Tips From The Bodybuilding Judging Table

June 14, 2016

Are you stepping on a bodybuilding stage this year? This might be worth a read – especially if you’re a first timer or novice.

I’ve judged at a few UKDFBA bodybuilding shows (and am doing so this year). Let me tell you, judging is a huge eye-opener. Even if you’re a competitor! (Perhaps especially if you’re a competitor?)
ukdfba bodybuilding judging
(Image by AllSports Photography at the UKDFBA USN Classic 2016)

Judging really helps me see what a difference the small details can make. Some are things I know (but can forget). Others are things I would never have thought about…

Here are some “tips” from behind the judges’ table.
(By the way, if you want more like this, I recommend two articles on Jon Harris’s natural muscle.co.uk website – this one written by Jon and this one written by Karen Mason).

TAN
Every competitor knows tan is important. But first-timers might not realise just HOW important it is to get your tan right. Your tan (colour, coverage, evenness) does make a difference to how well the judges can actually assess your size, shape, condition. A poor tan can make it really difficult for judges to judge you properly.

Advice: if you’re doing your own tan, practice it a couple of weeks beforehand. If the show organiser has a professional tanner at the venue, consider using her. But book your appointment in good time!

YOUR NUMBER
You’ll get two numbers (same number twice – you know what I mean!) Pin one to the back of your suit, the other on the front. Make sure it isn’t upside down (particularly if your number contains a 6 or a 9!) Do a round of posing in the waiting area with your number on, so you can see whether or not your hands are going to knock/brush the number as you pose. Look in a full length mirror to check that your hands don’t obscure the number during any poses. If it falls off on stage (which it might), don’t panic. Wait until the Head Judge tells you to “relax” (i.e. after that round of posing is over), and pick it. Worst case scenario, leave it there. And remember your number! The Head Judge might call it out (to move competitors around in the line up). Don’t be the one who’s standing there looking blank whilst the Head Judge says “number 3. Number 3! Yes, that’s you… number 3…. please swap with number 5. No, number 3. Yes, that’s you. Number 3….”

Advice: judges need to see your number (front and back) and you need to know what it is.

POSING
Please spend time learning and practicing your poses. Good, confident posing is a joy to watch and can encourage the judges to keep their eyes on you. In fact, good posing can mean it’s difficult to take your judging-eyes OFF you! Poor posing, on the other hand, just does you no favours. Judges can’t judge what they can’t see. So if you’re not showing off a body part, or not posing something properly, it’s incredibly difficult for the judges to assess you in that area.

Advice: get someone experienced to teach you how to pose. Then practice – LOTS. Get someone to check your progress (ideally the person who taught you). Attend posing clubs/workshops if you can get to one.

HIT YOUR POSES QUICKLY AND CLEANLY
There’s a difference between posing with style, and posing with necessary faff. When the pose is called, just move into it. By all means transition into it slightly differently (everyone has their style) but don’t mess about trying to draw attention to yourself (or a body part), and don’t try to be the last person hitting the pose. Two things are possible: the judges won’t notice any of it anyway (so conserve your energy), or they will notice, but for the wrong reasons (being frustrated and wishing you’d just pose properly).

Advice: be confident enough in your posing that you don’t need to add flourishes and embellishments. Move into poses in a timely manner, and then hold them.

FREE POSING
I know you might be nervous, but try to relax and give a confident free posing routine. This is your chance to have the stage to yourself! It’s finally time to show us your routine and to pose to that music you chose so long ago. Enjoy it! I can’t speak for all judges, but personally I absolutely love watching people’s free posing routines. So bear that in mind: the judges are looking forward to seeing this, they want to see you enjoying yourself. Walk on confidently, and walk off confidently too!

Advice: be confident in your routine, choose music which makes you feel good and positive, then go out there and enjoy it!

BLING
Figure and Bikini competitors will often choose to spray glittery stuff on after their tan. And many will wear blingy jewellery. That’s all fine, but please don’t go overboard. Make sure it accentuates your physique. Don’t create a distraction for judges. Less is often more, even if you are Figure or Bikini. Let your stage presentation, posing, and your own stage presence shine instead!

Advice: choose enough bling to accentuate your stage presentation, but don’t go overboard.

“FLAPPY” HANDS & FLIPPY HAIR
Pay attention to your hands, both in poses and whilst moving between poses. Minimise flappy hands or overly-artistic finger pointing. Chances are you either think it looks better than it does, or you don’t realise you’re doing it at all. And if you’re wearing long hair down, don’t make a big deal about moving it to one side to show your back. Hair-swishing can be part of Figure and Bikini stage presentation, but don’t overdo it. Think classy and understated, not OTT. Let your physique do the work, not your hair. Another reason to practice posing (and get people’s feedback). Video your own posing practice so you can see if you have any random hand/finger stuff going on!

