Posing for Any Competitor & Figure Posing Specifics

Written by: Hayley Mische (NPC Nationally Qualified Figure Competitor) IG: @HFMFIT

When someone decides to compete in a show they commit to showcase their body on stage as art. Months/years of dedicated training and dieting – sculpting their body the same way an artist sculpts with clay. Bodybuilders push their minds and bodies through relentless work to mold their body into however they desire it to look. When a competitor steps on stage it is then time to reveal that hard work through which poses reveal their best angles and structure.

Posing can be dreaded by some competitors because it can feel like sometimes worse than a cardio session. Contracting and breathing at the precise time to flex all appropriate muscles for the pose. While assuring footing is proper- in women’s case simply walking/ posing in heels.


Posing involves learning how to control your body while flexing to showcase your best features while delivering fluidity, class and charm on stage (each competitor has their own individual routine then compete in a comparison round). Simply posing between sets in a workout can create muscle memory to always maintain the same look every time you flex a muscle. It even helps the muscle grow and so-to-speak “pop” and develop to further muscle maturity the more you flex it.

After all the hard work, it only makes sense to present it in the best possible way unique to you and your body. Judges notice when someone has a poor stage presence, unable to hold mandatory poses, lack of flow to movement and stumbling in footing. This affects general performance and results, and even photos and memories of the show.


I feel if you are giving your all into a competition prep every single day you should be posing. Even if it’s in the bathroom mirror for 5 minutes before and after you shower. Between sets in the mirror. Leading up to a show, 20 minutes a day in the heels (if your category requires it) – but really 20 minutes per day should be minimum. The closer you get to your show date, the longer your sessions should be.


There will be times when you just aren’t “feeling it” in a posing session- push past it- even if you tell yourself 5 more minutes- once you push past it, you may break out of the funk and begin to really connect with those muscles.


Sometimes getting to your workouts, doing cardio, eating another serving of chicken and especially posing can be exhausting- and that’s before work, personal life and other faucets of life that demand energy. This is when it’s vital to take 5. Close your eyes- YES! CLOSE YOUR EYES! And vision yourself the moment before walking out- hear them announce your number and name, you smile and begin to walk out- displaying your best. Hitting your angles in confidence that you have worked so hard for this one moment that you DESERVE. If you cannot envision your show day you will have trouble in developing confident and fluid posing. If you have the passion for training and the passion for dieting is… eh. You still have no choice but to diet! If the passion for posing is … eh- you need to develop the same mindset- no choice- it must be done.


I cannot stress this enough! How you see yourself in the mirror is a great way to track progress but setting up your camera and hitting video and flexing and turning- trying different lighting is a more raw representation of what OTHERS see- or what you TRULY look like. Try setting the camera up at lower angles, mid angles and high angles. Try to make every angle your best angle. Setting up videos is great- you can pause the video- and slowly slide through -then screen shot your best angles and poses. But also, self-timer is great to practice getting into those poses quick and hitting them dead on!


Sometimes posing after a workout can be hectic between being hungry after your lift/needing your meal- being late for work- general exhaustion from the workout- whatever it is sometimes it doesn’t work out. Start by carving out time whether it’s a Friday night or weeknight, decide to go pose as your ‘night out’. Straight up. Get your best sports bra on that allows to accentuate poses best, shorts or bikini and strap up the heels at the gym- or if you have a big mirror at your convenience. Blast the music, make a playlist and commit to at least 45 minutes. Try holding poses for a full song length. Maybe just work on transitions and go back over, again, and again to try to get the foot work and balance down. Sometimes simply practicing stage walking (especially if its mandatory to wear heels in your division.

Aside from sending your coach photos and videos of your posing, another great option is to extend yourself. If you aren’t a part of a team, or are on a team already, or maybe aren’t on a local team, find a local team that’s posing so you can get used to posing in front of people. Close to the show, the mind is already more clouded, the body is exhausted, moods change quickly- at that point stick to a routine at about 3-4 weeks out. This way you can auto-pilot practice and tweak what you have already put together and do not feel emotional about trying to master a new pose or routine with only a few weeks to get it down.



Figure is a female division in bodybuilding that allows the competitor to display even, defined proportions, body symmetry, full shoulder and back muscle bellies and toned core. The requirements for competitors posing trend is to open up their back muscles “flaring the lats” and squeezing the deltoid (shoulder) muscles to create a look of having a full upper body, followed by a slim waistline and tapered, toned legs/glutes. A noticeable V-taper in the back (wider upper body tapered down into a small waist), striations in the muscle are not required, but above average muscle definition is a must. Figure is a classic way to display the female body builders well-built physique while keeping it tasteful, graceful and beautiful.


It’s best to keep it simple and master the basics. There are three BASIC poses and one “model” pose. If you have trouble learning how to open your lats (lat spread) find a local coach or friend who has competed before to help you out or simply… YOUTUBE! You also must be in tune to your muscle to mind connection. If you are still not sure if you have that- again, sit in the mirror and flex. This is imperative when preparing to learn to properly pose.
In the front pose the competitor should flare lats- creating a fuller upper body illusion- keeping legs and abs tight displaying overall anterior chain development. A lot of specific posing is unique to the competitor- some figure athletes look great with the pelvis tilted forward in a front pose, some look better pelvically tilted backward. It all has to do with finding YOUR angles- not one person’s anatomy is the same (this is where practicing your angles comes in!).

Side pose is used in comparisons. Again the goal is to create a wide elegant look on the top accompanied by a slim waist. Continue to keep the lats “flared” and keep arms to either side of your body facing the judges so that the waistline is visible. As for whether you like your arms away from your body, more bent, close to your body, it is how it compliments YOUR body!

Back pose. In order to display the back and the V-taper, the back must be completely arched (anterior pelvic tilt (lower back should be screaming)) and lats should be opened wide. Legs together- nice and tight- head upright and hair pulled away to reveal back muscles.

Model pose is done when individual routines are done and while waiting on stage. This pose serves as the side pose in your individual presentation. This pose should complement your physique. This pose should show off your tightest waist, your fullest upper body and defined legs.

Transitions are also dependent on what is comfortable for the competitor and should be specific and unique. Take pride in your posing and perfect your craft- you will never regret it! Never hesitate to ask for help and utilize the internet to research and study new and old posing! And most important..