If you a bodybuilding competitor, don’t even think about it. The aptly dubbed moon posenamed after its iconic backside hip hinge pose in which the athlete bends over to “moon” the audience is one of the few poses you’ll (almost) never see in a modern physique competition.
That is not only because a certain section of the bodybuilding community considers it lewd – the moon pose has been formally banned by the National Physique Committee, the IFBB Professional Leagueand many other major bodybuilding organizations.
What is Moon Pose?
Historical information about the moon pose is sparse, but you can at least trace it back to the bodybuilder’s career Tom Platz. If you know your bodybuilding history, you know that Platz is one of the most famous physique stars to ever grace the stage, despite never won the Mr. Olympia competition (however, he placed third in 1981).
Platz is generally regarded as the possession of the most impressive pair of wheels in bodybuilding history. Part of that reputation, of course, is due to his skill in posing and demeanor.
“The Quadfather,” as he is known, helped popularize the moon pose as a way to show off his marble-carved rear chain. By facing the audience with his back and folding over from a standing position, Platz was able to do that reveal each individual stripe in his glutes, hamstringsand calves.
Eight-time Mr. Olympic winner Ronnie Coleman also performed the pose during competitions, although he hardly made it his calling card. Coleman is known for perhaps the best overall rear in bodybuilding; his insane muscularity made him a perfect candidate for the moon pose.
The moon pose is also very similar to the forward fold racks in yoga, where the practitioner bends at the waist and tries to wrap his arms around his calves or touch the ground with his palms.
This stretch not only emphasizes the muscles of the back leg, but also creates a great stretch in the soft connective tissue around the ankle and knee.
The dark side of the moon (pose)
In a sport that celebrates form and condition of the human body, it might seem a little strange to ban a pose that effectively shows off a significant part of the body. Either way, bodybuilding federations have taken a stand against athletes performing the act on stage.
Some within the larger bodybuilding ecosystem consider the pose to be unnecessarily vulgar or inappropriate. It is possible that bodybuilding organizations want to avoid unwanted attention the world’s most muscular men can draw unintentionally by exposing themselves so completely in little more than posing suitcases.
There is little formalized reasoning behind banning the moon pose on stage, but some competition rules characterize it as an “immoral act”.
Anyway, there are various other poses in bodybuilding that more than adequately emphasizes the muscularity and definition of the glutes, hamstrings and calves; bodybuilders are criticized from head to toe during poses like the back double biceps.
The moon pose, while extravagant, can also be considered superfluous in this regard. It’s far from the only way show your legs.
What are the mandatory bodybuilding poses?
Make no mistake – competitive physique athletes were never given a direct order to assume the moon pose on stage. Bodybuilders are often allowed to perform freestyle posing routines, and some athletes take this opportunity to inject their own personality or style artistic vision in the presentation of their physique.
However, the Men’s Open and 212 divisions in the IFBB Pro League, eight other different poses that, in all, reveal just about every last muscle fiber of the body:
The lateral triceps pose emphasizes the muscularity of the arms, chest and shoulders. The athlete takes a perpendicular or three-quarter position to the judges and wraps his arms behind his back, sharply extending his elbow towards flex the triceps brachii.
The side chest pose is similar to the side triceps, but requires a completely perpendicular position. To change the size, shape and definition of the chest muscles (and arms too), the bodybuilder flexes the arm closest to the judges, pressing his far arm against his torso to flex the pecs.
Slat spread behind
Back width and silhouette are evaluated during the back lat spread. Athletes will stay away from the judges and extend their latissimus dorsi muscles as wide as they can, making the coveted “V” shape from shoulder to hip.
Judges will often consider the shape and proportion of the lower body during the back lat spread, including the same muscles shown by the moon pose.
Double biceps back
Similar to the lat spread, bodybuilders emphasize the size of their arms, shoulders and upper backs by performing the back double biceps pose. In addition, athletes will “spike” one of their legs by pressing their toes firmly into the floor to tighten 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 bicepsflatten their stomachs and tighten their quadriceps muscles all at once.
Front Lat Spread
The front lat spread pose demonstrates the back width and thickness seen from the front. Athletes assume much the same stance as the back lat spread, but also incorporate some abdominal and thigh flexion into the mix.
Abdomen & thigh
Bodybuilders show off their skinny belly and leg growth with the stomach and thigh pose. They put their arms out of the way, place them behind their heads, crunch their abs down bring out every cut and creviceand then flex their quadriceps and calves equally.
The most muscular pose is a chance to just show off how much muscle mass has a competitor. It also happens to be quite an interpretive move, allowing the athlete to bend their entire body in different ways.
Some athletes stand upright with their arms spread and their whole body tense. Others will lean forward and clasp their hands together to pull their arms together and reveal their arms trapezius muscles too. The most muscular stance is considered the athlete’s masterstroke – their chance to reveal all their hard work at once.
Wash and wipe
You’d probably get very different answers if you asked about the moon pose at a bodybuilding show. Some consider it essential bodybuilding knowledgewhile others find it unnecessarily brutal.
Either way, the pose has been consigned to the history books. Platz and the other practitioners of the pose enjoyed long, storied careers in the sport — despite its gnarly reputation, the moon pose was hardly a death sentence. It happened to be a dangerously effective way of show your legs.
Featured Image: @golden_era_of_bodybuilding on Instagram // Mahmudul-Hassan on Shutterstock (“Forbidden” image)