NPC Bikini Posing: The Basics

Proper posing is such a fundamental part of stage presentation.  You want to find a posing routine that highlights your physique’s strengths, downplays its weaknesses, while conveying grace, poise, and a nice dose of stage presence.  You have to smile and control your facial expressions as you contort yourself into unnatural ways of holding yourself.  It’s difficult!  I can work up a good sweat during a posing session, and often, it leaves my lower back aching and my hips tight.

NPC Bikini posing consists of two parts – the front pose and the back pose.  You also have your solo presentation as well as the comparison round. For the solo presentation, you go on stage alone when your number is called. When you get to the center of the stage, you have ten seconds to hit your front pose, transition to your back pose, and finally transition back into your front pose before walking to the side of the stage.  While you only have 10-15 seconds, you still need to hit and hold your poses, allowing the judges to actually judge your physique as you stand still.

During the comparison round, they call out 5-6 girls to a line in the middle of the stage. If you’re in the first group, you’re in “the first call-outs” and most likely in the running for Top 5. The judges will rearrange you to figure out your placing; the closer the judges put you to the center of the stage, the better you have placed. You may be doing your routine over and over, as they flip you from the front, to the back, to the front, and then to the back again, for a period of 5-10 minutes as they try and determine rankings. You could be holding either your front or back pose for a significant amount of time. To some degree, the comparison round is a test of endurance – for the whole time, can you keep your glutes high and tight, your poses perfect, your smile bright?  The judges are looking for reasons to ‘ding’ you – don’t give them any!

It is important to find a posing coach – either in-person or online – that can optimize your posing routine that suits you, both your personality and physique.  It takes a significant amount of time and money if you’re learning how to pose for your first competition – once or twice a week for 12-14 weeks at ~$50-65/hr.  If you’re spending the money, you want to be sure that you’re getting the most you can out of these sessions.  Check out the posing coach’s Instagram account and ask for videos of previous and current clients.

Yes, it’s hard to be creative with bikini posing – there are only so many variations of front poses that you can do – but – if the coach puts every single competitor is in the same exact pose, and they look uncomfortable and awkward, run.  Use your aesthetic judgment – the poses should only feel awkward, not look awkward!  Don’t get me wrong, the general ‘stances’ are the same, but each person will have a slightly different way of placing their feet/twisting their hips.

The three variations of front poses (Courtney King, Angelica Teixeira, India Paulino):

Regardless of how the feet are positioned, the general principles here are: keep the shoulders forward and point your belly button angled to the side of the stage.


Main take-away here: anteriorly tilted hip (booty up), twisted torso to exaggerate a small waist and wide shoulders (stand sideways and push your back shoulder out).  Notice how making that back arm visible helps with creating the illusion of wider shoulders.

Back poses:

Main take-away:  glutes high and lower back arches to make the hamstrings pop, hand placement on thighs so the shoulders appear wide again (no retraction/pulling-in of shoulder blades). Standing straight up, not leaning forward.  I cannot repeat this enough – don’t bend over!  While bending over does make your glute-ham tie in pop, it also widens your glutes in a very unflattering way.  You also run the risk of having a very unfortunate wardrobe malfunction as the judges are positioned below you.  (A better solution for getting that glute-ham tie in is prepping for a longer time.  That’s dependent on conditioning, not muscular development.)

These women all have different builds, and they’ve all found front, transition, and back poses that enhance the visual effect of having broad shoulders, a small narrow waist, and full glutes.  During these poses, they also move with intention, demanding the judges’ attention.  Check out India Paulino’s posing from the Olympia 2016 – sassy and fierce as hell:

If you can’t afford a posing coach, all is not lost!  There are many resources out there for those of you going at it alone.  What is key is that 1) you practice in front of a large mirror until you’ve ‘found’ your poses, and 2) you practice without a mirror, recording each posing run-through, reviewing, and tweaking.  The earlier you start, the better.  You may also find that you have to tweak your positioning as your body changes, and that’s perfectly normal.  Practice until it’s perfect and you can hit all of your poses without looking.  Practice the transitions so that your movements flow, and it doesn’t look like you’re just moving from pose to pose.  Move slowly and with intention – if your arms feel like they’re flailing around, slow it way down and keep your upper arms down by your sides during transitions.

I found these videos to be incredibly helpful when coming up with my own posing:

And now, watch Tawna Eubanks-McCoy put it all together:

This is your time to shine on stage.  You’ve worked your butt off for months; you deserve to play a little bit!  Let go of the nervousness and stress related to posing, and try and have fun.  Pick a persona, a hype up song, something to help you bring that wow-factor.  I personally listen to CL’s Baddest Female backstage, dancing and getting myself into the right headspace.

What pump-up routines do you have before stepping on stage?  Do you have any other tips and tricks for posing?  Let me know in the comments below!

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