For those starting to explore the world of bodybuilding competitions, the acronyms NPC and IFBB might appear more than once throughout your research. Both professional leagues are significant to your bodybuilding journey. But before you even get started, understanding the differences between the NPC and IFBB divisions is the ultimate secret to setting yourself up for a successful career in each.
What Do NPC and IFBB Stand For?
NPC stands for National Physique Committee, an organization that started back in 1982. The NPC happens to also be the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the United States. Anyone can join and sign up for NPC competitions at a state and national level. Consider the NPC your stepping stone into the bikini bodybuilding world.
IFBB stands for International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness, founded in 1946. The IFBB Professional League oversees many of the bodybuilding events, including the World and Continental Championships. The organization also implements anti-doping rules, and hosts over 2,500 competitions, including the famous Arnold Classic.
What’s the Difference?
While both organizations are quite similar, they are still very different from each other. Many bodybuilders consider NPC to be the minor leagues, while IFBB takes the role of the big leagues. Many athletes in bodybuilding fitness started their careers in the NPC and graduate to successful careers in the IFBB.
The NPC Level
If you’re genuinely committed to your bodybuilding and fitness goals, then signing up to the NPC is the first step to launch your career as a professional bodybuilder. The National Physique Committee is designed to allow amateurs to compete for a chance to gain a pro card, the card that certifies you as a professional bodybuilder.
The IFBB Level
After moving on through the competitions and different tiers within the NPC, athletes move on to the IFBB. Unlike the NPC, athletes must earn their way into the IFBB. Once accepted, athletes can enlist in IFBB Pro Competitions for a chance to attempt to qualify for the Mr. Olympia contest, the biggest bodybuilding show. If you place 2nd to 5th at IFBB Pro League competitions, you earn points that can earn you a sport at the Olympia weekend, including the Mr. Olympia.
How to Go from NPC to IFBB?
For those looking to have a career in the bodybuilding world, the first step is to work your way up through the ranks. To start, you need to sign up to the NPC and compete to qualify for the IFBB. Here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Compete in an NPC show. There are about 7 national shows per year. To further your competing career, you must compete in an NPC National Qualifier show and place top five to be eligible for the Junior USA, Junior National, Team Universe, and North American Championships. Competitors that place in the top three qualify for the USA and National Championships.
Step 2: Compete in a National Championship show within one year of qualifying. Each competition has different qualifications to award IFBB Pro Cards.
Step 3: Compete at the IFBB Pro level. These shows are for professionals only. They compete against the best in the world, including those who attend the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world – the Olympia.
Step 4: The top five competitors in the IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series get the opportunity to compete at Olympia Weekend. Reaching this level positions you among the best in the world.
A career in bodybuilding can be exhilarating and requires dedication, perseverance, and the right tools to be a successful journey.