With the highly anticipated 2023 Mr. Olympia contest approaching, IFBB Pro League Vice President Tyler Manion is informing the community about judging criteria. In a recent video on NPC News Online’s YouTube channel, Manion talked about the do’s and don’ts of Bikini. He explained what the judges are looking for and evaluated the top contenders of the category.
“This is going to be a video on the criteria in the Bikini division. We’re going to go over things we want to see, things we do not want to see, and then review some competitors to give you guys some examples of how they fit the criteria. First, we’re going to go over what we want to see in Bikini,” shared Tyler Manion.
The year 2010 marked a turning point for women in bodybuilding as the IFBB introduced the Bikini division to the Olympia lineup. Over time, the category continued to thrive and has become a fan-favorite within the sport, where female athletes showcase a different style of physique.
Instead of emphasizing qualities like dense muscle mass and sharp conditioning, Bikini competitors aim for harmony, proportion, and overall presentation, which includes aesthetic factors such as hair, skin, makeup, and posture. Muscle roundness, fullness, and shape also play a pivotal role in an athlete’s success.
As history has shown us, becoming a dominant Bikini Olympia titleholder is no easy feat. Currently, veteran Ashley Kaltwasser (2013,2014,2015) holds the most victories in the division at three. While she attempted to regain her title at 2022 Olympia last year, Kaltwasser settled for third behind Jennifer Dorie and the reigning champion Maureen Blanquisco.
There are only nine weeks until the biggest event of the year takes over Orlando, Florida. In a show of transparency, Tyler Manion is now breaking down exactly what judges will be looking for when Bikini athletes storm the stage in November.
“We Don’t Want to See Deep Separation” – Tyler Manion Breaks Down Bikini Judging Criteria
According to Manion, Bikini competitors should have ‘slight roundness and cap to the delts, a nice tight and flat core, full round glutes with slight separation between the glutes and hamstrings, a nice hourglass silhouette, condition that compliments fullness, and overall presentation that exudes health and feminity.’
“What we want to see in Bikini competitors is slight roundness and cap to the delts, a nice tight and flat core, full round glutes with slight separation between the glutes and the hamstrings, a nice hourglass silhouette, condition that displays muscle fullness, overall presentation that exudes health and femininity, as well as the correct posing for the division,” said Tyler Manion.
“We don’t want to see overly capped big dense or striated shoulders. We don’t want to see arms that are too muscular or thick. We don’t want to see an etched in overly developed six-pack that makes the waist look thicker. We don’t want to see squared-off dense glutes. Overall, we don’t want to see too much muscle density or vascularity. Now, we’ve been seeing muscle density, it normally happens, like we just covered in the upper body whether it’s the shoulders or the arms, but we’re also seeing it in some girl’s legs, specifically in their quads.”
Following up, Manion shared that Bikini athletes with too much density look like they are competing in a ‘mini Wellness’ division.
“Whenever you start to become too dense, you start to look like mini Wellness. We’ve also sometimes been seeing girls trying to display quad sweep in their back pose. As you’re about to see when we review the top competitors, we are not seeing much quad sweep at all, these girls are definitely not pushing their legs or quads to the side to show quad sweep in their back pose. We don’t want to see deep separation, graininess, or an overall hardness looking to your physique. Whenver you are walking on stage or doing your Bikini walk to the front, you should not be seeing splits in the quads. There should not be separation in quads, especially deep separation.”
“We don’t want the hamstrings really etched in from the back. There can be a slight hamstring pop because of a small amount of development to the hamstrings in a back pose but we don’t want to see the hamstrings etched in, looking deep, looking striated, we don’t want them connecting all the way up to your tie-ins and your glutes.”
Above all else, Tyler believes Bikini physiques “should match and be proportional from top to bottom.”
“Overall, we want to see a very balanced physique in Bikini. Everything should match and be proportional top to bottom. We also do not want to see the hourglass shape turn into an X-frame. This normally happens when girls flare their lats in their front pose like Figure competitors flare their lats in their side poses.”
Top 4 Bikini Physiques That Fulfill Judging Criteria
To give examples of what the IFBB expects from Bikini athletes, Manion mentioned four Bikini Olympias who embody the ideal standards of the division. He also offered tips for each athlete hoping to find success later this year.
“First we’re going to start off with our reigning Ms. Bikini Olympia Maureen Blanquisco. Maureen doesn’t need to change much in her physique. She has nice slightly capped shoulders that aren’t too big or dense. She has a nice hourglass shape to her physique and a nice tight, small waist. She also has full round glutes that stay full while she’s doing the Bikini walk.”
“Lauralie brought a great package to the Arnold. Obviously, if she won the show. She brings a nice hourglass physique with good upper body to lower body balance with full round glutes and the proper conditioning to her physique. Her conditioning was 100% right on of what we want to see in Bikini. As you can see through these pictures, you don’t really see hardness anywhere. Lauralie’s feedback is her shoulders can come down slightly in size.”
“Jen has an extremely balanced physique which is great for Bikini. Again, with nice full round glutes, and a nice tight core. Things that Jen can work on, especially from this Olympia you’re seeing, she was just slightly too conditioned from the back when it comes to her hamstrings almost tying up into her tie-ins and her glutes. She needs to find a level of conditioning that is between where she won in 2021 and this last year.”
“She needs to get that glute fullness back going forward when she does the Bikini walk,” added Tyler Manion.
“Again, has a nice hourglass shape to her physique. Her shoulders are nice and full but not too big and dense. She has nice full round glutes that have great pop to them whenever she turns around to the back and also does her Bikini walk. This is one of her biggest strengths. Things that Ashley could work on, is she’s sometimes over-vacuums in her front pose, it kind of throws off the look a little bit. Most of the time, girls do not need to have big vacuums in front poses. She also sometimes is a little fidgety when it comes to posing.”
This isn’t Tyler Manon’s first video on judging criteria this season. Earlier in August, he went over how officials score physiques in the Men’s Open division. Manion explained that quarter turns, back double biceps, and front double biceps poses are used to establish call-outs at any given contest.
There have been notable changes to other categories as well. Manion, in conjunction with the IFBB, announced a new height/weight cap restriction for Classic Physique to level the playing field for shorter competitors. In addition, Men’s Physique will now abide by new height/weight restrictions.
Tyler Manion and the IFBB hope these new changes will bring about a more competitive landscape over time. As for Bikini judging, Manion emphasized the need for balanced proportions over muscle density and striations.