Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Lost Art

At one time or another, all competitors have struck a pose and flexed in front of a public mirror. Whether it was in a fitting room, a public restroom, the mirror and picture frame aisle at Target, or the windows of a storefront when the sun hit it just right, we all have a slightly neurotic tendency to check out our progress whenever possible. Luckily, I've never been caught doing an ab check in the bathroom at work, but just last week, my brother asked if I pose in everything single picture taken of me. The answer is yes. I can't NOT pose whenever a camera lens points my way!

Posing isn't a vain or arrogant thing to do. On the contrary, it's not on a good indicator of progress, it's a lost art. If we are sculptors, our bodies are our canvas, and posing is how we display our work of art.

One of the main scoring rounds for bodybuilding is the posing routine. Judging is determined by a series of 6-8 mandatory poses that emphasis different areas of the body. Bodybuilders generally have 60-90 seconds to pose and show off their physiques in their most flattering poses. This is where those who can pose well have an advantage.

I learned how to pose from Tanji Johnson, IFBB Fitness Pro, back in early 2006 - before I competed in my first show. She flew into the small town in Montana where I lived and held a full day posing and competition workshop for 5-6 of us would-be competitors. It was one of the best investments I've made. Not only did she provide information about competitions, Tanji also talked about hair, makeup, nails, suits, and judging criteria. The most important part of the day, though, was posing.

Tanji is known for her ability to look natural and comfortable on stage, while showing her body off in the most flattering poses. Despite my lack of lats, she taught me how to do a lat flare (or front relaxed pose). She walked us through quarter turn transitions and gave feedback on how we should each angle our bodies to highlight strengths or hide weaknesses.

In the weeks following the workshop leading up to my first show, I practiced, practiced, practiced. When I walked on stage that sunny Spring day in Washington, my body knew just what to do.

Emerald Cup 2006: My first show
Over the years, I've tweaked a few poses, angled my body differently as I've changed and added muscle. I still practice posing a lot, especially in the weeks leading up to a show. When I'm on stage, I want to feel comfortable, relaxed, and confident. I don't want to have to worry about my posing; it should feel natural at that point.

2010 Arnold Amateur
In the next 15 weeks leading up to my show, you can bet I'll be hitting some poses every single day. Hopefully no one catches me hitting a model pose in the restroom mirror at work!

For all you competitors, how often do you practice posing? Have you taken any posing workshops?


  1. I ordered Tanji's dvd, and I agree she is great! I am so happy I found her dvd, and have learned so much from her already. The step by step instructions are so easy to follow.

    Another great post Kari. I learn a lot from you too! :-)

  2. Barbara (@6PakGirl)March 14, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    I agree 100% - Posing is key! Over the years I've taken posing workshops and private posing lessons with IFBB pros Nicole Wilkins, Gina Aliotti, MaryJo Cooke Elliott and Nancy Georges. I start focused practice sessions everyday once I'm about 8 weeks out. I continue to learn and tweak as my muscles mature and grow. I don't think one can ever over-practice this important component of our sport.

    Great post, Kari.