The National Physique Committee, or NPC for short, is the largest amateur organization for bodybuilding within the United States. NPC bodybuilding is often seen as a launching point for successful participants to move into the International Federation of BodyBuilders.
In fact, the IFBB identifies the NPC as an amateur extension for its organization within the United States (there are other amateur bodybuilding organizations in other countries around the world).
For anyone who is interested in joining the world of bodybuilding and would like to compete on the highest level, it is important to first begin at the local level and begin moving up into the NPC.
The NPC serves as a final rung in the amateur bodybuilding ladder before moving up to the world of professional competitions.
History of the NPC
Professional bodybuilding has been a competitive staple for decades.
However, the NPC did not come around until 1981, when Jim Manion created the organization. At this time, he stepped down from the Amateur Athletic Union.
Before the creation of the IFBB, the Amateur Athletic Union had been a major player in the world of bodybuilding, with its creation in 1888. The AAU also previously worked with the Olympics to help train amateurs.
However, the Olympic Committee eventually moved on from the AAU, which caused the ultimate downfall with regards to the AAU’s connection with bodybuilding.
Jim Manion helped launch the NPC. During the first year of its existence, former AAU bodybuilders moved on to the new NPC, which helped lead to the 6,000 members. At this time, only around 100 sanctioned events took place annually.
However, it has grown substantially since then, so now there are more than 20,000 active members with up to 1,000 competitions held annually. In fact, it has become the largest bodybuilding federation in the country (even larger than the IFBB) (GetBig).
How to Compete in an NPC Bodybuilding Event
There are not many requirements in terms of competing in an amateur NPC Bodybuilding event.
An individual must be a citizen of the United States to compete. This is designed to prevent competitors (especially professionals not known to the NPC) from other countries from competing. Proof of citizenship is required for any Masters National Championships, Team Universe Championships, Nationals and USA Universe Championships. Competitors must also have a valid NPC card.
An individual is considered a resident if they have lived in the U.S. for at least four months before the content, or be a full-time student.
Documentation that is an accepted form of proof of citizenship includes a birth certificate, voter registration code, military discharge papers, naturalization papers or a Consular Service Form FS24.
Obtaining an NPC Card
Obtaining an NPC card isn’t difficult and is rather straight forward. There are two options available to do this. The first is to register online directly through the NPC Registration website.
The application includes basic personal information (name, date of birth, email, and address). It also asks for some social media information, including a Twitter handle and Facebook URL (this information is not required). While filling out the application it is necessary to select the desired category for competition.
After finishing the application an individual must then provide payment. Currently, the registration for a new applicant is $125 for the 2019 year. A new application is required every year. Once the payment has been processed it is essential to print off the NPC card. This card is required when checking into an event.
Failure to provide the car may result in disqualification from the event and forfeiture of any registration fees associated with the event in question (each event has different guidelines so it is important to read into this prior to applying for an individual event).
The second option is to print off the mailing application. The information required here is the same. The application then needs to be mailed to:
P.O. Box 13541
Pittsburgh, PA 15243
It is also important to note when applying for an NPC card the application is good for just one category type.
So for individuals who are looking at potentially competing in several different categories, it is necessary to complete a new application for each category.
The full $125 is charged for each category as well.
When broken down, the NPC is made up of several different events and a handful of classes.
Bodybuilding is one of the events to take place during a competition (there is both a men’s and women’s bodybuilding event).
During each of these events, judges will look for different body requirements.
Events are also made up of individual classes. Classes include open, novice, teen, junior and master. The open class is, as it suggests, open to all competitors. Individuals of all ages and any competitive background can take place in this category.
The novice competition is for individuals who have never won a class or age group during NPC competitions. Even if an individual has placed before or been competing for a number of years, until they win an event they will be considered a novice.
The teen category includes individuals between the ages of 16 and 20 (in this competition, 20 is included within the teen category). The junior category requires individuals to 23 years old or younger by the day of the event. It is possible for teens to compete in this category, although as the figure (especially the male figure) has not yet fully developed, so typically individuals 20 or younger will focus on the teen category.
The final age class is master, which has a set minimum age requirement. The exact age requirement will vary, depending on the event.
As there are different NPC events around the country each location will have slightly different age groups to consider.
Weight Classes for NPC Bodybuilding
Bodybuilding competitions are often broken down even further into weight classes. The exact weight classes will vary depending on the event. Larger events will generally have more weight classes as there are more competing.
For smaller NPC sanctioned events, there may only be two weight classes.
