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January 27, 2022 1 Comment
For amateur and pro bodybuilders, poses are MANDATORY. And for "gym rats", doing poses is no different than singing in the shower or dancing in your living room. Posing doesn't make you a poser (just wanted to have a little play on words there), it's an art and simply a way to realize your gains, what you need to work on, AND to connect your mind to your muscles through maximum contraction.
So, it doesn't matter if you are on your way to becoming a pro bodybuilder or you just like to lift weights and flex, we are here to teach you all about bodybuilding poses, which includes all the who, what, when, where, why, and how's of it all.
The mandatory forms (poses) asked of a bodybuilder during a competition allow the judges and audience to see muscular size and definition from all angles of the body, and as a whole.
The poses, of which there are many (FYI - 8 are mandatory during competition), are simply different flexing positions.
We've all flexed our muscles before. Flexing is muscle contraction. Bodybuilding poses are just a specific - and for a lack of a different term, artistic - way to do so.
A posing routine allows the bodybuilder to display each area of their body at maximum contraction...
If you are wondering what we mean by routine, well, a routine is a combination of poses done in sequence. After all, things have to be smooth.
All in all, bodybuilding is physical artwork, so presentation is key. As such, bodybuilding has come up with the absolute best flexing positions for competition. That said, it's up to each bodybuilder to master the poses and to perfect their posing routine.
Note: In competition, usually the mandatory poses are done at specific times, and then the bodybuilder is allowed to do a quick posing routine of their choice at the end, which can involve other poses beyond the mandatory ones - This allows for some creativity!
The sport of bodybuilding is subjectively the same as any other sporting competition.
Like any sport, you train to be at peak form for competition.
But rather than lifting a barbell off the ground and up overhead for 1 rep (i.e. Olympic lifting), you pose and basically just show off your hard work. Posing is a display of form and technique that's based on a skill (in bodybuilding's case, the skill of building muscle and definition).
One by one, or sometimes all together, bodybuilders stand in front of a panel of judges that score their bodies.
It takes an outrageous amount of confidence to stand half-naked in front of hundreds of people, more so to flex your muscles with the confidence that you are the most aesthetically pleasing man or woman on the stage. Much like a fashion show, a bodybuilder's hard work is being judged and like a runway walk, poses help display their work.
As a bodybuilder, you take pride in your size. With a goal to constantly grow and improve upon your body, a sign of your success is well-defined muscle mass.
Posing is the best way to show off your body's symmetry, definition, and mass.
Think about it, when you want to show someone your biceps, do you just let your arm flail out to the side or do you make a fist, raise up your elbow and SQUEEZE? Exactly.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the perfect genetics (it's all about those insertions points and genetic potential for growth!).
Thankfully, in bodybuilding, poses are a great way to work around any genetic imperfections. You can contort your body in a way that shows off the true size of your muscles and the best you can look. It can also help give you an extra edge, through sheer style and grace, which is why practicing posing is important for bodybuilders.
All that said, if you know anything about bodybuilding, then you know it's not all about "posing". Bodybuilding is a difficult and grueling sport. Bodybuilders arguably train harder than any other athletes. You can't neglect a single muscle. You can't skip leg day and be successful. You can't just train arms and chest every day. You can't just do a handful of exercises. You must train hard, eat right, employ periodization and progressive overload, and be consistent for years on end. Every fiber of every muscle is essential to your bulk and symmetry, and those muscles will be displayed for all to see.
In summary, during a bodybuilding show, posing is essential to the competition. As you train year-round, bulking up and cutting down, your hard work is judged. The final goal is to show off your muscular, symmetrical body, and nothing displays that better than the eight mandatory poses just after a pump (which you will need to do before you get on stage, of course) and a water-cut (basically dehydrating yourself just before competition (again, it's a grueling sport!).
Now, let's go over each of the 8 bodybuilding poses and how to do them...
Note: While these are all mandatory, you will find that pro bodybuilders sometimes add a little personal flair to some of these poses, usually in the form of a slight positional change, but the overall pose must be intact.
The first of the eight mandatory poses you have to do in a bodybuilding competition is the Front Double Biceps. The Front Double Biceps pose shows off your arm musculature. The main focus is your biceps size and peak. Really emphasizing the arms, this pose even displays your forearm size. Your front lats width, your quadriceps size and definition, and front calf musculature will also be the co-stars to this pose.
