Taking a “before” photo does’nt have to mean sharing a half-naked picture of yourself with friends on social media. It can mean taking pictures of yourself from different angles and storing them for comparison against future pictures. Doing this will allow you to compare progress as your body changes through a body transformation or contest prep phase. If you have a coach or trainer, this can be part of the weekly or monthly check-in process. Comparing photos side by side gives great visual feedback.
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Comparing pictures of what you look like today with those taken a month ago and seeing the changes can be all the motivation you need to keep going. It can be the validation you need to know that what you’ve been doing has been worth the effort. Or it can be an indicator that something needs to change in your diet of programming. In both circumstances, looking at yourself in the mirror every day won’t allow you to see the big changes because the daily differences are so small. Checking in with yourself or a professional once a month, or even weekly, is one of the best and easiest methods for tracking your progress. You won’t know your true body fat percentage, but you will get a great indicator of how successful your body transformation or contest prep has been.
How to take your photos
Take the pictures with the same device, in the same lighting, and at the same angles. Take the photos at the same time of day and, ideally, on the same day each week. These are not pumped-up post-workout gym selfies that show you looking your best. No – If anything they’ll show you when you’re looking your least muscular and at your “flattest” before any meals or exercise.
In a nutshell, just keep everything the same! Take a progress picture from the front, from the side, and from behind (see figure below). For the average Jill or Joe undergoing a body transformation then posing should be relatively relaxed, or a “soft” flex at most. If you’re a physique competitor then taking them both relaxed and flexed is recommended, with flexed positions mimicking key poses you’ll be using on stage from the front, side and behind (e.g., figure front pose, figure side pose, figure back pose).
Keep the pictures on your camera phone, email them to yourself, send them to your coach, or even send them to a partner or friend to make sure you’re taking photos consistently. Schedule photo taking in your phone calendar weeks in advance if it helps. Comparison photos are one of the best and easiest things you can use to start tracking your progress today. As part of The Fitness Maverick Online Coaching Program we recommend taking them from day one.
Adapted from my book Ultimate Abs published by Human Kinetics
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