The numbers have dwindled: Bodybuilding VP shares concerns over steady dip in bodybuilding competitors

In 2017, Kenny Jacobs (center) was crowned heavyweight champion with Ollyn Martin (right) and Cleofoster Francis (left) taking second and third respectively. There are concerns over the steady decline in competing bodybuilders over the years.
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By Neto Baptiste

A noticeable decline in the number of heavyweight bodybuilding competitors during previous and also in the most recent national championship, has caught the attention of the sport’s national governing body here.

This after Vice President of the Antigua and Barbuda Amateur Bodybuilding & Weightlifting Federation (ABABWF), Kimberly Percival, said the body has discussed the concerns at the board level.

“It has come up and we have some diehard past bodybuilders on the executive as well so I think it is a sincere concern. If I refer to the original list of bodybuilders [for this year’s nationals] I wasn’t too worried because we had some young guys there but I wasn’t really surprised at the numbers for bodybuilding. They have dwindled but I think that with gyms being closed it would have affected them the most because you have so much muscles to maintain and there is only so much you can do at home lifting up water bottles as a bodybuilder,” she said. 

There was no heavyweight contender for last Saturday’s national championships with only one athlete competing in the bodybuilding category. The number was a significant drop from the seven athletes who competed in the category in 2019.

Numbers have however declined steadily over the years, coming from an average of 25 where bodybuilders competed in four categories, namely heavyweight, light-heavy, middleweight and lightweight divisions.

Percival is however optimistic that the once dominant division will rebound.

“I am seeing a lot of younger guys who are graduating [to hardcore bodybuilding] because I know a few men’s physique who are planning to graduate into classic physique and then likewise you will see classic physique athletes potentially graduate to bodybuilding, and because it requires so much muscles it is not something you can just get up and do today. So I think we will see a rise again but it just would have taken some time for the athletes to actually get to a place where then can represent within the category in a meaningful way,” the bikini fitness pro said.

Two other categories, body-fitness and junior bodybuilding, were also dropped from this year’s championships due to a lack of competitors.

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