IFBB Bikini Posing Guide

Win Shows with my IFBB and NPC Posing Tutorial!

Bikini Competition Posing Guide

So you want to compete in a Bikini Competition? Great! You’ve done your research, picked an organization, given yourself plenty of time to prepare your body, maybe you have even hired a personal trainer. BUT, are you forgetting the most important part? The part of competing that could make or break you? Bikini Posing... Well, that's why I wrote this Bikini Competition Posing Guide.

"But I look fantastic", you say… of course you do, so does every other competitor that steps on that stage! You have got to set yourself apart from every other amazing physique. Not only by having better glutes (though it can’t hurt you) but through your stage presence. Posing is THE most important part of that day. It will put you at the top or at the very bottom.

Bikini Competition Judging Criteria

Let’s be real here, EVERYTHING matters when you are stepping on that stage. Yes your physique is important, but it's more about the entire package. And you need to know how to showcase all of your hard work. Every little detail matters! In my 8 years of competing in bikini competions, I’ve learned a lot about how to bring my best package to the stage. That doesn’t always mean I have the best physique, but knowing how to present what you’re bringing is a game changer!

What are bikini judges going to look for?

Balance and Shape

Balance and Shape: We all know how important it is to have balance in our life. This goes for mentally and physically. Competition prep is HARD, and it will take a toll on your mental state if you are not well balanced. Be prepared for this and warn your loved ones that there will be days that erratic behavior is just going to happen. I’ve been competing for 8 years. I am nowhere near sane. My insanity is my sanity. You may cry for no reason, on the treadmill, over commercials, or cookies, or because you just feel like it. That is ok. Where was I going with this? Oh yes…

Balance and Shape is crucial, and the judges will be looking at your physique to be sure that you are just that. You don’t want to have a tiny upper body and dominating quads, or vice versa. In the bikini category the judges are looking for a more “curvy” physique. Rounded shoulders. Nice full and round glutes and a small waist. This curvy look is attained with your posing. Being honest here, we aren’t all blessed with junk in the trunk. We don’t all have a teeny, tiny waist. Does that mean we can’t win? NO! I will go over more detail on how to give the appearance of a curvy physique, and tiny waist in the next section.


Bikini Posing: While there are no mandatory poses for us Bikini girls like the Figure Competitors there are poses that just look better. The key is finding the poses that look better for YOU. Just because Ashley Kaltwasser or India Paulino do it, does not mean you should do it. Find yourself a Posing Coach if you can. If you do not have an IFBB Pro in your area to learn from, look up some IFBB competitions on YouTube. Those will be some great insight as to what current poses are being used for the NPC and IFBB. IF you are doing a different organization such as the WBFF or NGA you will want to research as they require much different criteria and posing. It is important that you research this beforehand so that you don’t show up that day and get the news that everything you have been practicing is not allowed. YIKES!

Having someone who knows what the judges will be looking for will really help. Study the Venue; learn the side of the stage you will be entering in on. Nothing is more terrifying than showing up the morning of the show to surprises. Having been practicing your walk on from the wrong direction? Been there, done that! BE PREPARED for any outcome!

We all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to our bodies, and the best part about Bikini is that there are not mandatory poses. We really get to show off those strengths because we get to choose our poses. How lucky!!! Choose carefully. I have almost always done just the one pose. It is strong and it really shows off my strengths. My obliques and my glute. However, as I’ve leaned out more the other front pose has started looking better so I have begun to incorporate it into my routine. That is the fun part about training. The longer you do it and the leaner you get the more your body changes and the better your posing will start to look.


Poise: You know the saying “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Ever seen someone walk on stage and they look like they are miserable, terrified, or have never walked in heels a day in their life? Do you think they place well? PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!

You need to be able to walk out on that stage like you are the most confident woman in the world. You have worked SO hard. You have been training for at least 12 weeks if not longer. You have given up cereal for crying out loud (anyone?). I promise you when you walk out on that stage within those first few steps it is either game on or game over. That first impression is that important!


Complexion: Yes, your complexion is important. It is the entire package you are presenting. You are putting yourself on a stage to be judged so guess what? Be prepared to be judged. Don’t complain about it. Is it subjective? You bet! Does it suck? It can. It depends on how YOU decide to look at it. The way I see it is this. I want to look the best that I can each and every time I get on that stage. Prep your skin properly. I scrub with sugar (granulated) for the week before the show to exfoliate. I always break out because of stress. Yes, even at THIRTY SIX. Make up covers a lot and I always hire someone to do my makeup so that I look the best that I can. I don’t tan my face. It can make your skin look muddy and make-up artists can match your skin to your tan. You actually want your face to be a tad lighter than your body.

