NPC and IFBB: What’s the Difference?

For those young, aspiring bodybuilders out there, you may have come across the Legion Sports Fest Expo in your research for the first steps of your bodybuilding journey. If you are just starting to explore the idea of participating in a bodybuilding competition, the acronyms alone have the potential to be overwhelming. NPC, IFBB, IBFF, WBFF, and countless others can make your head spin, but the first two are the most important when it comes to the bodybuilding competition. If you are curious as to what the difference is between the NPC and IFBB bodybuilding divisions and what you need to do to succeed in each, the team at Center Podium is here to give you the rundown.

NPC – Worldwide Amateur League

The NPC stands for the National Physique Committee. This association is the largest organization for amateur bodybuilders in the United States and now with the addition of NPC Worldwide, it is the biggest amateur federation in the world. No matter were you are, the NPC is the first step down the professional bodybuilding path and the only path to the prestigious Mr. Olympia. The National Physique Committee is specifically designed to give amateurs their first opportunity to compete for the chance to obtain a pro card.  The card that certifies you are a professional bodybuilder, one who has competed and placed in several different tiers of competition and can hold their own against some of the best. With that milestone, you are ready to move into the IFBB Pro League.

IFBB Pro League – The Big Time

The NPC is very similar to the minor leagues of the MLB or the developmental league of the NBA. When the time comes and you get called up, which in this case means obtaining a pro card, you will arrive at the big leagues, the IFBB Pro League. This fancy acronym stands for the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness and was created in 1946 by Joe and Ben Weider. As the figurehead of our wonderful league, we borrow from his history and hope to continue the tradition of IFBB Pro League competition at the Legion Sports Fest.

The IFBB Professional League is the federation of bodybuilding awards professional status. It is also the federations that sanction major bodybuilding contests such as the IFBB Legion Sports Fest, Arnold Classic, and Mr. Olympia; bodybuilding’s Superbowl. IFBB Pro competitions, allow competitors to attempt to qualify for the Mr. Olympia contest vying for the only title that crowns them the best in the world. This level is different from that of the NPC in that you must earn your way into the IFBB Pro League, whereas the NPC is open to anyone and everyone who thinks they are ready to compete.

The other IFBB

A few years ago the IFBB split into two separate organizations. The other IFBB is based out of Spain. It does not offer IFBB Pro League status and therefore no possibility to compete in the Mr. Olympia, Arnold Classic, or Legion Sports Fest. You can learn more about the split and how to choose the best show for you here.

The Legion Sports Fest, Tahoe Show, NPC Mother Lode and NPC West Coast Classic and all Center Podium contests are proud to showcase numerous NPC and IFBB Pro League competitions at each event. Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation that includes great bodybuilding shows, looking for your first competition, or are ready to compete with some of the best, the Center Podium family of events has exactly what you are looking for. Take a look at the event requirements and what goes into this wonderful celebration of physique, figure, and weightlifting athletes. See our entire NPC and IFBB Pro League Contest Calendar at If you want to learn even more about the various bodybuilding federations and your path to winning the Olympia, you can visit our competitor prep resources HERE.