Bodybuilding is a unique sport which requires competitors to exhibit
maximum muscle mass and minimum body fat at the same time. These two
requirements are somewhat unnatural in that the body prefers to gain both
muscle and fat together or lose them together. So attempting to maintain
or increase lean mass while losing fat deposits is extremely difficult.
As all sports involve a process in which new standards are created, new
records set and then every effort possible made to exceed those standards
and break those records, in bodybuilding it means extending our
conceptions of just how far we can take the development of the human body.
Bodybuilding is not just about developing muscles, it also involves the
visual effect of the body. It isnít just what what you have, its also, how
you look. And it didnít take long for bodybuilders to realize that a
certain kind of training involving higher reps and more sets coupled with
a diet to rid the body of excess fat gave bodybuilding judges a heck of a
lot more to look at.
So bodybuilders began to concentrate more and more on dieting. And by the
late seventies things had gotten pretty much out of hand. In trying to
diet away fat, competitors were putting themselves on such severe diets
that they ended up dieting away a large percentage of their muscle mass.
So they never got ripped, never got hard - they just got smaller and
Shrinking your body by severe dieting is a long way from following a
program that will burn fat without much or any loss of lean muscle mass.
Overly strict low calorie diets, coupled with high-rep / high-set training
and cardio workouts, produce effects that are counterproductive to
building a high-quality competitive physique. The reasons:
1. The lower calorie diet, the larger proportion of lean muscle mass
versus fat you will loose.
2. The body always burns glycogen for fuel, the higher your volume of
training the more calories your body is going to burn for energy.
Added to this, many bodybuilders have traditionally allowed themselves to
bulk up gaining excessive body fat between contests. If you do this, when
you finally begin a contest diet 6-12 weeks before a show, you have so
much fat to loose in so little time that you unavoidably strip your body
of muscle mass as well as fat.
Bodybuilders nowadays are beginning to understand the contest dieting
process much more clearly. Keep your bodyweight steady all year so that a
slight increase in volume and intensity of training plus a moderate diet
a few weeks is all it takes for them to snap into great shape. So the
first rule of contest dieting is: Watch your diet all season long so that
you are within a few pounds of your contest weight when you start your
Studies have shown you can loose only about one-half pound of pure fat a
week through dieting. Training will help you burn off another half-pound.
At a rate of a pound of fat a week or less, if you plan to diet only 6-8
weeks youíd better only have a little more than five pounds to lose.
Many bodybuilders advocate losing your fat early and gaining muscle right
up to the contest. This would result in your weighing the most on the day
of the contest.
What contest dieting and all other kinds of weight-loss diets have in
common is this: To burn off body fat you have to expend more energy than
the calories you take in. You have to be in calorie deficit before your
body will reach into its stores of fat to create additional energy.
We have already discussed the fact that losing body fat has to be
accomplished without burning up significant amounts of muscle mass. So our
second rule becomes: A successful contest diet must combine reduced
calories with a particular balance of nutrients in order for you to lose
fat without losing muscle.
All diets involve reduced calories. But if simply cutting back on calories
were enough, the logical thing would be eat nothing until youíd lost the
amount of weight you had in mind. But this idea doesnít work for these
reasons: When you reduce caloric intake too much, your basal metabolic
rate slows and you burn less fat during the day. When you do not get
enough sufficient nutrients on a daily basis, all of your metabolic
processes including the building and maintaining of muscle mass and the
production of energy suffer. Therefore our third rule becomes: The contest
diet should be designed to include the fewest calories possible without
creating nutritional deficiencies.
Deciding how little to eat without nutritional deprivation involves first
looking at your need for the three basic nutrients: protein, carbohydrate,
As a bodybuilder dieting for a contest you need to reduce your intake of
fats as much as possible. Of course, you need some fats and their
essential fatty acids simply to survive. So eating a diet with zero fat
content is not advised. But every gram of fat contains nine calories (as
opposed to protein and carbohydrate, which only contain four calories per
gram), so a low-fat diet is necessary in order to achieve a reduction in
calorie intake. Keep your fats (including oils, bullet, whole dairy, and
red meats) to a minimum.
The amount of protein you need in your diet is also fairly easy to
determine. Experts" have been telling us for years that bodybuilders,
athletes and human beings in general donít need large amounts of protein,
that the RDA of one gram of protein for every kilo (2.2 pounds) of
bodyweight is adequate.
More recent studies show this is not nearly enough for bodybuilders and
probably isnít enough even for the average person. Instead, keep your
protein levels up at least one gram for every pound of bodyweight -
preferably a little more than this rather than a little less.
