Here’s what judges look for in each round of a bodybuilding show.
I’VE HEARD BODYBUILDING CONTEST ROUNDS IN THE PAST REFERRED TO AS THE “SYMMETRY” ROUND AND “MUSCULARITY” ROUND. DO YOU SCORE EACH ROUND IN A CONTEST WITH DIFFERENT CRITERIA, OR ARE JUDGES MEASURING THE SAME OVERALL BODYBUILDING QUALITIES IN BOTH?
STEVE WEINBERGER: The body is judged in terms of muscularity and symmetry (for example, balance) in every round. The perfect bodybuilder should have very large, full-bellied muscles proportionately developed in all areas— the upper and lower body, right and left sides, and front and rear. There should be deep, clean separation between the individual muscles, and smaller lines, or striations, across the muscle belly itself.
Body-fat levels should be at a minimum, but still the muscle itself should be full and round. The skin is key as well and should be tight and smooth with a light sheen that emphasizes the dark tan.
Also judged are all movements and poses, which should be done with confidence and apparent ease. Poses are hit hard and held with a smile. The whole body is involved in the pose, and every muscle group is flexed fully and evenly developed.
Competitors are judged with all these things in mind while they do the mandatory poses, during their quarter turns, and even when they are standing on the stage in between comparisons. The judges are looking for the most “complete” bodybuilder on that day, no matter the round.
I’D LIKE TO DO MY FIRST BIKINI COMPETITION AND I’M WONDERING, WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A POSING COACH? IF SO, HOW WOULD I GO ABOUT FINDING ONE IN MY AREA?
SANDY WILLIAMSON: When preparing for your first show, I recommend first going and watching a couple of local shows to see hoe they’re organized. This will also give you an idea of the quality of athletes you will be competing against, as well as their overall look with regard to suit, hair, makeup, tanning, and other points.
Next, I would go to the NPC website, npcnewsonline.com, where you’ll get up-to-date information on the organization, events in your area, and all the rules and regulations for each division. Additionally, many of the top NPC and IFBB Pro League competitors have posted videos that supply athletes with an abundance of information on competition, including preparing for your first contest, nutritional guidance, posing instructions, and training techniques.
In addition to doing that homework, practice posing and have someone videotape your practices so you can view and compare them to others. As you get closer to your show, I would suggest practicing in your competition suit with heels on so you’re able to see how wearing heels affects your posing—it’s much more difficult than most athletes initially assume—and how the suit moves with you while posing. If the suit rides up or otherwise shifts, you’ll know ahead of time so you can fix it with an adhesive.
If you think you would feel more comfortable with a posing coach, contact the NPC district chairman in your area for recommendations or try the NPC’s Facebook page, where you can reach out to other NPC athletes for suggestions.