Skin Tone

Skin Tone: Your tan is SUPER important. I am VERY picky about who I tan with for shows (LSR!). Find a company that you trust, and that your skin tone works well with. Depending on your natural tone you may need more coats than other girls. Most tanning companies give you the option of doing 3 coats, or unlimited. If you are super pale you may need more than the 3. The tanning company should be able to tell you at your first appointment. DO NOT go get an airbrush tan at your local salon and think you can step on stage. The stage tan is WAY darker than you think. This is mandatory if you want to look your best under those bright lights and place well. I think that every show I have watched or competed in there are those girls who aren’t dark enough or try to do it themselves and end up with streaks or an uneven color. Do not risk having a bad tan!!!


Overall Presentation: Hands down, THE most important (aside from that first impression walk) is your presentation. Your posing routine is that 10 seconds you get to actually SHOW the judges your physique that you have worked so hard for. Make sure that you have a very polished, CLEAN routine. You do not have to have fancy transitions, or too much movement. Keep it simple, basic and SOLID. The cleaner it is the better. Too much movement is distracting. You don’t have to have five poses. Pick one or two that are amazing. Perfect them, and make sure they are unbeatable. Move less, and pose more. Too often you see girls moving more and posing less, especially during the comparison rounds. What does that mean exactly? Ever watched someone and they just can’t hold still? Either their arm is constantly moving, or they keep switching poses. Let me tell you, it is nearly impossible to judge someone’s physique if they aren’t holding still enough to show it off. Hit your best pose and HOLD IT. Do not move unless you either a) are asked to by the judges or b) need to reset because you feel like you are falling out of it.

Important Considerations

Facing the Judges in Bikini Competitions

When you are on stage you always want to show the judges the smallest part of your waist. Your front poses should never be facing them directly. As I stated before you are trying to look as curvy as possible. The best way to do this is by making your waist look as small as possible, while keeping your shoulders facing the judges so that you can create that curvy illusion. This takes flexibility in the lower back. That is why practicing is so important.

Bikini Competition Suits

Your bikini is your uniform. This is just as important as everything else. Choosing the right color and the right FIT are crucial. Mine are always custom made so that they fit me perfectly. This way, when I need them altered, I can go to my suit maker and have them adjusted. You have to remember that this suit can be used over and over again and it is well worth every penny that is spent. My recommendation is to have one that is custom made. I personally recommend Platinum Design Suits. I was wearing one of Bonnie’s suits when I was awarded my IFBB Pro Card, and when I won an IFBB Pro competition. She will guide you to finding that winning color, and perfect cut for YOU. You can also find her on Instagram: @platinumbonnie

IFBB and NPC Bikini Posing Guide

Bikini Front Pose

How NOT to do the Bikini Front Pose

Most of us do not have exceptionally teeny waistlines, and do not look our best facing head on. I have some perfect examples. When Bikini first came out I was a Figure competitor and in between competitions decided to give Bikini a shot. This was when we were wearing off the rack suits, and it was still so new that posing was not really where it is at now. I’m a little embarrassed of this picture. Do not do this pose, ha! Everything about it is awful.

How to do the Bikini Front Pose

What you DO want to do is have the flexibility to twist your waist to the side but be able to keep your shoulders facing forward. This way you are showing the smallest part of your waist to the judges, but keeping the widest part (shoulders and glutes) facing the judges. This is the curvy look that the judges want to see. Having the flexibility in your lower back is crucial for your posing.

Don't Do This
Do This

Bikini Back Pose

Back Pose Variations
  • Open Stance
  • Close Stance
  • Legs Crossed
You need to maintain that arch in your back the ENTIRE time you are on the stage. Do not bend over when facing the rear. Your glutes will look full just by having that arch in your back. If you bend forward you will not be considered for a top 5 placing. There are a few different ways to do your back poses. There are the open stance (most popular and looks the best on almost everyone). Close stance, with legs together but not crossed (ideal and in my opinion looks the best). You can also do the closed stance with feet crossed; this is not the best look for everyone. The crossed leg looks best on girls who have very lean legs and a large gap that need to close it up so that their legs look fuller.
Open Stance
Closed Stance
Legs Crossed

Bikini Posing Transitions

Your transitions can go either direction (turn to the side that is most comfortable to you), you want to make sure that you pop the glute out as you turn to the back and show about 1 and a half cheek. Never turn showing your entire backside. Keep your back arched throughout your transition and maintain that arch as you move to the rear facing pose.
Pop the Glute