Golden Era Bodybuilding Classic Poses

golden era bodybuilding poses

Golden Era bodybuilder poses are seen from the 1950s to the 1970s (“golden era”).

This was when bodybuilders started getting more mainstream attention and began experimenting with different poses and techniques.

Some of the most famous Golden Era bodybuilding poses are still seen in competitions today! In this blog post, we will take a look at 10 of these iconic poses and learn more about their history.

Golden Era Pose Examples

Today, we are fortunate to have access to a wealth of visual examples from that era, thanks to the work of photographers like Bill Dobbins.

golden era bodybuilding examples

These images provide a template for what a golden era physique should look like.

When posing, golden era bodybuilders strived to accentuate their muscles in the most flattering way possible. They knew how to use lighting and angles to their advantage and were masters of posture and symmetry.

If you are looking to learn bodybuilding poses both past and present check out our ultimate bodybuilding posing guide.

By studying these golden era pose examples, we can learn how to accentuate our physiques and create pleasing aesthetic proportions.


Why Golden Era Bodybuilders Looked Different

During the golden era of bodybuilding, many athletes turned to supplements and performance-enhancing drugs to help them achieve their goals.

Anabolic steroids were commonly used, and these substances helped to increase muscle mass and strength. However, they did not use some of the steroids available today, creating the more “freaky” massive look currently seen.

In addition, golden era bodybuilders often took advantage of new compounds, such as synthetic growth hormone, Dianabol, and Prembelone, to further improve their physiques.

Today HGH and Trenbolone are more often used, which is a significant contributor to the insane gains in mass, common baldness, and increased heart issues seen in bodybuilders.

Many golden era bodybuilders suffered from health problems later in life, and some even died prematurely.

Nevertheless, their achievements helped inspire a new generation of athletes, and their legacy continues to this day.

How did Bodybuilders Train in the Past

Workout routines for bodybuilders have changed a great deal over the years.

In the past, bodybuilders were more likely to use heavy weights and focus on building strength. They would often train for several hours at a time, using a variety of exercises to target different muscle groups.

However, as research has progressed, we have learned more about how muscles grow and what types of training are most effective.

As a result, modern bodybuilders use a more comprehensive range of exercises and machines and incorporate plyometrics and other forms of cardio into their routines.

While the specifics may have changed, the goal of bodybuilding remains the same: to build a robust and aesthetic physique.

Classic Golden Era Bodybuilding Poses

Many of these golden era poses are still seen in the sport of bodybuilding today.

Some are no longer seen and have faded away as bodybuilding has evolved.

Here are some of the most famous golden era poses:

Vacuum Pose – The vacuum pose was popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu in the 1970s.

golden vacuum pose

To do this pose, bodybuilders would flex their abs and suck in their gut as hard as possible. This created the illusion of a smaller waist and bigger muscles.

The vacuum pose is still used today and is a great way to show off your lower abdominals.

Mantis Pose – The mantis pose was named after the praying mantis, created by Frank Zane.

To do this pose, bodybuilders would stand with their feet together and lean forward, placing their hands on their knees. This accentuated the latissimus dorsi (or “lats”), the large muscles that run down the sides of the back.

Myth Pose – The myth pose was created by Steve Reeves, one of the most iconic golden era bodybuilding poses.

golden myth pose

To do this pose, bodybuilders would stand with their feet together and raise one arm overhead while holding a dumbbell in the other hand. This created the illusion of a larger chest and shoulders and showed off the abdominal muscles.

Lat Spread Pose – The lat spread pose was created by Larry Scott, one of the most popular bodybuilding poses on stage.

golden lat spread pose

To do the lat spread pose, bodybuilders would stand with their feet shoulder-width apart and raise their arms overhead. This would cause the lats to “spread” and create a winged effect.

Front Double Bicep Pose – Bodybuilders would flex their chest and biceps to do this pose. This would show the chest definition and the bicep mass to the judges from the front.

Rear Double Bicep Pose – The rear double bicep pose is the same as the front double bicep pose, but it is done with the back muscles instead of the chest and abdominals.

The “Thinker” Pose – The thinker pose was created by Reg Park, and it is one of the most classic Golden Era bodybuilding poses.

Bodybuilders would sit on their heels with their hands on their knees to do this pose. This showed off the muscles of the back and legs and the abdominal muscles.

Side Chest Pose – The side chest pose is similar to the front double bicep pose, but it is done from the side. This allows bodybuilders to show off their latissimus dorsi muscles and chest and shoulder muscles.

Side Triceps Pose – The side triceps pose is another classic Golden Era bodybuilding pose. To do this pose, bodybuilders would flex their triceps and raise their arms overhead. This showed off the size and definition of the triceps muscles.

golden triceps pose

Most Muscular Pose – The most muscular pose is the final pose in a bodybuilding competition, and it is the one that allows bodybuilders to show off all of their hard work.

This generic pose would show off all of the bodybuilder’s muscle groups.

Golden Era Famous Bodybuilders

The Golden Era of bodybuilding was a time of great experimentation and innovation.

Bodybuilders were pushing the limits of what was possible, and they created some of the most iconic poses that are still used today.

They were all known for their incredibly muscular physiques and innovative posing routines for the time.

Larry Scott – Larry was one of the first professional bodybuilders, and he popularized the side chest pose.

He was also known for his incredibly wide shoulders, which earned him the nickname “The Golden Eagle.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Arnold is one of the most famous bodybuilders of all time, and he popularized many Golden Era poses.

Some of his signature poses include the front double biceps pose and the rear double biceps pose.

He was also known for his amazing quads, which he showed off in the abdominal and thighs pose.

Franco Columbu – Franco was another famous Golden Era bodybuilder, and he was known for his incredibly symmetrical physique.

He popularized the most muscular pose, which is still used in competitions today.

Lou Ferrigno – Lou was known for his massive size and was the first bodybuilder to ever be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

He popularized the side chest pose and was also one of the first bodybuilders to use posing trunks instead of traditional posing briefs.

These Golden Era bodybuilders changed the landscape of bodybuilding and created some of the most iconic poses that are still used today.

Wrap Up

What do you think of hearing the phrase “Golden Era bodybuilding”? 

For many, it conjures up images of incredibly muscular men with physiques that are simply unattainable for the average person.

If you’re a fan of classic bodybuilding, then be sure to check out our blog post on the some of the best golden Era and modern poses seen on IFBB and competition stages today:

Do you have a favorite Golden Era bodybuilding pose? Let us know in the comments!

Matt Mahony
Latest posts by Matt Mahony (see all)

Matt Mahony

Matt Mahony has been a personal trainer for over a decade, helping people from all walks of life get in shape and stay healthy. He is originally from Portland, ME but now resides in Colorado. A self-proclaimed "gym rat," Matt loves nothing more than spending time in the weight room or on the basketball court.

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