What happens at a bodybuilding posing class (and why should you go)?

I’m aching all over today! Why? Yesterday, I was up at The Workout Mill gym in Leamington for a 3-hour posing workshop run by WNBF Pro Richard Gozdecki and UKBFF and NABBA bodybuilder Max O’Connor.

I thought it might be interesting to give you a behind the scenes glimpse (in words, anyway – no pics were taken) of what happens at these things, and to tell you why you really should go to something similar if you compete.

Why is posing important?

Posing is incredibly important to competitive bodybuilders. It’s how we’re judged on the day. For my category, and in the federations I’ve done and do, we have to do:
quarter turns (the judges score “symmetry” in this round)
compulsory poses (used to judge “muscularity” and “conditioning”)
a free posing routine to music

If you can’t pose – and pose really well – you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. You could be the most genetically gifted bodybuilder with a beautiful structure, you could have trained as hard as you like, and dieted to achieve great condition… but if you then just stand there on stage, unable to pose, or posing badly, the judges can’t judge you. They can only judge what they see, after all.

Isn’t it just… standing there and flexing?

Nope. It’s really hard. Not just hard to learn, but physically hard. It hurts, it makes you out of breath, it makes you sweat. You’ll ache from it the next day. And the most you practice, the easier it is. If I told you right now to spread your lats, would you be able to do it? Can you engage your lats, switch them on, spread them without hunching your shoulders or pinching your scapula or bunching your traps? It’s not all front double biceps 😉 (although we do those, too).

Why do you have to learn it?

Like any skill, there’s an art to it. You need to learn, ideally from someone who can actually see you moving and touch you to help you get it right. You definitely can’t just rock up and hope for the best. Nobody was born knowing how to do bodybuilding poses, and watching Pumping Iron really won’t be enough.

Is it important to practice?
Yes! As often as possible. Not only will practicing your posing help it become second nature, but you’ll be able to find your own style, make those subtle little tweaks which show your physique off and highlight your strengths (and hide your weaknesses, which is what also what it’s about!) Posing practice actually helps tighten you up and “bring you in” (<< quality BB lingo for you right there) during prep. And the more you practice posing, the easier it’ll be on the day. You’ll sweat less under the lights, so your tan won’t run as much.

Surely it’s easy?

It’s really not. I’d like to think I’ve got a decent level of proprioception, but there are still a couple of poses I find very difficult. Not just physically, but mentally. My head just doesn’t know what I mean. And I favour one side on some poses. Ask me to do them on the other side (as can happen on stage) and I fumble and bumble. No bueno!

All of that is a preamble, explaining a little about why I drove up to Leamington Spa to attend a 3-hour posing workshop yesterday. It’s important!

So, what happens at these things?

Yesterday, we were split into two groups – one with Rich, one with Max. This was roughly done by federation. Most of the people I was with are prepping for the UKDFBA UK Open show, the remaining NPA qualifiers (or the Finals if already qualified), or the BNBF British. I was one of two females. But posing with men is no problem for me, as I do exactly the same poses as them.

We started at 9am, changing into bikinis/trunks (no point being shy at posing class!) and went through our quarter turns one by one. I stuck myself front and centre, cos that’s my style 😉 Everyone received individual feedback and critique, positive or negative/where improvements could be made. There are mirrors, as it’s always good to be able to see yourself, but it’s also important (IMO) to *not* look at yourself in the mirror sometimes during poses. After all, there are no mirrors on stage and if you can only hit a pose when you can see your own reflection, you’re going to struggle on the day.

After the 1/4 turns we went through all eight compulsories, and got individual feedback. We were able to learn from each other as well as from “teacher” Richard.

We had a few breaks for water/food if necessary during the couple of hours of posing – it really is hard work. I was sweating more than I do during some of my training sessions.

We then went through everything exactly as it would be called on the day of a comp, without stopping for critique. It’s important to know how the poses “flow”, and to be able to hold them for a reasonable amount of time. You never know how long you’ll have to hold them on stage, it could be quite a long time.

After that, people had the opportunity to run through their free posing routines or to work on putting one together if they haven’t yet done so. I took the chance to just keep on posing, jumping in with some of the guys in the other group. As far as I’m concerned you really can’t practice enough, and should grab every opportunity!

Here are the compulsory poses I have to do as a female bodybuilder with the UKDFBA/INBF
(WNBF… one day! 😉 )
Front Double Biceps
Front Lat Spread
Side Chest
Rear Double Biceps (showing one calf)
Rear Lat Spread (showing one calf)
Side Triceps
Abs and Thigh Pose
Most Muscular (this is technically “of your choice” but they can call specific ones so you’d better learn ’em!)

I said no photos were taken but that’s no quite true. Richard is almost as keen on selfies as I am… so… this happened:
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After the class? I trained hamstrings and calves with Richard (a WNBF Pro Heavyweight who’s currently off-season) and Troy (a very impressive junior who won his class at NPA and is prepping for more shows). We were training for nearly two hours.

Yeah… suffice to say that I’m pretty tired and sore this morning 😉

Competitors, have you been to a posing club or class? Do you struggle with any particular poses?

What happens at a bodybuilding posing class (and why should you go)? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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7 Responses to What happens at a bodybuilding posing class (and why should you go)?

  1. flick161 says:

    I just wondered -were no photos taken at all (i.e. not allowed)?
    If so, flippin’ well done The Workout Mill! The one thing I’m not so keen on about attending posing Clubs is when photos of me are plastered all over social media and myself having no choice in the matter.

    Did you learn anything specific about your own posing that you really took away from the class?

    Like

    • Nicola Joyce says:

      Hey Flick! No photos just because Rich & Max were busy “teaching” I suppose. People had progress/individual posing pics taken (I certainly did) but no, no “crowd” shots. And yes I totally agree – when you’re posing, you don’t want to be thinking about who’s taking what pic and whether you want it to end up on FB!

      I made a few tweaks to some of my compulsories, whcih was great, and I also learned that one of my side poses in the 1/4 turns looks much better than the other side… can’t work out why, though!

      Oh I also learned (or reconfirmed) that legs and abs come out loads the more I pose – even at this level of (non) condition.

      Thanks as always for reading 🙂

      Like

  2. “I’d like to think I’ve got a decent level of proprioception, but there are still a couple of poses I find very difficult. Not just physically, but mentally. My head just doesn’t know what I mean.”

    I find this very interesting. It’s a bit like pulling certain faces, I suppose. You think you know what it should feel like, and then find that it doesn’t look like what it’s supposed to at all (for years I thought I was raising an eyebrow, when it turns out I’m actually narrowing my eyes and squinting…) Do you find that you build up a muscle memory and things start to feel more familiar?

    Great post – I really enjoyed reading!

    Like

    • Nicola Joyce says:

      Thanks! Yes definitely muscle memory and it just gets easier – a bit like learning a dance step or something, I suppose. Haha your eyebrow thing makes me think of when my nephew learned to wink (or rather – thought he did, but actually didn’t…) He can now! 😉

      Like

  3. Theresa says:

    As if body-building itself wasn’t hard enough, there’s posing too? I’ll stick to my old, reliable walking exercises. Other than the length of time I need to do it, no pressures for me.

    Like

    • Nicola Joyce says:

      It’s a competitive sport Theresa so yes – if we’re talking about “bodybuilding” as the competitions, there’s certainly posing (think of it as presentation). If people talk about “bodybuilding” just as the pasttime/activity they do in the gym, then no – no posing necessary 🙂

      Like

  4. albartLuise says:

    yeah you are right , now i think i should also try this as i am a fitness freak. thanks for sharing this …

    Like

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