With the 2017 NSL competitive schedule in the books, it’s time to get down to business and start building your masterpiece physique for the 2018 competitive season. Truth be told, it’s the work you do now, in the off-season, that will have the greatest impact on what you put on stage next.
Like any great construction project, you will need a plan, and the very best plans begin with a fair and objective evaluation of the material you will be working with, your body, and how you present it on stage.
Constructive criticism from your NSL judges as well as your coach is invaluable information. But it’s not enough if your goal is to reach your full potential as an athlete. Learning how to objectively evaluate your own physique is the most empowering and useful tool in your arsenal as a physique athlete.
All athletes need validation for their hard work throughout the off-season and competitive season, so we tend to focus on our strengths. They progress more quickly than stubborn areas so they logically become the first thing we see in the mirror. They are also the things others will have a tendency to comment on the most and if we are honest, they are the things we train the hardest and enjoy training the most.
A good physique contest judge, however, looks at a competitor on stage differently than a competitor looks at themselves. They look for weak areas first, not strengths. A good judge methodically draws a line down the middle of an athletes body from head to toe, then another at the mid-point of your body from left to right. When the athlete turns around, they do the same with the athletes back, all the while identifying weak areas.
Judges use this method to evaluate whether the body is balanced, top to bottom, left to right, front to back. They look to see if the muscles flow into each other and if the muscle bellies are full and round. They evaluate whether or not the level of muscularity and conditioning is appropriate for the division the athlete is competing in. How you present your physique on stage is also very important. If you are not standing and presenting it properly, you will not display the best version of yourself.
The judges can only judge what they can see. They are looking for a complete package including physique, presentation, confidence, connection with the fans, walk, stance, suit, makeup, tan, hair, all of it. Athletes are then scored based on this information and how they compare with the other athletes on stage.
Most athletes limit their off-season and pre-contest thinking to gaining more muscle and improving their conditioning rather than thinking in terms of the overall package. Remember always that in the gym we are athletes but on stage we are entertainers first. Details matter to the judges far more than most athletes think.
When you learn to evaluate your physique and presentation, both static in the mirror or posing with a video camera, you too will begin to see the big picture as well as the impact that minor changes in your physique and presentation can make. Regular evaluation and knowing what you are looking at, then tending to those details, will make the biggest difference in how you present on stage and ultimately how you place.
Pro Tip: Video tape your posing practice. Watch the video once and using the method described above evaluate your physique by writing down what you see. Now watch the video three times in succession. You will see much more after watching it repeadedly than you did on the first pass. Doing this on a regular basis allows you to see if your training and nutrition plan is doing what you need it to do and you will see for yourself what you need to do to present yourself better on stage.
Judges, coaches, and respected professionals can give you an evaluation of what they see but it’s your body, and you should know it best. Learning how to evaluate your physique objectively gives you the most important tool you need as an athlete. That knowledge and skill will empower you with a clear vision of what needs to be done, an ability to regularly measure your progress, and ultimately improve how you will look the next time you step on stage and compete.