Advice: flappy hands are just distracting.

REMEMBER: SOMEONE WILL BE LOOKING AT YOU
Go on stage thinking that at least one judge will be looking at you every single moment you’re up there. This includes walking on, walking off, when you’re being moved about in the line up, when you’re standing at the back of the stage, waiting for presentations, and as presentations are called. Obviously only some of these are being judged. But you might be in photos at any moment. So hold your pose, try to look relaxed, and try to smile (or least not look like you’re about to kill somebody). I know it’s a lot to think about. But it is worth bearing in mind.

Advice: just remember that at least one pair of eyes is on you at all times. Plus the camera, potentially.

WE CAN SEE YOU, I PROMISE
Even if you’re out at the end of a long line of competitors, off to one side of the stage, the judges can see you. I promise. And if you’ve been out to one side, you will be moved to the other side (so the judges at that end of the table can see you more closely). The judges have the best seats in the house. And the Head Judge will move everyone around so each competitor can be seen by each judge. In fact, judges can actually request to “see” certain competitors again (or in a different order) if they feel they haven’t had an adequate opportunity to look at them properly.

Advice: don’t panic, we can see you – and we are looking!

LEGS!!!
I can’t end without mentioning legs. Seriously, pose your legs! All the time! You might hear coaches in the audience shouting out “stay on your legs”. This means pose them, flex them, then hold that – even when it starts to hurt. As a competitor, I always knew this. And I always tried to do it. But I didn’t really think it made all that much difference. I mean, of course I’m posing my legs, it’s fine. Then I sat at that judging table. And I saw with my own eyes just how massive the difference is between the person “kind of” posing his legs “most of the time”, and the person really, really thinking about it and posing the legs hard. It’s night and day. And not doing it could cost you a place – or more. Remember, judges can only judge what they can see. So all your amazing striations, feathering, shape, condition… they can only be judged if you pose your legs hard enough for them to come out. “Legs!!!!” 😉

Advice: pose from the bottom up – set your legs in every pose before you hit the rest of the pose. Practice this, so you get used to how it feels without a mirror.

Tips From The Bodybuilding Judging Table 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.


thefitwriter blog in 2014 (and looking ahead to 2015)

January 2, 2015

Hello! I was taking a look at my wordpress stats this morning and got to wondering: what do you lot want to see more of (and less of) on the blog over the coming year?

Product reviews always seem to be popular, but I’ll only do them if you really find them useful (and I do turn down more than I accept – one day I’ll have to tell you about the sort of products I turn down. You’ll LOL and possible ROFL, promise).

Competition reports go down well, too, but I am still undecided about my plans for 2015. I might compete in bodybuilding, or I may take a year out from competing (and dieting!) in order to give my body a chance to grow and develop before I next venture into a deficit. If I do take a year out, I will possibly do some other kind of comp (powerlifting?) – would you want to hear about those, too?

Do my training sessions interest you? Would you want to hear more about the ins and outs of off-season?

And what about my actual job – copywriting. Do blog posts about the business of writing, about writing for the fitness industry and about freelancing interest you? Or would you like my occasional advice for business owners who write their own content?

Do let me know! 🙂

Here’s a round up of how the blog did in 2014 (its fourth year… it’s positively elderly in blogging circles!)

Mentions!
It topped the list of top sport and fitness PR company Promote’s list of favourite fitness blogs.

Guest posts and interviews

– I was on the Katie Bulmer-Cooke podcast (yes, Katie who was in this year’s The Apprentice!) talking about copywriting for fitness businesses, PTs and fitpros, how to create content, what’s trending in marketing, why writing is so important for your business… and a bit of banter with Katie. You can listen to it here. I’m so pleased to have done this; being on a podcast was one of my goals for the year. Thank you for the opportunity, Katie (and thank you to those of you who have messaged me to say that you found my advice useful).

– I blogged twice for Karen Nadkarni-Ruffle at FitProClientRecipes (FPCR): this blog post gives fitpros and fitness businesses 10 easy-peasy ways to generate topics for their own blogs, and this blog post gives my advice about how to write press releases which get opened, read… and published!

– What else… I was featured on the blog of fellow Fitness Writers’ Association member “Fitcetera” (aka Georgina Spenceley) when she did a series called “Yeah, She Lifts”. Here’s my Yeah She Lifts interview (thanks, G!).

– And I was interviewed by Introvertology about my work as a freelancer and training and competing as a bodybuilder and former endurance athlete (thankfully, they let me send my replies in by email… haha 😉 ). You can read that interview here.

I set up thefitwriter’s own Facebook page in 2014 and I’d be delighted to see you there – come on over and like the page.