Learn how to do the Front Double Biceps pose
The Front Lat Spread is one of the most common poses that you see bodybuilders in the gym practicing. Its main purpose is to display the width of the lats from the front, along with chest thickness and shoulder width. Additionally, your extremities are on display as well. Judges will be able to see the front arm and forearm size, quadriceps mass and separation, and calf development from the front.
Learn how to do the Front Lat Spread pose
When you think of the Side Chest pose, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the first to come to mind. The Side Chest is a pose that displays your chest size and thickness from either side. The side of your chest is an especially hard area to focus on training, so being able to develop it is an amazing feat. You have the option of choosing to pose from your right or from your left side, depending on which side you are more comfortable displaying. Regardless of which side you choose, rotate your body a little toward one side and then the other, so the judges get a good view of your side chest. More so, the pose also displays your shoulders, arms, and forearm size from the side. But don't think your legs get a pass; your thigh separation and calf development will be observed from the side as well.
Learn how to do the Side Chest pose
Much like the front Lat Spread, the Rear Lat Spread conveys the width of your lats but from the rear. Instead of your chest and front being on display, the thickness of your trapezius muscles, glute development, hamstrings, and rear calf musculature will take center stage in this pose.
Learn how to do the Rear Lat Spread pose
The Rear Double Biceps pose shows off your arm size and separation from behind. Your biceps mass and the peak will yet again be on display. This pose also shows off the thickness and definition of your back muscles. Things like your trapezius, infraspinatus, teres major, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae will be fully flexed for judges to see. Again, your legs don't get a pass here either. The rear double biceps flex's your glutes and hamstrings, along with rear calf size as well.
Learn how to do the Rear Double Biceps pose
The Side Triceps pose displays your triceps, especially your lateral triceps head. Remember, the triceps are the muscle group that makes your arms look big, so be sure to really flex them in this pose. You get to choose which side you flex, but whichever side you choose, make sure you allow all the judges to get a good view of your side triceps pose by rotating a little to each side. More than that, it will display your shoulder and chest size along with the typical leg muscles that you have been displaying in every other pose as well.
Learn how to do the Side Triceps pose
If you don't have abs, are you really bodybuilding? The Abdominal and Thigh are a pose do exactly what you think it does. It flexes your abs, external intercostals, serratus anterior, and quadriceps muscles. It also shows off your chest thickness, front arm. Forearm size, lat width, and calf size once again. There are several variations of this pose that competitors tend to do, but the traditional abdominal and thigh pose has both hands over your head as you flex your abs from the front. In the other version of this pose, people will place both or only one hand over their head and then flex their abs from each side to show off their oblique and intercostal musculature and definition.
Learn how to do the Abdominal and Thigh pose
The final pose is called the Most Muscular. It is the coup de grace of the eight mandatory poses. This pose displays overall muscularity from the front, including the mass and definition of your upper trapezius, shoulders, chest, arms, forearms, abs, quadriceps, and calves. Just like any finale, this pose is meant to be big and over the top. Any muscle you can flex is flexed. There is a crab version of the most muscular by bringing your arms and hands together across your abdomen. You can also do a variation by placing one hand by your side and bringing the other arm across your abdomen, but regardless it shows off the same muscle groups.
Learn how to do the Most Muscular pose
Below are some poses that have come about from some of the greats in bodybuilding. If you've followed bodybuilding for some time, you probably have seen some of these poses being done.
The Vacuum Pose is only mandatory in classic physique, requires the competitor to expand their rib cage, exhale all air in their lungs and suck in the ab muscles as much as possible. It's a tough technique that requires a good deal of practice to get right. The goal is to make your abdomen below your ribs appear as hollow as possible. When done properly, it accentuates the V-taper and demonstrates your incredible muscle control. Most male bodybuilders can't do this pose due to being too large. That's why the Classic Physique Division, which favors small waists, uses the pose to separate itself from typical Men's Open.
Learn how to do the Vacuum pose
This pose is banned in IFBB Pro League and NPC for being too vulgar. As the name suggests, this pose highlights all the separation and striations of the back of the leg. Made famous by Tom Platz, he would essentially turn his back to the judges, lock his knees and touch his toes. It's a full moon wherever this pose shows up.
Similar to the Rear Lat spread, the idea is to flex your lats with an emphasis on the lower back. It truthfully involves more hip activation rather than chest activation. If done properly, the muscles in your lower back will almost appear like a Christmas tree.
