by Dani Taylor
How you hold yourself on stage is everything. You have spent months (maybe years?) building up a foundation of solid muscle to create a certain frame, and then dieting down and doing cardio so that all of those muscle show beautifully. You have busted your tail to create a stunning physique, but if you don’t know how to pose that physique, your efforts may very well not yield you the placing you feel you deserve when competition day comes.
Bodybuilding, physique, figure and bikini, all rely heavily on illusion. We all know competitors don’t look like that every day. They spend time shaving, waxing, tanning, finding the most flattering suit, getting their hair done, nails done, and wear heels that make certain body parts pop. So, why would someone go on stage after putting in SO much effort, without having perfecting their posing? If you have a wonderful package, but can’t present it well, a judge will likely pass right over you.
As part of a contest prep cycle, everyone should incorporate regular posing practice into their training. It should be second nature by the time you walk on stage. When you’re on stage, everything is kind of a blur and you will be receiving commands and when you walk off, you probably will barely remember what happened, so those physical responses to various cues need to be automatic. Knowing exactly where to hold your hands (spider hands anyone?), shoulders (I personally am constantly working on not tilting right), feet, etc, takes practice!
If you have access to a posing class near you, I highly recommend it. I recently went to an excellent posing class in Seattle taught by Katy Wayman White. The benefits of a class are that you have a professional there to correct you and give you tips, someone to push you to hold certain poses longer than you normally would, and maybe most importantly, it gets you comfortable posing in front of other people. Every federation has slightly different posing, so make sure you are learning the correct posing for your show or you may end up being the only one in the line-up doing the pose differently, and that’s not the kind of attention that you want to draw to yourself.
I recommend practicing both with and without a mirror. It’s important to be able to correct yourself when you’re doing something wrong, but also important that you’re not using the mirror as a crutch, because there are none when you’re on stage. I also recommend taking videos of yourself practicing so that you can critique yourself and work on your weaknesses. You may think that you’re making the muscles look awesome that you’re trying to flex, but even a micro-move in the wrong direction can throw it off or make you look strange.
Ladies who have to wear heels: wear them as much as you can to get comfortable in them. They’re much taller than regular heels (or what I would call regular heels), and are very unnatural to walk in, let alone nearly naked. Practice on various surfaces, because you never know what the stage will be made of (lots of stages have berber carpet on them, but others are hardwood). Practice going up and down stairs, as that’s how you’ll get on and off stage,
Practicing posing is hard work, and if done right, it borders on cardio. Twenty straight minutes of posing and you will probably have sweat running down your arms. Those muscles need to be prepared for that. You don’t want to be cramping up on stage because you didn’t practice enough. Posing regularly will also help with your conditioning. There’s no reason NOT to practice posing.
Oh, and did I mention that you’d better make it look easy? Too many times I have seen competitors wincing (which is a natural reaction to how hard you’re flexing!), or having a terrifying smile on stage that is not becoming at all. Practice that smile and move with grace. In fact, don’t even practice posing without smiling! What you practice is what you will do, so smile, smile, smile! The best example of this is our own PlantBuilt team member Pam Kalstad. If you watch a video of Pam at the Naturally Fit Super Show in 2013, those judges had her on stage for nearly forty minutes, and she never broke once and you can bet your bottom dollar that was from hours of practice. Not for one second did Pam not look graceful and elegant and like what she was doing was the easiest thing on earth. She got her pro card that day. So take that for what is worth. 🙂
Diet, training and sleep are SO important to doing well in a physique show, but please do not make the rookie mistake of underestimating the power of posing.