So many acronyms! So many options! What do they mean?! How do I know which one I should pick?!
Each federation has their own set of rules, different path to becoming a pro, different judging criteria, and different divisions to compete in. Some organizations focus primarily on fitness and beauty, while some are strictly bodybuilding. Some federations are even more prevalent in particular areas of the country than others. So basically, choosing a federation can seem a little overwhelming – let me break it down for you.
Below I’ve listed some of the more popular (in my opinion, and in no particular order) amateur federations in the US. For more information on each federation, follow the link to the website:
- NANBF (North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation)
- WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation)
- DFAC (Drug Free Athlete’s Coalition
- WBFF (World Beauty Fitness & Fashion)
- NPC (National Physique Committee)
I find most people choose their federation based on 2 primary things:
- The location of the shows
- Whether it’s drug tested or not
Lemme walk you through this step by step. Think about where you live or where you’re willing and able to travel to. I’m going to use Minnesota as an example because, duh, it’s what I know. In MN, you can find 4 NPC shows, 3 DFAC shows, 1 NANBF show, and zero WBFF & WNBF shows in the 2016 calendar year (according to the websites as of 12/29/15). As someone who would prefer to compete locally, it would only make sense for me to choose either the NPC or the DFAC based on where I’m located. Now if I lived on the east coast, I would probably choose the WNBF, where you can find 11 shows in the upper New England region alone.
Let’s say you’re still not sold on either one. Well… what are your thoughts on PED’s (performance enhancing drugs)? The DFAC is drug-tested and regulated, while the NPC is not. The question is… how important is this to you? If you consider steroids and PED’s “cheating”, I would recommend you stay with natural shows – in this case, the DFAC route. If you don’t mind competing against athlete’s who are enhanced or potentially enhanced, or if you even take PED’s yourself, you’re going to want to go with the NPC –where you can compete without being tested. It really all depends on your personal views and morals.
Which federation do you compete in?
I compete with the NPC, and only the NPC.
Why did you choose the NPC as your federation?
First, I chose the NPC because of how “prestigious” it is. I feel (again, IMO) the best of the best athletes come from the NPC/IFBB. I love the caliber of competition it holds. Second, I chose the NPC because of the shows that are local to me.
What are the downsides of the NPC?
I feel like the biggest negative regarding the NPC is the lack of systematic judging. Politics often play a large role with competing in any sport – but I feel it is most prevalent in the NPC.
Some people consider competing against people on PED’s when you’re natty as a downside – I don’t see it that way. Players are going to play the game. If I choose to stay natural, while someone else decides to use gear, that’s their choice – just like staying natty is mine.