Posing Essentials For NPC Figure And Bikini Divisions

Originally posted on RxGirl on Sunday, 17 February 2013. The original post was published with white text on white background, so the only way to read it on the site is to highlight the text. To make things easier for everyone, I have copied and pasted the article here for you to read.


Figure Front
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.
Bikini Front
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!

To The New Model On The Block

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Monday, 02 April 2012



Modeling for the first time can be a bit daunting, especially during fitness shoots in which your physique is being prominently displayed. However, there are some guidelines and tricks to make the experience a pleasant one and one in which you can maximize the chances of producing strong images. The single-most important thing is to follow the photographer’s lead with posing, since prominent fitness photographers have developed considerable skill in posing the human body in the most flattering manner possible. This doesn’t mean that your work isn’t cut out for you, but the following posing tips will become easier over time as you are asked to do more shoots. It’s actually a good idea to practice modeling poses in front of a mirror so that you can more clearly assess how your body looks in certain poses.

Generally speaking, a wide leg stance displays your muscularity in the best fashion since it makes your waist appear smaller and enhances the bulk of your quads. Make sure to stagger feet so one foot is a few inches more forward than the other. You will shift your weight onto this foot and flex your quads while bending knees slightly. To make your upper body look as wide as possible, widen your shoulders and keep your back straight in order to enhance your v-taper.

Once your pose is established, you will flex muscle groups one at a time, such as quads, then delts, then pecs, then arms and finally abs. Get used to holding a pose! You may need to hold a pose while fully flexed for a couple of minutes. Which brings me to facial expression…quite often you will be asked to relax your face and flash a genuine smile which belies all the tension you are employing in your muscles, which can definitely be tricky. Your face needs to be a calm and happy sea, while the rest of your body is a raging storm of muscle contraction. This may take longer for some men to learn than others, and those men may keep praying for those shoots in which their facial expression needs to be intense, grimacing and full of power. Successful fitness models have mastered this trick and know that is essential in order to land certain covers and ad campaigns.

Above all else, have fun with the shoot, ask for a short break if you are tiring out too quickly, and maintain a positive and pleasant attitude.

Picture Perfect With The Ladies: How To Model With A Female

Originally published on Tuesday, 29 November 2011


You may have modeled alone numerous times and are comfortable with your poses. This may lead you to think that posing with a woman is no different. However, there are numerous points to keep in mind any time you are at a shoot in which you are expected to pose with a lady.

First of all, don’t allow nerves to distract you from performing as expected. What helps tremendously with getting over any nervousness is to chat with the woman before the shoot in order to establish a comfort level. You don’t have to discuss anything in particular, but at least get an idea of her personality.

Be aware of the goal of the shoot. If the goal is to shoot a cover or an ad, you will most likely be the center of focus since many covers showcase the man while using the woman as a type of accessory. Fitness photographers are typically excellent at posing their models, which means you need to be able to follow direction without offering commentary on the poses you are being asked to do. If the photographer tells you to open your shoulders, or turn your head slightly more to the right, then just do it. Sometimes these microadjustments may be challenging since you have to hold a pose while also flexing and looking like you are having the time of your life. But all these elements are key in conveying the proper energy and mood through the images.

Move slowly between each pose and give the lady time to adjust as well. Remember that she needs to be in the proper pose as well. If you are asked to touch each other, perhaps with your hand around her waist and her hands on your chest or shoulder, be respectful of her. That being said, make sure that when you are both in a pose in which you are touching, you both look like you actually like each other, even if you can’t stand each other. Your poses and your facial expressions need to be genuine and believable.

Remember to carry yourself in a professional manner during the shoot. It doesn’t matter if you have the hots for your modeling partner remain a professional. If you must, you can ask for a date WELL after the shoot is over!

Living Doll

Doll faceI love modeling, especially when the project or gig embraces an outside-the-box concept like a superhero, vintage look, dark warrior, or abstract body art. Though there is artistry behind a standard bikini photo shoot, I become very excited when get to serve as a canvas for avant garde makeup and hair, body paint, unusual wardrobe or costume items. In that sense I get to serve as a living doll playing dress-up. On more than one occasion I have been told that I am someone’s muse, which I regard as one of the most flattering compliments a human being can bestow on someone else. It is an immense honor to be the inspiration for a creative person’s endeavors.

Modeling isn’t easy at all. It requires the prep time of sitting in the makeup chair and allowing makeup and hair artistry to take place. If you’re extremely fidgety, or you don’t like people in close proximity to you, applying makeup, directing you to open or close your eyes, turn your head, etc., then you won’t even make it through the first important step of modeling. Sometimes all the tugging and teasing of hair which needs to take place during vintage shoots, or shoots which demand a more elaborate hairstyle, can be downright painful. The image below was taken after sitting in the chair for almost six hours, and the hairstyling alone took two hours. It can make you downright cranky, especially since you can’t drink much water as you are being prepped.


Then there is wardrobe, which can often be problematic for so many reasons. The most basic wardrobe issue for a model is usually wearing something very thick and heavy on a very hot day, or wearing next to nothing on a cold day. Other issues which may arise include wardrobe or costume items which don’t fit, pieces which are torn or otherwise broken and must be held in place with clamps, pins or tape, heavy props which the model is expected to hold for lengthy periods of time while posed in the desired position, and the list goes on and on. A model may be expected to stand on an unstable surface and strike a pose while trying to balance. Other times a pretzel pose is requested, and not only must the model strike it, she muse hold it until the photographer gets the shot. And the model had better deliver the moods, facial expressions and energy required of her if she wants a flourishing career. Again, it is NOT easy being a model.

