Female Bodybuilding & Figure: 10 Tips from Behind the Judge's Table
by WNBF Pro Bodybuilder Karen Mason
Photos of Penny Beaumont and Carol Streeter from the 2012 UKDFBA UK Championships, by Fivos Averkiou (www.fivosphotography.com)

Now that this yearís judging for me has come to an end, and after reading Jon Harrisí excellent article on 10 points Judges are looking for, I wanted to add a few more aimed at Figure & Miss Physique competitors. Men, do have a read through though as there might be something here that helps.

1. Tan application
Donít just leave it until the morning of the show Ė hands will rub tan off while posing. If youíre not experienced at applying a tan, doing it backstage on the day of the show might not be enough. If youíre using Dream Tan or similar instant tan, try applying one coat the night before and sleep inside a duvet cover to save yours or the hotelís sheets. In the morning it will be a bit smudgy and youíll need to tap it back into place and add another coat backstage, but the end result will be worth it. Many times you see someone on stage having a better tan in the evening than during the day, because theyíve got an extra coat of tan on. The most important part of the judging is in the day, so pay more attention to that and the evening will sort itself out.

2. Where to put your competitor number
Please place your number on the front of your bikini bottoms, slightly to one side. If itís sitting on your hip, or even worse, sitting on the table in the pump-up room, thereís little hope of us remembering what number you are. Please try to remember your number so you know if youíre being asked to do something.

3. To thong or not to thong!
Just because the rules say you can wear a thong it doesnít necessarily mean you should. Not every bum looks good in one. Get a friend to take a picture, or preferably a video of you moving in a thong before you decide which style of bikini to wear. There are many different size bottoms that you can get, just a couple of inches of material might complement your backside more.

4. Advice on shoes
Yes, figure girls wear shoes and they look fantastic (I do like a heel!) but think about your toes. I know you donít get judged on this, but the last thing you want is a judge looking at parts of you that donít count, rather than parts of you that do. If youíre wearing plastic-topped slip on shoes, the plastic allows a shiny tanned foot to slide through it much more than a non-tanned foot. Suddenly, your nicely painted toenails are slipping through the end of your shoes, nearly touching the floor and making them far more noticeable than they should be. Choose a shoe that has a strap to hold you in place, or maybe buy a size smaller to support the foot better. Donít worry if theyíre a bit tight, you donít have to wear them for long! As I say, this isnít something you are judged on, but if someone is spending time looking at your toes and wondering if you can walk OK like that then theyíve managed to miss looking at your body. It's human nature to notice things that arenít quite right and judges are human too.

5. Bikini Bite
As most ladies know, you lose weight and your boobs get smaller, or they lose fullness leaving far too much skin! Sounds horrible, but thatís just how it is. The last thing you need is a fold of flesh popping out from under your bikini, or the top moving about so you show much more breast than you meant to. Bikini Bite is a wonderful thing to glue you in place. Bottoms too sometimes need to stay in place, so use it there as well if need be.

6. Controlling your hair
This is normally a figure thing than physique, but please keep your hair under control. Again making a big thing of moving it, or leaving it over the muscle youíre trying to show isnít good. Practice your quarter turns and set posing whilst moving your hair as you get into the pose. Donít think youíll remember on stage unless it has become part of your practice. Nerves are a funny thing and sometimes your brain just doesnít want to work (especially when youíve not eaten properly for some time). If itís a quarter turn, move your hair into the right place as you turn. If itís a side chest or a back pose, be sure the judges can see you and not your hair covering you.

7. Wearing 'bling'
In the evening show, bling (rings, earrings, chains) for the physique ladies is fine, but for prejudging it should be avoided. Please remember though if youíre wearing a necklace or chain there is every possibility itíll stop the judges being able to see a side chest properly.

8. Body and face colour
Make sure your tan and face makeup is a similar colour. If not, mix a tiny bit of tan in with your foundation and youíll end up the same colour. Make sure itís not too dark if youíre adding powder on top. If you donít want to use foundation then tan on your face is OK as long as you do it in the morning (not the night before with your body tan). It doesnít react the same on facial skin as it does on your body and can go patchy. A quick note for the guys Ė add tan to your face if itís on your body regardless of your original skin colour. Different skin colour tones detract from your physique and will catch a judgeís eye, and you only want them seeing the good bits, not noticing the poor finishing touches.

9. Make it look easy
In general, women are better than men at this. Some men seem to think that if they look like theyíre straining to keep a pose they must be working harder. No, itís just uncomfortable to watch. Have you ever seen a gymnast performing a really hard routine, doing it with such grace and apparent ease you think you could do it yourself? Have that in mind. Make it look easy, make it look comfortable to watch, and make it look like you could do this all day. Oh, and smile while youíre on stage please!

10. Standing at the back of the stage
If there have been some competitors called out for comparisons and youíre not one of them, donít think for one minute that youíre not being looked at by the judges. Some of the judges might have made a decision on the placing of the ones in the front and are thinking about the competitors on the back row, and who should be compared to who. If youíre standing there looking like youíre waiting for a bus, or even worse, looking annoyed that youíve not been called out, remember you are on stage, and from the moment you step on it to the moment you leave you are being judged!

Karen Mason
WNBF Pro Bodybuilder and Personal Trainer