Views and visitors
It had 83,000 views in 2014, from 55,000 visitors, and now has 253 WordPress followers (hello, and thank you! 😀 )

The list of countries those visitors come from is fascinating. Here’s the top of the list….
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…and here’s the bottom. Hollaaaaaah to the chap or chick in Honduras who had reason to read my ramblings once this year!
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My most popular posts

– An old review post of ON whey
– An old review post of the protein powder Tesco launched in Jan 2012 (this post’s enduring popularity continues to amaze me!)
– My review of the Phil Learney Fat Loss & Performance Seminar I went to in 2013
– An old review of Monkey Nutrition whey isolate
– A review post of Bare Naked Noodles (this pings to the top every time they’re in the press or whenever Ross’s Dragons’ Den episode is shown)
– My blog post about my pal Julia Buckley’s Fat Burn Revolution book
– Show report of this year’s UKDFBA Open (the only post from 2014 which is in the 2014 top 10… I guess this shows my writing’s staying power and my blog’s SEO strength!)

Big thanks to all of you who read, share, like and comment on my posts. A happy, healthy and successful 2015 to you all 🙂

thefitwriter blog in 2014 (and looking ahead to 2015) 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.


3rd place UKDFBA (check out the cup!)

October 1, 2013

Just a quick one today – to let you know that I placed 3rd in the amateur women’s bodybuilding class at the UKDFBA open championships on Sunday.

nicola joyce ukdfba 2013

That’s me done for the season now – no more competitions planned.

I’ll post a recap later in the week (busy times here at Fitwriter Towers) but for now I’ll leave you with this silly series of pics, snapped the morning after the show whilst I was staying at my Mum’s house.

I always said that if I won “a big cup” I’d eat cereal out of it the next day (oh how I miss cereal whilst dieting – although I’m not sure why!)
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A full box of cereal (other own-brands are available) + litres of milk, maybe?
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Don’t forget a nice big “cup” of coffee
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Carbs. We need carbs. Pasta shapes should do it
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With wine… a bottle of wine
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Now I’ve gone carb-crazy… but cat biscuit is taking things a little far
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Polish that halo (yes yes I know fruit is still sugar)
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Tee hee. Bye!

3rd place UKDFBA (check out the cup!) 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.


A toddler’s guide to bodybuilding comps

September 10, 2012

Hello hello! Phew, I’m home, I’m sitting down and I’ve finally got time to write. I haven’t unpacked yet, and this tan will take a while to come off but, you know, let’s blog.

I’ll post a full show report soon (when I have the official photos for illustration) but here’s a quick summary: I came second and got an invite to the NPA British Final next month! 😀 The lady who came first is the competitor I came 2nd to at the BNBF Final last year (she even turned Pro with the BNBF at that comp), and so she’s certainly top competition! It was a good battle, all three of us had fun and it was a lovely atmosphere. The whole show was really enjoyable, and I had a blast all day. I’m very very happy with my progress this year and with how I posed and performed my routine. But, more of that later!


Today, I wanted to blog about some of my two-year-old nephew’s “funnies” from the show yesterday. He’s a chatty little guy and very funny (did you see his impersonation of Lou Ferrigno?). He did come to this competition last year but was too young to be saying much and I’m not sure he understood what it was about at all. This year, he got into it a lot more.

So here is Henry’s guide to bodybuilding competitions.

What to say…
– when you see your Auntie’s tanned-up feet: BEEN PLAYING IN THE MUD, BEBE?
– when you are impressed by a pose: THAT’S A BIGGER ONE!
– when you are really impressed by a pose: THAT’S A REALLY BIGGER ONE!
– during the men’s classes, when you see competitors with particularly small trunks: THAT’S A WILLY! AND THAT’S A WILLY! AND THAT’S A WILLY… (etc)
– when competitors leave the stage to get ready for their individual routines: WHERE THE BOYS GONE?
– if a competitor begins their routine lying down on the stage: SHE HAVING A NAP?
– when your Auntie walks out on stage but she’s a funny colour: THAT’S NOT BEBE?!
– when your Auntie is doing a lat-spread: OPEN UP! OPEN UP!
– when you disapprove of your Auntie’s tan: BEBE HAVE A SHOWER NOW?

nicola joyce NPA miss physique
And, this morning, he was studying my trophy in great detail. He asked me to read what the engraving said, so I told him: “NPA South East Champs 2012, Miss Physique, 2nd” He looked at me, shrugged, and said “Mrs 2nd”. Much easier, I agree! LOL!

Henry hopes you find this handy guide helpful. He also says that he’s learned there’s no point offering a bodybuilder a crisp, a plum or a “happle” the night before a comp… but the next morning, wow, you’d better protect your croissant with your life ;D

A toddler’s guide to bodybuilding comps 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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