Posing Tips
by Justin Leonard

Posing in my opinion is probably the most neglected aspect of bodybuilding competition. Many competitors are so focused on their diet and training, they don't have time to practice posing. Some even have trouble with basic mandatory poses. Some find themselves trying to put together choreographed posing routines at the last minute.

What good is a nice physique if it isn't displayed properly?

Obviously this can make a big difference when it comes down to a judge's decision. The ability to pose shows a competitor's level of experience. The following is a list of mandatory poses for men and women:




Front Double Biceps Front Double Biceps
Front Lat Spread Front Lat Spread
Side Chest Side Chest
Side Triceps Side Triceps
Rear Double Biceps Rear Double Biceps
Rear Lat Spread Rear Lat Spread
Abdominal Pose Abdominal Pose
Most Muscular *Most Muscular

*Rare, depends on federation


Best Leg Display
Calf Display
Victory Pose
Most Muscular (variations)

The mandatory poses for men and women are basically the same. The only exception is with the most muscular pose for women. Some federations require this pose for women and some don't. Judges rarely call for this pose because it has traditionally been viewed as "unfeminine."

It may be viewed this way because the most muscular requires a lot of straining and ugly faces. When you execute a most muscular, you basically try to display every vein and muscle in site with little regard for how you look. The more veins, bumps, cuts, and striations, the better. Different variations of the most muscular are the crab (most common), hands on hips, and standing.

Question: What do the judges look for during the prejudging?

Answer: The prejudging, which is usually the day before or early the day of the show, is where the judges actually decide on the placing or rank of competitors in each weight class. All decisions except for the overall decisions are made in advance.

The primary reason for the prejudging is to compare each competitor to other competitors in their respective weight classes without help from the crowd. Meaning the judges want to avoid crowd favorite influence or booing bad competitors because it can effect placing.

The judges look for a variety of things once competitors appear on stage. They mainly look for, in no particular order, symmetry, mass, and definition. Symmetry is the term used to measure balance among bodybuilders. For example, having skinny legs and a big upper body will not go in your favor.

Mass is the total size factor of a contestant. For example, take two competitors in the same weight class. They both weigh the same. One competitor is 5'4, the other 5'8. Chances are, the bodybuilder who is 5'4 will look more massive because there will be more muscle on his or her smaller frame. The competitor who is 5'8 will probably look too lanky compared to the mass of his or her 5'4 opponent. This can definitely go in someone's favor.

Muscle definition is basically the ability to clearly see a certain muscle group. You might have heard the term "muscle separation" used also. In addition, judges also note characteristics such as posing, overall professionalism, and self-confidence; anything additional that makes you stand out.

The confidence factor is very important. The look of confidence usually shows how much experience someone has. A confident competitor shows that they've been around for awhile and they know what's going on. They know how to impress the crowd and the judges.

The look of uncertainty can be found on the faces of many amateur competitors. If you're not confident about your body, the judges won't be confident in their decision. Always smile and look like you enjoy the sport.

It's important to note that the judges look at the entire body during every pose, not just one body part. For example, if a front double biceps pose is called, the judges are primarily focusing on the biceps but are also looking at the legs, abs, lat span from the front, and calves from the front.

If they call a rear double biceps pose, they are looking at the calves, hamstrings, lower back, traps, and triceps with the primary focus on the rear view of the biceps. Every pose is in comparison to the entire lineup of competitors. Keep in mind that you are also judged on every move you make and angle you turn.

Question: What do you think about posing for the entire week of the show (no workout)? Is this a good idea?

Answer: It may or may not be a good idea. It's just like the competition diet example. If something is working, why change it? In other words, if you look good 2 weeks before the show, don't change your diet or training style.

The only way you'll know if posing the entire week of the show works is to try it out. You may find that it adds definition and makes the muscles appear harder.



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