Some Posing Tips From Mike Mentzer

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A friend of mine is preparing to enter a bodybuilding/figure competition in a few months and has been looking for posing advice.

Surprisingly, there isn’t that much information out there.

Sure, you can find lots of books on building muscle and losing fat, but when it comes to what to do on stage you’re just supposed to figure it out on your own.

Luckily I just found some good tips in Mike Mentzer’s book High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way.

Mike Mentzer became a professional bodybuilder after winning the 1978 Mr. Universe competition (with a perfect score!).

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Mentzer stresses that you have to devote time and energy to your posing and presentation practice, otherwise you might lose to someone who is not in as tight of condition, but is better at presenting themselves on stage.

Here are 11 of his bodybuilding posing tips, paraphrased and added to by me :)

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #1: Relax

Find a quiet and distraction-fee area to practice so you can relax and focus on your posing practice.

This might mean setting up your own posing training area at home or using an aerobics room at your gym when there isn’t a class.  The weight room and the locker room aren’t ideal because of all the constant distractions.

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #2: Practice At Least 3x A Week

Mentzer recommends at least three 30 minutes posing practice sessions a week – and increasing the frequency as you get closer to a competition.

Not only does practice make perfect, posing is a workout itself and will lead to better muscle control, muscle density, and increased vascularity.

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Bodybuilding Posing Tip #3: Love The Mirror

Spend more quality time in front of the mirror.  It is a huge asset when assessing your physique and practicing presenting yourself.

In Mentzer’s own words: “Practicing the technical aspects of posing and analyzing the details of his appearance are extremely important to the competitive bodybuilder.”

If you’re self-conscious in front of the mirror, you’re going to be self-conscious on stage.

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #4: Don’t Rely On The Mirror

Some physique athletes become mirror-dependent: They can’t pose without a mirror giving them feedback.  You need to practice and develop the body awareness necessary to hit your best poses on stage.

Have your coach (if you don’t have a coach find an objective friend who is familiar with bodybuilding) watch your routine and offer constructive criticism and advice.

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Practicing away from the mirror will give you confidence during competition and improve your routine until it becomes second nature.  Plus, having another set of eyes will help you to correct any of the mistakes you may have overlooked while practicing alone.

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #5: Get Pictures And Video

Having photos of your poses will enable you to evaluate your progress as well as analyze each pose for technical details.

Video is the next level of posing evaluation.  You can have your routine and poses filmed, then immediately watch yourself and make course corrections.  This is a great tool for eliminating hesitation in your routine (you might not feel it when you do it, but you can sure see it on video!) and grooving everything until it is second nature.

Use both photos and videos to correct your mistakes before they become habits.

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #6: Evolve Your Poses And Routine

Mentzer says to “Experiment and alter your posing routine from contest to contest.  As your physique and competitive nature evolve, so should your posing routine.  Years of practice, experience, and experimentation are necessary before you can hope to express yourself maturely and fully through posing.”

Watch videos of both your competitions and other contests as well – what works, what doesn’t?  What are other physique athletes doing?

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Bodybuilding Posing Tip #7:  Talk With Your Body

Since you can’t talk with your mouth while you’re onstage, you must learn how to communicate to the judges and audience using only your body.

You begin communication to your audience as soon as you appear onstage, so be sure to work on presenting a confident stage presence.  Any hesitation, nervousness, uncertainty, or self-consciousness will cause you to appear weak and will detract from your score.

"If you are in your best possible condition and have done your posing homework, you should appear proud, confident, and happy" - Mike Mentzer

“If you are in your best possible condition and have done your posing homework, you should appear proud, confident, and happy” – Mike Mentzer

(As an interesting idea, lots of actors practice moving on stage while wearing plain white full-face masks, so they stop relying on their face for the whole of their expressiveness.  I think this would be an interesting idea for bodybuilders to try when practicing in front of a video camera.  How confident and happy do you appear relying just on your posing, not on your face?)

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #8: Overall Appearance

Judging a bodybuilding physique is as intense as judging a horse or dog show – no details escape scrutiny.

Make sure that your skin texture, body hair, grooming, attire, and posture all present the image you want to project.

Now you can get specialists in physique competition tanning to give you a spray tan that is completely even – and have your oil put on as evenly as possible.

Make sure to take care of your overall appearance!

Make sure to take care of your overall appearance!

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #9: Take Care Of Your Skin And Hair

Make sure to keep yourself clean to take care of your skin – though hot water and harsh soaps may dry and irritate.  Take warm showers with mild, natural soap.

And get a haircut to suit your head and physique.  Wide haircuts make your head appear larger, which makes your shoulders look narrower.  Why do you think so many bodybuilders have shaved heads?  To make their shoulders look wider!

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #10:  Take Care Of Your Face And Teeth

Beards almost always distract from a face.  Unibrows too, should be eliminated.  Mustaches may help certain faces (Just look at Sam Elliot or Tom Selleck without a mustache).

Keep your teeth clean and white – get professional cleaning and whitening.  For higher level competitions, every little bit helps, so get braces and bonding if your teeth need help.

Bodybuilding Posing Tip #11: Suit Selection

Either find the right trunks or get them custom made – don’t waste all your effort training, dieting, and posing by shwing up in a suit that doesn’t maximize your appearance.

If you have a long torso, your shorts should ride higher on your waist.

If you have a short torso, your suit should be cut lower.

If your thighs are short, get a suit cut high on the sides.

If you have long legs, the legs of your suit can be cut lower.

Get a suit that works with your competition skin color.

I hope these tips help you whether you’re preparing for a local show at your gym or are aiming for the NPC, IFBB, or WBFF… Best of luck with your physique career!


One Response to “Some Posing Tips From Mike Mentzer”

  1. A Physique Athlete’s Guide To Using The Mirror For Posing Practice | Wold Fitness Notebook Says:

    […] For all sorts of reasons, many physique athletes find it hard to face a mirror while checking out their bodies or practicing their posing. […]