The easy answer is:
- if you've competed in FBB in the past and either couldn't or chose not to "get big", this is a "less big" option for you.
- if you've competed in Figure and were "too lean" or "too big" or not satisfied w/ the limited posing or don't like wearing the shoes, it's a nice option to go to. There are also Figure competitors who are looking to go beyond Figure to "go to the next level" w/ their training, but again, don't have to go to the level of FBB.
In the broader picture, the never-ending discussion of how FBB has gotten "too big", here's a toned down option. However it begs the also never-ending trend of everything in physique competition to "more" - more muscle, more leanness, more whatever. If someone shows up just a little bit more <whatever> and stands out from the crowd w/ a nice overall package, and then gets rewarded for it, that will establish the new trend. That approach can occasionally backfire if you aren't familiar w/ the "norm" for your particular competition. I think a great example is the NY Pro show recently. Seems "east side" tends to like bigger & leaner, whereas the same competitors could compete on the West Coast and not do as well.
My personal stance - I competed in FBB from 2000-2010. I was never particularly "big", but I also had zero interest in competing in Figure, had zero skill to compete in Fitness and more than zero interest in competing in Bikini. Since 2010, I've been out w/ a shoulder injury and a plethora of soft tissue problems that have hindered my ability and enjoyment of training over the last 5 years. Additionally, I've given up some muscle to the lack of training and also aged another 5 years into my late 40s and I'm staring 50 in the face right now. I have no interest in trying to rebuild enough muscle base for FBB. I also have lost interest in FBB, some from the negativity that surrounded it when Physique was introduced and for some, seemed to translate less into "Hey look at the new category" and more into "Hey take a look at just how freaky FBB is and it should die and we should all look to Physique as the new peak of women's competition". I also lost interest in it due to the freaky requests I keep getting since I started competing at the national level for shit I have no interest in getting involved in or even want to know about. (No offense to people who like that stuff, .. its just not for me and not the attention I wanted when I started pursuing competition.)
So as I've gotten most of my injuries addressed, I'm sitting at a lower degree of muscle, less ability to go as heavy as I used to , less desire to go as heavy as I used, but still wanting to stay in shape and get on stage and express myself w/ the posing. Thus Physique is a nice option for me to pursue this fall.
Having watched Physique evolve over the last 5-6 years, some things you have to admit about it:
- it has energized women's competition and brought some really nice physiques to the stage.
- it is more doable than FBB for many competitors both in the ability to get to that level, desire to not get to the extreme level and generally more acceptable overall end result (relative to the extremes usually associated w/ FBB)
- I still expect it to trend towards "bigger", but then that aspect of women's competition will never go away, so I guess we just live with it.
- I'm still ambivalent about some of the mandatory poses and some of the competitors' ability to execute good poses - this was a huge aspect of FBB for me, so I hate to see people miss the point of excellent and aesthetically amazing posing capability.
- I really hope the judging keeps the trends towards 'more' under control - it isn't a competition for the extreme - so in fact the challenge becomes keeping a cap on the size and leanness while still presenting a detailed, lean, but nicely muscled and proportioned physique.