What’s the Difference between Fitness Modeling and Bodybuilding?

Although they may seem similar at face value, these two common athletic showcases are somewhat different. Bodybuilding has been around since the late 1960s, whereas fitness modeling is a more recent offshoot.

Bodybuilding and fitness modeling have a plethora of similarities, such as achieving an eye-catching physique and placing well in competitions. Bodybuilders and fitness models both spend a majority of their time in the gym, sculpting their bodies. So where are the differences between fitness modeling and bodybuilding?

According to Muscle Prodigy (here), a publication devoted to achieving fitness goals, while fitness modeling has its roots in bodybuilding, there are numerous differences in how they train, eat and live.

How Do They Train?

As per Muscles and Fitness (here), a publication devoted to providing information about all things fitness, bodybuilders primary objective is to gain muscle mass. Muscles must be large and lean, so that they will “pop out” during competitions. As such, bodybuilders’ workouts generally consist of a low amount of reps with a high amount of weight.

They place a specific emphasis on gaining mass. As such, they rarely engage in cardiovascular exercises or reps with a low amount of weights. Bodybuilders will regularly push their muscles to the point of failure; that is, the point where they literally cannot do another rep. During recovery, the failed muscles rebuild and become stronger.

image credit

According to Obi Obadike, professional fitness model and writer for BodyBuilding.com, fitness models’ goals are to look healthy and in shape. They are not overly concerned with having large muscles as they are with looking in shape in front of the camera or at physique competitions. Fitness models spend more time crafting the major muscle groups throughout their bodies.

Once they have a fit foundation, they will craft six pack abdominals and pay attention to legs and glutes. Their workout routines are generally shorter and more intense than bodybuilders. They will spend half of their workouts doing cardio and the other half lifting weights. To create toned muscles, they will do a high amount of reps with a lower amount of weight, compared to a bodybuilder.

What Do They Eat?

The ideal diet of a bodybuilder and fitness model are similar in many ways. They both place emphasis on protein, carbs, vegetables and fruits. Both will also regularly consume supplements, from protein shakes or creatine supplements. The site FemNutrition.com is just one such place which offers a wide range of supplements to assist female fitness models and bodybuilders create an ideal physique. Bodybuilders are traditionally known for consuming more supplements to help maximize their workouts than fitness models; however this is by no means a rule of the industry. Many fitness models regularly include supplements as a part of their balanced diets.

According to Obadike, the primary difference between a bodybuilder and fitness model is caloric intake. Obadike advises that aspiring fitness models consume no more than 2,500 calories per day. Conversely, bodybuilders regularly consume more than 5,000 calories per day. Obadike further advises that 50 percent of caloric intake come from proteins. The remainder should be from low carb and low fat options, such as fruits and vegetables.

How Do They Live?

As a professional fitness model, Obadike must maintain a state of supreme fitness at all times. Year-round, he does not allow his body fat go beyond eight percent. Other fitness models follow similar guidelines and strive to enhance their overall fitness throughout the year. They consistently maintain a healthy diet and a strict training regimen. Obadike points out that this is primarily because they may get a call for a modeling job at any time and must be in the best shape possible.

According to BodyBuilding.com, bodybuilders generally train for size throughout the year, however they only trim down and become lean for competition season. Competitions are the primary sources of income and motivation for bodybuilders. During their offseason, they may have up to fifteen percent body fat. They also train year-round, however they are not concerned with body fat percentages until competition season is a few months away.

Two Branches of the Same Tree

Fitness modeling and bodybuilding both stem from the human desire to push physical limits and reach their ultimate potential; thus both of these branches of fitness are essentially of the same tree. Their primary variance is how they train and their ultimate reason for training. Both branches can benefit each other by sharing training regimens and diet plans.

Author Bio: 

Carey Wilkinson is a contributing writer and professional fitness model. She has been a full-time fitness model for over five years, taking part in competitions and photo shoots.


Jon W

Jon works with various authors who are all experts in various health related fields. It is his goal to help share there knowledge, insights and experiences with others.

5 thoughts on “What’s the Difference between Fitness Modeling and Bodybuilding?

  • October 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I see these models all over the marketing campaigns at my gym and I just recently joined. I decided that I’d rather strive towards looking more like a fitness model than a body builder. Both obviously take great amounts of will power and commitment to maintain, but being a woman as well, I just wanna look fit not overly muscular anyway.

  • October 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I have never even heard of fitness modeling. What an interesting profession. Thanks for making the differences loud and clear.

  • September 16, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I would be curious to see how fitness models and bodybuilders compare in regards to markers of health

    • September 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      It depends, some of the natural bodybuilders are very health conscious and eat very clean, avoiding the ‘recommended’ bodybuilding protein intake which is absolutely detrimental to anyone’s health. Personally, if you can cut down to 2-3 meals a day with some snacks (nuts, veggies) in between you’re on your way to a healthy lifestyle :)

      A snack that I recommend is Nuts n’ More Chocolate Almond Butter, Natural Body Inc. has the best price for it if you’re interested…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *