If you’re a bodybuilding competitor, don’t even think about it. The aptly nicknamed Moon Pose, named after its iconic back hip hinge pose in which the athlete bends down to “moon” the audience, is one of the few poses you will (almost) see. ) ever in a modern physics competition.
It’s not just because a certain segment of the bodybuilding community considers it obscene – the moon pose is officially banned by the National Physique Committee, the IFBB Professional League, and many other major bodybuilding organizations.
What is the pose of the moon?
Historical information about the laying of the moon is scarce, but you can trace it back at least to the career of coachbuilder Tom Platz. If you know your bodybuilding history, you know that Platz is one of the most famous physique stars to ever step onto the stage, despite never having won the Mr. Olympia contest (he did, however). ranked third in 1981).
Platz is widely considered to have the most impressive wheelset in bodybuilding history. Part of that reputation is, of course, due to his artistry of posing and posture.
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“The Quadfather,” as he is known, helped popularize the moon pose as a way to show off his sculpted marble posterior chain. By facing his back to the audience and folding down from a standing position, Platz could reveal each individual streak in his glutes, hamstrings and calves.
Eight-time Mr. Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman has also performed the pose in competition, although he has barely made it his calling card. Coleman is famous for having perhaps the best overall behind in bodybuilding; his crazy musculature made him a perfect candidate for the moon pose.
The moon pose is also very similar to yoga’s forward bend stretch, in which the practitioner bends at the waist, trying to wrap their arms around their calves or touch the floor with their palms .
This stretch not only highlights the back leg muscles but also provides a considerable stretch in the soft connective tissues around the ankle and knee.
The far side of the moon (pose)
In a sport that celebrates the form and condition of the human body, it might seem a bit odd to ban a pose that actually highlights an important part of the body. Either way, bodybuilding federations have taken a stand against athletes performing the act on stage.
Some within the broader bodybuilding ecosystem view the pose as unnecessarily vulgar or inappropriate. It’s possible that bodybuilding organizations wish to avoid any unwanted attention that the most muscular men in the world might unwittingly attract by exposing themselves so completely by posing little more than trunks.
There is little formalized reasoning behind banning the moon pose on stage, but some competition rules call it an “obscene act”.
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Either way, there are several other poses in bodybuilding that more than adequately showcase the muscularity and definition of the glutes, hamstrings, and calves; bodybuilders are slammed from head to toe in poses like the back double biceps.
The moon pose, while extravagant, could also be seen as redundant in this respect. It’s far from the only way to show off your legs.
What are the mandatory bodybuilding poses?
Don’t get me wrong – competitive physique athletes were never given a direct order to strike the moon pose on stage. Bodybuilders are often allowed to perform free pose routines, and some athletes take this opportunity to inject their own personality or artistic vision into their physique presentation.
However, the Men’s Open and the 212 divisions of the IFBB Pro League mandate eight other assorted poses which, in total, reveal just about every muscle fiber in the body:
The side triceps pose emphasizes the musculature of the arms, chest, and shoulders. The athlete assumes a perpendicular or three-quarter position to the judges and wraps their arms behind their back, sharply straightening their elbow to flex the triceps brachii.
The side chest pose is similar to the side triceps pose, but it requires a fully perpendicular position. To demonstrate the size, shape and definition of the pecs (and the arms as well), the bodybuilder bends the judges’ arm closest to the judges while pressing their far arm across their torso to flex the pecs.
Rear Lat Distance
The width and silhouette of the back are assessed when spreading the back lats. Athletes stand clear of the judges and stretch their latissimus dorsi muscles as wide as they can, creating the coveted “V” shape from shoulder to hip.
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Judges will often take into account the shape and proportion of the lower body during the back side spread, including the same muscles emphasized by the moon pose.
Back Double Biceps
Similar to the lat spread, bodybuilders emphasize the size of their arms, shoulders, and upper back by performing the rear double biceps pose. Additionally, athletes will “sting” one of their legs by pressing their toes firmly into the floor to tense their calves and glutes.
Front double biceps
Frontal poses like the double biceps show off a bodybuilder’s entire physique. Athletes raise their arms and contract their biceps, flatten their stomachs and contract their quadriceps muscles at the same time.
Front lat spread
The Front Lat Spread pose shows the width and thickness of the back when viewed from the front. Athletes adopt much the same posture as the back side spread, but also incorporate some flexing of the abs and thighs into the mix.
Abs & Thighs
Bodybuilders show off their abdominal leanness and leg gains with the Abdominal & Thigh pose. They raise their arms, tuck them behind their heads, contract their abs to bring out every cut and crevice, then flex their quads and calves in equal measure.
The most muscular
The most muscular pose is an opportunity to show off a competitor’s muscular size. It is also quite an interpretive movement, allowing the athlete to flex their whole body in different ways.
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Some athletes stand with their arms outstretched and their whole body straight. Others will lean forward and bring their hands together to contract their arms and also reveal their trapezius muscles. The most muscular pose is considered the athlete’s masterstroke – his chance to reveal all his hard work at once.
Ascending and descending
You’d probably get very different answers if you asked about the moon pose at a bodybuilding show. Some consider it an essential bodybuilding tradition, while others consider it unnecessarily cheeky.
Either way, the pose has been consigned to the history books. Platz and other practitioners of the pose have enjoyed long and storied careers in the sport — despite its gnarly reputation, the moon pose was not a death sentence. It just so happened to be a dangerously effective way to show off your legs.
Featured image: @golden_era_of_bodybuilding on Instagram // Mahmudul-Hassan on Shutterstock (“banned” image)
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