I have been out of breath, freezing cold, blazing hot, sticky from paint, dealing with sand in crevices, suffering from muscle cramps, exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated during shoots, but I can without hesitation say that I truly, deeply, love modeling in all its forms. It’s fun for me, and I get to be part of the creative process and bring ideas to fruition, often lovely, at times dark and eerie, but always interesting.

Dancing Onstage

Team U danceIf you compete in Women’s or Men’s Bodybuilding, Women’s Physique or Fitness divisions, you may incorporate dance moves as part of your routine onstage. Dance moves are always a crowd favorite and add to the entertainment value of a posing routine, breaking up the monotony of hitting one mandatory pose after another. But I am not talking about true dance moves here. What I am talking about is the flow of energy and the fluidity which a competitor should ideally bring onstage regardless of the division in which he or she competes. This includes Figure, Men’s Physique and Bikini divisions.

You may exclaim, “But I am not a dancer!”, and that is fine. You don’t need a dance background to move gracefully onstage. However, when you step onstage, your movements should look effortless and should demonstrate the confidence you should have while up there. The worst thing you can do is to have a deer-in-headlights look or to move like a robot because you are overthinking your steps. It also will NEVER serve you to get nervous onstage. So how do you combat these obstacles to really bringing it onstage and crushing the competition? Here are some tips to help you develop that flow and swagger before you hit the stage.


You should be practicing walking and posing as MUCH as possible! Make sure to wear your suit or trunks whenever you practice so that you can become aware of how the attire fits your body and shows off your lines as you move. Figure and bikini ladies need to practice in their show heels so that they can become aware of shifts in their center of gravity as they move. Once you have your basic poses down, work on your turns and transitions. Finally, once you are VERY comfortable with your posing, you can add flourishes and styling which are reflective of your personality.

I tell clients to walk around their homes wearing their contest heels not only to break them in but to also get used to how they carry their bodies when wearing those heels. A pair of regular street heels won’t quite do it either, so make sure to wear the shoes you will actually be wearing onstage. Do NOT get high platforms because they are tricky to wear onstage and will increase the chance of tripping or twisting your ankle, and they also make your leg line look very chopped up and clunky. You won’t be fooling anyone by getting Frankenstein platforms, trust me!


A great way of getting feedback (besides having competitor pals watch you pose, which I also recommend) is to videotape yourself walking and hitting your poses. You may think you look great, but by watching footage, you may pick up on some bad habits or angles which you can then work on before contest time. After competing for several years I honestly think that videotaping yourself is an indispensable tool when practicing your posing.

Whenever possible, you should also practice in front of a mirror. I used to practice in a dance room which had mirrors on three walls so I could check out my posing from all angles, but if you don’t have access to a room like that, you can just practice in front of an inexpensive full length mirror.


I always advise clients to watch YouTube videos from NPC National and IFBB Pro events in order to learn from top competitors. Watch the competitors who get first callouts because their posing plays a big part in their top callouts. You can usually tell which competitors will end up doing well because they make the poses look like second nature, moving gracefully or purposefully from one pose into the next. One word of caution: if you are a local or new competitor, do not try to add the styling that the pros add. For one thing, that sort of thing will come with time and experience onstage. Secondly, most judges do not like all the unnecessary flourishes and will mark you down if you add too much “flavor”. Keep your transitions nice and clean.


I think every competitor can benefit from having a posing coach, even if they just have one session. A posing coach will lend a trained eye and correct any bad habits, making adjustments so that the client’s physique is displayed in the best way. Even the slightest shift of the hips can look great on one body and horrible on another. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am available for one-on-one posing, but if you reside elsewhere, there are some excellent posing coaches out there who can help you out. Make sure to select someone who knows how to pose for your particular division!


Once you have been practicing posing for a while, you can work on making your movements as fluid as possible. This means that when you transition from one pose to the next that you don’t look like a robot when doing so. It also means getting out of your head! I have seen competitors who are obviously thinking about their next pose, and their movements end up looking very choppy. You should not be thinking, “okay, front pose, then I will step with my right, er, my LEFT foot, then ummmm…” because that will ensure a very unappealing presentation onstage. You can have your internal chat before you step onstage, but leave it backstage where it belongs.


Perhaps the best thing you can wear onstage to engage the judges and the audience is a smile. You need to look like you are having a blast onstage, not like you are dreading those few minutes up there. This definitely means that you will be smiling so much that your face may end up fatiguing from it, but believe me, it makes a big difference.


I remember being very nervous the first few times I competed. Then after a while I thought to myself, “What is the point of being nervous?” and all my jitters sort of melted away. This doesn’t that mishaps don’t occur, but your attitude about them makes all the difference in the world. I was at the IFBB North American in Cleveland in August of 2011 and I kind of tripped over my feet when doing a transition during overall comparisons. Instead of getting rattled I just kept moving and it wasn’t a big deal at all. I have also heard a story about a competitor whose top flew open during her posing routine. She kept going, topless, until she finished her poses, then picked up her top from the stage floor and walked off!

If I ever start to feel any kind of nervousness (which at this point is very rare), I remind myself that I know most of the judges and many of the other competitors, and that unless I do something really stupid onstage, I have absolutely NOTHING to worry about. Leave your anxiety and jitters off the stage and just get up there and have fun!

Posing Essentials for Figure and Bikini

Please click on link below to read my latest article on RxGirl which covers posing essentials for NPC Figure and Bikini Divisions:


Finally got a butt!

This was my 16th competition over four years. I have worked very hard to transform my physique from “average” to “DAMN!”. All the hard work was work it!