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As the sport of bodybuilding continues to grow in popularity amongst women, so to do the number of categories that women can choose to compete in. No matter what category you choose, whether it’s figure, physique or bikini, significant preparation is required to become stage ready.
This includes bulking, where sufficient weight training and food is required to gain muscle. In the run up to competition day, bulking is followed by the cutting phase, where you gradually drop calories and incorporate more steady state cardio to reduce body fat.
Aside from lifting weight and dieting, another hugely important factor that can mean the difference between winning and losing is stage presence. Showing off your physique by way of mandatory poses requires plenty of practice, helping you to increase your confidence and your chance of winning.
The most popular category in women’s bodybuilding is the bikini division. It’s far less extreme when compared to the other categories requiring less muscle mass and definition.
In this article we’ll look at the most common bikini poses that a judging panel will want you to perform during your stage walk.
Bikini Bodybuilding Poses
The reason that bikini competitors must perform standard poses alongside each other is so that the judges can easily make comparisons between athletes. Keep in mind that bikini posing criteria can differ depending on the federation you’re competing in, so be sure to check the rules prior to signing up for a show.
Once all competitors have walked onto the stage, they are usually divided into two groups and asked to stand either side of the stage. The center of the stage is then kept free for group comparisons. The head judge will then call forward athletes to perform the bikini poses.
The different poses comprise a series of quarter turns where the judges can view each muscle group looking at shape and symmetry. The panel of judges will also consider muscle tone, skin complexion and overall stage presentation.
The bikini front pose is the very first pose and can be done in a couple of different ways. Either by facing the judges head on, with your feet facing forwards and one leg outstretched to the side with hand on hip. Alternatively, you can stand with feet facing sideways with your legs staggered with your upper body facing the judges. If you have a small waist with well-developed quads and hamstrings, this stance is a good way of showing them off.
Try and avoid excessive twisting of the torso as this can appear unnatural. The shoulder of your relaxed arm should be kept back without flexing with the hand and fingers relaxed.
Right Side Pose
From the front pose you would then transition to the right-side pose. This is done by stepping forwards with the right foot and then rotating your body a quarter turn. You should turn your upper body so you can see the judges.
Your right arm should be relaxed and resting on your thigh with left hand resting on your hip. Keep your left foot (furthest from the judges) on its toe with the right hip raised slightly.
When instructed, you should then transition to the rear pose by performing another quarter turn. You should be standing to face the back of the stage. Keeping your arms relaxed, place your hands on the tops of your legs. Don’t be tempted to arch your lower back and push out the glutes too much, the judges will be looking at your entire posterior and not just the glutes.
Ensure your upper body remains upright and not dropping forwards. Keep the feet shoulder-width apart with a very slight bend to the knees.
Left Side Pose
From the back pose, you will then move into the left side pose. This is essentially a mirror image of the right-side pose. You would perform a quarter turn to the right by stepping forward with your right foot and rotating the body. Your left side should now be facing the judges. Place your right hand on your hip and keep your left arm down and relaxed.
9 Bikini Posing Tips
Below are some tips, not just for show day but also prior to stepping on stage.
- Make eye contact with the judges whenever possible as this shows confidence. Remember to smile.
- Show off your best side. Some federations don’t require a view of both sides so be sure to showcase your best one if that’s the case.
- Don’t flex your muscles. Excessive musculature and muscle striations are not a requirement in the bikini division so resist any urge to flex.
- Remain upright. A common mistake is to lean too far forwards, especially during execution of the back pose. Keep your head and chest up throughout, with shoulders relaxed.
- Make sure you transition from one pose to another with as much fluidity as possible.
- Pose for your body type. For example, if you have broad shoulders keep you hand on the hip. Conversely, if your shoulder caps are a little smaller, raise your hand up to waist height as this will help to create more shape to the delts.
- Focus on good posture. When holding the pose, it can sometimes feel like a long time, especially under hot stage lights. Hold the pose until instructed to transition into the next pose.
- Enlist the help from a posing coach. They can help to make minor adjustments to suit your body during posing practices making sure you’re ready for show day.
- Double check the rules. As mentioned above, the rules can differ between federations so be sure you’re familiar with the rules for tan, competition bikini and posing well ahead of time.
Competing in bodybuilding is a great way of showing off all your hard work and dedication. Getting ready for a show takes a huge amount of discipline when it comes to training and diet. But don’t forget about your posing.
Remember, to factor in plenty of practice for posing as you want to walk on stage with confidence and perform your poses without having to overthink them. The more you practice, the easier and more natural the poses will be. But most of all, remember to enjoy it and have fun.