It Takes More Than Guts and Muscle To Step On The Bodybuilding Stage

Scott Tousignant, BHK, is with us again this week to share his knowledge and experience in prepping for a show.

Scott Tousignant is a Certified Fitness Consultant and Elite Natural Bodybuilder with the UFE. Scott specializes in helping regular guys get ripped abs insanely fast. With his careful attention to the finer details, you’ll carve out a rock hard and jacked physique in no time flat! When Scott needs to urgently strip away stubborn sacks of fat for a photo shoot or bodybuilding contest, he turns to his time-tested proven system… Elite Physique.

Now you too, can follow his easy-to-follow system to finally uncover your ripped abs and chiseled body! Get the full details by visiting Elite Physique today! ~Vince

Most rookie bodybuilding competitors are shocked at everything that’s involved in prepping for a show. Getting shredded and jacked is only a piece of the puzzle. The purpose of this article is to provide you with a detailed outline of what to expect leading up to your event and on competition day… so you can avoid any surprises along the way.

How you present your physique is EVERYTHING! Here’s 7 winning tips for developing a captivating stage presence to dominate your competition.

1. Posing Practice

Your first task… educate yourself on the mandatory poses. You may find variations between contest federations, but here are the standard poses for you to master;quadshammiesnew

  • Front Relaxed
  • Front Double Biceps
  • Front Lat Spread
  • Side Chest
  • Back Relaxed
  • Back Double Biceps
  • Back Lat Spread
  • Side Triceps
  • Abdominals and Quads
  • Most Muscular


The mandatory poses are done during the morning pre-judging. This is very structured and all business. During the evening show they will call you out and ask you to do a few of the poses and a final pose down… which is a riot!

It’s crucial to begin practicing these poses from the moment you make the decision to compete. Most guys are shocked at just how challenging it is to hold a pose. It’s a workout in itself. It’s common to cramp up during your first few practice sessions and you can expect your muscles to tremble and shake within seconds.

You will be shocked at the lack of control you have over your muscles. Getting your lats to ‘flare out’ to the max is an education in itself. Even if you think you have a great mind-muscle connection during your workouts, you are in for a shock when you begin to pose. I find most guys lack shoulder flexibility and mobility, which will have a severe negative impact on the presentation of your physique.

If this is an area that you struggle with, be sure to add these exercises to your daily workouts…

If the contest is more than 8 weeks away, begin with 10 minutes of practice each day. As you get closer to the contest you should bump up your posing practice to 20-30 minutes most days and even longer on occasion.

It’s ok to practice in front of a mirror in the beginning… but the sooner you can ween yourself away from it, the better.

The best advice I received from an experienced competitor was to practice as if I was on stage from the very start. You don’t want to create bad habits. With every practice round, see the judges and crowd in front of you.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, which worked wonders for me…

Pull up a variety of YouTube videos where the judges are calling out the mandatory poses and pretend that you are on stage with these competitors. As the judge calls out “Front Lat Spread”… strike the pose with confidence and hold it until the judge calls out the next pose.

Some judges call out the poses at a rapid pace, while others will have you hold a pose for a very long time. You MUST be prepared for any type of call out… and any order.

If the federation you plan on competing with uses the same MC to call out the poses for every event, be sure to look for YouTube videos and pay attention to their tempo.

I was fortunate enough to know two other bodybuilders who were competing around the same time as me. We would get together on the weekends and practice posing for 60 to 90 minutes.

We would pretend we were on stage competing against each other. As the YouTube video played and the judge asked competitors to switch positions with each other, we would do the same. This created a “realness” to the practice session. This one tip prepared me for competition more than anything else.

Record your practice sessions and play them back to see what areas you need to improve upon. If you know an experienced competitor, have them watch your video and critique your performance as well.

Even while practicing, smile with confidence. Make it look like it’s a cake walk, even though every ounce of your being is counting down the seconds until you can relax.

Posing is hard work. Do not under estimate it. On contest day you can definitely tell who put in the time and who’s flying by the seat of their pants.

2. Posing Routine

As you master the mandatory poses it’s time to begin putting together a 60-90 second posing routine to music. The posing routine is saved for the evening show.

Some federations don’t count your posing routine toward your overall score, while others do. The UFE (who I compete with), places 1/3 of the score on your routine. There are a few reasons I like this… a) It forces the competitors to put effort into their routine, which adds entertainment value for the audience, b) It adds an artistic element to bodybuilding… and I like to view bodybuilding as an art form and my body as a work of art… so this really resonates with me.

Win the crowd with your posing routine. Select music that fires them up. Get them involved by moving around the stage and engaging with them.

Incorporate some of the mandatory poses in your 60 second routine (especially the ones that highlight your strong points), and add in some auxiliary poses for entertainment value.

Now that you’ve mastered your posing, it’s time to think about your appearance on stage…

3. Posing Trunks

There’s nothing too complicated about selecting posing trunks. I recommend a solid dark color and I have a preference for velvet material. Try not to go for anything flashy, as it will only distract the judges and the audience from your physique.

