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Posing Platform: Abs and thighs for gasps and sighs

More posing tips from the incomparable Russ Testo.

We’re down to the seventh and final mandatory pose, the adbominals-and-thighs shot’or should we call it the how-well-you-said-no-to-sugar-fats-and-salt pose?

As I’ve stressed throughout this series, the leg muscles are an important part of the execution of all the mandatory positions. If the judges and audience didn’t get a good look at your quads during the previous poses, they’ll definitely see them now.

As always, you position yourself from the feet up. Even if it’s not required for the contest, pose with one leg forward because it makes for a more aesthetic appearance.

Bring the leg forward, locking at the knee and pointing your toe. From there turn your leg outward, bending the knee slightly to bring out your inside calf, sartorius and upper-quad separation. Pointing the toe is very important here, as you have to do it in order to flex your calf. It also looks a lot more aesthetically pleasing.

Moving up the leg to the hip, it’s a good trick to turn the hip of the forward leg slightly inward to show off your intercostals and serratus development. In other words, if your left leg is forward, you turn the left hip to the right to emphasize the left intercostals and serratus. The pose requires placing your two hands behind your head. I like to put them on the back of my neck, one over the other. Take a deep breath as you position your hands, then bring your head up so you’re looking forward and at the same time force your shoulders down and forward to flex your lats. An option here is to open your arms so your elbows are out to the sides instead of straight on. This lets you show your biceps a bit more. If you decide to do it this way, make sure you form your hands into fists, with your palms down, to fully peak your biceps.

Your next step is to exhale the deep breath that you took when you put your hands behind your head and at the same time crunch down on your abdominals to fully bring them out. Be careful that you don’t come too far forward; you want to avoid the point at which your skin is folding loosely over the muscle. The other extreme, of course, would be to lean too far back, which looks very awkward. After you complete the pose with one foot forward, switch to the other leg and repeat for that side.

I’ve always been impressed by a good vacuum. It’s a great way to achieve a narrow-waisted look, but even more impressive is the movement from the vacuum into the abdominal crunch.

My final suggestion involves turning your hip to show your intercostals and serratus. Too many bodybuilders try to emphasize these muscle on both sides with the same foot forward, crunching and stretching back and forth from side to side, with the results looking like a modern rendition of the merengue. If you turn your hip slightly and show your side development at the same time, you won’t be moving your hip back and forth’and you can leave the merengue to the ballroom dancers.

Here’s how to do the perfect abdominals-and-thighs pose:

1) Position yourself with one leg forward, with the knee locked straight ahead or turned outward and slightly bent and the hip turned inward or forward.

2) Inhale, then place both hands behind your neck, lift your head up, force your shoulders down and flex your lats. You may also want to open your elbows out to your sides to show your biceps.

3) Exhale and crunch down on your abs, being careful not to bring your upper body too far forward or hold it too far back.

4) Include the vacuum if you perform it well.

5) Avoid doing the modern-day merengue.

6) Repeat to the other side with your opposite foot forward.

Editor’s note: To contact Russ Testo for exhibitions, posing seminars or personal posing choreography via videotape, write to 3 Oxford Road, Troy, NY 12180; call (518) 274-0952; or send e-mail to [email protected].

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