Probably one of the most famous bodybuilding poses, but also least talked about, is The Kneel. Chances are, you've seen it in some sort of media before. Simply put, the bodybuilder kneels sideways and shows off the vast majority of their muscles. You can turn to show your back or turn to show your front. While the legs are the main attraction for this pose, it also does a good job of engaging that core for balance and displaying your upper body as well.
Probably one of the coolest poses a bodybuilder can do is the Quad stomp. Jay Cutler debuted this move in the 2009 Mr. Olympia. In a true display of strength, he robotically lifted his leg and then proceeded to slam it down while flexing every muscle in the leg. A super straightforward pose, but be careful not to overextend your leg! If done properly, you show off every fiber in your leg. Plus, it just looks amazing on stage.
When people think about bodybuilders, more than likely, the quarter-turn is what they imagine. In any advertisement or poster, it's always a bunch of dudes doing the quarter turn. Although, while it's the easiest to do, it is also the easiest to screw up. Essentially you show off your side profile with a slight turn forward. It highlights the tightness of your abs, chest, and obliques. More than that, it will also highlight any weaknesses you have as well.
Feel free to create your own poses and have fun with it. That's the sign of a true legend in bodybuilding.
Learn how to do the Quarter Turn Pose
Now that we have all the poses at our disposal, it's time to make a posing routine. Typically done after the mandatory poses, the contestants are given two minutes for their own custom posing routine. It's when the judges decide who looks best. This is your time to shine and highlight all the best parts of yourself. If there's a specific part of your body that you feel is your strength, flex it. Do all the poses that you think make you look best.
Similar to dance, your routine should flow and look natural. Don't go randomly jumping from one pose to another. Meticulously plan out each pose in a way that shows off everything you want to show off.
A good rule of thumb would be to practice this routine at least once a week. Familiarize yourself with the poses and muscles till not only the poses are committed to memory, but the feeling of the muscles that you are flexing as well.
Poses can't just be saved for competition. You wouldn't expect an Olympic diver to try their diving routine for the first time at the Olympics. You need to practice! What better place to practice than in the gym when you have a serious pump! In fact, the only logical time and place to practice posing is right after a training session (or even during, in-between sets/exercises).
Bodybuilders must find any opportunity to practice their poses in preparation for their upcoming competition. So don't hate if you see it in the gym, or let the hate get to you if you do it.
Even if you aren't planning on doing any bodybuilding competitions, poses are a good way to build a mind muscle connection and maximize your pump, which drives blood and thus nutrients to the muscles (in the end, this can lead to better gains).
Note: Posing in the morning is also a good time as your body wakes up somewhat dehydrated and you'll have no bloat. It's a good time to check the gains. But, of course, be sure to hydrate right up every morning!
You can't pose every day in the mirror and expect to grow. However, poising can help you build a better mind-muscle connection, which is essential for building muscle, and it can help you become more self-aware. By posing, you can see areas that you need to work on. Depending on how you utilize this new muscle awareness, you can iron out muscle imbalances and better hit troublesome areas during your workout.
On top of that, flexing, which is contraction of the muscle, does have an effect on muscular strength and definition. You aren't going to put on serious muscle mass by just flexing, but it will help you get better at contracting your muscles during your workout and it can even help you build a little. It also helps with blood flow and the delivery of nutrients to your muscles which can help them sustain more work and grow better. This will happen regardless if you are lifting weight correctly, but you just amplify the effect by max flexing here and there during workouts.
So, to answer the question, yes, it can help your muscles grow...in directly.
Related: How to Build Muscle Mass Without Fail
That's everything you need to know about bodybuilding poses. Whether you pose for competition or you pose for your own self-satisfaction, it's a good tool to have in your belt. It may seem vain to others, but posing gives you an understanding of your own body that you wouldn't achieve otherwise.
Work hard, and lift heavy. The results will come. Remember that nobody knows your body as well as you do, and even beyond that, you can always discover more about yourself. At its core, this is what posing does for you. You may not realize it, but perhaps there is a seriously neglected part of your body or an area you really can't contract well. Once you find that, you can change it from a weakness to a strength.
April 06, 2023
Very useful article… It’s giving more knowledge about body building and the poses. We should know why the poses are more important….
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June 08, 2023
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