Published: January 23, 2022
Estimated reading time: 4-min

If you are looking for an unforgettable fitness goal to pursue- and achieve (while getting yourself in the best shape of your life along the way), then we can recommend planning a professional fitness photo shoot.

Fitness photo shoots are not just a thing for magazine cover-models only. In fact, fitness photo shoots have become more popular than ever in recent years. The popularity of social media (and ‘fitness influencers’) has contributed to this rise, as well has the increase in specialised fitness photographers.

Being able to have (and share) high-quality ‘magazine-cover-worthy’ photos of your physical transformation will provide you with an incredible sense of pride and fulfilment. You will be able to share your photos- and your journey with the entire world, and likely inspire many people (to also get fit) by doing so. 


The short answer is YES, regardless of your current fitness level. Anyone can start planning for a fitness photo shoot.

The long answer as to how your planning looks like, depends on where you’re currently at in terms of your fitness level.

In order for your photos to be ‘magazine-cover worthy’, you want to make sure you are in good-enough shape.

Being in good-enough shape generally means you have a body fat percentage below 10% (for men), or below 17% (for women), while also having well-developed muscles. 

Having both well-developed muscles, as well as a low body fat percentage is essential to create that well-known toned body look/shape, which fitness models are well known for. 

If you were to (only) have a lot of well-developed muscles, but a high body fat percentage, then your muscles will not show very clearly. You will definitely not be able to see your sixpack muscles for example.

If you were to (only) have a low body fat percentage, and not a lot of muscle, then your body will mainly be flat- and shapeless, like most long-distance runners. 


As a foundation for having well-developed muscles, we recommend following a consistent strength-training routine for at least 6-12 months. Longer (than 6-12 months) will obviously be even more beneficial to your muscle development, however in order to be photo-shoot ready, 6-12 months of consistent strength training is generally speaking enough.  

Obviously you will need to combine your strength training routine with an optimised diet and rest & recovery routine to get the best result from your workouts.

If you want to get the full experience, and gain all the knowledge you need on how to get the best result from your fitness-inspired lifestyle (incl. workouts, diet, and rest-routine), we recommend signing up to the One50 body transformation program.

A consistent strength training routine means you are working out at least 4-5 times per week focussed on doing resistance exercises to increase your muscle strength (it doesn’t matter whether this is in a gym, at-home, or by working out at outdoor calisthenics parks).

Generally speaking, you will need approximately 2 weeks to lose 1% body fat. So to determine when you will hit the required body fat values at which your muscles (and sixpack) are strongly defined- and well visible (10% or less for men, and 17% or less for women), you need to measure your current fat percentage. 

If you are a man, and your current body fat percentage is 16%, then you will need approximately 12 weeks to cut down to 10%.

The 10% (men) and 17% (women) are generally speaking the average fat percentage values at which your sixpack will be clearly showing. The lower you get, the more muscle definition you will obviously have. Most people doing a fitness shoot will have a fat percentage between 5-10% (men), and 10-17% (women).


Step 1: Find a professional fitness photographer, and lock in the date.
For the best photos, it is crucial to work with a photographer who is specialised in fitness (body building) shoots. Fitness shoots are NOT the same as normal studio / portrait shoot, and they require a special setup and approach.

A specialised fitness photographer will optimise the setting (i.e. lighting), and will provide you with extra tips during the shoot, for your photos to turn out as good as possible.

Most specialised fitness photographers will even have a dedicated warm-up/workout area inside their studio, for you to create the infamous ‘pump’, so your muscles show the best possible way.

Most photographers will give you the option to choose the setting of your shoot. You can choose for a ‘regular’ studio setting with plain background (for photos focussed on your body, without equipment), or you can choose for a gym-setting (for photos with equipment/while working out).

Some photographers will be able to offer both settings as part of the same shoot (especially those who have gym equipment inside their studio). 

Once you lock in the date of your shoot, you officially have a tangible end-goal to work towards.

Step 2: Determine your dietary values 
In preparation for your shoot, you will start cutting body fat. Generally speaking, you want to lose about 0.5 – 1kg of fat per week at max. We do not recommend trying to lose anymore than that, as any greater loss per week will negatively (and unnecessary) affect your health and wellbeing. 

We recommend to determine your end-goal in terms of your desired body fat percentage when you start cutting (losing body fat). This will greatly benefit your motivation throughout your photoshoot cut. 

In order to start losing body fat (also referred to as: cutting or shredding), you will need to go into a calorie-deficit. This means you will be consuming less calories, compared to the amount of calories your body uses.

In order to know how much you need to consume to go into a calorie deficit, you can use available (online) calculators for example.

When you participate in the One50 body transformation program, you will learn exactly what happens to your body during a calorie-deficit, possible side-effects of it, and how to counteract- and deal with those side-effects the best possible way.

While you are in a calorie deficit, it is important you also continue your strength training routine, and consume enough protein. This is needed to maintain and/or-even increase your muscle mass while also losing body fat.

Step 3: Track your progress 
To ensure you stay on track reaching your desired shape, we recommend to measure your body composition regularly (preferably weekly, or every 2 weeks). Besides weighing yourself daily, it is important to know how your body fat- and muscle percentage are developing. 

