With 2019 being a crazy year for bodybuilding, you’re probably wondering who’s going to be the next Mr. Olympia. There’s a lot of big names qualified for this years contest, and many of them have seem to come out of the woodwork. All of this may lead you to wonder what the current Mr Olympia qualifications look like.
According to most, it is now easier than ever to win an IFBB pro card. Although this may be true, it is certainly never easy to qualify for the Olympia.
Recently, the IFBB changed how bodybuilders qualify for the Olympia. The system was previously based on points, but now IFBB pro league contests are divided into tiers. Fittingly, the only tier 1 contest is the Arnold Classic Ohio which provides the most points upon placing.
You can check out a picture of the tiered contests below and how the point system works for each tier. It is important to note that no matter what category you’re competing in, the 1st place winner of each show automatically qualifies for the Olympia.
Is It Easier to Qualify For The Olympia Than Ever Before?
When you look at the above picture and statements made by the IFBB, it is clear that all it takes to qualify for the Olympia is winning a pro show – no matter the tier. Whether you deem this good or bad, there’s no denying that this makes it easy to punch your ticket to the world’s biggest show. A random pro could win an irrelevant tier 4 contest only to get blown out of the water by guys like Phil Heath.
It should also be mentioned that there are still bodybuilders who will qualify by points. For Men’s bodybuilding and other “25 or less contests”, the top three in points qualify. Classic physique and divisions with 25 or more contests allow the top five in points to qualify.
You could argue that the new Mr Olympia qualifications are fair because of the prejudging component. Many contenders will not make it past prejudging. Regardless, it seems as though we will now see more bodybuilders than ever during Olympia weekend.
Qualification Differences Between Divisions
I’ve covered a few of the differences between IFBB divisions already, but I have a hunch that you may be confused by the new set up.
A division can essentially be referred to as a category of participants within the IFBB. Men’s Bodybuilding, 212, classic physique, and so on are each their own division.
Some divisions have more participating IFBB pros than others, which is why the IFBB decided to formulate new qualifications for the Olympia. More than 25 contests means there are at least 25 or more bouts of participants in that division. The sheer number of participants in these divisions is the reason why more people qualify by points.
Another major difference between 25 or less contests and the former is qualifiers from the previous Olympia. The top 5 from the previous Olympia automatically qualify for the next year. However, this only holds true if the division has 25 or less contests. Men’s bodybuilding and 212 are two examples where the top 5 from this year will qualify for next year.
Regarding divisions like classic physique or bikini, only the winner of the previous year’s Olympia will qualify.
Conclusion: Summarizing the Mr Olympia Qualifications - Are they fair?
To me it seems as though IFBB has done a good job of balancing the playing field. Although every first place winner of a pro show will make the Olympia, only capable bodybuilders will make the contest by points.
For divisions with 25 or less contests, the top 5 from last years Olympia automatically qualify. This may seem like a lot, but you must consider that divisions with more participants are sending more bodybuilders based on points. In my opinion, this is a fair situation, especially when you consider the lifestyle differences between an open and men’s physique competitor
To summarize, if you want to qualify for the Mr. Olympia competition after this year, you must win first place in a recognized pro show. This factor does not depend on the division you participate in. You win a show and you’re in.
Furthermore, only the top 3 in points make the Olympia from 25 or less contests (like MBB or 212). The top 5 in points will make it from divisions with 25 or more contests (like CP, MP or bikini).
Lastly, is it easier than ever before to punch your card to Olympia weekend? Probably so, but the Mr Olympia qualifications are more interesting than ever. They should result in great contests for years to come.
Former bodybuilder Dave Palumbo does a good job covering this topic in one of his videos. Feel free to check it out below.