The width of the waist band is one thing you should be concerned about. 3/4 inch waistband tends to look great on most guys, but if you have long legs a thicker waistband may look better on you.

4. Shaving

Don’t even think about stepping on stage with hair on your body. Be sure to use a shaving cream that is great for sensitive skin and use a new razor.

I recommend shaving 1-2 days before the competition, before you get your base tan.

Immediately after shaving I take a hot bath with some bath oil. This reduces any skin irritation and makes your skin nice and shiny… bringing out the details.

Once you dry off I highly recommend you apply some sort of gel that reduces shaving irritation. I was advised to use a product called Bikini Zone and it works absolute wonders.

5. Tanning

OPAWindsor2012ScottTousignant250You have two options; Either go with the tanning technicians recommended by the event organization (they are usually at the competitions host hotel the night prior to the event and their also backstage the morning of the event.) Or go with an a tanning technician outside of the event.

Be sure to look for technicians who use organic spray, which comes from food. The active ingredient should be DHA, which is derived from sugar cane.

The spray tanning is done manually and you have the option to go nude. Frankly, this caught me off guard a bit, but the experience has made me feel very comfortable in my own skin.

I highly recommend you avoid tan lines. You never know how your suit will shift around while you are posing.

In the weeks leading up to your event you should prepare your skin by exfoliating every day and applying lotion to your skin. I use exfoliating gloves that you can gently scrub your skin with in the shower. This helps get rid of the dead skin. I apply coconut oil to my skin on a daily basis leading up to the event. This will ensure the spray tan looks it’s absolute best.

You should get a base spray tan done the day before the contest. This is basically a ‘street tan, which looks like you went away to a tropical vacation for a week.

The morning of your contest you will need to get a VERY dark spray contest pro tan. This looks pretty freaky, but when you are on stage it looks like a normal tan. If you don’t go dark enough you run the risk of looking washed out on stage.

6. Posing Oil

Approximately 30 minutes before you go on stage you should lightly spray yourself with some posing oil and pat yourself down with a soft towel. I use CenterStage as my competition oil.

The oils really bring out the tan and help show off your contours. Once again DO NOT over do it with the oil. You only need a small amount. Too much oil and you will look completely washed out on stage… and you will blind the audience 😉

7. Pumping Up

The event co-ordinators are usually pretty good at giving you a heads up 10-20 minutes before they call you backstage. You’ll then have approximately 5-10 minutes before going on stage. I like to start my pump a little earlier if the weights are available and take my time pumping up.

Push-ups, Dumbbell Rows, Lateral Raises, Dips, and External Rotations are great exercises. I like to take my time cycling through them.

You do not want to exhaust yourself during this pump up. It’s draining enough when you are on stage. If you wear yourself down during the pump up you will run the risk of getting shaky on stage… and that is NOT good. You may even cramp up.

What To Expect Backstage

It’s usually a pretty friendly atmosphere backstage, depending on the organization. At first there’s some casual fun conversation as everyone sips their water, and shovels back their pre-competition snacks. You’ll see a lot of rice cakes and jam back stage 😉 Some guys will use supplements to bring out their vascularity and fill their muscles with glycogen.

Wear some lose, comfortable, clothing over your posing trunks. Sweat pants and a hoodie work great. You want to stay warm, but you don’t want to sweat and run the risk of your spray tan running on you.

Men and women have their own changing room with mirrors. In some cases there are separate rooms where the spray tanning and oil down take place, while in other cases there is a general open area where everyone can mingle and the spray tanning gets done.

As the time to go on stage approaches, it’s wise to put on the head phones, zone in, and focus on the task ahead of you. Psych yourself up and skyrocket your confidence. This is the moment you’ve been preparing for. It’s your time to shine.

What’s The Cost?

Yes it costs to participate in a bodybuilding event. Approximately $80 on average. Some federations require a yearly membership fee in addition to each event fee.

If it’s a natural bodybuilding competition there is usually a fee for drug testing as well… approximately $30.

There are additional costs if you want professional photos or video of your stage performance. In some cases there are professional fitness photographers set up backstage to capture photos if you are looking to build up a portfolio.

Posing trunks are fairly inexpensive for men. Approximately $20-30.

Spray Tanning and oil will run you approximately $150.

If you are competing out of town you will be looking at additional travel costs.

Final Words Of Advice…

Before competing yourself, I highly recommend you attend a live event for your federation of choice… both the pre-judging and the evening show. This will give you the best idea of what to expect when you’re ready to compete… and it will fire you up even more.

Competing in bodybuilding is the experience of a lifetime. Relax, have fun, and soak up the entire experience.

Sculpt a Masterpiece,

Scott Tousignant

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One thought on “It Takes More Than Guts and Muscle To Step On The Bodybuilding Stage

  1. Really enjoyed the article. Professional bodybuilding is not for me, but admire the sculpting that they can achieve. Love the fact this delves Into the completion backstage!

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