Author’s note: This blog is in English; however, Yayu speaks Spanish. Google Translate is on the right sidebar and can produce a Spanish version. Please let me know if the translation is correct in the comments or in an e-mail.
Raúl “Yayu” Esparza, 21 (a Leo), lives in Zacatecas, Mexico. A college student, he studies Physical Culture and Sports. He is also a physique athlete, starting with mens physique and looking to move up to classic physique.
Yayu, the Athlete
Yayu has participated in physique contests. He is 1.74 meters tall (5 feet 8.5 inches).
Fifth place Mr. México GAMES
First place, mens physique principiante +1.74 Mr Centro Rep
Second place, classic physique principiante Mr. Aguascalientes
In addition to weight training and physique competitions, Yayu has participated in many other sports, such as fútbol or soccer, parkour, boxing, swimming, and basketball.
You decided to compete in a men’s physique contest. Great! You want to prepare for your stage time to present your hard work to the judges.
How will you choose the best board short that will present your best image to the contest judges? How to develop a smooth, confident posing style for the stage? This article will help you find the answers you need.
Preparing for a Mens Physique Contest
I found a YouTube video on advice for newbie mens physique competitors. A YouTuber, Brady Oakey, is a mens physique competitor and a coach. He provided five tips for new competitors.
Work on the correct muscle groups off season.
You are fatter than you think. Stage lean is ultra lean.
Take a longer approach to your prep (greater than 12 weeks).
Practice posing and stage presence (smile, make poses look as easy as possible).
Get a coach.
Ismael Martinez, IFBB pro (mens physique) and online coach who lives in Mexico, offers five tips for those wanting to compete.
(Ismael speaks Spanish. Below is my translation of his five points.)
Take risks-sign up for a contest and experience it.
Train with people with the same goals.
Hire a contest prep coach.
Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Tolerate frustrations; work consistently toward your goal.
Sam Newlove shares his first-time natural mens physique contest experience. The organization is the United Kingdom Drug-Free Bodybuilding Association (UKDFBA; its mens physique rules).
1. Competitors will wear an opaque, loose-fitting board shorts which are clean and decent. The colour and fabric of the shorts will be left to the competitor’s discretion. Shorts may have geometric patterns and motives, but no inscriptions and cambered ornamentation. The shorts will cover the whole upper leg, down the upper point of the knee (patella). The use of padding anywhere in the trunks is prohibited. 2. No tight, lycra style shorts are allowed. 3. Personal sponsors logos are not permitted on the shorts; however a manufacturer’s logo such is accepted.
Contestants will be asked to walk in board shorts (shorts must be just above the knee in length and can be one inch below the belly button, no spandex and no logos are permitted on the board shorts however a manufacturer’s logo such as Nike symbol or Billabongs are acceptable.)
The attire for all rounds is board shorts, which must conform to the following criteria: 1. Material and colour can be of the athlete’s personal choice. 2. No tight, lycra style shorts are allowed. 3. Board shorts should not cover the knees. 4. Personal Sponsors logos are not permitted on the board shorts. However a manufacturer’s logo such as Nike, Adidas or Billabong are accepted.
Posing Shorts: Contestants will be asked to walk in board shorts . Shorts must be just above the knee in length and can be one inch below the belly button. No spandex and no logos are permitted on the board shorts however a manufacturer’s logo such as Nike symbol or Billabongs are acceptable.
Board shorts (loose shorts that come down to around the knee) are worn for both parts. Shorts can be of any color and pattern.
Based on the rules of the various federations noted above, the expectation for competition board shorts is essentially the same. The IFBB does not allow cambered ornamentation.
In practice, mens physique contest athletes wear the shorts at the hips rather than one inch below the belly button. In addition, some of the board shorts have some spandex material (Darc Sport, Bro Activewear, Mens Physique Board Shorts, and Alphalete).
Miami Pro Mens Physique Rules
For the Miami Pro competition, the mens physique category has
weight classes (under 75 kg, over 75 kg to 90 kg, and over 90 kg to 100 kg) and
more emphasis on seeing leg development with tighter legs on the stage shorts.
Mens Physique Board Shorts Rules (as of May 9, 2021)
Swimwear details: Men’s physique competitors should wear board shorts that are waist high and about an inch shorter than the knee. Tight fitting to allow some glutes and legs definition to show.
The posing routine for the Miami Pro is different from the other federations discussed in this post.
ROUND – Men’s physique athletes perform 1 MINUTE free posing in the middle of the stage showing off their front and back and side muscles. Then walk back to the stage to wait to be called out to do quarter turns. Men Physique are to wear board shorts (about an inch above the knees), and are judged based upon muscularity, body conditioning, symmetry, and stage presence. Individual I walk and then quarter turns (front and back turns) and quarter turns when judges do compassion for top 5 placing).
