Women’s Contest Posing – Part 2: Figure



Welcome to part 2 of our contest posing series. As a refresher, we have previously spent some time on tips, tricks, and the required poses for the NPC bikini division. A huge part of your overall score is presentation, with posing being one of the most important elements to your presentation score.

Let’s now go ahead and discuss the mandatory figure poses, what they highlight, and how you can make them work for your physique.

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

If bikini is the softest division, then figure would be one step up in the direction of muscularity and level of leanness. The figure competitor is ideally shaped like an “X”, meaning she has full, rounded shoulders, a dramatically tapered back (prominent lats and well developed upper back muscles), a small waist, and shapely glutes and quads. In terms of muscularity, she has visible muscle separation, but minimally visible striations. Figure woman are leaner than bikini competitors, and are generally in the 8-12% body fat range.

The Quarter Turn

One of the biggest differences between the Bikini and Figure posing routine is that it is divided into four phases – or quarter turns. Competitors showcase front pose, left side pose, back pose, and right side pose, before returning back to front pose. While the bikini transition is fluid and smooth, the figure transition from one quarter turn to the next is sharper, crisper, and of course designed to showcase the individual’s figure physique.

Front Pose:

Figure Front Pose Karen Yoakum

In the front pose, a figure competitor is showcasing that “x” shape that we were referring to earlier. Lats are flared, shoulders are up and flexed, and arms are bent slightly at the elbow and pushed out to the side. Your hands should fall about 4-6” from your hips. Feet and legs are held close together, knees are bent very slightly, hips are bent slightly back, and toes are slightly turned out to highlight quad sweep.

Left Side Pose:

Figure Left Side Arm on Hip Pose Karen Yoakum

In left side pose, your upper body is twisted very slightly towards the left, to make the waist appear smaller. Your front arm – the left arm – is relaxed and behind you, elbow is bent softly, and your lower arm is relaxed. Shoulder is flexed, and back arm is typically slightly in front of you and relaxed. Abs are held tight and together, and legs are flexed with feet together, slightly turned out so as to once again highlight quad sweep. Glutes are as high as possible. .

Back Pose:

Figure Back Pose Karen Yoakum

Figure back pose is one of the most difficult to master. In this, your legs and feet are held together, glutes are flexed, calves are flexed, and toes are pointing slightly outward. Arms are to the side, shoulders are once again flexed and held back, slightly. Most importantly, you are flaring your lats so as to make your back appear as wide as possible. The trick is to look as much like the letter “V” has possible. Arching your lower back slightly helps the v taper, as well.

Right Side Pose:

Figure Right Side Arm on Hip Karen Yoakum
Figure Right Side Arm Forward Karen Yoakum

The right side pose mirrors the left side pose, only obviously reversed.

Transitioning Through the Quarter Turns:

The easiest way to transition smoothly from one quarter turn to the next is to step and turn your right foot, repeat the step and turn with your left foot, and then immediately hit your desired pose. Flailing arms and legs distract the judges, and make your transition less fluid. Practice your transitions until they become second nature, and you’ll be able to hit your poses that much faster.

As with any other division, confidence is key. Hit your poses, keep your head held high, and don’t forget to smile. Practice your posing as much as possible, and you’re sure to showcase your best on that figure stage.