Bodybuilding 101

Arnold Schwarzenegger bodybuilding

Bodybuilder being oiled before competition.Bodybuilding 101

Have you ever thought about being a bodybuilder, but don’t really know where to start?  Maybe you’re already further along than you think.

Bodybuilding by Definition

Bodybuilding by definition is the development of the body through diet and exercise.  This classifies many exercisers as bodybuilders, but often the term bodybuilder means competitive bodybuilder in the exercise world. Typically, competitive bodybuilders are lean, muscular, and proportional because competitive bodybuilding involves evaluating muscularity (size), definition (leanness), symmetry, and presentation (posing).  How do competitors get so muscular and lean?


Being a competitive bodybuilder is a lifestyle commitment in certain aspects such as weight training and nutrition.  Although, proper nutrition and weight training will improve your physique, it’s not going to happen overnight.  Both of these tactics will need to be a staple in your lifestyle to help your successes as a competitive bodybuilder.  For bodybuilding principles on nutrition and weight training check out bodybuilding nutrition 101 and weight training principles for bodybuilding.


Competitions have a few different elements to them the judging of the show, which involves pre-judging and individual routines, and the prepping for the show, which involves posing and tanning/oils.   Hiring an experienced coach can help you perfect your posing, construct an individual routine, and make suggestions on posing trunks, tanning products, and oils so you don’t have to find out by trial and error.  Also, I recommend seeing a competition before competing just so you’ll have an idea of what to expect.

  • Pre-judging – In the pre-judging, competitors come on stage in groups and perform quarter turns (turning right), and eight mandatory poses the 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 so the judges can assess the competitors muscularity (size), definition (leanness), symmetry, and presentation (posing) from various views and angles.  Judges usually select the winners during the pre-judging aspect of the competition.
  • Individual Routine – 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.   Best poser award generally goes to the competitor with the best individual posing routine.
  • Posing – The ability to be able to present your physique in the best way possible is critical to bodybuilding.  When you’re on stage, the judges are looking at all of you all the time not just when you’re posing.  Practice posing and good posture endlessly during your contest preparation. Try developing techniques for each pose that can help you look your best and fully portray your physique.
  • Tanning/Oil  – Tanning is an excellent way to enhance the detail of your physique.  Your natural skin complexion will play a role in the brand, type, and method of tanning you use so be sure to experiment beforehand, or hire a tanning expert that has experience in working with bodybuilders. Bright stage lights can washout your definition, but the right amount of posing oil can help highlight your physique under stage lighting.    Most posing oils are acceptable as long as they are not overly applied.  Going overboard won’t enhance your look, but instead make you too shiny for anyone to look at. A thin, evenly applied coat is all that is required.

This article may help you embark the start of a competitive bodybuilding career, or just realize you’re happy as an avid gym goer.  Just remember, whether you’re a competitive bodybuilder or not it’s a lifestyle committed to developing the body through diet and exercise.

About Julian Brown      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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *