For athletes, interpreting these rules can be confusing. How lean should I be? How big? If you're planning to compete, check out the competitors of previous contests in your area. Pay attention to what the athletes looked like and who did well. It's also a good idea to research other contests around the country to see how the athletes look.
By doing this, you'll be better able to decide the best way to come in (bigger, leaner, etc.) for a particular show. I also suggest reaching out to experienced competitors or coaches. At one point, they were right where you are now. Most are happy to help answer your questions.
Judging Criteria: Stage Presence and Personality
"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.) Competitors will enter the stage without a shirt and barefoot. No lewd acts allowed for example the moon pose. Judges are looking for the contestant with the best stage presence and poise who can successfully convey his personality to the audience."
Many people outside the division (especially bodybuilders) think the longer board shorts are worn to cover the lack of leg development. Yes, some of the physique athletes do have small legs or aren't proportional, but that's not always the case. Some of the best legs I have ever seen are on physique athletes. Does that mean they are the size of Jay Cutler's? No, but they are balanced with great definition and bring together a symmetrical and aesthetic physique.
Like many physique athletes, I think the shorts should be shorter. It's a physique contest and your legs are a part of your physique. I think that allowing the athletes to show a little bit more quad would make the division even more competitive and bring it more support and credibility.
Judges are looking for the contestant with the best stage presence."JUDGES ARE LOOKING FOR THE CONTESTANT WITH THE BEST STAGE PRESENCE." Presentation:
"Competitors will walk to the center of the stage alone and perform quarter (1/4) turns with optional pose of hand on hip or hand in pocket, finish facing the judges as directed then proceed to the side of the stage."
"The competitors will be brought back out in a group and directed to do quarter turns. Judges will have the opportunity to compare competitors against each other in quarter turns."
However because these mandatory poses are regulated nationwide, everyone who competes is on an even playing field and presents the same assets on stage. That way, no athlete has any advantage over another.