While the most-muscular pose, or crab shot, isn’t officially a mandatory pose, most amateur and professional physique athletes are called on to perform it. It’s a bodybuilding favorite because it highlights upper-body mass and muscularity more than any other pose. Even so, many people feel it presents a very ugly picture. In my opinion, however, the real problem isn’t that it’s such an ugly pose from the neck down but that it looks so ugly from the neck up.
Let’s take it from the top. Position your legs so one leg supports your weight and the other is straight in front of you with the heel on the floor, the knee locked and the foot flexed back to show your lower-thigh striations or with the knee bent and turned slightly outward to highlight your inside calf and the so-called cord, or sartorius, of your quadriceps. Whichever variation you choose, you want to keep the toe pointed. The supporting leg is also bent at the knee for greater stabilization and balance, and if you angle the foot to the outside so that leg is also turned out, it creates a better sweep to the quad.
Raise your arms out to your sides as if you were holding onto cables for crossovers. Bring your arms around in front of you and down to your abdominal region so your fists are together, and at the same time inhale and raise your rib cage as much as possible. Point your elbows out to the sides.
I want to emphasize that last point. Bodybuilders frequently do this pose with their arms tucked into their sides and their elbows pointing back. Granted, you can better flex your pecs in that position. That’s why you bring your elbows together on the pec-deck machine. When you keep your arms at your sides, however, the judges can’t see the muscularity in your arms and it makes your torso look narrow.
The final step is to flex your trapezius muscles. Still holding your shoulders down, rotate your shoulder girdle forward. That isn’t easy to do, as you must be careful not to let your shoulders rise as if you were doing a shrug. When your traps are flexed, your shoulder blades stick up, which makes you look hunchbacked from the rear, and your lats are nowhere to be found. The fact is, you can’t flex your traps and lats at the same time. So if your shoulder blades are not sticking up and the back muscles right underneath your armpits are hard, then your shoulder girdle is not rotated forward and your lats are flexed.
The correct movement to show off your abs in this pose is to rotate your hips up by squeezing your glutes. That naturally tilts your torso back just enough to display your abs without appearing clumsy.
My standard comment about controlling your facial expression goes double for this pose. And don’t rotate your clenched fists around each other during the pose. It won’t improve your muscle control, and, frankly, it looks ridiculous.
Here’s a recap:
1) Position yourself with one leg forward, with your knee locked straight ahead or turned outward and slightly bent and your other leg turned slightly out and bearing your weight.
2) Holding your shoulders down, raise your rib cage as you inhale.
3) Bring your arms out and around in front of you as if you were doing a cable crossover. Keep your elbows out to your sides and flex your arms.
4) Flex your traps by rotating your shoulders down and forward. Lean slightly forward or squeeze your glutes to naturally lean back and crunch your abs.
5) Control your facial expression, and don’t rotate your fists around each other.
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].