There are numerous natural bodybuilding federations and associations out there and it can be pretty overwhelming trying to learn what all of the abbreviations mean and what the organisations do, so in this article we are going to look at the biggest and most well known english-spoken organisations and give you a brief outline of what they are all about. We hope that this article will help you to understand the purpose of some of the most popular governing bodies in natural bodybuilding and perhaps even assist you in choosing which federation or association would be the best for you! All of the organisations discussed in this article tend to be 100% natural bodybuilding federations and associations (it’s not always sure, but they try certainly try their best!).
WNBF – World Natural Bodybuilding Federation
The first association we are going to talk about is the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) which organises and promotes drug-free bodybuilding and physique events all over the world. The WNBF was founded in 1989 and it has from the outset upheld the most stringent drug-testing process within the industry. From the first contest, held in Minnesota in 1990, which saw just 13 men compete to be named ‘Pro Natural Mr. Universe’, the WNBF promoted numerous competitions which attracted the best in the business from far and wide with prize money increasing significantly in a short period of time and the inclusion of women’s categories. The popularity of WNBF contests has continued to grow ever since and it is now considered by some to be the most highly respected drug-free bodybuilding federation in the world.
In 2019, the WNBF hosted 86 events, 46 being held in the US and 40 being held internationally. This includes the WNBF World Championships, Pro Universe and Naturalmania which are some of the largest contests running. They had over 5,000 competitors and total prize money of $175,000. Those figures were incomprehensible in 1989 when the federation began, where the overall winner of the first competition received a prize sum of $2,500. Today the federation strives to encourage athletes to pursue a natural bodybuilding career and creating a level playing field for all participants by eliminating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in all of their contests. They continue to grow their community by forming bonds with affiliates all over the world and they also offer the largest pro cash rewards in the natural bodybuilding category. They always work incredibly hard to raise awareness amongst bodybuilders and the general public alike of the risks of drug use in sports and create a positive, educated space in which those who are passionate about the sport can thrive. You can access their website by clicking here.
INBF – International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation
INBF stands for the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation and is the amateur division of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation. As it is a branch of the WNBF, it shares the same rigorous drug-testing process and is very highly esteemed in the natural bodybuilding world. As the name suggests, it is an international organisation promoting events and inspiring athletes across the world to choose a natural bodybuilding path. The INBF includes affiliates to the WNBF in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, Australia, China, Denmark, Ireland, Japan and Canada.
This affiliate of the WNBF was founded in 1999 and through it’s ties to the Pro division it saw very rapid growth. Today the INBF has over 4,000 members and hosts more than 35 contests each year to allow rising stars to showcase their talents. As it is an amateur division, anyone can compete in INBF competitions and they are a gateway to competing in the Pro Natural WNBF competitions. This is an incentive which draws in many members to compete in their contests over other associations and federations. The federation is also praised for being apolitical in terms of the judging process, the promotion of competitors and not restricting competitors to only their own competitions, as is the case with other organisations.
There are numerous divisions to offer opportunities to competitors with a range of skills and they maintain strict boundaries between divisions to ensure that it is a fair and encouraging environment for beginners and that those more experienced in contests are up against people of their own level.
You can register to the INBF through this specific WNBF website page.
The next organisation we are going to talk about is a large, highly-esteemed organisation with multiple strands which encompass various levels of competition. The Amateur Bodybuilding Association (ABA) was the first sector of this association to be created and aims to promote amateur natural bodybuilders. The Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) was then introduced to create an association dedicated to pro natural bodybuilders and promoting natural bodybuilding contests. The International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) was the final expansion of this association to include countries other than the USA with the aim of standardising and regulating natural bodybuilding on a worldwide scale.
The ABA was founded by Denny S. Kakos in 1989, although the concept first arose in 1977, with the PNBA coming to fruition in 1990 and the INBA in 1994. It was created to counteract the damage that prolific drug-usage had done to the sport, with the hope of promoting the health of athletes and true sportsmanship and serving the athletes who show such dedication and commitment to their sport. The associations now promote natural bodybuilding competitions in over 50 countries, inspiring young athletes and showing society that bodybuilding is not about the abuse of of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) but about the capabilities of the human body. It also works with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to carry out the highest standard of drug-testing in order to create an even playing field for all competitors.
Inclusion is highly important within the INBA/PNBA too and from the outset they have strived to combat all forms of discrimination by making (and keeping) their fees affordable, introducing physically-challenged classes to their competitions and endeavouring to create categories to suit everyone who wishes to compete. They work hard to boost awareness of natural bodybuilding not only as a sport but also a form of performing art as they welcome athletes to incorporate props and costumes etc. during competitions.
The INBA/PNBA are the organisers of the PINNACLE OF NATURAL SPORTS – Natural Olympia which is the largest and most prestigious natural bodybuilding competition in the world. The first ‘Mr Natural Olympia’ was crowned in 1998 and the competition has been a huge annual event ever since. The Natural Bodybuilding Olympia competition is a contest which offers a fair opportunity to the best natural bodybuilders as the natural equivalent to the original ‘Mr Olympia’ title (founded by Joe Weider at his Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend competition). The popularity of the Natural Olympia shows the strength of the movement away from performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the sport.
You can access their site by clicking here.
ANBF – American Natural Bodybuilding Federation
The American Natural Bodybuilding Federation (ANBF) is another of the most well-known, and considered to be one of the best natural bodybuilding federations in America. The focus of this US federation is to create the best possible experience for not only the competitors but also the audience, vendors, judges and everyone else involved in the process of holding natural bodybuilding competitions and shows. They aim to do so through the standardisation of competitions which they hope will encourage more people to get involved. Their priority, which is shared by many other natural bodybuilding organisations, is to make sure people leave any event having had a positive experience and gaining a better understanding of the sport.