Healthy, hard-training bodybuilders (unless they have certain medical
conditions) have little to fear from eating larger amounts of protein. If
you eat more than you need you will add extra calories to your diet. But
if you eat less protein than you need, you have prevented your body from
building and maintaining maximum muscle mass. So our rule of thumb for
protein becomes: Eat no less than one gram of protein for every pound of
bodyweight daily no matter how much you are cutting calories.
With protein at a fixed level and fat at a fixed low level, the only
variable is carbohydrate. Bodybuilding is a specialized sport with very
specialized needs. When you are preparing for a contest, performance
involves maintaining muscle while minimizing bodyfat. Therefore, as far
as the contest diet is concerned: Progressively adjust the amount of
calories you consume weekly by adjusting the calorie levels of the
carbohydrate you eat while you still fuel your workouts and supply your
bodyís basic needs.
Determining how much carbohydrate per day involves not depriving your
muscle of carbohydrate. With no carbs in the body, you lose a lot of water
(every gram of carbohydrate binds in the muscles with almost three grams
of water) and you lose several pounds of bodyweight, but not body fat,
immediately. Obviously, this is not a good diet for bodybuilders when you
dehydrate like this your muscles get small and flat. When your body burns
up muscle tissue you are defeating your own our purpose.
Carbohydrates, of course, come in all different forms. Fruit is
carbohydrates; so is fruit juice. Sugar is carbohydrate, as is wine. But
the way to use carbohydrate for contest dieting is this: Eat as much
carbohydrate in a form that is high in fiber, low in concentrated
Carbohydrate food like sweet potatoes, brown rice, vegetables contain
allot of fiber. Fiber is important because it causes food to move more
quickly through your system and this reduces your absorption of the
calories by something like 10 percent.
Eating high-fiber foods allows you to eat more, feel full, and avoid a
feeling of hunger and deprivation without taking in a large amount of
One major problem that afflicts many bodybuilders is the idea that the
more fat you lose the better. This isnít true. You need to lose only
enough body fat so that you look ripped onstage or in the mirror.
The purpose of the diet is to lose subcutaneous fat. You want your skin to
look thin and your muscles and striations to be revealed. But you may also
have intramuscular fat in your body, fat that is like marbling you see in
an expensive steak. Just as water contributes a lot to muscle size, so
does intramuscular fat. If you continue to diet past the point where you
have gotten rid of your subcutaneous fat, all you will do is make yourself
smaller and smaller without getting harder or more ripped.
In tests that have been done on competition bodybuilders, we have seen
champions with as much as 6-8 percent body fat. How could the percentages
be so high? Because these were large 200 pound ripped to the bone
individuals, and the bigger you are, the more muscle you have, the more
intramuscular fat you will have as well.
On the other hand, a light or middleweight bodybuilder or a woman
competitor might well test at 6-9% because less intramuscular fat. So keep
that in mind as well.
You also have to keep in mind that you will not really look your best
until you have finished your diet and carbed up for the contest. As your
muscles fill up with glycogen and water, you suddenly begin to look
bigger, more muscular and super ripped. As you are dieting since you have
little excess carbohydrate in your system, the water in your body has
nowhere to reside except under the skin. "Iím holding water," bodybuilders
are always saying a few weeks before a contest, but what is really
happening is they are dehydrated due to low levels of glycogen but the
little water they do have is temporarily positioned subcutaneously.
Carbing up takes care of this problem, so donít worry about it. Nor should
you drop your sodium levels except as part of the immediate pre-contest
preparation program only three days prior.
- Brian Cannone
Bodybuilding Competition Posing
The comparison posing phase of a bodybuilding competition is called
ďPre-judgingĒ and is held before the Finals. The pre-judging event is
conducted using standard poses. Judging panels are comprised of six or
eight qualified judges, the Head Judge is the judge who speaks to the
contestants and calls out the poses to the contestants. The Head Judge
calls out the initial comparisons in a systematic fashion, utilizing the
mandatory poses, done in a prescribed order. When there is a panel of six
judges, five judges score the event. When eight judges are used, seven
judges score the event, always with an odd number of judges. The high and
low scores are then dropped and the scores are added with the lowest
number being the winner of the division.
Should the number of contestants in a single division be larger than ten
contestants. To make a single division practicable in the initial
comparison, the Head Judge may break the division into two segments in
order to facilitate the judging. After the initial comparisons are
completed, the Head Judge shall shift the contestants about and conduct
additional comparisons of selected subgroups as requested by the judging
panel until all judges are satisfied that they have seen enough to
establish their placings. After the completion of this phase, the
comparisons for subdivision awards, if any, shall be made before the
contestants are sent offstage. At the conclusion of all procedures, the
judges fill out their individual scoring sheets.
