Bodybuilding, figure, physique, bikini – whatever division you compete in, it’s all about the visuals. It doesn’t matter who on stage has the biggest arms or the lowest bodyfat, it’s about – among other things – who looks like they have the biggest arms and the lowest bodyfat. Perception is not always reality in this game.
So in addition to practicing your posing – the importance of which was covered in this post – you should be taking progress pictures at regular intervals. This way from one show to the next, you can compare yourself at various points in your prep. How do you look at 10 weeks out this time around versus your last show? Relying on a human memory for this kind of feedback is an exercise in futility and/or frustration, so take the pictures and be done with it.
To this end, let’s remember something very important: they need to be good pictures. Good is a relative term; we’re not shooting for professional portraits here, but you need to at least be visible in the photos – details and all. If you’re not totally comfortable with your body, taking clothed pictures in a dark room may sound appealing, but it will not help you in terms of judging your progress. And regardless of what the Facebook culture may tell us, just because you’ve taken a photo does not mean you have to share it with the world – feel free to keep these entirely to yourself.
My sister-in-law Sarah just happens to be a professional photographer in Oregon, and was nice enough to write up a blog post about how to improve the quality of your progress pictures. Sarah’s writing is easy to follow and understand even for a complete amateur picture-taker like myself. Study the points she mentions here, practice them, and start documenting your progress visually in a very real and useful way!