Posing Essentials For NPC Figure and Bikini Divisions
By: Dr. Stacey Naito
With so many ladies vying for top placings at NPC local and national shows, a primer on how to pose is essential. When I serve as trophy girl at Jon Lindsay’s contests, I notice a lot of girls who do not have a clue on how to pose and who clearly do not know how to display their hard-earned physiques to their best advantage.
I have broken down posing essentials by division, describing each mandatory pose as well as transitions. I also STRONGLY advise you to do the following:
1. Watch videos on YouTube of competitors who have done well at competitions at your level, whether it be local or national.
2. Practice, practice, practice! Schedule regular practice sessions so that you are comfortable with walking, posing and doing comparisons. Practice IN YOUR SUIT AND HEELS in front of a mirror! It makes a huge difference when you pose in the outfit you will be wearing onstage. You will be able to see the lines of your body when you practice in your suit and the heels will shift your center of gravity as well. In addition, you will be able to break in your shoes before contest day. It is also helpful to have someone shoot some video footage so that you will have feedback on how you look when you pose.
With the Figure Division, the steps taken are very small and the hips are kept level in an effort to preserve the competitor’s symmetry. Figure poses are defined by a close foot stance.
Quarter Turns = Mandatory turns, front, sides and back. In side posing there is a slight torso twist. Make sure to hold each pose for two seconds (“one one thousand, two one thousand”).
FRONT: Feet and legs together, can turn toes out and turn knees out slightly to accentuate quad sweep. Keep hips slightly bent, stretching out abs, lifting chest out and engage your abs and quads. You will also flare out your lats. Arms will be out to side and forearms and hands graceful and relaxed.
SIDE STAGE RIGHT: Feet and legs together. You will twist your torso slightly toward audience while keeping a slight bend at the hips. Place front arm slightly behind you and back arm in front of the body and make sure those hands are graceful! Engage those abs! You will be looking stage right and NOT at the judges, but be sure to smile and keep your chin up!
BACK: Stand with feet and legs together with your bodyweight shifted onto your toes. Stick your butt up and out to smooth out your hams and glutes, and tighten your hamstrings and glutes. Whatever you do, do NOT squeeze your glutes together or you’ll enhance ripples and other imperfections back there. Make sure to engage your entire back and flare your lat region while also keeping shoulders extended to sides to enhance their caps. Tighten upper arms with a very slight bend in the elbow, but also keep forearms and hands relaxed and graceful, with your hands within a few inches from your hip line. If you have long hair, you will need to move it to the front so that you can display your back fully.
SIDE STAGE LEFT: Feet and legs together. You will twist your torso slightly toward audience while keeping a slight bend at the hips. Place front arm slightly behind you and back arm in front of the body and make sure those hands are graceful! Engage those abs! You will be looking stage left and NOT at the judges, but be sure to smile and keep your chin up!
TRANSITIONS: Transitions are even more difficult to master as they should look graceful without losing your body lines as you do so. You can transition one of two ways:
1. Step slightly forward and to the right with your left foot, slightly crossing in front of right foot. Pivot one quarter turn to the right on your left foot, then plant right foot into next pose.
2. Step to the right with your right foot, then pivot body one-quarter to the right as you step with left foot and then hit your pose.
With both methods, you need to make sure that the arm which faces the audience should be held behind you slightly so that you are not covering the side of your body. This is also known as “opening up” the arm.
STANDING ON THE DIAGONAL: You will stand at the diagonal with a slight twist to the waist so that your upper body is angled more toward the audience while your lower body is angled towards the center of the stage. Make sure to hold the arm that is close to the audience out to the side so that your body lines are visible. Your other hand can rest on your hip. Also make sure that no matter how you stand that your competitor number is visible! The entire time, you should be keeping everything tight and smiling!
The Bikini Division is defined by larger steps and a shifting of weight onto one hip during the front pose and turns in order to increase the illusion of an S-curve. The standard front and back poses involve a wide stance with feet wider than shoulder width apart.
Half Turns = mandatory turns, front and back. Make sure to hold each pose for at least two seconds (“one one thousand, two one thousand”).
FRONT: Stand with feet wider than shoulder width apart and angle one hip slightly back. This increases the S-curve in your torso. Stretch out abs, lift chest out and pull shoulders back. You can place your hand on the hip that is angled back, while the other arm can hang gracefully at your side.
BACK: Stand with feet shoulder width apart or wider and stick your butt up and out to smooth out your hams and glutes. I always tell my contest prep clients to think of themselves as cats in heat, with their butts high up and an exaggerated curve in the low back to emphasize the roundness of the glutes. Whatever you do, do NOT squeeze your glutes together or you’ll enhance ripples and other imperfections back there. Your upper body must be completely upright – do not hunch forward! Most girls will place their hands on their anterior thighs for extra stability while holding this position.
Another position which is very popular in this division is to stand with one foot crossed in front of the other, while popping that butt up in the air.
TRANSITIONS: The cleanest bikini transitions are similar to a salsa pivot turn.
1. Step forward with the leg that is further back on the stage.
2. Step slightly forward with the other foot and pivot to the other side so you are facing to the side of the stage. In other words, if your first step was with the left foot, you will step with your right foot and pivot to the left so you are facing stage left. When you transition from front to back, pop your butt out towards the audience to enhance its fullness.
3. You will then do a two step sequence so that your feet land in your next pose stance.
STANDING ON THE DIAGONAL: This is the same as for Figure.
This is not meant to be a full primer but is designed to provide basics for ladies who are new to competing in figure or bikini. I always stress the importance of watching videos because they yield valuable information on how to pose.
Now get out there and strut your stuff!