Their events comprise of various divisions such as pro and amateur bodybuilding, master’s bodybuilding, physique, and figure and bikini. With such a range of classes within their contests, the ANBF represents people invested in all forms of natural bodybuilding. Similarly to the ABA/INBA/PNBA, the ANBF recognizes that inclusion is key and one factor which can restrict many prospective competitors is the expense of entering competitions. In light of this, they ensure that the entry fees, as well as ticket prices for family and friends, remain constant for each of their shows to allow as many people as possible access to their shows. Equally, they make sure that contest organisers advertise the minimum pay-out prize for the winners, rather than the maximum pay-out which can be misleading and leave competitors feeling cheated.
ANBF events involve rigorous drug-testing and require entrants to have been clean for six years. This means that all of those competing in ANBF contests will share a passion for natural bodybuilding and have put in years of hard work and dedication and the competitions will be a totally even playing field.
You can access their website here.
BNBF – British Natural Bodybuilding Federation
BNBF stands for the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation and, as the name suggests, is a UK-based governing federation which regulates natural bodybuilding competitions across the UK. The BNBF was founded in the year 2000 with the goal of creating the best possible environment for natural bodybuilders in Britain. They regulate not just the drug-testing of these competitions, adhering to the strict World Anti-Doping Agency standards which are used by all of the top natural bodybuilding organisations, but also the venues of UK competitions, the lighting, stage set-up and everything in between!
BNBF requires all of it’s members to have been free of performance-enhancing drugs for at least seven years in order to participate in their events. They carry out detailed analyses to ensure that these standards are maintained in order to create a fair and even opportunity for all competitors. The banning of PEDs also allows them to portray the true benefits of bodybuilding and counteract the idea that bodybuilding is unhealthy – due to many people assuming all bodybuilders abuse PEDs to achieve their physique.
The BNBF have numerous divisions in their contests which cover a wide range of competitors including various age brackets, weight divisions, athletic divisions and men’s and women’s classes. They work with other drug-free organisations to promote natural bodybuilding and create a community of natural bodybuilders throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their biggest competitions are the annual BNBF Britain Open Championships and the DFAC/BNBF Pro Grand Prix. These competitions are hugely popular and have expanded continuously since they began.
You can access their website by clicking here.
NBFI – Natural Bodybuilding Federation of Ireland
The Natural Bodybuilding Federation of Ireland (NBFI) was founded in 2012 and has been working hard ever since to promote natural bodybuilding and improve the reputation and standards of the sport in Ireland. The NBFI is now one of the top federations in Ireland and the largest Natural Bodybuilding Federation in Ireland.
The NBFI also has a wide range of competition classes to award winners in various different brackets including age, gender, physique, bikini, weight and height. They organise the NBFI Irish National Championships and also collaborate with other organisations to contribute to larger events such as the UKDFBA Internationals and the INBF / WNBF World Finals.
You can access their services by clicking here.
NBA – Natural Bodybuilding Australia
Natural Bodybuilding Australia (NBA) is one of the top Australian organisations who exclusively support and promote natural bodybuilding. The NBA came to existence at the end of November 2018 as a new venture leading away from Australasian Natural Bodybuilding with the intension of creating a natural bodybuilding organisation that would lead competitors on a direct pathway to the world stage and offer a more direct progression route for athletes wishing to push the limits of Australian – and international – natural bodybuilding.
They strive to inspire athletes to work hard to build their physique in a natural and healthy way. Their goal is to create a professional, transparent and passionate environment in which the sport can thrive and expand, reaching wider audiences and inspiring others to take part. A priority for the NBA is having a legitimate, fair arena in which athletes can compete against others who have put in just as much time, effort and dedication as they have. The NBA, like so many other natural bodybuilding associations, requires athletes to undergo thorough drug-testing in order to make sure that all competitors fall within their membership terms and conditions.
The NBA offers a 12-month membership rather than a calendar-year membership which benefits members as it allows them to purchase a pass for two full seasons. They aim to keep competition fees as affordable as possible to make the sport accessible to more people. They also have a wide range of divisions intended to group competitors with others who have the same goals and are at the same level as they are. There are five main female divisions (Bikini, Sports Model, Fitness, Figure and Physique) and each of those have subdivisions for different age groups and experience levels. There are three main male divisions (Physique, Classic Physique (Bodybuilding) and Bodybuilding) which are then subdivided into age groups, experience levels and weight classes.
They continue to work hard to improve the reputation and improve existing conditions and regulations for natural bodybuilding in Australia and are highly aware of the role they can play on a more international scale too. You can access their services by clicking here.
So, that brings us to the end of this overview of some of the most important and influential federations and associations in the world of natural bodybuilding. There is so much information out there and it is always advisable to do plenty of in-depth research when choosing an organisation to become a member of but we hope that this article has cleared up the main purposes and goals of these organisations. It is fair to say that all of the organisations you have just read about are doing great things for natural bodybuilding and they all play a vital role in the development of our sport.
You could even argue that it would be impossible to pick the very ‘best’ out of them all because each has their own speciality or key focus and it is only with the continuous improvement of each of these aspects that we see true progress in natural bodybuilding. As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village’ and that definitely applies here. Without the hard work and dedication of all of the organisations promoting and supporting natural bodybuilding events we would be nowhere near the amazing things we have already seen come to fruition. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for us!