This is Why You Should Care More About Bodybuilding Posing.

There seems to be a huge disconnect in bodybuilding these days – and that has to do with the art of bodybuilding posing. Physiques have become more massive and the expectation has changed as to what the ideal physique should be amongst the different classes, specifically Men’s Open.

Posing used to be heavily focused on the art. Bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger showcased their physiques as works of art. Syncing up poses to music, focusing on the overall flow of a routine, really putting on a performance for fans.

Now you see judges focusing more on the mandatory poses, and less on the routines. Times have changed, and it is as if the art of bodybuilding posing is being forgotten.

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Mandatory Poses

The expectation changed for posing within the sport. So long as the mandatory poses are hit on point, it is almost as if there is no need for the “artistry” of the pose. Let’s take a look at what the mandatory poses actually are.

These are the mandatory poses for men’s open bodybuilding: Front double bicep, front lat spread, side chest, side tricep, back double bicep, rear lat spread, abdominals with one thigh, and the favorite most muscular. The mandatory poses are performed earlier on in the show. Then there are the routines.

Pictured: Dylan Wolfinger performing the “Side Chest” pose

Posing Routines

Posing routines are where the “art” aspect is supposed to be showcased. Competitors are given a period of time, typically 70 seconds in federations such as the NPC. They have to pose to music in order to showcase their physiques in an artistic manner. However, by this point in the show, many times the judges’ decisions’ may already have been made based on the mandatory poses that took place earlier in the show.

This has resulted in lackluster routines. Competitors come out and pose stiffly, awkwardly, and overall the flow just is not there as it once was. You may see a little more of an artistic aspect in the posing routines within the classic physique division, which is supposed to look more like the physiques of the Golden Era.

The Golden Era

The Golden Era of bodybuilding typically refers to the 70s and 80s. Bodybuilding posing was focused on just as much as the diet and training. If you watch Pumping Iron, you see Arnold Schwarzenegger and the late Franco Columbu taking ballet lessons to help them pose.

The golden era was a time when the mandatory poses were hit, but there was also an art in between each pose. An exciting journey of movement in tune to the music that lead the audience’s eyes from pose to pose flawlessly.

The music, the poses, and overall all flow of the routines made them into true performances. Bodybuilding is just that, building the body. You are sculpting something that takes countless hours of hard work and dedication both in and out of the gym. That being said, the posing in the golden era shows the physiques as sculptures.

Pictured: Arnold Schwarzenegger performing “The Archer” pose


What Happened to Bodybuilding Posing

Times have changed within the sport when it comes to bodybuilding posing. Although, the Arnold Classic competitions have changed their rules recently to focus scoring more on posing. Sadly, things are still very different from the way it used to be.

The biggest question is, do the fans really want the art of the pose? Or is the ever pushing boundaries of mass monster physiques enough to keep their interest?

Size Matters? 

Pictured: 6x Mr. Olympia winner Dorian “The Shadow” Yates

The “mass monster” look really began to take off in the 90s. Physiques like that of Dorian Yates began to catch the eyes of the fans, and judges ate it up. In today’s physiques, you see more and more mass, and less artistry within posing. But is this what people want? Do people want to see just more size?

In all honesty, the classic physique division is proving otherwise. In classic physique, the judging is based more on shape/aesthetics, and more attention is paid to posing as opposed to men’s open where you see the mass monster physiques. Rising popularity within the division shows that fans are migrating more to the aesthetic look and artistic posing. Competitors like Chris Bumstead are changing the game and helping the division grow, as well as the sport as a whole gain more attention.

Bad Posing Ruins Good Physiques

In this video, Shawn Ray breaks down the lost art of posing. He talks about how, whether fans know they want it or not, it’s an important part becoming a legendary competitor. How a bodybuilder reveals his muscle is just as important as the hard work and training done to build it up in the first place.

You can have a godly physique, but bad posing ruins it. If you do not know how to pose, then you cannot showcase your physique properly. This is something that is seen nowadays with the bigger, more shredded physiques. We are seeing gigantic competitors with unreal conditioning, but their posing is sub-par.

What is the point of having a great physique if you are not showing it to its full potential? You could have a semi-decent physique, and with proper posing and angling, you could look like a Greek god. Posing is something that should not be forgotten, and needs to be practiced.


The art of bodybuilding posing is being lost. Physiques are improving and growing, but they are forgetting about showing. Being big and shredded is great, but if you do not know how to show it off, then forget about it. The same goes for having a semi decent physique, good posing can improve that.

Posing in bodybuilding used to be an art form. Now it seems as though the mandatories override the artistic aspect of posing that is supposed to be shown in routines. We see amazing physiques being dimmed by stiff or awkward posing. It is all about the flow and showcasing of a physique, and that is what is being forgotten.

In the video above, Shawn takes a trip throughout the history of bodybuilding. In this particular clip, he does so with a focus on the evolution of bodybuilding posing. Watch the full episode of Bodybuilding Chronicles above.

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I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.