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Troubleshooting December 2013

on Wednesday, 04 December 2013.

Ingrid I competed for the first time a couple of months ago and some of the feedback I was provided was that my posing was sub-standard. I didn't really have any help as I live in a small country town and there is no-one close to me who have ever competed let alone knows how to help with posing. In particular I couldn't really seem to get my lats out properly. Can you provide some hints on posing that might help me?

So what purpose does posing serve during a bodybuilding competition? Well, the various poses performed onstage help to:

• Standardise the competitors onstage so that the judges can best compare different bodies to one another
• Create an "X-frame" shape that highlights the ratios between shoulders, waist, and hips/thighs
• allows the competitor the opportunity to display their personality and individual flair while onstage for the audience.

It's important to know and remember that when you get on stage the physique you have is only as good as how you present it to the judges and audience!

Learning the poses you will need to perform and practicing them consistently around the same time that you decide to enter a bodybuilding competition is a good idea. To me, it's really apparent that some blokes leave posing and their routine until really close to comp, almost like an afterthought. I should mention though that the leaner you get, the better your posing will look and the better your ability to make minor adjustments that translate into major gains because you will be closer to your overall stage look. For example, the difference between the width of your shoulder girdle/lat spread and your waist and abs will look very different when you are 16 weeks out as opposed to when you only have two weeks left until show day. If you start early on during your prep, don't be discouraged that you don't have the perfect X-frame. Proper posing technique and lots of practice combined with a well-structured training program will ensure that you have all the right muscle in the right places.

What Proper Posing Can Do For You
Good posing technique can be your secret weapon and give you an edge on your competition, as well as help minimise some of your minor flaws since we're all still works in progress! I've helped competitors perfect their posing technique to minimise the appearance of a broad waist, poor symmetry, small quads, big quads, or underdeveloped lats. Additionally, good stage presentation shows that you are confident onstage and in your own skin and that you have seriously prepared for all possible aspects of your bodybuilding competition. Projecting that kind of centeredness onstage makes a statement and gets you noticed, particularly as the competition gets stiffer, like in the national contests.

Getting Your Lat Spread Happening

To start learning how to spread your lats, stand in a neutral position, feet facing forward, arms down by your side and relax.

Step 1

Next, place the backs of your hands on the sides of your rib cage, right underneath your armpits (you should look like you're doing your best Sam Neil chicken imitation).

Step 2

Bend forward at the waist until your upper body is nearly parallel to the floor. The muscles you are trying to activate (your intercostal muscles) are also required for stabilising you when you are standing, so it is easier to activate them voluntarily when they're not being used to keep you fully upright.

Step 3

Take a deep breath in, focusing on drawing the breath into the sides of your ribs rather than your stomach area (your lungs aren't down there anyway). With a little practice, you should begin to feel your ribcage pushing against your hands at the side of your body and if you look into a mirror while you are practicing, you should see your arms moving upward and outward with each breath.

Step 4

Take another deep breath and hold it, then raise your upper body until you are standing upright. You should feel tension in the sides of the ribcage and lats as you focus on expanding the ribcage outward right where your hands are making contact with your ribcage. You should feel fully expanded through your chest cavity

Step 5

Still holding the ribcage open, drop your hands and place them on the fronts of your thighs. Keeping your hands where they are, push your elbows and roll your shoulders forward (towards the mirror if you are standing in front of one) slightly. You should see and feel the lat muscles engage and flare out when you perform this action.

Step 6

Finally, pull your hands away from your thighs until your arms are just hanging from your shoulders and your hands are relaxed and framing the outsides of your legs.

Step 7

Congratulations! You have just set up your lat spread – and the majority of your front poses! It will take a while to get fully comfortable accessing and controlling the muscles of the ribcage and back so practice often. When you get to Step 6 above, try rolling your shoulders and elbows back and forth in an exaggerated manner to practice isolating the muscles and controlling them voluntarily. Doing this will enable you to spread your lats more quickly when you are ready to get into your front pose in one or two steps.

Just a few more thoughts about your lat spread and the process outlined above. The first couple of times you practice breathing this deeply may leave you feeling a little lightheaded from all the extra oxygen; be sure to take a break if that does happen and jump back in to practicing when you feel ordinary again. Also concerning your breath, you will need to practice this technique enough so that you can hold the ribcage and lats open and still breathe normally – don't hold your breath! This is a big no-no in general but especially so for a carb- and water-depleted athlete under heavy stage lighting in a slightly warm auditorium. Make sure that once you get into a full lat spread, you stay in that position and practice breathing normally but holding everything else the same. Breathing will help you look relaxed during your posing and will also help you to hold the lat spread open and wide.

Once you are able to activate the intercostal muscles and spread the lats using this technique, practice doing so without bending over (starting upright but still going through the process of putting your hands by your sides and breathing into the sides of your ribcage). Once you have mastered that, practice spreading through your lats with your hands already down in front of your thighs and practice steps 6 and 7. Finally, once you feel comfortable spreading your lats from that starting point, try getting to full lat spread with proper arm placement in one step. If at any point in time you need a refresher on getting your lats to spread, start from step 1 again. Hope this helps!

What exactly are NO supplements and are they a worthwhile investment to add to my current supplement regime?

Nitric Oxide is a free form gas that is produced in the body and is used by the body to communicate with other cells in the body. The production of Nitric Oxide occurs when the amino acid L-arginine is converted into L-citruline through an enzyme group known as Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS).

Nitric Oxide controls the circulation of blood, transmits messages between nerve cells, and is a mediator of inflammation.

The fact that nitric oxide increases blood flow should make it of interest to bodybuilders, as increased blood flow will serve to deliver more nutrients to muscles, thus helping muscles become larger when subject to stress. The fact that Nitric Oxide acts to reduce inflammation should also make it of interest to trainees as it has the potential to reduce the pain associated with subjecting muscles to extreme stress.

Nitric Oxide also affects the endocrine system. It affects the release of gonadotropin releasing hormone, as well as the release of adrenaline from the adrenal medulla.

Nitric Oxide has the ability to increase your body's ability to deliver blood to working muscles. More blood means more oxygen and nutrients that are being pumped into skeletal muscles. In fact, with NO, you can expect increased muscle size, strength, endurance, and quicker recovery times.

But if that wasn't enough, there are also the following health benefits. Nitric Oxide is essential for healthy circulation. It helps dilate blood vessels, prevent blood clots and regulate blood pressure. It also helps inhibit the accumulation of dangerous arterial plaque. Reducing elevated Cholesterol levels, makes it possible to lower their prescriptive statin drug dosages by at least 50%.

Unfortunately, beginning in early adulthood, nitric oxide levels gradually decline, most often due to damage to the endothelial cells caused by such factors as a high-fat diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

Daily intake of specific nutritional supplements that increase production of nitric oxide in the blood vessels are beneficial, however, is it worth your buck? Studies show there is minimal impact on muscle growth or performance in the gym, the 2 things most guys are generally looking for in supplements. If you're after something that gives you a swift kick up the backside and prepares you for a heavy training session then Nitric Oxide Enhancers are a supplement for you, but if you are after something to increase your lifts significantly, then creatine or beta-alanine would be more worth your while. Beetroots are the highest dietary source of Nitric Oxide enhancers, but also taking a pre workout supplement containing L-Arginine &/or L-Citruline in 3-5g dose would be beneficial and combines well with existing creatine cycling which is my preferred method of taking creatine.