There is a lot to remember for athletes competing on the bodybuilding or figure stage, and sometimes it can be pretty overwhelming. The following tips might make it easier on the journey to success:
· Tattoos: I know, I know. Tattoos are an art form and an important expression of your individuality, BUT they can also be a distraction for the judges. The little cutesy-cute strategically-placed ones aren’t so bad, but some of the larger full-torso or arm-length tattoos can greatly detract from the very purpose for which you are supposed to be competing. You are supposed to be trying to display your body – not your tattoo(s). There is a reason why very few, if any, top bodybuilders or figure competitors have very large tattoos because they know it hides their muscular development, muscle tone, or symmetry. If you have a large tattoo, consider covering it up with makeup when you compete, and then wear it with pride after the competition.
· Dancing routines: Your individual posing routine is not supposed to be a dance but, rather, it is supposed to be a choreographed display of your best physical features. There is a certain entertainment value to your routine and your choice of music, of course, but if your routine is part of your judging score (which it IS, in most cases), slow it down and focus on POSING – not dancing! If your music is too upbeat or fast-paced, you will feel compelled to keep up with the beat which will make your routine herky-jerky or too fast to follow. If the judges can’t see your muscles because you are moving around the stage like a bug on a hot skillet, what was the purpose of your routine in the first place?
· Athletic Prowess: There was a time prior to 1960 when athletic points were considered part of your overall score. Now, however, your score is based solely on how you LOOK and not whether you can actually use those muscles that you have worked so hard to develop. So, forget the acrobatics and handstands unless they actually SHOW your muscles. Demonstrating how strong or how agile you are is irrelevant to your score, and the volume of applause from the audience will not influence the judges.
· Practice posing: This is more relevant to teen and novice competitors – and sometimes masters – but you should always have a practiced and polished posing routine. You can’t just pick out any old song just because you like it and go out on stage and “wing it” with your posing. Posing takes practice. Simply walking back and forth from one side of the stage to the other doing a few of your favorite poses is NOT a posing routine. Why even have music if this is all you are going to do? Also, don’t motion with your hands to encourage the audience to applaud for you just because you’ve seen someone do it before. It looks hokey. If they appreciate you, they will respond on their own without your false encouragement. Sign up for some of the training camps or posing seminars and learn how to pose correctly – it’s a real art, and you won’t be sorry.
· Avoid the “Clothes Hanger” look: The traditional “relaxed” pose from the front for both bodybuilders and figure competitors has become a joke. Certainly nobody is “relaxed” anymore. Everyone stands on stage shrugging their shoulders with their arms strutting out from their sides and elbows bent looking like clothes hangers. The pose is supposed to be performed by lifting the chest and spreading the lats – NOT by shrugging the shoulders and holding the arms out in a stiffly exaggerated position. The pose is supposed to look natural – not stiff. Shorter contestants are probably more affected by this awkward strutting because it makes them look as wide as they are tall (not good when you are being judged for aesthetics). Certainly no one does this pose better than professional figure champions Chrissy Zmijewski or Mary Bell . There are other excellent examples, too. But when you watch these two pros doing this pose, they look natural, they look relaxed. Their elbows are not sticking up stiffly and exaggerated from their sides like penguins but, rather, they are bent just slightly showing a certain gracefulness and fluidity.
There is more to the sport of bodybuilding than meets the eye, and we will be offering more tips and suggestions from top professionals in the future. .