How To Win Your Next ICN Competition

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Thanks to ICN judge and natural bodybuilding champion, Bridget Freeman for providing us with this blog. Need some help in setting yourself up for success this season? Read on.

Bridget has obtained her INBA/PNBA Pro Card and also judges ICN competitions. Below she offers some great tips on how to improve your look and aura on stage.

She has based these constructive tips off observations she has made during her time judging, which she believes competitors often overlook.

Bridget's 7 winning tips

1. Make sure you enter the right division for your body

There are plenty of examples of people who could have won or placed top three if they had been in the correct division, but as it was they were unplaced.

There are many, many opportunities for you to receive advice on which division would suit you best, whether it be at posing clinics, comparing yourself to the example photos provided by the federation you are competing in, or contacting a well known person in the organization and sending them your photo and asking for their advice.

You could also use these options when you are trying to decide if you are lean enough leading in to comp day.

2. Be a perfectionist with your choice of bikini or suit

There are plenty of different cuts and colours to choose from.

Don’t just pick a colour because you like it, pick one that will stand out on stage and that complements your colouring.

Personally I don’t really like red or dark pink on stage as they tend to blend into your tan too much.  Have a look at lots of different line ups and see which colours stand out the most and suit girls with the same colouring as you.

I also don’t particularly like asymmetrical bikini bottoms, where one side is different to the other – A lot of what you are judged on is symmetry and this can look a bit unbalanced.

Black doesn’t stand out much either for girls, although it is fine for guys.  Girls, think about the cut of the bottoms at the back as well – some can be too straight across, a dip down at the back is best.

Different federations have different rules about how skimpy the backs can be; be sure to check the rules of your federation before ordering and also think about which amount of ‘cheek’ coverage suits your physique best.

Accessories also matter – Let them enhance, not overpower your physique.

3. Make sure your tan is dark enough

In most divisions, particularly Figure and Bodybuilding, it is very hard to have a tan that is too dark!

A deep, dark tan is a must to show off all your hard earned muscle and one that is too light detracts from your overall appearance and can cost you placings.

If you aren’t sure whether or not your tan is dark enough, it probably isn’t dark enough!

Seek feedback from supporters in the audience, check out the divisions before yours and see how the lights are effecting the tans and compare yours to others in your division.

If you are in multiple divisions, you could pop another coat on backstage before your next showing if required.

On a side note for guys – Faces also need to have smooth and even tan application. I have seen a few faces that have been very patchy or had obvious hand prints. Also don't forget your ears.

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4. Practice posing

You can never practice posing too much.

I know you are probably told it over and over again and became sick of hearing it, but you must practice your posing consistently and from a long time out, no matter how tired you are, how good you think you are or how much you hate it.

The art of presenting yourself in the best light takes time, effort, practice and more practice.

Different federations have different required poses and T-walks so be sure you are practicing the correct poses and walks for the federation you will be competing in.

You need to find the best way to pose to highlight your strong points and minimize your weak points, personalize it, don’t just copy someone else.

Your posing needs to look smooth and confident, not stressed or strained, hands should be relaxed, not claws, you need to work on your mind/muscle connection so you can bring out every one of your muscles as much as possible, and you need to look relaxed and happy the whole time, whilst constantly flexing, even in the ‘relaxed’ pose.

Don’t forget how important your transitions between poses are, and your walk as well!  Posing training is hard work, and apart from giving you confidence on stage it can also enhance your muscle separation and density, so if you are struggling to find the time to practice then think of it as part of your training, just as important as every other exercise you do in the gym.

There are a lot of people at comps who shake very noticeably on stage and of course some of this is nerves but a lot of it is from not having practiced holding poses long enough and therefore the muscles fatiguing.

5. Don't forget to smile

What a difference smiling made to people’s overall presentation!

You need to practice smiling when you practice your posing. It most likely won’t just happen on stage without you thinking about it, it needs to be worked on!  And don’t look down.

6. Be confident, not arrogant

Yes in the pose down put your personality out there and seek the front and centre position. Even go head to head with a rival if that is your style, but in line ups and comparison posing have some respect for your fellow competitors and don’t pose in front of them, knock them or try and put them off.

Especially girls in bikini and fitness model where there is a line at the back waiting while an individual competitor does their T-walk. Every one of you will have your special moment to shine and show off all your hard work, so show respect and don’t constantly be seeking to distract the judges from the person on the T-walk by excessive movement and attention seeking.

When it is your turn, take your time, don’t rush – This is your time to shine.

7. Don't be a diva backstage

Although this doesn’t actually apply to the stage, don’t be a diva backstage either.

Everyone working backstage is a volunteer and is giving up their precious time to help you.  And your fellow athletes are just that, fellow athletes deserving of respect and consideration.

You could well make friends for life backstage and it can certainly be one of the most fun and memorable parts of competing to share in the experience with like-minded people.

So relax as much as you can, take a positive friendly attitude with you, grab heaps of photos and enjoy the ride as much as possible!

Best of luck!

I hope these tips help out at future competitions!

No matter whether you place or not, or where you place, competing can be a truly amazing experience and all you need to be is your best and remember that you have accomplished something that very few people can.