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If you’ve competed in a bodybuilding show or looking to do so, you’re probably all too aware of the hard work and dedication involved.
It takes hours upon hours to build muscle which is then followed by an extreme diet to strip away bodyfat whilst maintaining that hard earned muscle. But that’s not where it ends.
When you’re finally stage ready, you’ll need the confidence and stage presence to properly showcase your muscular physique.
One of the ways of doing this is by undertaking a posing routine.
This typically involves a series of mandatory poses that allow the judges to best determine the physique of a bodybuilder. Not only will the judges consider muscle size, but they’ll also look at symmetry and muscle definition.
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The compulsory poses can often vary, depending on what category you are competing in as well as the federation. It’s also worth noting that basic bodybuilding poses aren’t just limited to a pro bodybuilder.
Even if you’re looking to compete in an amateur division, posing well can make the difference between placing in your category and spending time on practicing is just as important as the training and diet.
In this article we’ll look at some of the most popular bodybuilding pose names that you’re likely to come across within the bodybuilding community.
10 Most Popular Bodybuilder Pose Names
Front Double Biceps
Probably one of the most well-known of the bodybuilding poses is the front double biceps pose. This allows the bodybuilder to showcase their biceps size and the width of their lats.
When performing this pose, you’ll want to stand with your feet around shoulder width apart and toes pointing out.
The idea is to form an X shape with your entire body with the aim of showing a big wide back, big legs and a small waist. It’s a good idea to bring the elbows up slightly higher than the shoulder to allow the lats to properly flare out.
Some bodybuilders will choose to draw in their abs helping to raise the chest to spread the lats, whilst others flex the abs preferring to show their abs off.
The only drawback to flexing the abs is that it prevents the rib cage from rising so you won’t get the same lat spread.
Back Double Biceps
The back, or rear double biceps pose is the reverse of the front double biceps with some slight differences when it comes to foot placement. If you are performing this as part of a routine, it typically comes after the side poses.
This pose will allow you to show off musculature to the entire posterior chain along with definition of your back muscles.
In most cases, you’d set up by starting with feet first and working your way up to the upper body.
One foot is typically taken back behind the bodybuilder, with the foot resting on their toes in order to showcase the calf and hamstring muscles.
The feet would be turned out in order to flare out the quadriceps muscles. As with the front double biceps, the aim is to form an X shape with the body.
Front Lat Spread
The front lat spread is one of the classic bodybuilding poses.
It typically highlights the muscles of the latissimus group, which extend from your lower back to the sides of the torso whilst also showcasing shoulder width and the taper of the waist.
To do this one, start with feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing out.
Your arms should be at 90 degrees at the elbow joint, hook your thumbs around your back and to the bottom of the rib cage.
Bring the elbows forward whilst keeping your chest up
Rear Lat Spread
The rear lat spread is the reverse of the front lat spread.
Whilst performing this pose, you must stand with your back facing the audience.
Push your shoulder blades together so that your latissimus dorsi muscle remains compacted.
Then, move your elbows slowly toward your body while keeping your fists at your sides.
Doing this will allow you to widen your shoulder blades and reveal the extended spread of the latissimus dorsi. From this pose, judges can examine the thickness and width of your back, taper, and torso.
The side chest pose focuses on showing off your pectoralis muscles.
This pose will also allow you to display shoulder size, side of the obliques, the serratus anterior and the glutes.
Judges can also see quad development and hamstring size from this angle.
You would begin this pose standing side on to the audience with knees bent. Taking the foot closest to the audience, rest on the ball of your foot. Contract the muscles of your legs to show definition.
In the next step, take hold of the wrist of the arm closest to the audience, pulling it back so it’s bent to around 90 degrees. Puff out the chest to make your pectorals as large as possible.
The side triceps pose allows you to show the lateral triceps muscle.
This pose can be performed on either side, so choose your best side, and remember to rotate your body slightly towards one side so the audience can see your triceps muscles clearly.
Besides the triceps, this pose allows you to showcase your chest and shoulder size, calf development, side forearm definition, and thigh separation.
