If you’re a bodybuilding competitor, don’t even think about it. The aptly named moon pose, named for the beautiful posterior hip hinge posture in which the athlete bends toward the “moon” of the audience, is one of those poses you won’t see in modern physique competitions.
That’s not the case only because a certain slice of the bodybuilding community considers it lewd – the moon pose is officially banned by the National Physique Committee, the IFBB Professional League, and many other major bodybuilding organizations.
What is the Moon Pose?
Historical information about the moon pose is scarce, but you can trace it back at least as far as the career of bodybuilder Tom Platz. If you know the history of bodybuilding, you know that Platz is one of the most famous physical stars who ever graced the stage, although he never won the Mr. Olympia competition (however, in third place in 1981).
Platz is considered to have the best wheels in the history of bodybuilding. Part of that reputation, of course, is due to his expertise in posing and posturing.
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“The Quadfather,” as he was known, helped create the moon pose as a way to display the posterior chain carved from the marble. By facing his back to the audience and folding from a standing position, Platz can open each individual striation in the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Eight-time Mr. Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman also struck a pose at the competition, though he barely made it onto the calling card. Coleman is famous for having perhaps the best overall back in bodybuilding; crazy muscularity that made him a perfect candidate for the moon pose.
The moon pose is also similar to the forward fold stretch in yoga, where the practitioner bends at the waist, tries to circle the calf or touch the floor with the palm of the hand.
This stretch not only tones the muscles of the back leg, but also provides an incredible stretch to the soft connective tissue around the ankles and knees.
Dark Side of the Moon (Pose)
In a sport that celebrates the shape and condition of the human body, it might seem a bit curious to ban poses that effectively show off important body parts. Regardless, the bodybuilding federation has taken a stand against athletes performing stunts on stage.
Some in the larger bodybuilding ecosystem consider the pose to be vulgar or inappropriate. Perhaps bodybuilding organizations want to avoid the unwanted attention that the world’s most muscular man can attract by exposing himself in little more than a pose.
There is no official reason for banning the moon pose on stage, but some competition regulations state it as an “obscene act.”
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Regardless, there are few other poses in bodybuilding that better highlight the muscles and definition of the glutes, hamstrings, and calves; bodybuilders are criticized from head to toe during poses like double biceps rear.
The moon pose, while extravagant, may be considered redundant in this regard. It is far from the only way to show off your legs.
Are Bodybuilding Poses Necessary?
Make no mistake—competitive physique athletes are never in direct line for moon poses on stage. Bodybuilders are often allowed to perform freestyle posing routines, and some athletes take this opportunity to inject their personality or artistic vision into their physical presentation.
However, the Men’s Open and 212 divisions in the IFBB Pro League do eight other different poses that, in total, show almost every last muscle fiber in the body:
The side triceps pose highlights the muscles of the arms, chest, and shoulders. The athlete takes a vertical or three-quarter stance towards the judge and wraps his arms behind him, quickly straightening his elbows to bend the triceps brachii.
The side chest pose is similar to the side triceps pose, but requires an upright stance. To demonstrate the size, shape, and definition of the pectorals (and arms as well), the bodybuilder flexes the arm closest to the judge while pressing the far arm toward the body to flex the pecs.
Back Lat Spread
Back width and silhouette are evaluated during the back spread. The athlete will stand away from the judge and stretch the latissimus dorsi muscles wide, creating the desired “V” shape from the shoulders to the hips.
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Judges will often consider the shape and proportions of the lower body during the back spread, including the muscles shown off by the moon pose.
Back Double Biceps
In addition to the lat spread, bodybuilders highlight the size of their arms, shoulders, and upper back by doing the double back biceps pose. In addition, the athlete will “spike” one of the legs by pressing the toes firmly into the floor to tighten the calves and glutes.
Front double biceps
The front position like double biceps shows off the whole body of the bodybuilder. Athletes raise their arms and contract their biceps, contract their abdominals, and contract their quadriceps muscles simultaneously.
Front Lat Spread
The front lat spread pose shows the width and thickness of the back when viewed from the front. Athletes assume roughly the same posture as the back squat but also incorporate some ab and thigh flexion into the mix.
Stomach & Thighs
Bodybuilders show off abdominal leanness and leg gains with Abdominal & Thigh poses. He lifted his hands out of the way, put them on his head, crunch his abs down to bring out every cut and crevice, then flex his quadriceps and calves in equal measure.
The most muscular pose is an opportunity to show how big the competitor’s muscles are. It is also quite an interpretive movement, allowing the athlete to bend the whole body in different ways.
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Some athletes stand upright with their arms outstretched and their entire bodies tense. Others will lean forward and clasp their hands together to contract the arms and open the trapezius muscles as well. The most muscular pose is considered an athlete’s masterstroke – a chance to reveal all the hard work at once.
Waxing and Waning
You’ll probably get a very different answer if you ask about the moon pose at a bodybuilding show. Some consider it important Bodybuilding lore, while others consider it needlessly brazen.
Regardless, the pose has been placed in the history books. Platz and other practitioners of the pose enjoy a long, storied career in the sport – despite its gnarly reputation, the moon pose is almost immortal. This is just a dangerous way to show off your legs.
Featured Image: @golden_era_of_bodybuilding on Instagram // Mahmudul-Hassan on Shutterstock (“Banned” image)