While visiting the gym or browsing through bodybuilding magazines and blogs, have you noticed that most bodybuilders have no body hair? What became of the body hair? That’s exactly right. They have to shave it off.
If you are even remotely serious about becoming a pro bodybuilder, you might be surprised to learn that getting rid of body hair is an essential step in that direction.
Notice the sculpted guys on magazine covers, dudes on the beach with their perfect six-pack abs and body glistening in the sun. They have no body hair. Shaving is therefore super important for bodybuilders.
Shaving is REQUIRED To Win Bodybuilding Competitions
There is a fundamental difference between bodybuilding and other sports that are related to strength training.
At its utmost core, bodybuilding is an aesthetic sport. Bodybuilders are trying to look as good as possible. When you will be on that stage, posing for the judges, they will be ranking you against multiple criteria; these may include body symmetry, muscle development and conditioning among others.
What we are trying to get at here is that as a bodybuilder, your goal is to look your best.
And that involves looking well sculpted and smooth. This is why body hair is widely frowned upon in the world of bodybuilding.
The problem is, in any bodybuilding competition, you need the tiniest advantages to win. When you have hair on your body, you are actually making your body look WORSE to the judges!
Judges are looking for the tiniest things to give those tiny points that differentiate the 1st and 2nd place winner. Those tiny differences include the smallest muscle shadows, striations, and angles. Because of this, ANY body hair will reduce your chance of winning as it will hide the body you’ve worked hard to sculpt.
Let’s go in-depth about what specifically that body hair can hide from the judges.
What Your Body Hair Will Hide From The Judges
- Aesthetics: A shaved body simply looks better. The smooth skin look that a shaved body gives off is unmatched. Consider if you were the only bodybuilder on stage that did not shave their body hair. It would put you at a significant disadvantage because others would have shaved theirs off. And they’d be looking way better to the judges. Nothing beats a fully shaved, clean and smoothly oiled well built body.
- Shift focus to prominent muscles: Our body is built up of around six hundred muscles. But not all of them are on the surface and not all of them are equally prominent. This is where shaving comes in. Hair removal ensures that the most prominent and well sculpted muscles are fully visible and able to draw the attention of judges. Bodybuilding after all is all about looks, and shaving certainly helps with that.
- Achieve better muscle definition: Hair distorts the light falling on the body. One way to smoothen it out is oiling it up. And while that does work, it works even better when there is no hair on the skin. Hair tends to grow in regions with greater densities of sweat glands, the underarms for example. Cleaning the area out will definitely add to your overall look. Also, necessary is getting rid of hair on the arms and legs since they block definition of the muscles from view.
- Reduces sweating: Having a cleaner profile reduces the aggregate amount of sweat that the body produces. We have to remember that sweat pores and hair roots lie at the same exact position on the skin. Naturally, areas that have less hair will sweat less. This not only helps with the overall look, but also during training.
How To Shave As Bodybuilders
When it comes to getting rid of body hair, the markets are flooded with all different sorts of products.
In your day and day life, I recommend just using the Phillips Norelco 3500. It’s cheap, around $30, and will get you basically clean shave without needing shaving gel, plus it only takes a few minutes to use.
However, if you are going to step on stage, you need to use shaving cream and a razor. There is no other way to get a cleaner shave before a competition, and you want to give yourself the best advantage possible.
First Time Shaving
If you’ve never shaved before, starting with a razor might not be the best option for you. The longer hair on the body will start cogging the blade up and it will basically take forever to get your entire body done.
This is exactly why an electric trimmer/clipper is recommended for first-timers. Use an electric clipper to clip that longer hair into shorter ones which can then be pretty easily taken out by the razor.
- This video above gives incredible advice on how to do shaving for bodybuilders.
Once you are past the clipping stage, it’s time to lather on the shaving cream. The first step is to take a lot of shaving cream and lather the body up. It’s very similar to how you shave your face – make sure the skin is covered well in foam.
Start shaving the hair off starting your chest, then shoulders moving to the biceps, and then the forearms.
You will notice a few hours after your first shaving session, at certain places the skin has red bumps that might even hurt or have a burning sensation even. This kind of rash is a natural response of the skin and is known as “razor burn”. Basically, your skin was subjected to a new kind of treatment which it hadn’t seen before. You don’t have to worry about it too much; as it goes away automatically. Eventually, your skin will ‘harden up’ to being shaved and you should stop seeing rashes.