During the initial comparisons, nine (or more) mandatory poses shall be
done. The poses are the same for male and female bodybuilders. These poses
are required for the initial comparisons and shall be done in the sequence
1. Quarter Turns
2. Front Double Bicep
3. Front Lat Spread
4. Abs and Thigh
5. Side Chest
6. Side Tricep
7. Rear Double Bicep
8. Rear Lat Spread
9. Most Muscular
In the comparison among class winners for the overall title, once the
detailed systematic comparisons have been completed, the Head Judge shall
call for a period of free-style posing, in which the contestants may do
any poses they wish, in any sequence. The time limit for such posing shall
ordinarily be no longer than 30-60 seconds.
Procedure of Judging
A. Semi-relaxed quarter turns:
Used by the judges to determine the symmetry score of a division during
B. Mandatory poses:
In the initial comparison, these poses shall be used in a numerical
sequence and all will be used. Selections of these poses may be used for
subsequent additional comparisons of selected subgroups of contestants.
C. Optional poses:
Used during the comparison posing phase after the initial comparison has
been completed. Selections of these poses may be used as desired by the
Procedure of Posing
The poses shall be done described in this section, with particular
attention to the requirements accompanying the standard poses. Contestants
may be down rated for failure to assume the standard poses properly. The
Poses should be formed by first placing the feet, and then assuming the
pose as prescribed. While the focus of many poses is on a particular area
of the body or body part, the whole body should be posed in every case.
The semi-relaxed poses are meant to be semi-relaxed and not flexed, with
feet flat on the floor, weight distributed evenly, posture symmetrical,
and head facing forward. During the judging, contestants should generally
focus their posing toward the center of the judging panel, and may rotate
in place slightly in order to facilitate viewing by all judges. The
mandatory poses or compulsory poses as sometimes called, are side by side
with other competitors, under equal conditions to judge your physique
against others in the division, these poses should be preformed the same
by all contestants.
1. Semi-relaxed front pose
The contestant stands symmetrically, facing the judges, with both feet
flat on the floor and weight distributed evenly. The arms should hang
naturally at the sides.
2. Semi-relaxed left-side pose (quarter turn to the right)
The contestant stands in the same fashion as the front relaxed, facing
right, and exposing his/her left side to the judges. Both feet are flat on
the floor. There is no twisting of the body. The contestant faces and
looks straight ahead.
3. Semi-relaxed back pose (quarter turn to the right)
The contestant stands in the same fashion as the previous poses, with feet
flat on the floor and weight distributed evenly. The arms should hang as
naturally as possible at the sides.
4. Semi-relaxed right-side pose (quarter turn to the right)
The contestant stands in the same fashion as the previous pose, facing
left, exposing his/her right-side to the judges. Both feet are flat on the
floor. There is no twisting of the body. The contestant faces and looks
1. Front double bicep
The upper arms are held approximately parallel to the floor and the fists
are balled. (The leg positions are not specified in this pose). Show off
every major frontal muscle group in this pose. Legs in a comfortable,
balanced stance, one knee slightly out. Stomach in, tighten abs, flexed
Tips: Open up lats wide and smile, Remember to flex thighs and calves.
2. Front lat spread
The heels are together, with the toes pointed out at a 45 degree angle.
The legs are slightly flexed. Show width and taper here. Stand, one foot
slightly ahead of the other, tense thighs and abs. Start with arms bent,
hands behind back at bottom of rib cage. Flare out lats as you bring hands
front to sides of waist, elbows pointed out. Keep your delts flexed and
Helpful Tips: Keep a sober, serious expression. Hook thumbs behind waist
and draw elbows forward.
3. Abdominals and thighs
The torso should be symmetrical. One leg out, point toe down or heel down,
really tighten quadricep. Bring hands up behind head, keep elbows close to
head, biceps flexed, fists touching traps. Lift diaphragm and blow all the
air out of lungs and stomach. Crunch down on frontal rib cage and
abdominal wall, crunching down on intercostals, serratus anterior, and
obliques to show them as well.
4. Side chest
The chest is raised. The shoulders are held at approximately even height.
The wrist is clasped with hand. Turn your best side to the audience, put
legs together, lift heel of front foot. Fill lungs with air to lift rib
cage, pull shoulder back, bend audience-side arm to flex bicep, push down
on arm with other hand. Arch your back slightly, suck in stomach, flex
pec, and smile to judges.
Helpful Tips: Mash front thigh against rear thigh to make look thicker,
contract rear pec by pushing it to front with back arm.
