Afghan Bodybuilders Flex Their Muscles In Kabul (PICTURES)

Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 09/05/2012 17:37 Updated: 09/05/2012 17:37

Looking ripped and ready, these tanned and muscled specimens are limbering up for Kabul’s Mr Afghanistan bodybuilding contest.

It’s an unlikely hotspot for the sport, but with more than 170 gyms sprouting across the city at last count, it’s one that’s rapidly gaining in popularity.

Under the hardline Islamist Taliban regime, some bodybuilders were jailed for showing their skin in public, MSNBC reported.

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Others were allowed to train and compete if they were fully clothed and not tanned.

Khwaja Mohammad Fardin Abassi, the vice president of the body building federation, told Huffington Post: "We've worked very hard at the federation to encourage young people to go to the gym: he can stay out of trouble, he'll be healthy, and he will always look good, and he will get a nice girlfriend.

"Even when he's wearing a shirt, he will impress the girls."

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  • Afghan bodybuilders preform during the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilder, Mohammad Yousuf Sakhi, lifts a trophy after he won the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An official hugs Afghan bodybuilder, Mohammad Yousuf Sakhi (C) after he won the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Officials congratulate Afghan bodybuilder, Mohammad Yousuf Sakhi (R) after he won the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An Afghan bodybuilder preforms during the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders congratulate each other during the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders preform during the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An Afghan bodybuilder preforms during the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An Afghan bodybuilder preforms during the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An Afghan bodybuilder preforms during the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An Afghan policmen looks at an Afghan bodybuilder getting ready to preform in the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders congratulate each other during the Mr. Afghanistan nation wide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An Afghan bodybuilder Baryylai poses during training at the Super Gold Gym in Kabul on April 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Afghan bodybuilder Baryylai poses during training at the Super Gold Gym in Kabul on April 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A young boy flexes his muscles during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders compete during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders compete in the welterweight class (less than 75 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders compete in the lightweight class (less than 70 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders compete in the bantamweight class (less than 65 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders compete in the lightweight class (less than 70 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders compete in the middleweight class (less than 80 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An Afghan bodybuilder prepares to compete in the middleweight class (less than 80 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Afghan bodybuilders compete in the bantamweight class (less than 65 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • n Afghan bodybuilder prepares to compete in the middleweight group (less than 80 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An Afghan bodybuilder displays his medal won in the lightweight class (less than 70 kgs) during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permited during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. AFP PHOTO/ JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GettyImages)

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