IFBB

Judge's Table: Inherited Fate

Can genetics (or an old injury) derail your contest chances, and, what's the best way to showcase my physique to the judges?

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Judge's Table: Inherited Fate
Left: Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness / Right: Per Bernal

 QUESTION 

HOW DAMAGING TO A SCORE ARE GENETIC DEFECTS OR OBVIOUS INJURIES THAT AFFECT SYMMETRY? FOR INSTANCE, I’M NOT PREDISPOSED TO A HIGH, BULGING PEAK IN MY BICEPS—MY MUSCLE BELLIES ARE LONGER. I ALSO HAVE AN OLD PEC TEAR THAT HAS LEFT ONE SIDE OF MY CHEST WITH A DEFORMATION. AM I DOOMED, OR CAN THESE THINGS BE OVERLOOKED IF I NAIL MY OVERALL MASS AND CONDITIONING?

 ANSWER 

STEVE WEINBERGER

Genetic structure is important in bodybuilding since it’s a visual sport. A person who is born with wide shoulders, a full rib cage, small waist and joints, and proportionate torso-to-leg length will have a natural advantage to the person not blessed with these features.

That said, genetic flaws can be overcome with many years of intelligent, dedicated training. This is true in all sports, where certain features and attributes predispose an athlete to perform well in certain areas and not so well in others. For instance, physical height is an advantage in basketball and volleyball but is a disadvantage if you’re a gymnast or an Olympic lifter. Still, there are great basketball and volleyball players who are short and great lifters and gymnasts who are tall. Many athletes, including bodybuilders, overcome genetic disadvantages by determination and hard work.

Injuries that affect symmetry are a bigger problem. Balance and symmetry are key in terms of upper- to lower-body development, but even more important is left to right. Bodybuilding is very much about the “muscular flow” of the body. Imbalances can be downplayed to a degree in some poses— side chest, side triceps, and even overhead abdominals—but it’s hard to disguise old injury deformations or other imbalances in the double biceps and front and rear lat spread, as well as the mandatory quarter-turn front and back poses.

With all else being even—that is, overall mass and conditioning— the athlete who is also balanced will get the nod. But it’s also rare for any athlete to be perfect, so even if you have some flaws, genetic or otherwise, this should never stop you from training intensely and competing in the sport you love. 

 QUESTION 

THE STAGE IS GENERALLY SET A FEW FEET HIGHER THAN WHERE THE JUDGING PANEL IS SEATED. WITH THAT IN MIND, WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SHOWCASE MY PHYSIQUE TO THE JUDGES? ARE THERE ADJUSTMENTS TO WHERE TO STAND ONSTAGE? HOW CAN I MAKE SURE I’M TAKING THE BEST ADVANTAGE OF THE LIGHTING? 

 ANSWER 

SANDY WILLIAMSON

Most promoters Mark The stage with a center “X” or “ block,” which is the best place to stand for your individual poses regardless of the division. This area of the stage is marked because the promoter works with the photographers and judges to determine where the best onstage lighting is for the athletes.

You do want to angle yourself a little forward when posing since the judges are below the stage, but often I see athletes angling too far forward, which distorts their physique. It’s always best if you have a place to practice beforehand that has a stage setup or platform so that you can work on perfecting your presentation before you get to the show. 

Judges Sandy Williamson and Steve Weinberger

 FLEX 

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