A bodybuilder may not talk on stage, but the fact is that he doesn’t need to. With posing, is body already tells the story of countless hours of pain, struggle, and dedication.
Bodybuilding is an artform, and if you think deeply about it, it shares many similarities with forms of art like theatre.
When a bodybuilder climbs the stage, he takes on the role of performer. His body is the script; and similar to how actors stay up all night for weeks or even months memorising lines and cues…
His developed muscles are the result of intense training, and diet.
Although bodybuilders may not be allowed to perform verbally, they still need to captivate the audience and the judges and put on a performance that highlights just how much care and dedication went into crafting their bodies…
A way to grab the attention of the audience and judges alike and make them go “I’ve never seen a muscle this developed before!”
And so, bodybuilding poses was born.
Why Posing Is So Important In Bodybuilding
‘Without being able to show your physique, and without being able to pose, and without being able to hold the pose for long enough time so that everyone in the audience can see you pose… You need to be able to see all that, but you can’t see it if bodybuilders, which so many times they make the mistake of moving to another pose so fast, and not really showing to the audience what they’ve got.’
-Arnold on posing
Posing is a huge part of bodybuilding and bodybuilding culture, and the Golden Era produced some of the greatest posers in bodybuilding history.
To Golden Era bodybuilders, posing was more than just a way to score points during competitions but rather, a form of self expression and identity.
Casuals may have a hard time understanding the concept of posing as a form of identity, but true bodybuilding and Golden Era fans understand truly how important this artform is to the sport, and how it set aside our favorite bodybuilding legends that we hold dear to this day.
To Check Symmetry and Development
It was also a way that bodybuilders were made aware of their strengths and weaknesses before competitions.
Bodybuilders would spend hours, looking at themselves posing, flexing, and checking out their symmetry and to the last detail, looking for flaws in their physique or form, by posing in front of a mirror, personal trainer or fellow bodybuilders.
Bodybuilding legends such as Frank Zane, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Larry Scott, Sergio Oliver and Franco Columbo were known for not their outstanding physiques and symmetry, but also their poses as well.
Bodybuilders don’t speak on stage but the judges and the audience do the talking for them.
When a bodybuilder takes to the stage, everywhere goes quiet as he steps on the podium, only to erupt with applause, whistles, and cheers as he performs his posing routine which he practiced for hours, and shows off his body and muscles that he spent months training.
And throughout his routine, not a single word was spoken by that bodybuilder.
Not that there was any need… he’d already recited an entire ballad with his muscles and poses.
Posing was one of the things that truly brought bodybuilders together especially in the Golden Era.
After hours of working out in the gym, bodybuilders training in the same gym would come together to show off their physique and come up with new techniques and poses.
It was commonly during posing practice that bodybuilders would give pointers to their comrades on how to train certain lacking parts, similar to what Larry did for Arnold
Best Posers of the Golden Era
First on the list is bodybuilding legend Mohamed Makawy. Because he was at a height disadvantage at only 5’4″, Makaway had to come up with creative poses to not only mask his weaknesses, but distract the judges and audience from his height especially when he performed next to much larger opponents.
His creativity with poses gave him the outstanding career he enjoyed, especially his highlight in 1984 versus Lee Haney.
Sergio Olivia Snr
Very few bodybuilders in history can match the physical and posing powers of The Myth himself, Sergio Oliver Snr.
The 3-time Mr. Olympia winner was known for his creative poses just as well as his physique and is deservedly on our list for greatest Golden Era posers.
Another Gironda disciple, and the perfecter of the stomach vacuum, Zane was a highly proficient poser in his time and that was the key to him being one of the only bodybuilders to win against Arnold.
Zane retired from competition in 1983.
8-time undefeated champion, bodybuilding icon and heavyweight…We could honestly keep going. Lee’s emergence to bodybuilding was nothing short of phenomenal and his incredible poses were instrumental to his success as well.
During his 8 year career, Haney weighed in around 233 to 248 pounds, and was a sight to behold onstage.
This list wouldn’t be complete without seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger.The Austrian Oak was a commanding sight onstage and his signature 3\4 back pose is an icon in itself.
Whether you’re a stranger or beginner to bodybuilding, or veteran to this iconic sport, we hope that with this blog post you’ve been able to appreciate this iconic artform as well as it’s contributions to the sport that created the legends we respect today.