You can accurately measure your body composition with advanced scales (at-home), at most gyms, or at a specialised facility.

Step 4: Test any so-called ‘peak week tricks’ prior to your final week
There are a few well-known methods, which can further enhance your lean shape (and look) on the photos. The most common methods include cutting extra water from your body in the lead-up to your shoot date, and consuming ‘simple’ carbs as part of your warm-up / pump-up process right before the shoot.

Especially if you are doing a photo shoot for the first time, we recommend not to experiment with anything other than the aforementioned methods as it will put your life at risk (for example illegal supplements- or performance enhancing substances).

The process of water-cutting involves consuming large amounts of water during the last days leading up to your shoot. This will force your body to get rid of ‘more’ water than usual. You will basically end up peeing non-stop, and drying out your body (creating an even more dry-look).

The process of last minute carb-loading involves depriving your body from carbohydrates during the last days leading up to the shoot, to then load-up again with ‘simple’ carbs before your shoot. This process will generally increase the ‘pump’ of your muscles, however last-minute carb-loading also has the risk of making your body look bloated. 

If you decide to incorporate water-cutting and/or carb-loading into your peak-week routine, we highly recommend trying them out a few weeks before your shoot.

Trying out these methods beforehand will help you understand the process, and will enable you to experience how your body responds. In case your body doesn’t respond well, you simply know it’s better to avoid them when it counts (during the week of your actual shoot).

Before you experiment with water-cutting or carb-loading, we recommend to educate yourself on these processes. You can do so by consulting reliable experts (if you desire to, you can reach out to us here for free advise on these topics).

Step 5: Get a tan if you need it
Your photos will greatly benefit from you NOT looking pale in the photos. Rather than using a solarium (or exposing yourself to excess UV radiation) to get a tan, we recommend to get a spray-tan. This is safe for your skin, and will instantly create the look you want for your shoot.

Just like water-cutting and carb-loading, we also recommend trying out a spray-tan well prior to your photo shoot. We recommend trying it out at least 3 weeks before your actual shoot (so you can get a fresh tan again before your shoot).

By trying it out, you know what type of tan to get before your actual shoot (get it 1 or 2 days before your shoot), and you can be certain that it looks the way you want. With spray-tanning, you can often choose between various ‘shades’. Generally speaking, we recommend to get the ‘average/medium’ tan, to avoid looking ‘way-too-tanned’ (which can also ruin your photos).  

P.S. You will also discover that it’s required to shave your entire body as part of the tanning process (so men, be prepared).

Step 6: Enjoy shoot day
After all your hard work, and months of preparation, make sure to enjoy your shoot day.

Listen carefully to your photographer during the shoot, as your photographer will give you instructions to get maximum (muscle) definition in your photos by optimising your poses, as well as the way you breathe.

Step 7: Be prepared for post-shoot cravings
Because you have been in a calorie deficit for a long time (likely for months), it’s normal for you to start experiencing intense food cravings right after your shoot has finished.

Having a very low body fat percentage (which you need for your typical fitness photo shoot) isn’t necessarily healthy for your body. It weakens your immune system for example, and therefore your body will create cravings to motivate you to increase your body fat percentage again. 

Having a photo shoot to look forward to, will be the goal that will help you the most to stay disciplined and motivated to consistently stay in a calorie deficit (and sacrifice your energy-levels). 

However once that goal has been accomplished, it will suddenly become very difficult to stay disciplined enough to not reward yourself (and your body) by providing it with a highly needed energy-boost.

Step 8: Control your cravings and set a new goal
It’s normal to binge-eat for a bit after your shoot, however know that there will need to be a time to stop. If you don’t, you risk gaining weight rapidly- and potentially losing your entire shape which you have worked so hard for.

It is healthiest for your body to have a fat percentage of 10% – max. 20% if you’re a man, and between 18-28% if you are a woman. You will likely to have gone below those percentages for your shoot. Just know it’s ok to bounce back a little after your shoot, to get your body back to healthy levels again. 

In order to increase your motivation to maintain a fit body shape (including a healthy fat percentage), we recommend setting a new fitness-related goal for yourself after the shoot. This could be anything from being able to set a new PR in the gym, becoming a fitness coach, competing in a sporting event like an obstacle-run or triathlon (or even compete in a fitness contest).

As human beings, we need goals to aspire to- and strive for to keep us moving forward. Especially if you know of yourself that you perform best while chasing new milestones in life, fitness-related goal setting will help you stay fit (and overrule cravings).

By watching this 17-minute interview, you will learn exactly what to expect from your photo shoot journey (before- and after). 

If this article has sparked your interest to start planning for your own fitness photo shoot, then we recommend to sign up for the One50 body transformation program.

As a One50 program participant, you will be able to ‘cut’ for your photo shoot the best way possible, while also being guided (coached) personally by our experienced team throughout your entire process. We even help you finding your photographer.

You can choose for a program length (cut) of either 60-days, 90-days, or 150-days.

Besides unlimited personal coaching, you will also receive your One50 guidebook (with all essential info you need for cutting body fat), a progress calendar, and access to the greater One50 community to exchange experiences with fellow participants.