Natural bodybuilding is all about making the best out of the genetic cards you were dealt. While this can be discouraging at times, especially when comparing one’s own genetics with those of a genetic freak, it is also encouraging.
Maximizing Your Genetics Naturally
If you can diagnose your genetic weaknesses you can target them twice as much in the gym and with proper training and diet chisel away at them to a considerable extent.
For example if you have naturally small shoulders you can place a training emphasis on overhead pressing over flat benching, on dumbbell lateral raises over front flyes, etc.
While obviously not natural, Arnold was still a master of dialing in poses that accentuated his massive arms and huge chest shelf. Not saying he was particularly lacking in any other categories, but he knew enough to place emphasis on his strong points.
In addition to targeting your weak areas to help bring them up in line with your genetically strong areas, it also helps to get your posture and posing dialed in to maximize the visual aesthetic of what you’re working with.
Posing is no joke. The right pose can make the difference between a “do you even lift?” picture and a “is this dude on gear or nah” picture. Seriously, angles and lighting does M-I-R-A-C-L-E-S for aesthetics.
If you haven’t been practicing your posing and identifying your strong points you should start now so you are ready the next time someone breaks out the camera for an impromptu photo shoot.
Perfect Your Posing
First and foremost, if you don’t get your posing right it won’t matter how hard you diet or how hardcore you train. Getting your bodybuilding poses down pat is the very first place to start in maximizing your visual aesthetic.
Posing is fun to work on because you probably do it regularly without even realizing your doing it. I mean seriously, who doesn’t finish a solid chest workout day with a good 5 minutes of flexing in the bathroom mirror want they get home?!
Instead of just “winging” it though, why not use these post-workout, pre-shower time to be productive and get actual official bodybuilding poses dialed in?
Since you’re flexing the guns anyways might as well learn how to do it right so you can dial in poses that maximize your best angles to make you look the most impressive.
You can practice and look like an idiot in the privacy of your own bathroom and once you get your core poses down you can bust them out next time you’re at the beach or get a raging pump in the gym.
Youtube is the biggest and best database of bodybuilding posing materials on earth. The problem is though there are just so many “experts” who all give different advice and sifting through the thousands of videos can be a bit daunting.
Below are some great authorities that can get you started on your bodybuilding posing journey:
Bodybuilding.com’s Posing 101 Guide
Bodybuilding.com has a whole competition preparation guide where they walk amateur bodybuilders through the process from nutrition and training all the way to on-stage presence and posing.
Written by Layne Norton, PhD, the posing guide can be downloaded as a PDF so you can print it up, tape it to your bathroom wall and use it as a reference so you can work through all 18 of the official competition poses to hone your craft.
Layne Norton has his degree in biochemistry and his doctorate in nutritional sciences, so he knows a thing or two about natty bodybuilding, especially the supplementation side of things. He’s also no slouch in the gym, being the current IPF and USAPL world and national record holder in the squat at 668lb weighing just 93 kg.
The guide published by Layne on Bodybuilding.com is a great place to start just like having a copy of the periodic table of elements is a great reference for those starting out in the world of chemistry.
Once you’ve got your fundamentals down, it’s time to do some further digging..
Arnold Shwarzenegger’s New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding
Also referred to as “The Bible of Bodybuilding” this 842 page covers everything you need to know to grow your bodybuilding career. From training advice, to form perfection and diet “da bible” (read in an Austrian accent) has everything you need to be at the top of your aesthetic game, whether you are full natty or not.
Complete with detailed how-to guides and tons of high quality pictures, Shwarzenegger’s bodybuilding bible includes a healthy section specifically on posing, something that Arnold is known for to this day.
Arnold as an abnormally tall bodybuilder which required him getting creative to out-pose some of his more stout competition. Posing is all about maximizing your angles to hide your genetic weaknesses and highlight your genetic strengths.
This is a great book to pick up, not just for the posing but for soaking up the overall ethos of the man who defined the sport of bodybuilding.
The Godfather’s Guide to Posing by Jeff Alberts
If you haven’t heard of 3D Muscle Journey you are either living on Mars or not really into bodybuilding as much as you claim.
The 3DMJ team is comprised of Jeff Alberts, Eric Helms, Brad Loomis, Alberto Nunez and Andrea Valdez, all titans of natural bodybuilding. 3DMJ’s mission is to create a community of education and shared learning to help drug-free athletes reach their maximum genetic potentials.
3D Muscle Journey produces content and offers bodybuilding education via podcast, blog posts, videos and newsletters. They also sell a variety of digital products. One of these products is The Godfather’s Guide to Posing.
The Godfather’s guide covers every single detail you need for perfecting your posing down to the millimeter. This guide is not for beginners, it is for people who plan on competing in front of judges.
The guide runs $25 and comes with 127 pages of slides packed with images and posing tips as well as over 10 unique voiceover videos to help dial in and explain all of the visuals.
At the half the cost of a tub of protein this guide is definitely worth investing if you plan on getting serious about your bodybuilding in the near future.
Get Your Lighting Right
On top of getting your posing right you’ll also want to get your lighting right to maximize your overall appearance.
Avoid highly lit spaces, especially those that are filled with tons of natural light as this super bright light has a tendency to wash out the crevices and shadows created by a muscular physique.
You also want to avoid overly dark rooms as not having enough light means you’ll just look undefined and obscured. Light is an augmentation tool to increase the visual impact your physique makes.
