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