I could not find the reason why the IFBB chose the board shorts for mens physique. I guess that the board shorts were widely available.
The Board Short, Made for Surfers
Board shorts was created for surfing, but the style and fabric of the shorts have evolved. For more about the board shorts, you can read a blog post on the Old Bull Shorts webpage.
The board short does not come with a liner and fits on the hips.
Board shorts come from big brands (Quiksilver, Hurley, Billabong) that come from surfing. You need wide legs to make it easy to move on the surfboard. However, mens physique competitors are focused on physique display on a stationary stage. Some brands have made alterations to the board short focused on that competition goal (for example, coloring, tapered leg).
Mens Physique Board Shorts Style
According to a YouTuber, Hart’s Physique Channel, some of the mens physique board shorts are tapered to show the outline of well-trained thighs. This is a recent development as board shorts are made for surfing and thus have a wider leg opening.
Best Board Shorts for Mens Physique
Mens Physique Stage Shorts: Brands and Creators
Below is a chart showing the brands and creators of men’s physique stage shorts.
Ulises Moreno, a designer from Monterrey, México, creates men’s physique stage shorts as well as posing trunks for classic physique and bodybuilding competitors.
Live Fit Brand
Live Fit brand is based in California, United States. The founder, CEO, and designer is Randall Pich. (He created a video on how to create a muscle tank from an old t-shirt.)
On December 25, 2020, the brand released a new mens physique contest stage short (signature pro series (maroon and teal), which feature a signature from IFBB Pro Anthony Woods). The price of the shorts is 60 U.S. Dollars.
Chula Wear is a brand based in the United States. The sizing of the brand’s mens physique board shorts is 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, and 36.
Narcizo is a brand based in Hungary. The brand’s goal, as described on its website, is to create stage (board) shorts that suit the goals of physique competition. The sizing of the brand’s board shorts is 28, 30, 32, and 34. The offers two styles—unicolor and patterned. The price of unicolor shorts is 69 euros. For the patterned shorts, the price is 89 euros.
Mens Physique Show Shorts
The Mens Physique Show Shorts brand is based in the United Kingdom.
According to its website, the focus of the brand’s board shorts is to have the right fit and colors (the brand used a horizontal stripe pattern) to make the result of the contestant’s hard work—his physique—stand out to the judges.
The sizing of the brand’s board shorts is 28, 30, 32, and 34. The price (on the day of the post) is 39.99 Great Britain pounds.
Ismael Martinez Colección
Ismael Martinez is an IFBB pro (mens physique), father, and YouTuber who lives in Mexico. His brand, IM Coleccion, has a number of items for sale, including mens physique board shorts.
His website is in Spanish and English.
The sizing of the shorts tends toward the smaller-sized waists and hips–small (chico)-27″-28″, medium (mediano)-29″-31″ and large (grande)-32″-33″.
BroActiveWear is a brand based in the United States. The brand states that it creates distinctive styles in its clothing. The sizing of the brand’s board shorts is small (28-30), medium (30-32), and large (32-34). The price of the brand’s board shorts is 100 U.S. dollars.
Alphalete is a brand owned by Christian Guzman, and the brand is based in the United States. The brand started its board shorts offering (Titan) on September 12, 2020.
The sizing of the brand’s board shorts has the widest range of waist sizes (28-40). The price of the brand’s board shorts is 55 U.S. dollars.
The sizing of the brand’s board shorts have these waist sizes (28-36). The price of the brand’s board shorts is 55 Great Britain Pounds.
Growing Importance of Leg Day for Mens Physique
I mentioned that there is interest in having the mens physique board shorts be more tapered to show some evidence of thigh development (with the muscle filling the leg of the board shorts).
For example, Kim Angel, a mens physique pro competitor from Spain has notable thigh development. He is a skilled weight trainer, who is able to keep up in an intense leg training session with Canadian pro bodybuilder Regan Grimes.
Fernando Valdez, IFBB pro (mens physique) from Mexico, works with his coach to improve his leg development.
Perspectives of Mens Physique Competitors
Bilal Ali is an IFBB Elite Pro from Afghanistan and lives in Belgium. He owns Alite Wear.
A mens physique competitor from Canada, Dylan Felgueiras, provided his observations to help new contest participants.
Although some of the advice was meant for guys with some contest experience, Dylan provides a perspective that is helpful for newbies.
Christian David is a personal trainer who lives in Melbourne, Australia. He made a video to document his first men’s physique competition.
Posing Routines Compared: Mens Physique versus Bodybuilding
The purpose of the Mens Physique Division was to showcase less muscular yet aesthetic physiques. What that has meant is the development of the upper-body muscles, especially abs, and a v-taper–slim waist and wide shoulders. As a result, the low waist of the board shorts helps to display the athlete’s contest conditioning of the abdomen. A muscle group on the sides of the torso, the external obliques, also becomes prominent with training and at lower body-fat levels (the so-called v-line) and emphasizes a v-tapered look.
