Bodybuilding Competition Poses

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We will not be going into the seven basic compulsory poses in detail but will talk generally about posing with a few tips to get the best result. It will depend on which bodybuilding organization you are with but most of the official bodybuilding associations will have a list of compulsory poses, which are:

Front Double Biceps
Front Lateral Spread
Side Chest
Side Triceps
Rear Double Biceps
Rear Lateral Spread
Abdominal & Thigh

For example some organizations will ask the competitor to perform a Crab Pose or Most Muscular. They may even ask you to do your favorite post or best pose but most bodybuilding competitions will have all the bodybuilders in a specific weight division line up and stand relaxed to see natural symmetry and balance.

The compulsory poses listed above can all be done in a specific way to exaggerate a strong body-part and hide a weak body-part. One needs to be careful when making these small adjustments to the compulsory poses as the judges will be comparing the overall pose as well as the specific pose against other competitors.

A good example is how Arnold would twist his hips slightly to one side as he had wide hips and would look narrower if he turned slightly. It is a good idea to video yourself posing these poses so that you can see exactly how making certain adjustments can make a big difference.

In most bodybuilding competitions there will be seven judges who will often be looking from directly across and 3 feet higher than the stage and about 20 feet away from you. It is therefore necessary to slightly rotate your pose so that the judges sitting at the end can see your best pose from the best angle.

It is therefore important to never just hit some static pose and stand there when doing the compulsory poses. You should always be trying to rotate so that all the judges can see the best of what you want them to see. This can be practiced using a video and a mirror so that it becomes a habit.

You should try and direct the direction of your poses slightly downward and forward when doing a front pose as the judge’s eyes will be level with your toes so you should be conversing with the judges as well as the crowd. When you are doing a back compulsory move like a lat spread you should always arch the lower back by leaning slightly backwards to angle your torso better.

Always think about how the judges are seeing you as they are below your eye level. Posing comes from practice and many bodybuilders will tell you that posing on a regular basis helps with separation. This makes sense as when posing you are tensing individual muscle groups increasing the neuro-muscular pathways.

When you are posing you need to make sure that you can "feel" the muscle biomechanically trying to always isolate the individual muscles in that body-part. This is important because when you are on stage there is no mirror and you need to be able to ‘feel’ the pose knowing exactly what it looks like for the judges.

When doing the compulsory poses they should always be done starting with the legs or from the floor so that the pose is set as you build on the pose by flexing the upper body after the legs and calves that have been flexed. It always looks good when a side pose like a side chest or a side triceps pose can be done from both sides.

It is always important to keep moving when doing the compulsory poses because a dynamic muscle is always more impressive than a static pose. You can use this to your advantage by flexing and relaxing on your weak compulsory poses. Like when the double biceps pose is not your best compulsory pose you can spread your arms and slowly flex your biceps so you are always moving.


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