The Basics of Women’s Figure Competition Training
The presence of figure competitors at physique competitions has boomed over the past decade, and if you’re looking to make your figure debut, knowing the basics is imperative to looking fabulous on stage. If you’ve never been to a figure competition, I suggest checking out shows in your area first before stepping on stage for two reasons. Number one, you’ll know what to expect from a figure show, and two, you’ll know for sure whether or not competing in a figure competition is or isn’t for you.
What is Figure?
Figure is a class of a physique competition in which competitors perform quarter turns in 4-5 inch clear high heels with a two piece rhinestone figure suit and are judged by muscular symmetry, muscular conditioning, and stage presence.
Tanning, suit selection, posing, and stage presence are key components to presenting your physique in the best way possible come show day.
Generally, physique competitions will have a tanning specialist on site that will perform professional tanning services to competitors for a reasonable fee. If you decide to hire your own tanning specialist, be sure they’re experienced in physique and figure competitions as tanning for a competition is much different than your everyday spray tan. Some competitors choose to do their own tan, but for beginners I strongly advise against this.
When it comes to selecting a figure suit, search around for recommendations on where to purchase a suit that will be custom fitted for your physique. After training, dieting, and practicing your quarter turns, the last thing you want is a suit that doesn’t fit properly. Also, try to select a suit color and design that will compliment your physique.
In addition to tanning and suit selection, you’ll need to know how to properly perform quarter turns on stage. During the group comparison round, competitors will be asked to face the front, both sides, and the rear. Although there are a number of websites where you can gain insight on how to properly perform quarter turns, I recommend hiring a seasoned coach to assist you and teach you proper posing technique. Posing is critical because how you display your physique on stage will ultimately determine how well you look and appear on stage. There is also an individual round where each competitor performs a stage walk with the background music of their choice. During this time, competitors do what is commonly referred to as the “T” walk by 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, and finally walking off stage.
How you look, move, and appear on stage is what is referred to as stage presence. You’ll want to smile, appear confident, and display your physique in the best manner possible at all times when you’re on stage. I recommend hiring an experienced coach to guide you on how to look your best at all times when you’re on stage.
Although figure competitors generally aren’t as lean as female bodybuilders, they still need to display a well-condition physique which is in my opinion around 8-11 percent body-fat depending on the individual. In order to achieve a well-conditioned physique, you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time to lose unwanted body-fat. An adequate amount of time is at least one week of dieting for every 1lb of body-fat you need to lose. Aim to lose 1lb-2lbs per week until you reach the level on leanness and conditioning appropriate for figure competition.
When weight training for a figure competition, you should be striving to have a well-balanced and symmetrical physique from top to bottom and front to back. You’ll want full rounded shoulders, toned arms, and well-conditioned lats and rhomboids up top to match the developed quads, glutes, and hamstrings of your lower half. Your specific weight training routine should be designed around your weak points and physique needs, but I suggest keeping your weight training intense as you don’t want to lose any of your hard earned muscle during the dieting phase.
Cardio is a great tool for increasing energy expenditure and fat oxidation when preparing for a show. Some competitors prefer high intensity interval training for cardio while others prefer steady state longer duration cardio. This is a personal preference based upon how your body responds to each type of cardio, or the amount of time you have available to do cardio. I suggest using a combination of both because there will be some days where you’re too drained to perform high intensity cardio and days where you don’t have time to do long duration cardio. Also, doing both will allow you to access your physique and determine which mode of cardio is better for you.
There are competitors who go through the figure preparation journey alone, but I strongly recommend hiring an experienced coach to help you with your figure contest preparation. From helping you with your specific training and dieting needs to your suit selection, posing, stage presence and tanning needs, a seasoned coach will be able to guide you through the process. It’s always better to be over-prepared and know exactly what to expect than to be under prepared and overwhelmed. Because knowing the basics of figure preparation posing, tanning, training, dieting, suit selection and stage presence is crucial for anyone looking to make an impressive figure debut, I advise you to not only do your research and be over-prepared, but to also consider hiring a figure coach.