Rich Gaspari, a retired professional bodybuilder and owner of Gaspari Nutrition, commented on men’s open bodybuilding and mens physique. Gaspari admired mens physique competitors because the posing in mens physique requires a powerful physique. (A competitor cannot use angles to de-emphasize weak areas on the physique.) However, he feels that more-bodybuilding style posing would allow more “drama and excitement” in the competition.
If mens physique were to add more-bodybuilding-style posing, then it would be another move toward bodybuilding. The muscularity of mens physique competitors beyond the local level is moving toward Classic Physique (without the weight and posing trunk requirements).
Posing in Mens Physique Compared with Bodybuilding
In bodybuilding, several poses display the muscularity of various muscle groups. For example, the double-biceps pose.
Mens Physique Posing
Bodybuilder and Contest Preparation Coach Damien Patrick provides tips on mens physique posing for beginners.
In mens physique, the total physique is assessed. The IFBB rules that the judges will ask the competitors to make four quarter turns (IFBB rules (2019), mens physique, article 5, paragraph 4).
Author’s note: See related information in a blog post about a Canadian mens physique competitor, Kyle Hynick, which discusses in part the distinction between mens physique and bodybuilding.
Muscle Size and Mens Physique
In 2021, Ryan Terry, married and a father, assesses his experience at the 2020 Olympia (eighth place). Ryan also owns a men’s physique stage shorts company, ALTA.
Ryan acknowledged the role that muscle size is playing within mens physique. (Read the comments on the video.)
Mens physique pro Andrei Dieu took fifth place at the 2020 Mr. Olympia.
Mens Physique Pro Ismael Martinez displays notable muscle density during his shoulder workout in May 2021.
Mens Physique Pro Mauro Fialho and Classic Physique Pro Jorge Tabet discuss the difference between mens physique and classic physique (in Spanish).
The size and condition of professional-level men’s physique athletes increase each year. For example Riccardo Croci from Italy. The upper body is very close to a bodybuilder (muscle development and density).
(Both Ryan and Elton are now professionals in mens physique.)
There are many steps in the journey toward your contest. Participation is the best teacher. You will learn how you handle pressure while maintaining focus to achieve the goals that you want. I hope that this article just a couple of topics—board shorts and posing—helps you with your contest preparation path.
Any successes and teachable moments that you learned during contest preparation, contest, and post-contest, please share them by email or in the comments section.
Tom Seed, a business owner (Stealth Nutrition), fitness model, physique competitor, and YouTuber, lives in the United Kingdom. I found out about Tom through his YouTube workout videos with Dan Tai.
Harrogate and York, United Kingdom
Tom’s hometown is Harrogate, which is in North Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. The local newspaper, Harrogate Informer, had a 2016 article about Tom when he participated in a charity boxing event to support cancer research.
Tom celebrated 3,000 YouTube subscribers by eating 3,000 calories during his time in York, UK (about 40 minutes from Harrogate). (I especially liked the part where he ordered gelato at the Roberto Authentic Italian Gelato shop.)
In 2020, many have suffered from the economic fallout from the global pandemic. Tom provided information about a Harrogate organization that assists the homeless–Harrogate Homeless Project. Tom donated food (that he bought for a 30,000 calorie challenge video) to the organization for Christmas Day meals.
In 2021, Tom and friends, Will and Max, decided to challenge themselves to reach 1,000 pull-ups in 1 hour. Tom recruited passers-by at Roundhay Park to help reach the goal.
CrossFit; Oliver James, Owner of Metcon Leeds Gym
On Instagram, Tom explained his decision to focus on performance (CrossFit) rather than appearance (mens physique).
Tom has been doing CrossFit through the 2020 Covid-related lockdowns and adjustments (discussed further in this article).
Tom met with his friend, Oliver James (who is an co-owner of Metcon Leeds, with Symon Sutherland (leading a gym class in photos)).
Tom and Oliver did the Joker Workout, consisting of the toe to the pullup bar movement and deadlifts. The person that did not finish first had to have a spoonful of cinnamon.
The result? Well, Oliver cannot be conquered in his own gym, lol. (Oliver, when done, did coach Tom on to finish.)
Podcast Interview and First Contest
Colin Campbell (host of CamBro Conversations, a podcast) interviewed Tom about his transition from bodybuilding to Crossfit and about the supplement industry.
Tom is the head of sales at Lifesource Supplements and owns a supplement company, Stealth Nutrition.
Tom competed in his first Crossfit contest in 2021.
