Can Bodybuilders Have Tattoos? All Questions Answered!

Tattoos are the trend of the park not for a few decades but for centuries. If someone believes that the tattoo is a modern art thing, they cannot be any more wrong. From the ancient American tribes to the isolated Amazon dwellers, tattoos are flaunted by numerous people. Often considered as a method of message depiction, tattoos have their significant role to play as well. However, athletes, especially the bodybuilding athletes, are often tentative in getting inked. 

But when it comes to the regulations, can bodybuilders have tattoos? It is not to say that none of them is inked. In fact, in the modern-day performance ring, the share is more. Athletes from Mr Olympia circuit and the other arenas also have performed with tattoos. Moreover, some athletes are spectacularly covered in tattoos from top to bottom as well. While some are inked upon their choice, others are sponsored to do so. 

With the social media jargon and the financial factor taking over, the glitz and glamour have also taken over. However, while going for the jugular, these athletes need to be highly careful about the regulations and the price they have to pay. To analyze the effect of getting inked on the judgment scale and the qualification criteria stands utmost important.

Jump directly to the question and its answer:

Bodybuilders with tattoo

Are tattoos permitted in bodybuilding?

When someone wonders that whether or not can bodybuilders have tattoos, the first thing to cross the minds is the rulebook. Essentially, the IFBB does not stop bodybuilders from having tattoos at all. The primary reason for it is: the tattoos are a personal lifestyle choice! Unless it violates the law or offends anyone or their beliefs, any tattoo is legal. If the government has no regulations within a given country’s boundary about tattoo as an art, neither does IFBB. However, certain countries, typically of the Middle-East origin, might think otherwise. So if the competition happens to be one of those, the tattooed competitors are advised to seek suggestions before participation. 

Throughout the years, even Mr Olympia participants have inked themselves and performed. From face to the back and also the biceps, the competition has seen all of it. Another common and well-known example of the tattooed bodybuilders is the reputed name of Lee Priest. The man who also happens to be a former IFBB professional is seriously inked in many places! A lot of his on-stage performances have been with the ink as well. To cite an example of a tattooed bodybuilder of today’s modern age bodybuilding will be none other than the 2019 Classic Physique Olympia winner Chris Bumstead.


What is the majority opinion on bodybuilding & tattoos?

So while the legality and the participation freedom is one thing, willingness to do something is quite the other. It is not as if the question of getting inked or not has definitely not been tossed up yet. Most professional bodybuilders, or any athlete for that matter, have been on the crossroads. A significant example to be drawn from another field of significance is the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite football (or soccer) being a global sport, the man has never gotten inked. While the majority (70% and above) footballers are inked, the best in the business is not.

On similar lines, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phil heath, Lee Priest, and Ronnie Coleman have all voiced their opinions. While people may often wonder that individual choices would prevail, it is not as simple as that. On the contrary, most active and retired legends of the bodybuilding arena have voiced in a resounding “NO” about getting tattooed. It is not only about whether or not can bodybuilders have tattoos, but also if they want to or not? However, with the changing dynamics of finances and sponsorships, there are contradicting cases emerging in the last decade too.


Why do most bodybuilders do not have tattoos?

With IFBB allowing tattoos and there being an understanding of “fair judgment” from the panel, why are tattoos uncommon? To comprehend the idea behind this, it is essential to have a clear picture of bodybuilding efforts. Consequently, the effect and after-effect of a tattoo (or tattoos) can be understood in a category-wise fashion.

Distracts Judges

Well, participating in a bodybuilding competition is not simply for the namesake, right? Every participant needs to stay on their toes and make sure the judges spend the right time on them. Each muscle group, each posture, and every movement should be met with careful judgment. No judge will ever accept it, but distractions are a part of judgmental errors. And what bigger distraction can there be than a whole tattoo? Tattoos draw attention to themselves, and the overall hard work and physique go unnoticed. To avoid this sort of compromise, professional always avoid tattoos for bodybuilding.

Tones down the Cuts and Core

Tattoos have a mix and merge effect on the body. They dilute the intricate cuts and muscles and reduce the overall reflection of a perfect and toned body. This also stands as one of the major reasons why bodybuilding athletes do not prefer it. On the one hand, the athletes use a tan to enhance their chances and project themselves better. So to use something that will entirely contradict the concept is a suicidal step. Moreover, tattoos in places like the arms or neck can often reduce muscular visibility. The same goes for the abs and the back as well.

Health Hazards

Every major tattoo enthusiast and artist would justify the procedure and its safety. Yes, the idea of not being able to donate blood with a tattoo is also false. However, getting needled too frequently can often be troublesome for the skin. It can also cause permanent damage and darkening of the skin pigments. On the contrary, bodybuilders treat their bodies as literal temples. Nothing goes inside or on the body if it can have the slightest of adverse effects. Hence, it contradicts their whole approach towards a devoted body culture to get the body parts inked and fiddled with in any way.

Patch Work

Bodybuilders are the most vulnerable of the lot when it comes to flexing muscles and changing size. The entire tattoo is diminished and needs constant revamp once the muscles change shape. It can become too much of a cumbersome task for those who do not religiously follow the thing. The stretch is a significant down point for not only the athletes but even for the gym enthusiasts. It motivates them very often not to get inked. A stretched tattoo is the last thing that a professional bodybuilding athlete would want to worry about.

Viewers in Mind

If anything matters more to the athletes than the trophy, it is the audience. The appreciation for years of hard work and toil put into the task is the biggest repayment. To be a spectator’s delight, bodybuilders keep themselves top shelf every time. From eating clean to working hard and even using the right accessories, everything is focused on viewership. To make their fans happy, the bodybuilders also keep their physique in the raw and natural form for their viewing delight. This also includes totally avoiding any tattoo or symbolism of any sort in the short and long run.


Nothing stands above the love for the Sport

It may sound like a few big words, but bodybuilding is a lifestyle and a true passion. Not only does it include hard work, but also endless dedication to stick through. For these athletes, nothing matters more than their performance and the stage. They go to physical, mental, and financial threshold limits to achieve their dreams. Hence, material displays or attraction features such as tattoos are irrelevant. Each bodybuilder is no less than a specimen, and men and women of such calibre keep themselves Eveready!

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