Home » JUDGE JOHNSON: Don’t ruin your chances of success by not nailing these simple areas...

JUDGE JOHNSON: Don’t ruin your chances of success by not nailing these simple areas...

November 23, 2023

YOU have spent the best part of 16 weeks preparing for this one moment. The hard work is done. Or so you believe. Actually, some competitors can win or lose a show based on their stage presence. Don’t fall into that trap. Here, STEVE JOHNSON offers his advice for adding that final gloss:


First and foremost, you only get one chance to make a first impression on the judges, so please look like you are enjoying yourself. Nobody wants to watch someone who looks miserable, but a big smile and body demeanour that makes you look like you’re enjoying yourself will always attract the eye of the judges.


As a judge, I regularly see athletes unintentionally hide their body from the judges and to be fair it’s frustrating at times. It can make a difference to your placing, as the judges can only judge what they can see and not what they can’t. You are judged on the shapes you create on the day and not what your body is really like. For example: if someone has a huge wide back but doesn’t open it on their lat spreads and the guy at side of him does, even though you know he is not as developed, you have to judge with the guy who’s back looks best in front of you. This is why its so important these days to practice posing as much as training and getting a posing coach if necessary. Your aim is to create the illusion you are better than what you are.

  • TAN

Make sure you practice your tan in advance of the show and that it is applied by someone who knows what they are doing. You are trying to avoid streaks and tans that will run onstage under hot lighting. There are many different tans out there as well as many different skin types, so choose appropriate tanning (and glaze) that will enhance your physique/figure. Even on the judging table (close-up view) a physique can fade into the background if too light in colour. Some federations allow instant tans backstage and some don’t, so always check up on this and follow the pre-tanning protocols for skin preparation.


One thing that is off putting to a judge is body hair, so please make sure you remove visible hair as necessary. Guys need to be more on point with this than girls and I have seen many athletes do a partial job and its very distracting to the eye and ruins the professionalism of your overall appearance. I have seen it this year and, although in this case it didn’t affect placing (they won) it is the one thing I will remember him for and not his physique. In this instance it was shaved thighs but unshaven glutes and calves. Also, I have seen underarm hair left which again just ruins the look of the physique. This might sound pedantic but if a judge is trying to find a reason to split two athletes because it’s a close decision, then this could indeed come into their way of thinking (right or wrong).

These are just some very basic tips as there are many other things I see on a regular basis and in particular with posing, which I can cover at another time.

Don’t ruin your chances of success by not nailing these simple areas.

Best wishes Steve Johnson (32 years a judge)

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