your cardio. Stick to your diet.

But more importantly, work with a qualified coach who can truly help you to bring your look together in a way that makes sense for you.

The Importance of Femininity and Presentation

The final aspect about figure that’s super important is the presentation aspect.

Listen ladies, figure (and any kind of bodybuilding on the women’s side) is basically just an athletic beauty pageant!

I mean, have you ever watched Miss America or Toddlers and Tiaras? You’ll see some similarities in the presentation of those competitors versus the bodybuilding competitor

On the women’s side, the judges want the women to “look like women” (in traditional standards of beauty) even though you are dry, hard and lean.

This means that you’ve got to fix up your hair and makeup to bring out your innate femininity on that stage.

In fact, that’s what captures their attention. And, I know that it sounds a trifle sexist. And yes, maybe it sounds crazy in 2020 to be saying that. But listen sister, you’re in a very misogynistic sport – and that’s just what it is…

So play up your sex appeal on stage. Play up your elegance. Keep in mind that playing up your sex appeal does not have to be raunchy or overtly sexual! It’s just about savoring in the confidence in your body as a woman, on stage, who has worked her butt off! You want to show it off, and you want to win.

Everybody’s eyes are drawn to beauty. That’s just how the world works. It’s human nature.

Make Sure Your Suit Fits – PROPERLY

Your suit plays a CRUCIAL role on your presentation. It can either enhance an amazing physique, or ruin your lines if not properly fitted.

When you go on that stage, make sure that you have a suit that fits you properly.

Make sure that your tan is looking great, and it’s nice, even, and dark enough as well. If you’re dark-skinned, yes you do need to tan!

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Your hair and makeup should also frame your face, and really soften your look. Consider this… When you’re stage ready, you look like death! No seriously, you look horrendous!

Seriously, that’s always the running joke for every competitor! That you look like E.T. or The Cryptkeeper one day, and then next day you look like a glammed up Barbie!

NPC Figure Division Criteria

Here’s my advice…

If you don’t know how to do your own hair and you don’t know how to do your own makeup, make sure that you hire someone that can do it for you.

Your presentation is like that icing on the cake. Yeah, you worked your butt off for weeks upon weeks. Months! Just to get to that stage. Don’t throw it all away just because you don’t like to walk around in heels, wear makeup daily, or do your hair.

It’s not about what you do in regular life!

If you want to play in this game, you got to play the way that we play to win!

The figure division is a wonderful division.

Heck, it’s where I started my bodybuilding career.

I always just loved the elegance and the class of it. And if you have fun with it, then it can be so fulfilling.

The figure division is where you can start pushing into the upper echelon of the sport of bodybuilding. It’s great if you aspire to push your body to the limits.

The Differences Between Figure vs. Bikini, Wellness, and Women’s Physique

The bikini and wellness divisions are a little bit for women who still want to maintain an element of socially acceptable femininity.

Most women who enjoy competing in this division favor a look that is a little on the smaller size muscularly. Alongside conditioning that’s lean, but in a healthy way.

The muscles will be fuller, and the look a bit softer.

Figure, women’s physique (which we’ll talk about next week), and female bodybuilding are three divisions that allow women to really push their muscularity to the degree that they feel comfortable with.

It’s almost limitless!

Competitors in these divisions are happy with how hard, dry, and big that they can come in.

Having so many options opens up so many opportunities for women to really push their natural ability (and natural talent), while truly seeing what they could be made of.

Step Up Your Competition Game Right Now – Get My Free Contest Prep Crash Course


If you are a competitor who’s looking to get on stage this year, but you don’t know where to start.

Or, maybe you’ve been doing it for a while. However, this time you want to learn how to do things healthier and better…

Click here to download my Contest Prep Crash Course.

You definitely want to read that! Trust me… It’s going to give you some tips about how you can prep for your shows – and do it in a way that’s sane and healthy for the long term.

Ready to Compete? Work With Me As Your Coach! Request Your Free Call Now.

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If you’re a woman out there who’s ready to go ahead and finally make her competitive dreams a reality.

Or maybe you actually compete already. But you’re looking for a coach who can help you to take these to the next level. To do things in a sane way that’s going to enrich your life – and keep you healthy.

Then I want to talk to you.

This in mind my coaching practice is full service. Everything that you need is going to be under one umbrella from your training, your nutrition, your peak week… I’m there for you on the day of your show, presentation consultation, posing and everything is done by me for you!

For those of you who know you’re ready to take things truly to the next level – and keep your health and sanity intact in the process…

Set up an appointment to speak with me for 30 minutes about your goals.

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