What is the "True Novice" division?

 Photo by Liquid Spectrum

Photo by Liquid Spectrum

Since True Novice was introduced to local NPC shows a few years ago, we’re always getting questions from competitors about it – “Am I qualified to compete in True Novice?” “Should I do both Novice and Open?” “What’s the difference?”

Let’s start with that first question: “Am I qualified to compete in True Novice?”

Since it’s introduction, the rules on this have evolved. Initially, anyone who hadn’t competed within the NPC or who was changing divisions within the NPC (so for example someone who had previously competed in Men’s Physique and wanted to switch to Classic Physique) was qualified for True Novice. Now, only people who have never competed in a physique competition before, including other federations, are qualified for True Novice.

These are people who are literally stepping onto the physique stage for the very first time, it’s pretty cool when you think about it.

“Should I do both Novice and Open?”

We get this question a lot, and the honest answer is that is completely up to you. Can you do both? Yes. Should you do both? We tend to lean towards yes, you only get to do True Novice once and you’ve worked really hard to get your body in stage condition so why wouldn’t you want to spend as much time on stage as possible?? The more you’re on stage, the more experience and confidence you gain for your next competition. But that’s not always the right solution for everyone, if you have a coach, definitely discuss this with them.

One other note on this, if you do decided to do both True Novice and Open they are two separate classes, so you will need to pay the entry fee for two classes instead of one. At Team On Track Productions competitions, we allow you to add on an additional class for whatever you paid for your initial class – meaning if you get your entry form in on time and pay $75 for the True Novice class, you can add on the open class up until athlete registration for an additional $75 instead of paying a late fee on the second class.

“What’s the difference?”

Besides True Novice classes having only first time competitors while Open classes are open to all amateur competitors (Unless you’re looking at an Open Masters class, in which case it is open to any amateur competitor over the age listed with that class, ie 35+. And yes, you can do True Novice, Open AND Open Masters.), there are a few other differences.

Probably the most important to know is that in True Novice, you do not get national qualification like you would in the Open class (assuming the show is a national qualifier, all of the shows in Minnesota are) so if you are planning to compete nationally after your show, you will want to either compete in True Novice and Open or just Open to get that qualification.

Another difference is that because there are less first time competitors out there, there’s a smaller chance of there being an Overall for each division. An Overall happens only when there are multiple height or weight classes within a division (ie Bikini A, B, C or Bodybuilding Lightweight, Heavyweight); the winners of each height or weight class are judged against each other during finals to determine the Overall Champion of the division. True Novice Overalls do happen, just less frequently than Open Overalls, and at Team On Track Productions competitions if there is a True Novice Overall they will get a goodie bag with some swag from sponsors, but our Overall Prizes (such as am NPC Gopher State personalized soft shell jacket, or an NPC North Star personalized 6 pack bag) only go to the Open Overall Champions.

A final difference at Team On Track Productions competitions, and probably others as well, is that we give different trophies to the the True Novice competitors than the Open Competitors. For True Novice, we give different types of acrylic trophies at each show (the ones in the photo are from the NPC North Star) and for Open we give the Niels Andersen sculptures. They’re both great trophies, we just like to add a little bit of variety to the hardware you get to take home!

What other questions do you have about True Novice? If you’ve competed in a True Novice division, what thoughts and recommendations do you have for new competitors? Let us know in the comments!