Why Do Bodybuilders Tan? The Tan Factor: A Game-Changer!

If you are into bodybuilding, you must have considered using a fake tan at some point or the other. That’s because nearly all bodybuilders undergo vigorous tanning sessions before a professional competition.

But why is that the case?

The main reason why bodybuilders tan so much and so often is that doing so makes their physique look even better, especially under the stage lights.

The effects are so prominent that using tools like a spray tan or tanning lamps has become an industry norm. Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case.

Why Does Bodybuilders’ Skin Look Different?

If you take a closer look at a professional bodybuilder, you would notice that their skin looks very different compared to a normal person’s. There are many reasons behind this.

Firstly, bodybuilders like to get tanned. They do so because a darker, bronze skin complexion highlights their muscles and makes them look even fitter.

The effects of tanning are pronounced – it can alter the tone, texture, and overall appearance of the bodybuilder’s skin.

Apart from tanning, other factors like low body fat, increased vascularity, striations, and definition can also make a bodybuilder’s skin appear a bit different.

Why Do Bodybuilders Tan

Why Do Bodybuilders Tan?

Bodybuilders applying a lot of artificial tan before a professional competition or an event is not a fashion statement. It’s a part of their regime.

While it’s not mandatory to get tanned before these sporting events, most bodybuilders still do.

Why is that the case? Let’s find out.

Tanning Highlights Muscle Definition

Tanning Highlights Muscle Definition

One of the main reasons why bodybuilders get tanned is because having a darker skin tone can make their muscles look much more prominent.

The tan, especially bronze or darker shades, can highlight the separations between various muscles and make the body look more defined and toned.

Having the appearance of fuller muscles can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing for these professional bodybuilders.

Tanning Highlights Vascularity

If you have big muscles and no vascularity, you still won’t look as good. That’s why bodybuilders tan so dark.

They want to get a skin tone that can highlight and maximise their vascularity. Darker skin complexions can make the veins and arteries more prominent.

So, getting tanned can make a bodybuilder’s physique look more complete by highlighting both – the muscle definition as well as the vascularity.

Tanning Hides Blemishes

Both natural tan and fake tan can help individuals cover their skin imperfections or blemishes. If you spend hours working out at the gym, you definitely must have some stretch marks or scars.

While they are completely natural and also something to be proud of, bodybuilders often attempt to hide them by using a spray tan or other artificial tan. That’s because doing so will shift the focus of the judges to the muscle definition and not on blemishes or imperfections.

So, temporarily covering blemishes with an artificial tan is actually a tactic that professional bodybuilders use to increase their chances of winning a competition.

Tanning Gives the Illusion of Being Slimmer

Tanning Gives the Illusion of Being Slimmer

Another big advantage of tanning is that it might help your body appear slimmer in key areas. In bodybuilding competitions, judges assess several key areas of your body, like around the waist, to evaluate how slim and toned your physique looks.

A competitive body, therefore, needs to have minimal body fat and larger muscles. Using a fake tan, you can create the illusion of a slimmer body and also highlight your muscle definition, resulting in a two-fold advantage.

However, it’s important to note that this only works if your overall body fat percentage is less than 10%.

Tanning Makes Skin Tone Appear Even

You might not know it, but most people (including probably you) have an uneven skin tone. For example, your legs (which are generally covered under layers of clothing) might have a different tone compared to your arms (which are generally exposed to sunlight).

While this is a natural thing, it does not give the most competitive appearance during a bodybuilding competition.

By getting their bodies tanned, bodybuilders make their skin tone look more consistent and presentable during professional competitions.

Tanning Absorbs Bright Lights

Let us paint you a situation – you have worked out like crazy for the past year trying to prepare an amazing body for a big competition. You forget to get tanned. When you present yourself on the stage, your pale body becomes entirely washed against the dazzling lights hovering above you.

This is one of the main reasons why bodybuilders tan so dark before a professional competition. The stage lights in a bodybuilding event are very bright and harsh. If you have a lighter skin tone, you won’t be properly visible to the judges.

