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Why Do Bodybuilders Tan Their Bodies 1

Why Do Bodybuilders Tan Their Bodies? Things You Need To Know


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If you have ever watched any competition on the television or been to one, especially if it’s bodybuilding competition, you would have probably noticed that bodybuilders often tan their bodies and you wonder what kind of tan makes them look so dark and why do bodybuilders have to be so tan?

Well, it’s definitely not gotten from sunbathing at a beach, rather, their tan is gotten from a spray tan. That’s how they are able to get themselves looking super tanned and even.


Why Do Bodybuilders Tan So Dark For Competition?

Why Do Bodybuilders Tan So Dark
bodybuilders tanned so dark

The reason bodybuilders tan their bodies is that tanning makes them appear leaner, thereby creating the perfect outline that contrasts with their muscles, making them look stronger.

You might wonder if the aim of bodybuilders is to achieve bronze skin so their muscles can look more defined, why then do some of them spray tan so dark for competition?

So, what other reasons influence the rampant usage of fake tans amongst bodybuilders? Well, bodybuilders tan so darkly for quite several reasons. Let’s discuss two of them below.


1) To Contrast Stage Lights

It is important to understand that bodybuilding competitions and shows are held on stages with bright lights, and light usually gets reflected back by light skin tone, and as a result, causing a washout.

2) Makes Them Look Tough and Strong

Another benefit of a dark tan outside a competition is that it creates this illusion of being tougher than usual because it makes the body more visually appealing. Aside from making muscles look more defined, dark tanned skin is confirmed to have a far better barrier to water loss, stronger cohesion, and better antimicrobial defense. very fit skin tone across the whole body.

3) Fake Tan Outlines The Muscles

When bodybuilders tan their bodies, it helps their muscles have direct contrast against the other parts. This is because tanning can make muscles appear like they are going to pop out, more than they would look without a tan.

Fake Tan Outlines The Muscles

As a result, muscles become very outlined and defined, making them appear bigger than they are as a result of the contrasting darkness that has been achieved in some parts, leaving the body toned and outlined. This results in bodybuilders appearing more athletic and muscular.

4) Makes Them Look Leaner

Just like black clothing can make you look slim, a tan also has a similar effect on bodybuilders. Bodybuilders who tan their bodies often appear leaner than those who do not. Because tanning helps them to hide the creases and furrows in their bodies and skin surfaces where they might not want them to appear.

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Although looking skinny for a bodybuilder might sound counterproductive, but it does really help in defining muscles.


Bodybuilders are also able to use different tan shades on different parts of the body depending on where they want to appear prominent and where they want to hide.

5) Covers Up Pale Skin

Pale skin can make a bodybuilder appear weak and unfit even if it’s the opposite. It also makes the tone of the body not nicely defined. This is one of the reasons why bodybuilders tan, because having a tan would help their bodies appear more prominent especially under bright lights.

6) Tanning Covers Skin Blemishes

Acne, pimples, skin patches, and skin blemishes can sometimes arise as a side effect of weight lifting and other rigorous exercises. Steroids allergy or reaction can also contribute a lot to those skin problems.


As we all know, people are generally worried about their overall appearance, especially bodybuilders. Professional bodybuilders worry so much about their appearance because they are judged based on their looks.

Although blemishes do not directly affect muscle building and how bulky or lean a bodybuilder looks, just the same way covering up acne and other blemishes by tanning does not really add to the mass of a muscle. However, those skin issues do make them look less athletic and negatively impact their overall appearance as a brand.

This is where tanning comes in as it helps them cover those skin blemishes, even though it doesn’t treat it, it still prevents it from being too obvious.


How Do Bodybuilders Get So Tan?

Since professional bodybuilders preparing for competition most often do not tan under the sun, because that takes time and they risk sunburn. They instead spend that time in the gym weight lifting, you then wonder how do bodybuilders get so tan? Well, bodybuilders use a spray tan after workout to give their bodies the toned bronze effect needed to make their bodies appear better when needed.