UK Lockdown Late October 2020 to Early December 2020; Tom’s Dumbbell Only Workout
The year 2020 has been a challenging year. In order to prevent Covid-19 cases from overwhelming the medical system in the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, placed a four-week lock down for pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops.
After this announcement, Tom posted a YouTube video with a dumbbell-only workout that could help viewers continue their workout routine at home. The exercise demonstrator is Metcon Leeds owner Oliver James.
Tom’s birthday is 29-March (Aries).
Question and Answers E-mail Interview
I had an opportunity to ask Tom about his fitness modeling and other interests by e-mail. He provided responses which are detailed below.
How did you become interested (a) in weight training and (b) in being a fitness model?
“I started training just to get in shape and over time my physique kept progressing and after 6 years of training I decided to step on stage and compete in the UKUP competition.”
Author’s note: Tom had written some blog posts on his 2017 training at his blog for back and for biceps.
Did you participate in athletics before or while weight training for physique contests? When did you become focused on your fitness model workouts for competition?
“I used to play rugby and swim until the aged of 19. Aged 19 I stopped all sport and took up weight training until I competed aged 25.”
How have you adjusted your training and nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic?
“Yes I have had to do more ‘CrossFit’ style workouts from home to keep my cardio and weights combined. I can’t wait for the gyms to re-open!!”
What advice would you give to guys looking to become a fitness model?
“Stay consistent with your diet and training but only pursue being a fitness model if you enjoy the process of getting lean and you enjoy being in front of a camera / the spotlight.” [Author’s note: Tom was the cover model for the Best Fit Magazine in 2019.]
How have you liked working in the fitness industry and with clothing companies? Any things you would want to see improved?
“I have liked working with brands over social media but I would like to see more fitness events that bring like minded people together. There seems to be a couple of big expos per year. I would like to see brands host events on a monthly basis! I enjoy socialising (if you can’t tell).”
Any hobbies or interests outside of your own training?
“My hobbies outside of training would be Crossfit, Content creating (Youtube & TikTok), Visiting nice beach clubs with good pool parties and I like playing online poker too.”
In viewing Tom’s Instagram posts, a few showed Tom in cycling gear and with a bike made by Ribble Cycles, a hand-assembled bicycle maker based in the United Kingdom. (A Ribble bicycle can be customized to suit a buyer.)
Stealth Nutrition, a Lifestyle Nutrition, Workout Supplement Brand
Tom owns Stealth Nutrition, a lifestyle nutrition brand. Stealth Nutrition focuses on providing designer workout supplements–from pre-workout to nootropic brain support. Check out Stealth Nutrition’s website for further information.
Tom competed in his first Mens Physique competition in 2019. Tom discussed his contest preparation story in a YouTube video.
Tom shows a transformation video showing how he transformed his physique while going from 160 pounds to 139 pounds.
In another video, Tom shows his contest shape as well as excerpts from his mens physique contest where he won third place.
Following the mens physique contest, Tom participated in a fitness model contest and won first place.
During the COVID-19-related lock-down in 2020, Tom had a photo shoot with Photographer Alex Wightman that complied with the physical distancing needed during the period and still produced great images for Tom’s portfolio.
Tom had a photoshoot with Photographer Alex Botic. Tom mostly was in workout clothing. Tom wore jeans and jeans and a leather jacket in some of the photos. The black and yellow swim brief is from Danny Miami. The denim jeans in one of the photos are from Carpe Omnia. (I do not have the brand for the shorts.)
Peter Fletcher, Muscle Mountain Photography
Tom also had a gym photoshoot with Photographer Peter Fletcher of Muscle Mountain Photography. (Peter Fletcher was a photographer at Box Menswear’s Texas photoshoot in 2019.)
Tom and Zac Aynsley
In 2018, Tom had a training session for arms with fitness influencer and mens physique competitor Zac Aynsley.
Tom with WBFF Pro Tom Coleman
Tom had the opportunity to have a training session with WBFF pro Tom Coleman.
Tom and Dan Tai
Tom collaborated with Dan Tai for a fitness model vs. CrossFit squat challenge. Tom got thirty reps on squats is a great result. (Dan, with amazing tree-trunk thighs, got 38.)
In a 2018 workout/lifestyle video log, Tom shared the activities of his day as well as a leg training session with Dan Tai.
Author’snote: This blog has more posts with fitness model Dan Tai.
As a side note, Tom and Dan hosted a fitness retreat in Ibiza, Spain, in June 2019.
Tom Models for Armani and Mens Health in Manchester
On another YouTube video, Tom provides information on how he and a friend walked on a fitness photoshoot with Armani and Mens Health UK in Manchester, UK.
Tom is getting a great started on his fitness modeling career as well as having great success in physique competitions. I appreciate his responses to my questions. I look forward to seeing more success from him in the future.