Why Do Bodybuilders Tan? (9 Reasons Why)

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Lucas Reynolds

Lucas Reynolds loves playing tennis, golf, and football the most. But really, he'll play any sport as long as it's competitive.

If you ever watch bodybuilding competitions, you’ll definitely notice the competitors’ tanned bodies. It has become a common feature in almost everyone practicing this sport. So, why do bodybuilders tan?

Many factors make a tan essential to bodybuilders. These factors range from aesthetic to professional. This article delves deeper into the world of bodybuilders to answer this question. Read on for nine different reasons why.

Why Do Bodybuilders Tan?

1. More Defined Muscles

The first and most important reason is that a tan can give the muscles a more defined look. I

t can be said that darker skin shows your muscles more prominently. In other words, a tan would call attention to the separations between the muscles, which gives them a more bulging shape.

In competitions, the definition and size of muscles are among the most important elements for judgment. Therefore, it’s considered smart to use a tan to show off muscles.

Several layers of self-tanners can be a bodybuilder’s last resort to highlight his/her muscles.

In fact, many bodybuilders choose an extra dark tan to accentuate the muscles on their legs, chests, arms, and torsos. A tan can mean the fine line between winning and losing.

2. The Illusion of a Slimmer Body

Reaching a balance between toned muscles and reduced body fat is one of the bodybuilder’s ultimate goals. This can be done through long hours at the gym or a multi-layer spray tan.

Spray tans give bodybuilders a leaner appearance because dark shades accentuate the inward and oblique abdomen muscles. Interestingly, having a slimmer waist is a recommended quality in bodybuilding competitions.

On top of that, tanning is incredibly effective in giving the illusion of a slimmer body. This is because the average percentage of body fat for most competitive bodybuilders is less than 10%.

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3. Assessment Criterion

Now, the judges of bodybuilding competitions take tan into account as one of the assessment criteria. This makes tanning an essential aspect to consider when preparing for a major competition.

However, the assessment of a bodybuilder’s tan isn’t clear-cut. It’s scoring actually varies. For instance, nothing tells you how many layers or how dark/light you should be. However, those bodybuilders who choose not to tan may risk losing points during an assessment.

4. Covering Up Skin Imperfections

Most bodybuilders suffer from stretch marks, which are common due to increased muscle size. For instance, it’s common for bodybuilders to develop stretch marks around the triceps, shoulders, and biceps after intensive weight training prior to competitions.

Besides, bodybuilders can have blemishes, scars, and other types of skin imperfections. For this matter, a fake tan can even out the skin tone and hide such marks. This ensures that the eyes of the judges are drawn only to the muscles instead of blemishes and stretch marks.

Therefore, many athletes resort to the trick of covering up their skin imperfections with temporary tans before competitions.

5. Boosting Confidence

Boosting Confidence

Knowing that your complexion would highlight your muscle definition and separations, a competing bodybuilder may get more confident with a darker tan.

Such confidence can give the bodybuilder a strong stage presence that is considered a pivotal factor in his/her assessment.

Think about it that way; the ability to flex your body on stage under the flashy spotlights needs you to be very confident. Therefore, it’s recommended that you tan in order to boost your confidence before competitions.

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6. Contrasts the Bright Light

Under the harshly bright stage lights, bodybuilders need tanning to stand out. In fact, such strong lights make skins with lighter tones appear washed out, which is the last thing a bodybuilder wants.

That’s why bodybuilders apply tans of dark bronze shades to allow their skin to absorb more light and highlight their physique on stage.

They typically use several layers in order not to look washed out to the judges, which can affect their overall score.

7. The Full Package

With dark-toned skin, you get to have the full package at bodybuilding competitions. You may say that dark-toned skin accentuates all the hard work done by the bodybuilder in preparation for the competition.

For example, a tan guarantees defined muscles, perfect skin, a lean body, and confidence for the bodybuilder.

If you think about it, this is more or less a summary of all the assessment criteria in such a competitive industry.

8. Better Looks

All in all, a tan looks good, especially with that toned body and perfectly aligned muscles. Although some bodybuilders tend to overdo it, it still looks better on stage than washed-out light-toned skin.

Arguably, looks are a matter of personal taste that can’t be defined. However, a tan is the way to go in the world of bodybuilding.

It has become widely believed that a tan would allow bodybuilders to reach their full potential, showing off their beautifully toned bodies.

9. Everyone Does It

According to the IFBB Pro League, a tan isn’t a mandatory aspect of the bodybuilders’ assessment. Instead, it’s a means of accentuating the best an athlete has to offer in bodybuilding competitions.

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However, tanning has become common practice to the extent that whoever doesn’t do it is left out. Every light-skinned bodybuilder now resorts to fake tans before competitions to skew the results in his/her favor.

It’s worth noting here that, unlike today, bodybuilders in the past didn’t use fake tans. Instead, the bodybuilders of the golden era used to get real sun tans.

There are several benefits to using a fake tan. First and foremost, athletes can easily apply it right before they get on stage. In addition, it’s temporary so they can remove it after the scores are out.

On top of all that, a fake tan is safer because to reach such dark tones under the sun, you risk your health.


Why do bodybuilders tan? There are nine different reasons for that. For starters, it gives the muscles more definition and underscores their separations.

Moreover, tanning gives athletes the whole package as they get confident, attractive, and visible to the judges in competitions.

Bodybuilders usually apply fake tans in order not to be left out as everyone does it in competitions.

No matter what they look like, these tanned muscles look amazing under the flashing stage light at competitions.


  • Lucas Reynolds

    Lucas Reynolds loves playing tennis, golf, and football the most. But really, he'll play any sport as long as it's competitive.

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