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Tactics for prejudging, finals and posedowns

By John Hansen

Strategy and Tactics for Posedown

All the competitors in your class will be backstage after everyone has finished their routines. The emcee will announce the top-five competitors in the class, and the expeditor will make sure that the correct competitors go back onstage. Most promoters bring the top five onstage in order for a posedown. Sometimes, however, a promoter skips the posedown and announces the top-five places while the competitors are standing offstage.

The posedown is one of the most exciting parts of a bodybuilding contest. In a nonphysical sport such as bodybuilding, this is as physical and competitive as it gets. In the posedown, all five finalists hit their best poses to show off their physiques. Often bodybuilders move around the stage or step in front of other competitors. One may even challenge another competitor, following him around and copying him pose for pose.

There are different viewpoints on how you should conduct yourself during a posedown. Bodybuilders such as Frank Zane and Chris Dickerson believe it is a mistake to follow other competitors around the stage, challenging them to different poses. They believe the best strategy is to stay in one place, hit your own poses, and let the other bodybuilders come to you. Other bodybuilders, such as Mike Quinn, believe in moving around the stage openly challenging other bodybuilders. The audience loves this and often cheers for their favorites.

I follow Zane and Dickerson’s advice. I do my own poses and don’t follow anyone else around the stage. However, I do move around and let other bodybuilders follow me. This gives the audience and judges the impression that you are the leader and the other competitors are following your lead. If another bodybuilder attempts to copy the poses I am doing, I may match him and make a show of it for the audience, or I may start posing faster in an attempt to screw him up. This is a strategy that Arnold Schwarzenegger used against Lou Ferrigno at the 1975 Mr. Olympia posedown.

Sometimes, the pushing and shoving at a posedown can get out of hand. This can be dangerous because you have a bunch of depleted, hungry bodybuilders who may feel edgy and aggressive. I’ve never seen a fistfight, but it’s always a possibility. I once pushed a competitor who kept shoving his arm into my face. I quickly regained my composure after I pushed him away, but I almost lost it for a second. However, most of the jostling is in good fun, and the audience gets into it. As a competitor, it’s good to act aggressive and have fun, but always keep the reaction of the other competitor in mind before you start pushing someone around onstage.

No matter how long a posedown lasts, never stop posing while you are onstage. You don’t want to look like a quitter or someone who isn’t hungry for the title. Although this part of the finals is not judged, the judges are still watching you. Even if you don’t win your class that evening, there will be other contests, and if the same judges are doing the honors, you want them to remember you favorably. Act like a winner every second you are onstage.

After the posedown, the emcee announces the final placings, beginning with fifth place. If you have made it this far, congratulations! No matter what place you end up with, act like a true sportsman onstage. Again, the judges and audience are watching your every move. If you place lower than you think you should have, you will be the bigger man or woman if you act with dignity and grace. Even if the judging was flawed, you will only make things worse by acting up onstage, throwing a tantrum, or being a bad sport.

Bodybuilding judging is subjective. Sometimes, as a competitor, you may feel that there is a conspiracy against you, but believe me, there isn’t. Chances are, you were not quite as good as you or your friends thought you were. Another possibility is that you did not present your physique as well as some of the other competitors did. Often, bodybuilders could have placed higher if they had been darker, posed better, or used more (or less) oil. There will be other contests, so don’t ruin your reputation by creating a bad image onstage when your place is announced.

There is also the possibility, of course, that you will win the contest! For a natural competitive bodybuilder, there is no better feeling than winning a contest against your peers through training intensely, eating correctly, and presenting yourself well. When you get to the winner’s platform, you will vividly recall the difficult workouts, the deprivation of the diet, and the conquest of your weak areas that brought you to this point. You did it, not the steroids, the diuretics, or the growth hormone, only you! This is what the sport of bodybuilding is all about, and you should be proud to be a winner.

This is an excerpt from Natural Bodybuilding.

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