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NPC vs IFBB - What's The Difference?

The world of bodybuilding is as fascinating as it is intense, a sphere where muscle, might, and meticulous planning converge. If you're an aspiring bodybuilder or even just curious about this world, you've likely come across acronyms like NPC and IFBB.

These organisations are foundational to bodybuilding, but what do they actually mean, and how do they relate to each other? Whats the difference between NPC vs IFBB? 

This article serves as your definitive guide to understanding these terms and carving a path from NPC to IFBB. And once you receive either status, here at Oxcloth provide you the ultimate solution for the clothing problem you are likely to face!

What Are NPC and IFBB?

The National Physique Committee (NPC) is recognised as the amateur bodybuilding organization, in the United States. It acts as a pathway for athletes to reach rankings through the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB).

Founded by Jim Manion in 1982 the NPC has become a step for athletes aspiring to obtain their Pro Card, which is necessary to compete in prestigious professional bodybuilding competitions like Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic.

NPC Bodybuilding

Within the NPC bodybuilders focus on muscle conditioning. Enhancing their physique. Athletes compete across categories such as Mens Bodybuilding, Womens Bodybuilding, Mens Physique, Women’s Physique, Bikini and Figure.

They showcase their defined muscles, symmetry and overall aesthetics through a series of poses judged by a panel. These judges assess criteria such as muscularity, balance and stage presence when scoring the competitors.

Is NPC a Professional?

Yes NPC is considered a professtional. It's typically divided into two rounds – pre judging and finals – this competition involves assessments by judges followed by performances of poses and routines for the audience during finals.

Athletes dedicate themselves to training regimens while adhering to diets and supplementation protocols in preparation, for these events.

In essence NPC bodybuilding serves as a platform for athletes to gain recognition valuable experience and ultimately pursue professional careers.

The influence of the organization has played a role, in shaping the bodybuilding industry in the United States. They have contributed to nurturing talent and establishing industry standards.



Established in 1946 by Joe and Ben Weider, the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) is a bodybuilding organization.

It has been instrumental in popularizing bodybuilding as a sport. The IFBB governs bodybuilding competitions, including events like Mr. Olympia and Ms. Olympia.

To compete at the level athletes usually need to earn a Pro Card from organizations such as the National Physique Committee (NPC) in the United States. Athletes from countries may follow pathways through affiliated organizations to reach the IFBB stage.

Similar to NPC the IFBB offers categories like Mens Bodybuilding, Classic Physique, Mens Physique, Womens Physique, Bikini, Figure and more.

Judges evaluate competitors based on factors such as muscle size, symmetry and conditioning. However due to their status as athletes higher expectations are placed on them compared to those competing in leagues.

IFBB competitions typically consist of judging and finals stages similar, to NPC competitions.

Is NPC considered an organization?

While the NPC is highly regarded it's important to note that it doesn't fall strictly under the category of a league. However this doesn't undermine its importance or impact.

Numerous athletes begin their journey, with NPC competitions to gain exposure develop their portfolios and prepare themselves for the realm provided by IFBB.

Is IFBB part of NPC?

No the IFBB and NPC are entities despite both operating within the field of bodybuilding.

The NPC is generally considered the gateway to the IFBB for American athletes. Upon meeting specific criteria in NPC events, competitors can earn their IFBB Pro Card, officially making the transition from amateur to professional status.

Do You Need an NPC Card to Compete?

Yes, to compete in an NPC event, you'll need an NPC card. Obtaining this card is relatively straightforward. You can apply for one online or at an NPC event.

This card validates your eligibility to compete in various NPC competitions for a year and is an essential first step in your journey toward professional status.

How Do I Go from NPC to IFBB?

Transitioning from NPC to IFBB requires winning in specific NPC categories like Men’s Bodybuilding, Women’s Physique, or Bikini. Each category has its own set of criteria for what qualifies an athlete for an IFBB Pro Card.

Applying for Pro Card

Once you meet the qualification criteria, you can apply for an IFBB Pro Card. The application involves submitting proof of your NPC wins and fulfilling other administrative requirements. Upon approval, you'll be able to compete in IFBB professional events.

Is Mr. Olympia an IFBB or NPC?

Mr. Olympia, the most prestigious competition in professional bodybuilding, falls under the umbrella of IFBB. Winning Mr. Olympia is often considered the zenith of a bodybuilder's career, underlining the global importance and prestige of IFBB.

Success Stories: From NPC to IFBB Legends

Perhaps nothing illustrates the importance of understanding the NPC and IFBB pathways better than the countless success stories of those who've walked the path. Bodybuilding legends like Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, and Phil Heath started their journey on NPC stages.

After claiming their amateur victories and earning IFBB Pro Cards, these athletes entered the elite IFBB league, where they went on to become Mr. Olympia champions. Their stories can serve as a roadmap and inspiration for any aspiring bodybuilder aiming for IFBB's professional realm.


Understanding the nuances between NPC and IFBB is crucial for anyone serious about a career in bodybuilding. NPC serves as your starting point, your trial ground, while IFBB represents the pinnacle of professional bodybuilding. With hard work, dedication, following the 85% rule and the right guidance—such as that provided by Oxcloth—you can navigate this path successfully.

Oxcloth: The Ultimate Solution for Bodybuilders

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