Competition Articles

Guide To Competing- Part 3


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HUGE CONGRATS to you! You’ve decided to embark on what WILL be one of the hardest voyages you will ever pursue. I’m not going to title this journey “most important” because although it WILL consume about 95% of your life for the next (insert adequate prep time here) weeks, in the grand scheme of things, this is not your life (you’ll still have marriage, babies, graduations, etc.). But I digress – you’ve chosen to compete! It’s said that out of all gym-goers, no more than 10% will decide to compete and less than 1% will ACTUALLY go through with the competition (though once you compete for the first time, you’ll make so many friends that it will seem like EVERYONE competes). So by deciding to compete, you have now just joined an ELITE group of physique athletes. You’re kind of a big deal.

I’m here to help guide you through this arduous, complex, mind-altering journey. We’ll deal with the psychology, physiology, and psychophysiology of competing as well as all aspects in between. I’ll do my best to hold your (virtual) hand from start to finish to post-competition. The following series will be based on my experiences as a competitor (ten shows in the bag, baby!), upon science, and upon the anecdotal evidence (read: BroScience) of fellow competitors. So for those of you seasoned veterans out there reading this article, while a lot of aspects may not apply to you (because I am a bodybuilder versus fitness, figure, or bikini), a lot of it will be relevant. If anything, read it to help with facets you neglected during your last prep or facets you could have done better.  There might even be facets you didn’t consider.

So without further ado, I present:


Part 3: Posing, Presentation, and Suit Selection

I would love to talk your ear off about the importance of stage presentation. I would love to give you a list of the “Top 10 Most Important Things To Remember Before Your Show” and feel as though I’ve completely prepared you for what’s to come. I would love to just make it easy and break things down in such a way that really emphasizes just how important your stage presence, suit selection, and posing ability are to your success in the sport. But I can’t; In only one article, it is impossible to accentuate or stress enough the fact that HOW you get on stage, and what you do while you’re up there, is just as important as WHAT you bring to the stage.

So to help drive this point home, I’m going to give the proverbial floor to three industry experts. Each expert is a professional, veteran, and role model in her respective fields, meaning that the advice you read should not be taken lightly. Whether or not you listen to these women could determine the difference between a tenth placing and the coveted first place trophy – I’m not exaggerating. As a competitor myself, I can’t tell you how many days, weeks, and hours went into my posing and I truly believed that it showed on stage, when, although I may not have had the most competitive body, my confidence, “swagger”, and overall package more than made up for what my physique lacked.

Stage Presentation
Tina Goinarov: Senior member of the Ontario Physique Association/ IFBB Toronto Pro Show ‘Media and Promotions’ team, Competitive bodybuilder

There are many competitors who do not take the “stage presentation” aspect of the sport seriously and believe that they can “wing it” and make it work the day of their show.  Sorry to break it to you, but the inexperience shows.

Leaving posing to the last minute or not taking it as seriously as needed can and will often make a huge difference in your overall placing. There are various levels and degrees of difficulty/demands for each pose depending on the class, but what remains the same in all is the ability of the competitor to make their poses look natural, easy, and fluid. From the moment you step on that stage from pre judging to finals, you will be watched, critiqued, and judged on your overall stage presentation and ability to maintain the poses.  You may come in with the best body and look stunning, but the moment you are asked to hit the relaxed pose or walk forward, the lack of time and effort put into posing and maintaining your stage presentation will be obvious to anyone who is looking at you.  The shaking, wobbles, stiffness, cramping, and troubled breathing will all set you apart from the others for the wrong reasons.  There is an art and confidence that one displays when they are comfortable with their poses and, because of that poise, their overall stage presentation looks that much better.  There is truth in when the judges and coaches say time and time again that posing is just like training and should be practiced daily  in order to work out the kinks and have the body conditioned to hold itself in that position for a certain length of time.  There is a reason why some IFBB Pros and industry legends are asked to be guest posers time and time again – because they have perfected the skills of posing and stage presentation to the point of making it artistic, graceful, and memorable.

If you are competing or plan on competing in the near future, do yourself the favour and take the time to put the work in where your posing and stage presentation are concerned. If you are willing to take the time to follow the diet and training program seriously to create and bring your best physique to the stage, don’t skip out on the key element that will showcase and enhance all of that hard work and dedication.

Melissa Shadd: National-level figure competitor, Television host, Ontario Physique Association regional level judge, Proprietor of an OPA-sanctioned weekly posing clinic

In a sport where you are judged on how you can pose/present your physique, I cannot stress the importance of practicing your posing. This not only applies to those new to the sport, but also those who have competed for years.  Month-to-month, year-to-year, your body changes and practicing regularly will enable you to properly display all your hard work.   As a judge, there is nothing more frustrating than watching a beautifully-sculpted physique on an athlete who cannot properly walk, pose, or present themselves. As each year passes, there are more classes and workshops available from the federation to ensure athletes are prepared.

If you cannot flare your lats, quarter turn with grace, or hold poses for more than a few seconds, it will show on stage.   However, if you have practiced and have prepared for your day of work on stage, that will also show and will help you stand out in a potentially otherwise tough class!

When dieting and training like a beast, you should be practicing your posing with the same intensity and passion.  Posing should not be the afterthought; it should be in the front of your mind from the very day you decide to compete.  Posing practice is too often left to the last weeks or day before the show. Make sure you are prepared to walk on stage the same way you are prepared with your meals each day!

Suit Selection
Colleen McConnell: Owner, Designed and Creator at The Crystal Suit. The Crystal Suit offers athletes Friendly VIP Service, top quality workmanship and guaranteed fit.

Presentation for your show is as important as your training, nutrition, and posing practice. Everything should come together to present your best overall package. Being prepared and confident shows the judges and audience you are serious about your physique. Your appearance should also be balanced. Suit fit, proportions, colour, and accessories all play a part in your overall look. Spend some time exploring which suit colours and styles compliment your body best. You want your suit to fit your personality as well as your physique.

Professional Tanning
Lori Conkin: Owner and Operator of Platinum Tanning Studio in mid-town Toronto

Spray tanning before a competition is always best to be done by a salon technician.  As professionals, we can help you get the proper colour ,so when you step on the stage, you look more confident and feel more confident. A proper tan will ensure that your hard work will not be washed out by the lights while on stage! If you attempt to use a spray tan from a department store on your own, you may not know how to apply it correctly or how the colour will turn out. When you use a technician at a salon, we know how dark to get you for the stage and can promise an even tan.  It’s also faster for you and a lot less stressful. I have seen men and women step on stage after applying their own spray tan and look either really orange or appear to be “melting” when the solution starts to run – not a good look either way! Good-bye confidence! You’ve spent so much time, effort, and money to get yourself to this level and you deserve to look amazing on your special day!

Cliff’s Notes:

How you present your body is almost as important as the body you present. Your overall score isn’t just based on conditioning; it’s based on your overall package, your stage presence, AND what you’re wearing.
Don’t forget the small details, because it’s ALL in the small details.


Jaime Filer is a professional writer, certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist. She received her Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in Kinesiology. As a writer, she has a long history of working in the fitness industry for various on-line and in-print publications. Jaime has also competed on the international level as a female bodybuilder.

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