When you watch a Figure contest you cannot sit there without being in AWE of the beauty and statuesque bodies. How do they look so good everyone wonders? Is it all diet and training? Well yes that is part of it of course, in order to see the hardness and lines you need to diet down to a leaner you and workout to bring the muscles pumped to the surface but that is not all there it to it! If you do not learn how to SHOW the physique properly you will suffer and be under rated. The judges cannot see tone if you do not display it appropriately.
There is always different ways to utilize your poses for Figure and many women would have varied answers as to what their best or favorite stance is but there are a few small tricks and tips that you can take away to help enhance your Figure posing.
There are a couple of styles of Figure contests, one has a posing round similar to bodybuilding with front double biceps etc except done with open hands, no fists and in most cases these Figure contests also have a routine requirement as well as regular comparison rounds (rules and requirements vary). The other is simpler requiring simple stances enhancing your physique in quarter turn comparison rounds requiring 2-3 styles of swimwear such as one piece and two pieces. The idea is to display a touch of femininity that is usually not too prevalent in Bodybuilding (making it differ in this way), although that is also changing drastically!
Why do they wear those clear heels? This is a common question with some women snidely remarking how ugly or smutty they appear but what they do not realize is that these shoes, which even some competitors think are ugly yet still use them, enhance your body, legs, glutes and overall appearance. You will notice that even the tall gals who opt for no platform loose that ‘stature’ so the first tip is to go for those clear platform heels (rules permitting, some contests have a ‘no platform’ policy and specify the inches you are allowed) and remember they can be fun and there are so many choices that will help suit your tastes and needs at the same time. Always opt for something that flatters the body and the platform does. It’s not like you have to wear them out of the house unless you want to! Most gals and their other half’s definitely love these shoes!
To flatter your stand the gals usually push the toe of the foot closest to judges to hike up the hip and show tone on the leg. It is also easier to hike up the tush during the back pose because of these shoes, which helps lift the lower area of the butt cheek eliminating any illusion of ‘sag’ even if the gal does not have a very tight back end. Never keep heels far apart, in most stances they are together especially on the rear pose. Again this applies mainly to the Figure shows non IFBB, many do not allow hip hike, heel lifts and are very particular in your stance and quarter turn requirements so do familiarize yourself with the show rules.
Why are they so dark? Another common question along with, should I tan? Of course you should find your personal preference toward darker skin tone if you are not already dark but there are options other than physically tanning. There are some deep color creams and sprays which are called competition tan or bodybuilding tan which will have you just right for those very whitening stage lights. It is amazing how much lighter you look on stage so don’t worry, go dark! This is what will enhance your lines and hardness.
Slight oil or sheen will also help with this but going to slick with oil will cost you so be on the conservative end with that and know the rules to the show regarding oil and color.
Why are they all eating chocolate or drinking booze backstage? Well the booze is usually not allowed but kept quiet, most competitors do swig back some booze or alternately will eat sweets such as chocolate or icing just before going out on stage since it goes straight to the blood causing the veins to appear more outright and give you some POP! The vascularity to a certain point is good and it really pops out the muscles! Last thing you need is to look flat!
What are they spraying all over their bodies? One backstage secret is sparkle hairspray which is sprayed all over the body and hair. Many gals like to use this as an extra shimmer but again this is geared toward the pageant type shows or INBA, WNSO as IFBB and the shows working up to that level don’t seem to care for that. It works well and is so easy to apply not to mention affordable! It is basically a sparkle hairspray which you can get in most teen shops like Claire’s or find online. The sparkle colors can vary but most use gold or silver. The spray is usually not to stinky or suffocating like normal hairsprays so it is friendly to those around you and sometimes the backstage changing quarters can be quite cramped.
Are they tensing while they stand there? Yes to a degree they do, tightening up all the muscles of the body from quads to shoulders will help your shape and make your muscles look dense although the degree of tensing is not to that of bodybuilding and you do not want to look strained whatsoever. You need to do this with a smile and make sure to not flair arms too wide or do funny things with your fingers. Work on polishing this and you can’t lose. Also keep the heels together and one foot slightly ahead and angled unless otherwise specified by the judges. Some shows want the less flattering, strict face on posing which if it is standard then you are not looking any worse than anyone else, you ALL have to stand that way. But if you can get away with a slight angling then most gals will try. Always soften joint angles so that you are not jagged looking, for example keep the elbow bend soft, not too bent yet not too straight.
When competing in a figure contest requiring open hand posing you will tense up greatly during this round. There are simple tricks to make the poses stand out more such as:
• Turn your pinkies back during your front double bicep pose (doing this as well with the back double bicep pose), and ensure elbows are not squeezed back nor too low, plus you do not want to scrunch shoulders.
• Pointing or planting your toe and turn the heel out slightly will help enhance your quad during your ab thigh poses and other front poses (you should still tense your leg even for front double bi etc)
• For the back poses make sure you practice getting your shoulder blades flat against your back and spread.
Quarter turns are in any class you enter, any figure for any federation, so prepare and practice so that your turn is flawless, no wobbling. Make your movements sure and flowing. On the side pose make sure the arm facing the judges is lying back a tad so they can see your body – unless otherwise specified by judges. Many times they will correct you while you are on stage so listen closely and don’t fret; it will not bring down your score if you are corrected. Always keep your chin and head up, shoulders set back then out, chest out, abs tight through exhale, hold that. Meanwhile tense the legs a tad for all sides, back and front turn posing. Try to hike the hip on your side pose if you can, again unless otherwise specified by judges. Most IFBB and NPC style Figure side poses will not allow the hip hike but will let you angle the upper body every so slightly so that you can see the shoulder farthest from the judges but even then, many won’t let you lay your arm closest to the judges back so the stance then becomes identical in all sides. All you can do at this point then is to hike the tush on side and rear poses.
FAME, INBF, INBA, ANBC, OCB, NABBA will allow more flexibility in your poses and quarter turns so make use of this but you can clarify details with the promoter before hand!
Above all, smile gracefully. Try not to tense up in the smile, keep it a relaxed mouth smile with some tooth! A nice gloss will enhance this.
These are just a few ideas that will help you enhance your Figure poses and take home a great experience. It all adds to the overall winning look.
Last few tips for the non posing figure, keep shoulders level, they may feel level but may not be so use a mirror and video for practice. Find 2-3 standing poses you like varying the legs straight or slightly bent and working on slight angles as well as straight on which in most cases is the least flattering but sometimes required. Learn the ‘feel’ for these and you are set once you hit the stage!
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Linda Cusmano is a Pro Fitness and Figure competitor who has competed in every competitive class including obstacle. An accomplished writer and model, Linda owns and runs her own training business successfully for ever 10 years while coaching other competitors and competing herself. Visit her website at: www.lindacusmano.com