The Art of Physique: Posing and Physique Competitions

male physique competitor posingPhysique Art

Art is the expression of creative skill and imagination typically displayed in a visual form such as with paintings and sculptures.  However, in terms of the human physique, art is displayed in the form of posing.

In physique competitions, posing is an art used to best display one’s best physical traits while simultaneously hiding one’s weak points.  Just like physique competitors spend countless hours dieting and training, they should spend an equal amount of time practicing the art of posing.

When it comes to physique competitions, there are two different rounds of posing.

Group Comparisons

No matter what division you compete in, all competitors go through group comparisons during pre-judging and an individual routine during the finals.  Only a lucky few competitors get to go through group comparisons during the finals.  Group comparisons are broken down into quarter turns for all competitors and quarter turns and mandatories for women’s physique and men’s/women’s bodybuilding classes.

  • Quarter Turns

Quarter turns are the judges’ first and sometimes only impressions of competitors’ symmetry, conditioning, and muscularity.  Therefore, a competitor’s presentation of their physique and transitioning between quarter turns is crucial.  It takes time to develop the endurance and skill to stay tight and make fluent/smooth transitions during quarter turns.  Thus, a competitor should prepare adequately by taking the time to practice all the posing rounds their class is required to do.

  • Mandatories

Women’s physique and men’s/women’s bodybuilding are required to do additional group comparison poses after quarter turns known as the mandatory compulsory poses.  During this round, competitors will display poses such as front double bicep, front lat spread, side chest pose, side tricep, rear double bicep, rear lat spread, abdominal and thigh pose, and the most muscular pose.  However, not all of the aforementioned poses are required for women’s physique and bodybuilding.

There are a lot of variations to each one of these poses and as a competitor practicing this poses and variations will allow you to assess which variation best displays your physique.  A key point to remember is that no matter what poses a competitor is doing, the judges are always assessing their physiques in entirety which from top to bottom and left to right so when hitting your poses keep all your muscles flex and tight. Also, don’t forget the judges will be watching competitors as they through their transitions into and out of poses.

Individual Routines

During the night show, competitors get the chance to display their physiques individually using a series of poses and music of their choosing. Some organizations allow props and costumes; however, they aren’t required.

Figure, Bikini, and Men’s Physique do more of a structured individual routine known as a T-Walk which usually consists of walking front center stage and performing half turns to showcase the front and back of their physique, then proceeding to the left part of the stage where competitors briefly stand in a pose of their choice, then walk to the right part of the stage and again briefly stand in a pose of their choice, then walk back to the front center of the stage pausing in a stance of their choice before finally walking off stage.

When it comes to music selection, try to find a song that you like and allows you to choreograph a sequence of poses that fit your physique, posing style, and flows to the music. Don’t make the mistake of trying to throw a routine together in a few days.  Instead, take the time to choreograph an artistic routine that flows with the rhythm and tempo of the music all while displaying your favorite and best poses.  Although individual routines aren’t used to decide overall placings, they do give the best poser award to the competitor with the best individual posing routine.

No Artist is Great Overnight

As with everything, the more work, time and practice you put in to posing, the more it will show.  My posing routine at my very first show was very sub-par by my standards today, but after putting time in and working at it I won best overall poser three years later.  The key to take away from this article is that posing is an artistic expression of your physique, and it takes time to master.

Author Profile: Julian Brown, BS, ACE-CPT, NASM-FNS

JulianBrownTraining.com      Julian is the co-owner of The Yard Fitness, an established fitness writer, a professional natural bodybuilder, a fitness & sport nutrition specialist, and a certified personal trainer. He began strength training at the young age of fourteen to improve his sports performance and hasn’t looked back since. Julian is a graduate of Grambling State University, ACE & NASM certified, and he has over a decade of personal experience in strength training.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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