The best kind of lightning is “medium” lightning. This means a space that isn’t flooded by outdoor light or large banks of ceiling mounted fluorescent white lights as these will wash you out. The ideal lighting is comprised of a series of individual spotlight-type ceiling mounted lights that shine from the top down.
Having light come from the top down will really accentuate the shadows of your physique, which in turn dramatize your muscles outlines.
Top down warm (think yellow light, not bright white or LED light) light is the best for creating an Instagram worthy aesthetic shot.
Get Tan & Smooth
To minimize your dependence on quality lighting for producing a solid physique you should also consider getting tan and shaving. We recently published a one-stop guide on body grooming for men where we review the best body shaving solutions of 2018.
Once shaved and smooth then we can move onto addressing the skin tone issue.
Tan physiques visually look more impressive than pale white physiques. This is a fact and the reason why at every single bodybuilding show ever all of the contestants cover themselves in fake tan.
The dark brown or bronze color makes muscles appear more voluminous and also accentuates the lines (between six back segments for example).
If you are a model and do a lot of photoshoots, or if you are just looking to build your social media with more professional bodybuilding shots it may be worth investing in your own self-tan spray machine.
Self-tanning creams that you rub in are inconsistent at best as the manual application can result in inconsistent coverage. A dedicated spray tan machine will disperse the tanning compounds evenly over your body for a more natural look.
The top selling and best rated tanning machines are:
The Maxi-Mist Lite Plus Kit
The Maxi-Mist brand is one of the most highly reviewed and best selling brands of self-spray tanning equipment out there. They sell complete kits that contain everything you need to get ready for a photoshoot including:
- A tent to contain the spray and provide privacy
- Tanning solution supply
- Spray machine
Maxi-Mist products come with a 1-year warranty and are built to last with unique clog-free spray tech. Their equipment is all tested and certified by CE, EU, and ECAL electrical appliance regulatory bodies.
- OVER 10,000 SOLD!!! - Available in alternate tent colors Black Or Pink Tent . Search Amazon for ASIN# B005ZSHYYM (Black Tent) or B006WEZ5WQ (Pink Tent)
- Home/Mobile/Backup unit for 10 plus applications a day. Includes Professional Style Heavy Fabric Tent, avaiable in three colors, with Oversized Carry Bag Very Beginner Friendly on board gun storage Lightweight Mobile design
- Spray Gun with horizontal and vertical pattern and flow adjustments Non-stick needle for virtually clog free performance
- Cup features conical design and wide base for optimal solution pickup 1 year warranty on Turbine Motor
- Detailed Instruction Manual CE, EU, ECAL Certifications Spare parts kit included free Complete New System ready to spray out of the box.Includes Tampa Bay Tan Spray Tanning Products that are 100% Vegan, Not Tested
When investing in something you will use for years it makes sense to go with the crowd and buy something that is time tested and highly reviewed.
Black Fascination FX Spray Kit
We like this one just because of the name. Seriously..the “black fascination”…. what more need we say? “honey, the photoshoot is in an hour, can you go grab my Black Fascination?!”
All jokes aside, the Black Fascination FX Spray Tan Kit is a one-stop solution for the DIY spray tanner. Like the above Maxi-Mist, “the Fascination” comes with a nice all black privacy tent for spraying, three bottles of tanning solution and a powerful tanning spray gun to apply the compounds.
Unique selling points of the Black Fascination include:
- Unique metal spray needle for durability and ultra-fine spray pattern
- Lightweight design for easy portability, great for mobile photo shoots
- Comes with 3 different types of tan solution for different settings/occasions
- Solutions are all natural, contain organic DHA and other antioxidants like caffeine, vitamins A,C,E and B5 for healthy skin maintenance
The Black Fascination kit also comes with a 1-year warranty and is the second most popular and highly rated spray tan kit on the market after the Maxi-Mist.
- Bundle includes: Black Fascination FX Spray Tanning System with spray gun and hose, Focus Tanning Solution Bundle, and a "SkyLight" design tent with carrying bag.
- FX-Design Spray Gun Applicator with Fluid Control Knob, Adjustable Spray Patterns and Low Maintenance Nozzle
- Extra Large "Skylight" Style Spray Tanning Tent with Carrying Bag
- Focus Tanning Solution Bundle: 8 oz - Luminance Medium Dark, 8 oz - Radiance Ultra Dark, 8 oz - Vibrance Rapid Develop DarkTan. Focus is a Vitamin-enriched formula (A, C, E, B5) that features the anti-oxidant properties of caffeine, which leaves the skin rejuvenated, protected and moisturized with a healthy natural glow. Natural DHA. No parabens!
- Lightweight and Quiet: Perfect for mobile use or for a salon environment!
One important thing to consider before investing in tanning equipment is that it works best on hairless bodies. If you have a lot of chest hair and/or back hair you’ll want to take care of that before getting into the tanning game as the hair will both block spray tan as well as natural sunlight if you are going the outdoor route.
Alternatively, instead of spray tanning, which is the healthiest option for creating that “bronze god/goddess” appearance, you can just lather on some sunscreen and go outside in the sun to get your tan on.
Once tan your muscles will pop more in photos and you’ll look substantially more cut than you probably are.
So by dialing in your posing, by understanding the importance of lightning, and by getting your tan on you can significantly increase the “wow-factor” of your natty physique so that you appear “half-natty”.
Do you have any unique tips you use to increase the visual impact of your physique? Share them with our community in the comments below!
Last update on 2018-11-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API