Practice Makes Perfect

by Emily Zukle

Two months before I entered my first bodybuilding show and earned my first of three “Top Five” placings in the bikini category, I joined a local bodybuilding team for support in competition preparation. This decision was a large reason I believe I did so well in all my shows. Every Saturday, I religiously attended the team’s weekly posing practice to improve my chances of doing well in competition.

I believe this was an important factor in my placing and recommend every bodybuilding athlete find someone to coach their posing. Regardless of one’s level of fitness, we can all use tips on what stances are the most flattering to our own personal shapes. In my experience, physical appearance only takes a physique competitor so far. I believe the rest is the ability to command the stage and the judge’s attention.

In preparation for this year’s shows, I have begun attending posing practice twice each week and practice every day at home, too. At least once each day, in what my daughters call a “dance party,” I play music similar to what a bikini competitor might hear on stage during the final presentation. My 3 year old records the “hanger” on my iPhone (she’s always begging to take photos on my phone and now she’s becoming quite the budding videographer, too!). After each “t-walk,” I review this “game tape” to help improve the routine before running through it again. I also invest time watching youtube footage of other competitions to see what the judges are expecting of bikini athletes.

I highly encourage all of you to practice your poses in at least a floor length mirror and try to record yourself too, months before you take the stage to compete, especially if you’re a female not used to high heels and your category requires you wear them. I recommend you walk around until you look very comfortable and can move in them effortlessly. Again, the ability to appear confident on stage is very important and I believe that a good performer can place better than someone with a better physique, so in addition to working your muscles and monitoring what you ingest, spend time in front of the mirror too, and always remember to smile! Seriously. On stage, you might spend a long time in a comparison round with other athletes and your cheeks might begin to cramp if you haven’t practiced smiling for long periods of time. I know from experience on this one. And since bodybuilding photographers capture images of everyone’s bodies in peak condition, it would be ideal if the facial expressions are just as appealing=)

Hope these tips from my experience on the stage help you as a competitor. Above all, have fun. We don’t work hard preparing for these competitions to not enjoy ourselves. Perhaps that will help you remember your smile 😉

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