That’s why you’ll see people use bronze tans to get the picture-perfect physique that they need to woo the judges. Darker skin tones absorb bright lights. That’s why a tanned body can hold its own against the dazzling lights used in bodybuilding competitions.

Tanning Boosts Confidence

Nowadays, a professional bodybuilding competition is not just about flexing your well-built muscles in front of a panel of judges. You need to be good at everything – your posture, your physique, and your confidence.

Having a strong stage presence is an important factor in separating the winner from the losers in a tightly-knit bodybuilding competition. Flexing your body under an array of bright lights while barely being clothed requires a lot of confidence.

By getting your body tanned, you might just get that extra burst of confidence needed to win the judges.

Tanning Acts as a Criteria for Assessment

Bodybuilding is a competitive industry. There are so many tightly-wound competitions with experienced veterans that judges need to consider many factors to declare the winner.

To give you an example, here’s an excerpt from the rulebook of the IFBB Pro League:

“The judge should also look for good skin tone with an absence of surgical or other scars, spots, acne, or tattoos, which the IFBB considers as skin blemish, tidily dressed hair, well-shaped feet, and toes. When having difficulty in placing two or more competitors who seem to be on the same level, the judge should look for faults in those aspects listed above which will help differentiate among the competitors.”

Tanning is important bodybuilding weaponry that can hide these blemishes and separate the winners from losers. It has become an important criterion for assessments to differentiate between two close-knit competitors.

Tanning Gives a Healthy Appearance

Part of the reason why tanning is so popular among bodybuilders is that dark complexions and tanned bodies are often associated with health and fitness.

People simply assume that people with tanned skin are more likely to go outside and exercise.

Thus, darker skin complexions are now associated with health and fitness. That’s why it’s become a norm for bodybuilders to get tanned so often, even when there are no professional competitions around the corner.

Tanning Makes the Body More Photogenic

Professional bodybuilders need to maintain a good online presence and social media profile. As such, they need to get really good pictures of their bodies.

Getting a tan can help bodybuilders look more attractive, muscular, and photogenic during photoshoots.

That’s why bodybuilders tan so much, even during the off-season.

Tanning Accentuates Symmetry

A well-tanned physique can look more symmetrical and balanced. That’s an important factor in determining the overall appearance of a body.

While it’s very difficult to build a physique that is completely symmetrical, tanning might give you the illusion that it is. Conventionally, symmetrical bodies are perceived to be more attractive and can help bodybuilders win important competitions.

What Tan Do Bodybuilders Use?

There are various kinds of tanning products and tools that bodybuilders use to prepare for professional competitions.

Using creams, supplements, tanning beds, and spray tanning are some common options that bodybuilders often explore as per their requirements.

Apart from that, there are several tanning sprays, mousses, and water-based products that you can find online.

However, most bodybuilders only use fake tans before a professional competition. Relying solely on these artificial products might lead to some side effects like itching or discomfort during the performance.

As such, many professional bodybuilders also like to get tanned under natural sunlight before they take the next step and apply a fake tan.

Why Do Bodybuilders Have Shiny Skin?

You must have noticed that bodybuilders often possess abnormally shiny skin. Is that a result of tanning as well?

Not entirely. While bodybuilders do apply layers of tan on their bodies, oiling is also an integral part of their stage preparation.

Oil makes the muscles look more prominent and creates a chiselled appearance. It also makes the skin look very shiny compared to dry skin.

Don’t miss:

Should You Tan Before or After Your Workout
What To Wear In A Tanning Bed
Planet Fitness Tanning (Beginner’s Guide)
Anytime Fitness Tanning (Beginner’s Guide)

Final Words

Having tanned skin can provide many competitive advantages to bodybuilders, especially during professional events. It makes their bodies look more muscular, slimmer, chiselled, and aesthetically pleasing.

As such, it’s only natural that bodybuilders like to tan their bodies so often.