Women’s Contest Posing – Part 1: Bikini



So, you’ve decided you want to compete in a bikini bodybuilding competition. It’s more than just working out and watching your diet. Competing in a show is bringing a total package to the stage. Yes, your physique does matter, but in the NPC, approximately half of your score is presentation, which includes suit, tan, makeup, and most importantly, posing.

Let’s discuss the mandatory bikini poses, how they work, and how you can perfect and tailor them to your liking to showcase your physique in the best way possible on show day.

What the Judges Are Looking For – The “Perfect” Bikini Body

While bodybuilding is very much a subjective sport, most agree on the general ‘look’ judges are going for in the ideal bikini competitor. The bikini look is curvy and feminine, with just the right amount of muscularity and leanness. The bikini girl is not typically striated or exceedingly vascular. She also has the “hourglass” shape.

The three main focal points of a bikini competitor are her full-rounded glutes, her small waist, and her toned (but not overly-hard or muscular) quads, and shoulders. The ideal bikini competitor will be balanced overall, not showing disproportion in one muscle group over the other.

Front Pose

Bikini posing is all about creating the illusion of a “perfect” bikini physique. In the front pose, your small waist is usually the star of the show. While most are not blessed with a naturally small waist, the beauty of the front pose is that it allows you to give the illusion of a smaller waist, with virtually no effort, just by twisting your hip.

The two variations of the front pose are hip-forward, or hip-back, and smart hand and leg placement will highlight long, lean muscles.

Karen Yoakum Bikini Pose - Front Hip Forward

With hip-forward, you are shifting your weight to one side and popping one side of your hip as far forward as you can, twisting your waist at the same time to make your waist appear as small as possible. The hip-forward pose is great for girls with a lot of definition in the glutes as this side twist offers up the perfect profile of that rounded glute. Your arm will rest on whichever side where your hip is facing back.

Karen Yoakum Bikini Pose - Front Hip Back

With hip-back, put all of your weight on one foot while twisting your waist on the opposite foot towards the back – as far as it will go. Your arm is resting on the hip facing the back. This is a good general front pose for all body types.

In both variations, both shoulders are facing the judges. This is crucial, as squared shoulders will make your twisted waist appear even smaller.

Back Pose

They say that bikini shows are won from the back – and with good reason. Most will agree that high, round, full glutes with distinct separation in the glute to hamstring tie-in will almost certainly assure a good placing.

Karen Yoakum Bikini Pose - Back Legs Apart
Karen Yoakum Bikini Pose - Back Legs Straight
Karen Yoakum Bikini Pose - Back Legs Crossed

Back pose can be wide-stance,the most universally flattering, close-stance, which is also universally flattering, or crossed-stance, which is best for girls with lean legs. Whichever stance you choose, your back is arched (if your lower back doesn’t ache, then you aren’t arching it enough), your chest is high, and your toes are slightly pointed outwards. Pressing the balls of your feet into the floor will make your calves pop, and a very slight, almost imperceptible, bend in the knees will bring out your hamstrings and tie-in.


Just as important as hitting the mandatory front and back pose, the side (transition) poses ensure flow and symmetry to your overall routine, showcasing your physique in the most flattering way possible. There is no preference for the direction you turn in from front to back and front again, but it should be what feels the most natural and comfortable to you. Never, ever, drop your butt in the transitions. This is a mistake a lot of bikini competitors make. Always be conscious of keeping your chest up, your head high, and your stomach tight. Do not flail your arms, take too many steps, or wildly whip your hair around as it all distracts from your physique. And don’t forget to always smile!

Know Your Angles

Not every variation of every pose will work for every woman. The trick is to practice every possible version of the mandatory poses, and get expert opinions on what angle works best for your body. When practicing, film yourself at an angle like that of where the judges would sit. This is the best way to see your poses in action, exactly as the judges will see you.

Practice, Practice, Practice

In competing, confidence is key. The more you practice, the more streamlined and easy your routine will become. The easier it is for you to pose, the less you are thinking of your steps, and the most your personality will have a chance to shine through.