These classes are broken down into “Lightweight,” which is anything up to (and including) 125 pounds. “Heavyweight” is the second category and is anything over 125 pounds.
For slightly larger events there are three classes. The “Lightweight” class is again up to (and including) 125 pounds. A new “Middleweight” category comes into play here and is between 125 pounds and up to (and including) 140 pounds. The “Heavyweight” category is than anything over 140 pounds.
For large events, there are four classes. “Lightweight” is now shifted down to anything up to (and including) 115 pounds. “Middleweight” is now anything over 115 pounds and up to (and including) 125 pounds. “Light-Heavyweight” is a new class and is anything over 125 pounds and up to (and including) 140 pounds. “Heavyweight” is again anything over 140 pounds.
The competitive rounds for an NPC Bodybuilding event are broken down into three different rounds.
These rounds are the relaxed round, individual round, and mandatory round.
During the relaxed round, a competitor will need to keep their feet flat and heels together. They must keep their arms at their side and not twist in their pose. It is also important for the head to face the same direction as for where the feet are pointing.
The individual round lasts for a maximum of 60 seconds. The judges will provide a warning when there are 10 seconds left. Participants are not required to use the entire 60 seconds.
However, participants are not allowed to lay on the floor.
During the mandatory round, judges will look at specific areas of the body and score accordingly. This is usually broken down into seven different categories. These categories include front double bicep, front lat spread, side chest, side triceps, rear double bicep, rear lat spread, and abdominal region and thigh are put together.
Clothing For Posing
During the event the clothing worn is important. Some events will have specific requirements, so it is important to look into what these requirements are before the event.
However, in general, all suit bottoms must be in a V-shape, although no thongs are allowed (for men and women). Suits worn by men during the prejudging and finals should be of a single color without any sparkles, wording, fluorescent or fringe (in other words, it is not allowed to add elements that might draw the attention of the judges).
For women, the same requirements apply during the prejudging although they must wear a two-piece suit.
This does shift during the finals as women are allowed to wear two-piece suits with lace, sparkles, fluorescent, fringe or wording as long as it is recognized as in good taste.
On the morning of check-in for the event, all prejudging suits will be checked over and approved. For those competing, it is highly recommended to have at least one backup, just in case something happens to it or the judging does not allow it (for whatever reason).
Potential Health Disqualifications
As the NPC strives to ensure the overall health of those competing, there are times where NPC judges may prevent certain individuals from competing.
If an individual appears disoriented or light-headed, they may be not permitted to take part in the competition. Others who experience sudden cramping may be disqualified as well. Leg cramps have been known to happen during competition.
Competitors must hold poses, and if the poses are not practiced it can lead to spasms and cramping, which prevents the individual from holding the pose. This is one reason why it is extremely important to practice posing in the weeks leading up to the event.
If an individual is disqualified due to health-related problems they must be checked by the EMT on hand. If the situation is deemed more serious than initially thought a second EMT may be brought in (or the competitor will be sent to a local hospital). If a competitor refuses to be evaluated by an EMT or to go to a hospital the NPC will suspend the individual from future competition for one full year, starting at the date of the current competition.
If an EMT determines the disqualification likely occurred due to unsanctioned supplements and hospital tests confirm, the individual will again be banned from future competition for at least one year.
Subsequent failed tests and disqualifications may eventually result in a lifetime ban.
It is the goal of the NPC to run clean and safe competitions.
Moving From the Amateur Levels to the Professional Levels
It isn’t possible to simply begin competing in the IFBB. In order to keep participants in IFBB events to the very best, it is necessary to win a class at the NPC Nationals Championship or to be crowned the overall winner at the championship.
Now, there are other professional bodybuilding extensions both within the United States and around the world.
However, in order to compete in the IFBB, an NPC title is required. Individual requirements for other professional organizations will differ, so for anyone interested in eventually moving into other professional organizations, it is necessary to look into these specifications.
The NPC has quickly become the largest bodybuilding organizations in the United States. While it is the amateur branch of the IFBB, it has far more competitors.
For anyone who is interested in moving forward into the world of bodybuilding, this is a desirable organization to begin with. With over 1,000 sanctioned competitions there are plenty of opportunities to learn, develop and eventually compete for a championship within the organization.
From here, it then becomes possible to continue competing in the professional ranks. When someone does move into the IFBB though they will no longer just be competing against residents of the United States but against the very best professional bodybuilders in the world.
But, for the aspiring bodybuilder, the journey often begins with the NPC.