Bodybuilding and posing. These 2 words used to be synonymous but over the past several years, as the physiques have evolved, it has changed drastically from the good old days when posing and physically displaying the body as a classical art form with ease and grace was an important and emphasized part of the bodybuilding equation. Now the routines of the top athletes are nothing more than hitting some hard muscle shots and wandering from one side of the stage to the other. There are a few athletes in the current crop that are exceptions to this rule but, as a whole, it seems to be the case.
I'm sure that sounds absolutely hilarious coming from a guy who hated posing and practicing his posing. I focused solely on my gym training to develop my body and never did specific posing workouts. I call them workouts because posing was physically demanding and works the body differently than weight training alone does. What I failed to realize at the time was that competitive bodybuilding really is not about the workouts in the gym. That is just one element. . . to develop mass. But posing, and I mean hard posing, should be the most important element in a bodybuilder's arsenal . It's what a bodybuilder does. The stage is our battle ground.
How do athletes in other sports get better? They practice what they will be doing on game day. Hockey players skate and shoot a puck. Basketball players shoot hoops and dribble a basketball. These athletes all incorporate weight training and cardio conditioning but practicing what they will be doing on game day still takes priority. We, as bodybuilders, focus most on our gym workouts and cardio but when it comes to posing practice, it takes a secondary role. Our game day is the stage so shouldn't intense posing practice be the main emphasis, above all else, to becoming the best bodybuilder you can be? Posing is to our sport like swinging a golf club is for a golfer. Or maybe it should be.
I will use myself as an example. Before i won the Canadian Nationals, I practiced posing, religiously, for 45 minutes a day for the final 16 weeks leading up to the show. Not only did it help me become a better poser, but it was definitely a form of training the body as a whole, giving my body a classical and streamlined look. Take a look at the videos on youtub; I had a very classical, athletic look to my body. . .with nice shape and a tight midsection and core and my breathing was very controlled for being 300 pounds. I feel that my look was attained from all that posing sessions. I'd be sweating buckets by the time I finished with one of those posing workouts. So not only does posing help in your presentation but it definitely gives the body a different look.
I'm convinced had I continued that posing workout into the offseason, 3 times a week, every day; it would have made a profound effect on my physique. I, on the other hand, did the opposite and focused more and more only on the training and extremely heavy lifting and less posing workouts to the point that I avoided posing, altogether, unless I had an appearance or guest posing. I lost that streamlined look and my core and stabilizers got weaker causing my body to get out of balance. Posing is similar to yoga. . it enables you to keep your body properly aligned against the pull of gravity. And again, I'm talking hard posing. Inhaling fully during transitions and fully exhaling as you move into the next pose. Throw some lunge poses in there and some classical twisting shots where balance and proper posture are needed so you don't fall on your face and you have a great posing workout.
If you look at the pros from the late 80's and early 90's, the physiques had a different, more streamlined, look to them and the muscles were more detailed. The posing seemed effortless with smooth transitions from pose to pose. There was a lot more posing from the ground as well as lunging poses. The facial expressions were confident with the odd smile or smirk. In comparison, do I even have to comment on some of the facial expressions these guys make when they pose today? Mouths open like they are screaming, the odd tongue sticking out and straining until you wonder if they soiled themselves. The routines are nothing more than lumbering from pose to pose hitting them hard and then, as I stated in my opening remarks, wandering from one side of the stage to the other. Also, the hand gestures for crowd response like Hulk Hogan at a WWF wrestling match is getting a little old as well.
This year's Arnold Classic is a perfect example. Dennis Wolf won the best poser award and, no offense to him, but his routine certainly wasn't spectacular and I think the reason he won it was because he at least made an effort and threw in a few classic twisting shots and actually did a lunge pose or 2. I'm surprised that with a prize of $10,000 bucks for best poser that someone didn't get a little more creative and come out with a killer routine. To this day, when the subject of great posers comes up, what names are brought up? Ed Corny, Arnold (I personally thought he was a great poser, He definitely knew how to showcase his physique), Bob Paris, Francis Benfatto, Vince Taylor, Lee Labrada, Shawn Ray and Flex Wheeler. You don't really hear the names of any of the current group of guys because the focus has shifted. I really think if the current crop of pros would start incorporating posing workouts with transitions and extreme contraction and deep breathing and exhalation their presentations would improve coupled with the added benefits that go along with it. One pro that I feel is doing this extensively is Kai Greene. And it shows in his presentation. Although, I think he rolls around a little too much and does handstands which are definitely unique but not really artistic or classical. I think lunging and squatting are as close to the ground a physique display should go.
On a final note, I would like to say I have not really posed at all in some years now and the other day, just for kicks, I went through my mandatories and 2-minute routine, nice and slow and deliberate; flexing hard and keeping everything tight say for 10 to 15 minutes even with a few lunge poses thrown in. To say I found it difficult was an understatement. I was feeling muscles I forgot I had and after I recovered I actually felt a little more like myself again. I think even for the non-competitor, 20 to 30 minutes 3 days a week is a great way to condition and align your body. It will definitely enhance your gym workout too because it will make you more aware of all your muscles, as a whole, working as a single unit. And the mind-muscle connection will improve as well. Give it a try and tell me what you think. Food for thought!
To contact Greg Kovacs, email him at [email protected] or visit me at my fanpage on facebook at IFBB Pro Greg Kovacs Fanpage