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Bodybuilding 101: The Flexicon

New to bodybuilding? Here are all the terms— for poses, divisions, and other unique elements of the sport—you need to know.

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Bodybuilding 101: The Flexicon
Per Bernal

ABS AND THIGH A hands-behind-the-head pose in which the competitor flexes abdominals and one leg.

ARNOLD CLASSIC One of two esteemed bodybuilding events, held in Columbus, OH, each March.

BIKINI The least muscular female division; emphasizes beauty.

BODYBUILDING Where the big boys compete. Contests are judged on size, shape, symmetry, and conditioning. Unlike the amateurs, open pro shows for men and women have no weight divisions, so, to steer clear of the behemoths, lighter men usually compete in the 212 division.

CALLOUT When the head judge calls closely matched competitors to the center of the stage for side-by-side comparisons. Members of the first callout typically ll out the top places.

CLASSIC MEN’S PHYSIQUE In this division, aesthetics, symmetry, and leanness are at a premium. Weight limits, pegged to height, rebuke mass monsters.

CONDITIONING From smooth to ripped, a measure of leanness.

DEFINITION Visibility of muscles due to lean conditioning.

DOUBLE BICEPS A pose in which the competitor flexes both arms, this is the classic “make a muscle” pose. Struck in both front and rear versions.

FIGURE Halfway between bikini and physique, this women’s division stresses both beauty and muscle tone.

FINALS The second half of a contest, when routines are performed, more comparisons are made, and placings are announced. Usually separate from pre-judging and held at night.

FITNESS Women’s division with athletic routines showcasing vigor, balance, and strength.

IFBB PRO LEAGUE The premier federation for pro and pro-qualifier contests around the globe.

LAT SPREAD The back is unfurled to its widest while hands are on hips. Struck in both front and rear versions.

MANDATORY POSES Bodybuilding’s eight required poses, performed alone and in callouts. They are: front double biceps, front lat spread, side chest, side triceps, rear lat spread, rear double biceps, abs and thigh, and most-muscular. Despite these names, the entire physique is always judged.

MEN’S PHYSIQUE Aesthetics and upper-body conditioning are the two main focuses of this division. Instead of posing trunks, competitors wear board shorts. Needless to say, legs aren’t scrutinized by the judges.

MOST-MUSCULAR A chest-flexing, air-hugging pose. An alternate version is performed with hands on hips.

NPC National Physique Committee. America’s premier amateur federation.

OLYMPIA The ultimate event for all divisions. Competitors qualify by winning pro shows. Since its inception in 1965, the Mr. Olympia has been bodybuilding’s Super Bowl. Phil Heath, winner of the last seven Mr. Olympias, goes for a record-tying No. 8 in Las Vegas on Sept. 14 to 15.

POSEDOWN Near the end of the finals, this flexing free-for-all happens between the top bodybuilders.

PRE-JUDGING The first half of a contest, when competitors strike their mandatory poses alone and in callouts.

RIPPED Extreme definition. Other terms include peeled, shredded, diced, and high-def.

ROUTINE A posing or fitness performance at the finals, choreographed to music.

THE SANDOW The Mr. Olympia trophy, modeled after bodybuilding pioneer Eugene Sandow (1867–1925).

SHAPE Overall look of a physique and how muscles tie together.

SIDE CHEST A one-handed biceps pose seen from the side, showcasing chest shape and size.

SIDE TRICEPS The other mandatory side pose, in which the arm is straight down and flexed.

SMOOTH Lacking definition. 

SYMMETRY A balance between muscles, upper and lower body, and right and left sides.

212 DIVISION Pro bodybuilding class limited to men weighing no more than 212 pounds. Flex Lewis goes for his seventh straight 212 Mr. Olympia this September.

WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE Women’s division that’s more muscular than figure and bikini.

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