How Do Bodybuilders Get Tan

Although spray tan is a fake tan, it’s a fast and safe way to get tanner skin without having to sit or lay under the sun. While it is faster than the sun, there are also processes bodybuilders follow when using spray tan to get tanned.

Amongst those methods bodybuilders use to get so tan are the below five;


1) Exfoliation:

Exfoliating peels of dead cells on the outer layer of the skin which in turn helps bodybuilder skin to evenly absorb fake tan. Exfoliation also assists in the removal, when they are ready to get rid of the tan.

2) Applying The Spray Tan:

Tan is usually sprayed on the skin using a sprayer (sometimes poured out in a bowl and rubbed onto the skin with a soft sponge for faster coverage).

3) Drying The Tan:

An air dryer is then used to speed dry the coat, after which other layers of the fake tan are added (if needed) and left to dry again.


4) The Rinse Off:

The excess fake tan color is then rinsed off lightly.

5) Applying Lotion:

After the spray tan is dried, lotions are then applied over the body evenly in smoothing motions, followed by the application of a muscle sheen or muscle jelly (or juice).

Some weight lifters apply sheen after using a spray tan and some don’t because some spray tans already have a sheen in them and do not require extra sheen after application.


What Type Of Tan Do Bodybuilders Use?

A lot of people wonder what what tan do bodybuilders use because of how fast it happens and how dark it looks. The type of tan bodybuilders use is called “sunless tan” which a major variant of this type of tan is known as a spray tan. Spray tans are also called fake tan.

Spray tans contain a unique chemical called dihydroxyacetone, which is popularly called DHA. The way these chemicals works is by being absorbed into the top layer of skin cells and causing a chemical reaction that makes the cells darken. This DHA coloration process is completely harmless and has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to be safe for external use.

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The dark shades of the DHA coloration process help achieve more visible details of muscles contours and creases in the body of a bodybuilder making them look more muscular.


Why Do Bodybuilders Not Tan Their Face

why do bodybuilders not tan their face

Bodybuilders do not tan their face because their face muscle is not judged in a bodybuilding competition and the competition is mainly focused on the body, neck, shoulder, arm, and legs muscles.

Aside from that, we’ve often heard bodybuilders say they are hesitant to tan their face, out of fear that it would make them look “weaker” or younger. If you ask me, this is nothing but a myth! There are many other reasons why some bodybuilders refuse to tan their faces – though most seem to be unfounded.

There are basically three other major reasons why bodybuilders refrain from tanning their faces. All three of the reasons outlined below:

  1. The first is the myth that a darker skin tone makes one look younger and less intimidating or “muscular.” In truth, no shade of tan looks better than another on a man’s face.
  2. The second reason is often spoken as a rumor: those who don’t tan are afraid it will make them look weaker. In reality, a tan for a bodybuilder is just as important as one for a surfer or any other man who wants to look great in the sun.
  3. Last but not least, some people think they’ll be more likely to burn if they tan their faces, so they avoid it altogether. This myth has been debunked time and time again: you can tan your face and still lower your risk of sun damage.

How Long Does Bodybuilder Tan Last?

There are actually no specific times as to how many days the tan of a bodybuilder is supposed to last. Tans for bodybuilders are usually advertised to last for as long as ten days and fade evenly without streaks but it actually depends on how many layers of tan and how dark you’ve tanned your skin to be.

For instance, lighter shades of a spray tan can last as long as five days, medium shades would last for up to about seven or eight days, while darker shades can stay as long as ten days or even more.

Does Tanning Help With Muscle Growth?

Of course not. No, tanning does not help with muscle growth. Muscle growth is experienced as a result of workout and training a specific group or groups of muscles.


Once again, tanning accentuates the muscles, it doesn’t grow muscles.