5. Side tricep
The arm is held straight or nearly so, and may be rotated slightly. The
wrist is held with the hand. The calf is spiked, with the toe placed at
the instep of the foot. Grab displayed armís hand with other hand to hold
Helpful Tips: Try different degrees of arm-bending to see which most
brings out tricep. Flex abs, and especially chest and delts. Press arm
against torso to make it look thicker. Push forward arm against rear arm
to bring out shoulder detail.
6. Rear double bicep
The upper arms are held approximately parallel to the floor and the fists
are balled. Put one leg back, knee angled slightly out, lift heel, and
point toe, flexing hamstrings and calves. Tighten lower back to show
erectors. Lift arms bent-elbowed until they are slightly above level of
shoulders. Flex arms, shoulders, entire upper back, lower glutes, and rear
Helpful tips: Show either calf, flex hamstrings. Turn head to either side
to bring out trap detail.
7. Rear lat spread
This pose also shows body taper from shoulder to hip. Legs, same position
as rear double bicep pose. Lower arms to waist, everything on your
back-side tense, fists against the back bottom of rib cage, elbows bent.
Slide hands to front of body while spreading lats. Keep shoulders up, back
straight and tall.
Helpful tips: Try not to crunch forward. Start pose by pressing shoulder
blades together. Show either calf and flex hamstrings.
8. Most muscular
Hands on hips - The hands are placed on the thighs, below posing suit,
with palms flat and thumbs forward. Breath out and crunch down on
abdominals. Either lag may be displayed forward.
Crab most muscular
Place best leg out forward and lean upper body forward. Bring arms
forward, the hands are not clasped. Bring out trap muscles, tighten
biceps, pecs, and breath out and tighten abs.
Intercostal twist crunch
Contestant faces right or left side to judges, exposing his/her side to
judges. The hand is placed behind the head and the opposite arm placed on
the hip. The torso slightly toward the judges, breath out and tighten abs
and crunch down on intercostal muscles.
The contestant brings both arms overhead with arms bent. Bend at knees and
tighten legs. The wrists are turned out above the head.
This pose is done with the contestant facing facing to the side or to the
rear. When to the side the leg nearest the judges is flexed, and moved up
and down slowly to display the development of the posterior and lateral
surfaces of the thigh. When the contestant is facing the rear, the leg to
be used will be specified by the judges. The leg is flexed, and moved up
and down slowly to display the development of the posterior surface of the
The right or left leg is displayed forward, the leg to be displayed will
be specified by the head judge. The leg is either toe down or heal down,
flexed and rotated.
No matter how good your physique is you must be absolutely prepared and
polished in showing the product before you step onstage.
Posing should be an integral part of contest preparation. No matter how
good your physique may be, you still have to communicate this quality to
the judges and audience. Their impression of you is formed by your mastery
of posing - your ability to display your physique with control, drama, and
Posing is an art, to perfect the art you must practice posing. Its not
excessive to spend one hour daily to practice all three rounds of posing.
Learn from watching professionals, learn how to control your muscles.
Learn how not to shake during pre-judging. Do not pose too quickly or hold
poses too long. Be honest and critical with yourself. What poses highlight
good bodyparts and which ones show weak parts. Posing brings out muscle
separation. After long hours in the gym, when you step onstage, you must
to able to display your body at its best.
First impressions can make you break you - come on strong
If you feel awkward, you probably are, change the pose
Do only optional poses that compliment your physique
Be natural in your facial expressions, look like you are having fun and smile
Center yourself and clear your head before you go onstage
Select music that inspires you and will move the crowd
Try to choreograph your routine to tell a story
Remember to keep your physique hard and at least semi-flexed whenever you
Donít do anything that is unfavorable or disallowed in judging
Give other competitors space
Watch your time, a good short posing routine is appreciated more than a
so-so long one
Put tanning products on evenly, donít look sloppy
Fresh haircut and clean shave, well groomed hairstyle
Posing suit and color that fits your bodylines
Nice dark tan highlights muscle, but donít overdo it
Watch for too much oil
Exude confidence and charisma
Free posing gives you the chance to pose and choose the poses that
highlight your physique. Choose routine music that suits your personality,
and have a professional record the music you choose. Flow between poses,
make transitions smooth and logical. Choose dynamic popular music, get the
- Brian Cannone
The Fitness Atlantic is a competition and fitness exposition held in the
spring which includes bodybuilding, fitness, model, and swimsuit
competitions for natural athletes to participate and receive awards and
recognition for their accomplishments of getting into the best shape of
The production standards are nothing less than spectacular and are
designed to make every contestant feel like a star. Broadway stage
designers and night club music lighting experts to create a dazzling
backdrop of lights, music and staging like no other fitness event you will
ever witness and are designed to provide spectators with an unforgettable
entertainment experience and make every contestant feel like a star.
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