To perform the pose, you’d start with a similar foot placement to that of the side chest pose with one foot resting on the ball of your foot.
Then interlock your hands behind your back, make sure that the hand of the arm closest to the audience is underneath the other hand.
Extend your elbow to properly show the definition and slightly arch your lower back. As your abs are on show during this pose, you’ll want to exhale deeply and brace your core.
The vacuum pose was initially made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger and is synonymous with bodybuilding competitions of the 1970s and 80s.
However, the pose’s popularity skyrocketed because of Frank Zane, a three times Mr. Olympia winner who became the poster boy for the vacuum pose.
To perform this legendary pose, you must stand up straight while keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
At this point, you need to expel all the air in your lungs whilst sucking in your stomach as much as possible and expanding the rib cage.
The purpose of this pose is to showcase a strong V taper, giving the illusion of a very small waist.
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Interestingly, this posing technique is typically only performed in the men’s classic physique division of a particular federation.
This is because a few the larger competitors in the bodybuilding division suffer from a condition known as palumboism.
This is where the stomach appears unusually bloated when compared to the rest of the body and can be caused by several factors. This essentially makes the vacuum pose difficult, it not impossible, to execute.
This is a tricky pose to master and will need practice to get it right. You can consider doing exercises like the rollout and plank, as they help prepare your body for a better vacuum pose by working your transverse abdominals.
The famous most muscular pose highlights your muscle repertoire by presenting maximum muscle mass and is usually only performed by athletes competing in the men’s open division.
Executing this pose can allow you to exhibit your arms, chest, upper trapezius, abs, quadriceps, calves, and forearms.
There are also several variations of this pose.
For example, you can put your hands on your waistline or put one hand by your side and draw another across your stomach.
Whatever method you choose, the goal should be revealing the front-facing muscles to their maximum size potential. You can contract your obliques, pectorals, abdominals, anteriors, biceps, and forearms simultaneously.
Invented by famous bodybuilder Jay Cutler in 2009, the quad stomp is one of the most iconic bodybuilding poses.
Some even suggest it helped Jay to claim the winning title that year.
However, it’s worth mentioned it’s not a mandatory pose and one which is attributed to Jay himself as he wanted to show off one of his best assets, his quads.
Abdominal and Thigh Pose
The abdominal and thigh pose is all about showing off your serratus anterior, quads, chest thickness, abs, front arm size, external intercostals.
As well as men’s bodybuilding, this pose is also performed during women’s physique.
This is performed by standing with one foot positioned slightly in front and feet pointing outwards to ensure a nice sweep of the quads.
Contract your leg muscles and raise your arms up and over your head, rest your hands on the back of your head if you’d like.
This position helps to create a V shape.
Next crunch forward and exhale all the air from your lungs and hold this position.
3 Tips to Master Bodybuilding Poses
Well executed bodybuilding poses can really impact how you place in a bodybuilding competition.
Don’t assume that massive size and low body fat is all it takes to win.
The mandatory poses are created so that a panel can fairly judge you against others in a competition and, as it’s a subjective sport, good posing can really help you stand out from other competitors.
Below Are Some Suggestions For Mastering Bodybuilding Poses
Practice A Lot
Regular practice may help you secure the top position.
Once you’ve determined the poses, you’ll be expected to perform on show day, practice them daily in front of a mirror.
Posing is physically demanding and you’ll need to be able to hold the poses for a period of time.
Take some time to view how other, well known, bodybuilders perform their poses.
Remember, it’s not always advantageous to copy others as you may find that you can achieve better muscle activation when posing slightly differently.
Use videos as a guide but practice a lot so you can understand how posing best shows off your muscles.
Set New Limits
When practicing, focus on incremental increases.
For example, if you have started holding each pose for 10-15 seconds, increase the duration and gradually try holding them for at least a minute.
It’s always best to assume one of your competitors can hold the pose longer than you to give you motivation to aim for even longer!
There are many divisions and federations in bodybuilding so before you spend time on posing, make sure you know which federation and the division you’ll be competing in.