Muscle growth happens when the muscle is overloaded with a weight heavier than normal, and then leaving it to rest and recuperate. This muscle growth is stimulated by the lifting of a heavyweight, accompanied by proper nutrition.

When you train a group of muscles more than twice every week, it usually does not get a chance to recover and will not be able to grow well or become strong. It’s just like exposing your body to the extremely hot sun to tan, you get sunburns in the process but in this case, you get muscle sore.


To maximize muscle growth, you need to lift heavy weights, hit the gym hard, lift some dumbbells, hit the barbells as hard as you can to train your muscles, and at the same time avoid anything too stimulating for your muscles because of injuries.

You are not going to get any muscle from tanning. If you keep wondering why do bodybuilders tan if it doesn’t contribute to muscle growth, well, what tanning does is make your skin absorb light and accentuate your physique, by highlighting the lines and accentuations on the body. If you want to build your muscles, workout will, but tan won’t. Tan is like the light that exposes what you’ve built over time through exercise by highlighting the fine details.

Is Tanning Good For Bodybuilding?

Yes, it is encouraging. Although tanning does not build muscles, it, however, helps in highlighting weight lifting results. You might be wondering how?


Tanning helps by highlighting the muscles and cuts effectively. Applying tan on the body helps define the body more under the spotlight.

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Body details are better off displayed with a tan and the objective of bodybuilding is to exhibit the muscles in such a way that the audience and judges deem fit. However, this might falter without tanning because the skin might not be able to absorb light and those skin flaws will not be covered up.

So yes, tanning might not build the body, but it does help encourage and boost morale in bodybuilding by making the already built body visibly appealing.


Does A Tan Make You More Muscular?

No. As earlier discussed, tanning does not make you more muscular. Instead, it makes the built body muscle group more visible and highlights the definition of muscles in the process. Tan makes the skin appear darker, giving it a more defined look and the impression that you’re muscular than what can be seen without the tan.

Bottom line is that; if you are weight lifting or you are a bodybuilder, tanning only makes you ‘look’ more muscular, not become muscular.

Does Tan Make You Look Bigger?

Tan does not necessarily make you look bigger, instead, it makes you more defined as a result of the contour and dark shade gotten from the tanning process. It helps your body muscles be more visible, look more built, and be less fatty.


One of the goals of tanning is to make the bodybuilders look leaner so, looking bigger would be a counter effect. However, a more muscular look is achieved.

Do Abs Show Better With A Tan?

Do Abs Show Better With A Tan

Yes. Abs are more visible when your body is tanned. This is because a tan makes your skin darker, makes the abs contour more visible and so everything is defined and outlined. It also makes the tiny important details in your muscles and biceps easier to see. This is even more true if you’ve done a lot of hard work in the gym, have been consistent for a long time, and have cut down a lot of fat.

Does Working Out Make You Tanner?

There is no proof to show that working out makes you tanner. Look at it this way, dark clothes would affect the way you look but the way you look won’t affect dark clothing. This is the same relationship between working out and tanning. Tanning would only outline the effect of your working out, but your working out won’t have any effect on how much you tan.


How Does Tanning Affect Bodybuilders’ Health?

As most spray tans, artificial tans, and fake tans are always vetted by FDA before they hit the market when used right, there is majorly no known negative effect of tanning on the health of bodybuilders. When not ingested, tanning is considered safe and does not cause any problem to the health of the skin.

Experts at the scientific committee on consumer safety agree that tan that contains dihydroxyacetone at a certain percent is not harmful as long as they are not injected or ingested.

In Essence

Understanding why do bodybuilders tan is knowing how important tanning is for a bodybuilder’s competitive advantage. Because it improves their overall physical appearance. There are lots of other reasons bodybuilders tan, but they all boil down to majorly accentuating their muscles, giving them a thinner look, and hiding skin blemishes.


Overall, tanning seems like a lifestyle for bodybuilders especially when they are competing, and can be highly encouraged due to its positive effect.

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