How to Perfect the Pose

Muscles mean nothing if you don’t know how to pose!

In bodybuilding, posing is the natural expression of what you love, contests like the Mr. Olympia would be nothing without posing. The lifestyle that you worked so hard to live and the muscle mass that you trained so hard to obtain should be shown. You have dieted down and trained hard to get here. But at the end of the day, at the end of the season, when you get up on stage your job isn’t to lift weights or eat the right foods. It is to show off your hard work and the results of all those hours you put in, the best way you possibly can.

So to that end, it is a performance. It’s the moment you stand on a stage and try to impress people with your movement and muscle definition, and there is so much that goes into perfecting how you show everything off. You need to catch the light just right. Then you have bring attention to yourself when you get called up with the final six, you need to stand out. Don’t forget to be flexible, show off that your muscles are for more than just posing. You might have what you think is the best posing routine but at the end of the day you have to adapt to how the audience and judges react.

“I find out which poses they really like. That’s why I don’t have a specific posing routine, because you never know what they like, and what they don’t. Sometimes you think a routine is good but the applause is going down. You have to be very flexible in these things. You have to listen. When you hit the most muscular and they start screaming, you know they like the more freaky poses, so you keep hitting it again and maybe hold it longer to get the cuts out more. You know then that they like the drama shots and you can forget the symmetrical stuff”

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron

Music in Your Posing Routine

Today, music is a very important part of posing. Like we mentioned before, posing is a performance. It is a spectacle that needs to entertain from all perspectives, and if the audio and visuals don’t mix well, you aren’t doing your best. Therefore, the music is huge when it comes to posing.

While not a main pillar of the pose, picking perfect music and then adapting your routine to the flow is a detail that separates the elite from the rest. Consider how well the movement of your body can match the flow and beat of the song. Choose a song that best fits your range and experience with flow and motion. If you aren’t the best with rhythm or grace then have your music reflect that aspect of your personality.

The Importance of Posing Pictures

It’s a good idea to take photographs of all the poses you plan to use on stage before you actually step on stage. This way you can take a good look at yourself afterwards and pinpoint the flaws in each pose, then make sure they are perfect when it comes time to step on stage. Where can you improve your flex? What little things are you forgetting to do? Constantly analyzing pictures of your poses will help you become detail oriented to the point that you can see every inch of your body in your head. That way, when you are on stage you have complete control of every element of the pose.

Plan Your Routine… But Be Flexible

We stated this at the beginning. It’s always important to have a plan that perfectly fits in with your music, but you have to open to the fact that things change. Much like any live performance, nothing stays the same from each show. Prepare alternative versions of your routine as a back up. Perhaps the crowd really loved a certain element of your performance – amp that element up so you can keep them engaged. Same goes for the opposite, if a certain pose falls flat – stray away from that aspect as you move forward.

It’s also good to have a backup for pre-judging routines. Normally you won’t be able to use your own music at this stage. Some of those epic poses might not hit as hard over silence or house music, so adjust accordingly.

Hide Your Weak Spots

The benefit to posing is that you are in control of what you show off. Arnold Schwarzenegger states in the film Pumping Iron that “If you don’t have it, don’t hit it.” While he says this half jokingly in the film, there is some truth behind it. Yes, there are certain poses you must perform. However, within those poses you can accentuate your strengths and try to hide your weakness or muscular imbalances.

Pictured: Arnold Schwarzenegger during the filming of Pumping Iron

If you are aware of a few places on your body that just aren’t up to snuff with what you want, work your pose around them as much as possible. Try and “hide” how weak they are and make your body appear to be perfect. If you can avoid poses that show off weak points, then do so. You can also angle yourself differently to show of different strengths and hide the weaknesses.

Compulsory Poses

There are seven basic open bodybuilding poses that competitions usually require of their athletes. To finish off this article we are going to list those seven poses – take note of them. You must learn to master these in order to succeed and rise up to pro status.

  1. Front Double Biceps
  2. Front Lat Spread
  3.  Side Chest
  4. Back Double Biceps
  5. Back Lat Spread
  6. Side Triceps
  7. Front Abdominal and thighs

If you compete in classic physique, the required poses are as follows:

  1. Front Double Biceps
  2. Side Chest
  3. Back Double Biceps
  4. Abdominal and Thighs
  5. Favorite Classic Pose (Not most muscular)

Check out Greg Doucette giving some quality posing tips:

Wrap Up

The important thing to remember is that posing is not an afterthought. It should be practiced year round. Posing in itself is a workout that requires a decent amount of stamina and control, and you do not want to be on stage unable to hold your poses.

Traditionally, bodybuilding’s key points are a triangle: Training, Nutrition, Rest. But it should really be seen as a square, with posing held no higher nor lower than the others. Without a masterful pose – no one will notice all the hard work you’ve been putting in over the year.

Do you have any tips? Share your thoughts in our comments section or on our official Twitter and Facebook pages! Stay pumped.

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.