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Bodybuilders train virtually all year, bulking up and then dieting down to display a massive, ripped, symmetrical body on stage. Presenting your physique in a way that shows it off from every angle is critical to placing well in the judges’ eyes.
Posing is an important aspect of a bodybuilding competition. Competitors must complete eight necessary postures (depending on division) before performing a posing sequence. Mandatory positions allow the judges to see all angles of the body, and a posing sequence allows the bodybuilder to display their physical artwork in the intended manner. Still not getting it? Here’s a breakdown of the eight essential postures (plus two extras) as well as more information on posing.
Front Double Biceps
The bodybuilder stands with their legs shoulder-width apart and raises their arms to flex their biceps in this stance. This allows the judges to evaluate the complete front musculature from head to toe. This is an excellent stance for judging the X-frame, which is characterized as broad shoulders and sweeping quads that produce a visible “X” shape. Posers should keep their elbows up and their lats out and front.
Front Lat Spread
The front lat spread draws attention to the lat and shoulder width. Begin with your legs shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing out at a 30-40 degree angle while squeezing your thighs. Make a fist with both hands on your hips, palms facing down, and thumbs hooking behind your waist.
The arms should form a 90-degree angle where the bicep and forearm meet if the poser does this correctly. Keeping your shoulders down and hands tight, draw your shoulder blades apart to reveal your lat spread while inflating and contracting your chest. When doing this position, contestants should keep in mind that the abs are sucked in rather than tensed to make the waist appear tight.
This stance shows the body from the side. In this category, judges look for full hamstring and quad development from a side angle, as well as a full and complete chest and thick arms. Bodybuilders will begin by striking the position on the right side. They’ll plant their right foot, bend their knees slightly, and bring their legs together, squeezing their hamstrings and quadriceps.
To emphasize the calf muscle, the pose must be performed on the ball of the front foot. Then, with your right hand, hold the left wrist and push downward while keeping the bicep tensed at a 90-degree angle. Inflate the chest as much as possible with air and contract the muscle. Maintain the contraction to reveal the striations.
Back Double Biceps
Shows, as the saying goes, are won from the back. This stance is intended to show the competitor’s back size and symmetry in conjunction with his or her arms, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves.
The back-double biceps position asks the contestant to flex their biceps with their arms out to their sides as well as the complete muscularity of their back. The athlete should keep their shoulder blades open so that their lats can flare out wide.
To emphasize a V-taper, the competitor should bend their torso back slightly toward the judges and keep their elbows slightly higher than their shoulders. In order to contract a calf, one foot is put rearward on the ball of the foot. To show separation and definition among those muscular groups, contract the hamstrings and glutes as well.
Rear Lat Spread
The competitor performs the front lat spread but with his or her back to the judges in the rear lat spread. Judges are mostly concerned in back width and thickness, as well as general torso shape and taper.
Competitors can also show off their arm gains from behind, as well as striations in their glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
This position, like the side chest, focuses on the triceps muscles and how the chest and shoulder connect. Because competitors aren’t concealing their waists with their arms like they are in the side chest pose, they must keep their abs contracted and controlled.
The identical leg position as in the side chest position is used here. Keep your legs close together and flex every muscle. Pro tip: To make your front leg appear larger, use your back leg to press the hamstring of your front leg out.
Abdominals and Thighs
Despite its name, the abdomen and thighs posture also emphasizes lat width and the contestant’s V-taper. To begin, extend one leg slightly in front of you, flexing the thigh and calf. Place both arms overhead, fully bent behind the head and neck, while keeping the shoulders down. Then, exhale and fully crunch down on the abs while attempting to contract the entire torso, including the front abs (rectus abdominis), intercostals, serratus anterior, and obliques.
Some classic physique competitors demonstrate their ability to perform a vacuum stance (see below) before moving into the standard abdomen and thighs pose.
Most Muscular Pose
The most muscular position is only found in the Men’s Open division and can be done in a variety of ways. The athlete faces the judges with their legs slightly staggered, then brings both around up, out, and in to show off their entire arms, chest, traps, and quads.
Imagine someone attempting to hug a tree – that’s how it appears. Alternative variants have been conducted in which participants flex all of the muscles while resting their hands on their hips or holding their hands together in front of them without elevating the trapezius.
The vacuum position (which is only required in Classic Physique) demands the contender to expand their rib cage while eliminating air from their lungs and sucking inward as much as possible with their ab muscles. If done correctly, the abdomen will be completely hollowed out below the ribs.
The effect emphasizes a V-taper and shows off strong muscle control. Because they are too big, most Men’s Open bodybuilding competitors can’t or won’t do this pose. That’s why the vacuum stance is used by the Classic Physique division to distinguish itself from the Men’s Open division, which favors a tiny waist and classic lines from the Golden Age of Bodybuilding.
This posture is prohibited in the IFBB Pro League and NPC due to its vulgarity, but it’s too good not to put on this list. Bodybuilder Tom Platz made this famous by turning his back on the judges, locking out his knees, and essentially touching his toes. It accentuates all of the separation and striations on the rear of the legs when performed by a really defined competitor. Tops off.
Mandatory Poses VS. Posing Routines
Bodybuilders must accomplish the eight necessary poses, at least in the Men’s Open division, so judges can compare and contrast the athletes. The judges selected who looked the best during the necessary postures. After the necessary poses (or, in some events, before them), contestants get about two minutes to do a posing sequence. These are usually variations on the mandatory positions. The posing routine, on the other hand, gives the athlete more creative license in how they portray their physique.
Divisions and How Bodybuilding is Judged
At the time of writing, the Olympia had ten divisions: Men’s Open, Men’s 212, Classic Physique, Men’s Physique, Women’s Bodybuilding, Women’s Physique, Figure, Fitness, Bikini, and Wheelchair Bodybuilding. Each division has its own set of posing rules and requirements.