Unless you are one of the few bodybuilders who maintain around 7% bodyfat all year round, you should be prepared to diet, and diet for many weeks. Along with this dieting, you should be prepared for much cardio.
Learning how to pose and to pose correctly is a must. For those of you who have been to a bodybuilding show and watched someone pose that had no clue what they were doing, is a definite eyesore, but you have to give them credit for competing, especially if their body is in good shape. As a beginner, you should learn all of the mandatory poses. These include: Front Double Bicep, Front Lat Spread, Side Chest, Side Tricep, Front Abdominal-Thigh Isolation, Rear Double Bicep, and Rear Lat Spread. You should also learn a Most Muscular, and a Hands-on-Hips Abdominals.
There are countless others, but to start out with, these will suffice. You have many choices when learning how to pose. There are many videos that you can get from Bodybuilding.com, there are many articles on Bodybuilding.com, as well as in magazines, books and videos!
You could also have someone teach you how to do all of the poses. Either way, you can learn how to do the poses with practice, and with practice only. Now then, you should practice holding each pose for extended periods of time every day. This means somewhere around 30 minutes a day, every day, for at least the last couple of weeks before the show. Once you feel comfortable doing all of these poses, feel free to add "custom" poses that show off your strong points.
The "Relaxed" Pose. Sounds easy...Wrong. You can learn this pose on the videos too and is very important in the comparison rounds. You also need to practice "strutting" on and off stage, and executing your quarter turns. Many of these things seem like small details, but any judge can pick up even the slightest thing off. Remember to turn the right way, it's always a quarter turn to the right, and when you hear the judge continually repeat, "Your other right...Your other right...Your other right", then maybe you should look and see if it is you. Something important to remember when executing quarter turns is to appear as big as possible from each angle. This means spreading lats out as wide as possible when facing the front and rear and pulling your shoulders back when showing either side.
Posing routines are important, very, very important. For the bigger shows, you will need to develop a 60 second routine, and a 90 second routine set to music. Posing routines are so important because it allows you to show the judges your best muscle groups.
| Watch Mark Tilden's Posing Guides!
Click here to learn all the mandatory poses!
You should work on your tan. If it is the summertime or you are fortunate enough to live in a very warm climate, you should take advantage of it. Having a good, deep, even tan is very helpful. But don't worry, if you can't lay out in the sun, maybe you can get into a tanning bed a couple times a week leading up to the show. If you can't get real sun, or "Electric Sun", you can always revert to the widely used artificial tanners.
Personally, I have only used Jan Sport and Pro Tan, and Pro Tan was much easier to apply evenly, was a nicer color, and didn't come off onstage with sweat and oil. Artificial Tanners should be applied more than once. Personally, I like to do one application the night before the show and one in the morning, before pre-judging. Get your tanning products here!
You will also obviously need to oil up well both before the pre-judging and the evening shows. I've seen many different oils, which include: vegetable oil, sprayable cooking oil, posing oils such as Jan Tana, and this one stuff I used once called red-hot or something, but all that it did was turn my skin bright red and mad it burn (must've been an allergic reaction [definitely not what you want for a show.]) When applying, you should put just enough on for a small shine; you don't want to blind the judges with your "bling bling" skin. Get your oil products here!
In preparation for my next bodybuilding competition, I have acquired an awesome training partner by the name of Chad McMullin. Chad is very motivational and knows commitment and how to endure. He has changed my routine around and we work out as hard or harder than I ever had and it is awesome! I have been gaining a lot of muscle and good, solid weight. I have also been getting much stronger. He plans on doing the next bodybuilding show with me and that will also help me a lot. So, my preparation right now includes working out like a madman and constantly eating like, well, I guess a bodybuilder.