This page details the process that pro bodybuilders go through before their competition day in order to get that insanely lean look with veins crawling up their arms and abs. Before attempting, make sure that you are indeed at ideal and around 12% body fat or lower.
Step 1: Pick your picture-perfect day
Choose a date you are going to take your photos and make sure that it is at least 2 weeks away from now. If you want to take them outside, remember to check the weather for that day to make sure it suits your needs.
Step 2: Increase your sodium intake
Sodium (aka salt) is closely related to how much water your body holds [1, 2]. In preparation for your photo, you'll want to increase your body's water retention before losing it all so that you can look very lean.
So, starting from two weeks out from your picture day, start eating foods high in sodium. How much will sodium you need depends on many bodily factors, so shoot for the range between 3,000-4000 milligrams of salt per day.
Step 3: Lower your carbohydrate count
One week before your photo shoot, reduce your carb intake to 0.5 gram per pound of body weight.
The reason we do so is that glycogen (what your body turns carbs into) has a side effect of storing water making you look fatter; something you want to avoid in your pictures.
Step 4: Lower your sodium intake
Right as you drop your carb counts, you want to cut out as much sodium as possible from your diet. Because your body has become adjusted to the higher sodium intake, dropping sodium levels to just milligrams instead of full grams will get rid of all the excess water from your body.
How to do it:
- On day 7 before picture day, reduce your sodium to 2,000mg.
- On day 6, stay under 1000mg
- On days 5 through 3, staying under 600 mg.
- And on days 2 and 1 before picture day, try to keep your sodium under 500 milligrams.
Step 5: Drink more water
Again, starting 7 days out from your photoshoot, start drinking as much as possible without going overboard (refer to the health page for this).
This will flush out any remaining sodium in your body to make sure you get rid of any excess water.
Step 6: Stop drinking water
Two days before picture day, keep your water intake down as much as possible without getting to headache levels. Again, to reiterate what was said in the beginning, this process should not be done often!
Aim to drink only half a gallon of water a day for the last remaining 2 days. Since you have been loading up on water for the last week, this low level of hydration shouldn't impact you too hard.
Step 7: Increase your carbs
Again, two days before your pictures are taken, increase your carbs to about 3-4 grams per pound of body weight. The reason for this is that you want to look lean, but not small. By increasing your carbohydrate intake, you increase your glycogen levels giving you that "huge" look again.
Remember, you are still going to keep your water intake and sodium intake low while increasing your carbs, so make sure your carb sources are low in sodium and water.
Step 8: Take your pictures
Lighting, as you might know by now, has a huge impact on how you look. For best results, take your pictures:
- In the morning before you eat or drink
- Make shadows work to your advantage
- For this try finding an overhead light that casts shadows on your ads and experiment with other positions
- From your gym sessions, you know that you look bigger and fuller after working out. This is the reason you take progress photos before working out. You are literally more "pumped" up! Unlike for your progress pictures, for your transformation pictures, get as much of a "pump" as you can!