The judging phase of the contest is quite simple: All competitors are graded on symmetry, muscularity and level of conditioning; presentation is the name of the game. You will see all the athletes assemble on stage in number order. The judges will call out selected bodybuilders in ground of three for comparative purposes (Round One). And every athlete - on an individual basis - will be asked to display each of the compulsory poses (Round 2): Front double biceps, read double biceps, lat spread from the front, lat spread from the rear, side triceps, side chest and ab and thigh. The ever popular most muscular pose is used in posedowns and as an icing on the cake shot to work up the crowd - it is not, however, one of the compulsory (mandatory) poses. The judging round concludes with a few final call-outs so that the judges can make an informed decision.
This is the entertaining coup de grace of the bodybuilding contest. All competitors perform a free posing routine to music (Round 3); the goal is to display the hard earned muscularity and precise symmetry while choreographing the poses to accentuate the strength and aesthetics of the physique. Lee Haney, who won the Mr. O eight times in a row, always selected music - such as "Looking Out for Number One" at the 1990 Mr. Olympia - that would emphasize his size advantage over the other champions. This type of gamesmanship is just one element in what makes the free posing routine an essential weapon in a bodybuilder's arsenal.
Following the free posing, the judges make their decision and the complete field is reduced to six. The final posedown of the six top athletes is the endgame in the bodybuilding contest. All that's left after that is the announcement of the final placings and the presentation of the Sandow to the winner!