A common fear that first-timers or people who have never shaved before is that they will shave their nipples off. The best strategy would be to work around the nipple and basically hide it with your finger when you are doing the chest region to avoid any kind of damage.
Keeping The Profile Clean
Your first shaving session might take up to an hour but eventually, a full body can be done in under ten minutes. The key is to do it frequently enough so that the hair does not grow long enough. If you let the hair grow long again, it may take forever to get them off again. While it depends on the person’s body, shaving it weekly is a good practice to keep a clean profile and prevent long hair at the same time.
Do Bodybuilders Shave Their Legs?
Yes, bodybuilders do shave their legs! Without shaving their legs, the leg hair would cover up some of the most important muscles being judged in a competition.
For instance, the striations of the quadriceps going into the knee may be covered or hidden, and likewise, the hamstring muscle “strings” (for lack of a better term) would also be harder to see. These are critical in any bodybuilding competition!
Do Bodybuilders Shave Their Arms?
Yes, bodybuilders shave their arms! Without shaving their arms, they would likely lose a ton of points as it would hide critical insertions, striations, and angles that are important in bodybuilding competitions.
For instance, the forearm muscles would likely be very hard to see – especially at the distance the judges are at. It would make the forearm insertions into the elbow area impossible to see and judge. And depending on how hairy the person is, it may even hide their tricep and bicep insertions towards the elbow too. These things are HUGE in bodybuilding.
Do Bodybuilders Shave Their Armpits?
Yes, bodybuilders do shave their armpits! If bodybuilders didn’t shave their armpits, they’d probably lose a lot of points just because the judges would think of it as unclean and unsanitary.
Furthermore, it would also restrict the view towards the tricep/bicep insertions towards the shoulder, and also restrict the view of the lats from the front and much of the shoulder joint.
In bodybuilding, it’s best to shave the pits.
Do Bodybuilders Shave Their Chest?
Yes! Bodybuilders do shave their chests. The pecs are some of the most important things in bodybuilding, so having hair covering some of the insertions towards the center and the edge of the chest will do nothing but lose you points.
A chest really completes a physique in the bodybuilding world. If you have a small chest, the rest of your physique will just fall apart. If you have a big chest, it really makes you look massive. But, the chest is graded so strictly on how it looks from the front, side, and even the striations visible when you flex them.
Any hair covering the chest is a bad idea. And bodybuilding judges likely will dock you points for having it as it looks very unclean.
Do Bodybuilders Shave Their Back?
Yes, bodybuilders do shave their back! The lats, aka the back muscles, are some of the most important muscles in a bodybuilding competition. Any hair covering your back will lose to serious point loss, here’s why:
The back is obviously judged on size, but it’s more importantly judged on how shredded your back looks. A great 3D back that wows the judges will have a lot of size, but also have tons of striations and folds. You should almost ideally have the famous “Christmas Tree” back– which has now become one of the most famous bodybuilding poses.
Basically, the bodybuilders flex their lower back almost ‘tucking it under’ their upper back to create a ‘Christmas tree’. It’s INSANE to see on stage, and shows how much work a bodybuilder does.
Long story short, shave your back. Any hair will hide the delicate striations the judges are desperately looking for to give you points.
Do Bodybuilders Shave Their Head?
Yes AND No, most bodybuilders shave their heads, but often not by choice. In a bodybuilding competition, you generally won’t lose points for hair as long as your hairstyle isn’t obscene or looks weird. But, always check the competition guidelines before you go, as this can vary by competition.
Most bodybuilders shave their heads not by choice. Most bodybuilders are using performance enhancers, which often leads to serious hair loss. They shave their heads to not reveal the hair loss they have.
Generally speaking though, if you’re in a natural bodybuilding competition, your hairstyle shouldn’t affect anything. This comes from the idea that most people cannot control their hair, as it’s mostly genetic. So, it’s weird to judge someone based on that.
- Read: Do Bodybuilders Tan?
Some people have argued that shaving your head makes your head look smaller, in turn making your body look bigger.
Regardless, in any idea, it’s best to check the competition guidelines before you go. If you have doubts, just shave the whole head. It’s safer and most guys will be doing it anyways. But, if you really like your hairstyle- as long as it’s not obscene- it shouldn’t change much.
Coming back to the important question, yes, bodybuilders do shave. As we have learned, the very essence of professional bodybuilding lies in looking your best. A full-body shave lends that extra aesthetic look to your overall muscle profile. Shaving can have multiple benefits, provided, it is done in a proper manner.