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3 Ways To Get Into Photoshoot Ready Shape

I’ve trained for 3 photoshoots in 3 different ways, each process teaching me how to maintain muscle and strip body-fat at different stages of my life. Stages in my life where I had the time to train 2 times per day and stages in my life where work and business took more of a priority and life was busier only having to train 4-5 X per week like a normal person.

Whether you have all the time in the world or no time in the world, there will be systems and strategies in this article to help you get into photoshoot ready shape.

Getting shredded if you’ve never been there before is always going to be hard, it’s outside of your comfort zone. I’ll tell you now it’s easier with a coach telling you what to do, for every photoshoot or deadline day event e.g. my wedding, I’ve trained for, I worked with a coach.

I believe everyone should get into their best shape at least once in their life, going through that process teaches you so many things about what works best for your body with nutrition, training and lifestyle. If you do it properly you’ll find a middle ground that you can go back to where you look good, feel good and perform good, and it’s much of a sacrifice to your lifestyle.

You can call this a better maintenance phase than where you’re at now. You get shredded, stay there or close to it for a while with the nutrition and training systems and strategies you learnt in the process and your body will adapt to it and find its new normal.

That’s why you want to get into your best shape possible at least once in your life.

Photoshoot Nutrition & Training System 1 – My First Photoshoot

I was 23, a few years into my PT career and decided I needed good looking photos for my first personal training website www.gordonchommanivong.com (it no longer exists). As I was doing 20-25 PT sessions/week then, I had all the time in the world to train. Knowing this, my coach at the time got me on 2 X Day training 6-days a week. No managing steps or cardio, only the weight training sessions and nutrition. We did this for 10 weeks and it worked a treat, it only worked because I had the time to train and recover as life wasn’t that stressful.

E.g. 2 X Day Training Sessions:

AM Session: Hypertrophy Strength Focused & Lower Reps

A1: Snatch Grip Deadlift, 4 X 8-10 rest 60 sec
A2: Standing Single Arm DB Shoulder Press, 4 X 8-10 rest 60 sec
B1: Lying Leg Curl, 4 X 8-10 rest 60 sec
B2: Seated Front DB Shoulder Raise, 4 X 8-10 rest 60 sec
C1: Romanian BB Deadlift, 4 X 8-10 rest 60 sec
C2: Prone 30 Deg Incline DB Lateral Raise, 4 X 8-10 rest 60 sec

PM Session: Endurance, Glycogen Depletion Focused & Higher Reps

A1: Leg Curl Plantar Flexed, 3 X 12-15 rest 60 sec
A2: Decline EZ Bar Tricep Extension, 3 X 12-15 rest 60 sec
B1: DB Step Ups, 3 X 20-25 rest 60 sec
B2: Seated DB Overhead Tricep Extension, 3 X 15-20 rest 60 sec
C1: Romanian DB Deadlift, 3 X 15-20 rest 60 sec
C2: Standing Rope Tricep Extension, 3 X 15-20 rest 60 sec
D: Standing Calf Raises, 3 X 20-25

Example Nutrition Setup: Depletion & Re-feed Model

Monday: High Protein, Low Carbs (50g carbs)
Tuesday: High Protein, Low Carbs (50g carbs)
Wednesday: High Protein, Low Carbs (50g carbs)
Thursday: High Protein, Low Carbs (50g carbs)
Friday: High Protein, Moderate Carbs (200g Carbs)
Saturday: High Protein, High Carbs (350g Carbs)
Sunday: High Protein, Super High Carbs (450g Carbs)

Fats were kept at 50-60g/day throughout.

The Results:

Who this method works for:

  • You have consistent work hours e.g. 9-5
  • You can train before work (AM Session) and after work (PM Session)
  • Each session is 45-60 minutes in and out
  • You don’t like doing cardio
  • You can train 4-5 times per week, I was training 6-days per week but looking back I had a tight deadline and 6-days was probably overkill

Photoshoot Nutrition & Training System 2 – My Second Photoshoot

This process was my most enjoyable from a training programming perspective, where I was only training 1 X day (5 sessions total/week) and managing my steps. I was at my strongest and I held onto a lot more muscle to look my best during the photoshoot. It was again a 10 week process and we only added in cardio the last 4 weeks of the preparation.

E.g. Training Split for 1 X Day Training Sessions:

Monday: Chest & Back A
Tuesday: Shoulders & Back A
Wednesday: Legs
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Chest & Back B
Saturday: Shoulders & Back B
Sunday: Rest

Note that this program was specifically for me and we were prioritising bringing my Chest, Back & Shoulders thickness up as it was lagging prior to that and it was going to make me look more athletic come photoshoot time. You will have your own specialisation area’s when you’re on an individualised training program.

E.g. Program for Chest & Back A:

A1: 30 Deg Incline DB Press, 5 X 5,5,4,4,3 rest 60 sec
A2: BB Rows from Pins, 5 X 7,7,6,6,5 rest 90 sec
B1: 45 Deg Incline BB Press, 4 X 6-8 rest 45 sec
B2: 45 Deg Incline DB Row, 4 X 6-8 rest 90 sec
C1: Single Arm DB Row, 3 X 6-8 rest 45 sec
C2: Wide Pronated Lat Pulldown, 3 X 8-10 rest 45 sec
C3: Seated Rope Face Pulls, 3 X 12-15 rest 90 sec
D: Calf Raises, 4 X 10-15 rest 30 sec

Steps: 10,000/day

I like this program set up as you get to work on both Strength & Hypertrophy. It’s common for beginners when dieting to lose the hard earned muscle they’ve worked for because they remove the strength element of their training. They always do high reps or work or don’t manage their performance well enough to maintain their strength throughout the dieting process. If you don’t maintain as much of your strength as possible during dieting, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose a lot of muscle during that process and you won’t look as good.

A good way to maintain your muscle is to focus on your Strength with lower rep work in the beginning of your workout or have 1-day where it’s Full Body Strength at the lower rep ranges where you can send the signals to your muscles that they’re still required as you’re still maintaining your strength, if not getting stronger.

Example Nutrition Setup: Depletion & Re-feed Model

Monday: High Protein, Low Carbs (50g carbs)
Tuesday: High Protein, Low Carbs (50g carbs)
Wednesday: High Protein, Low Carbs (50g carbs)
Thursday: High Protein, Low Carbs (50g carbs)
Friday: High Protein, Moderate Carbs (200g Carbs)
Saturday: High Protein, High Carbs (350g Carbs)
Sunday: High Protein, Super High Carbs (450g Carbs)

Fats were kept at 50-60g/day throughout with 1-day a week e.g. Thursday, we’d purposely have a High Fat day 100-120g to help with hormone production and muscle fullness. This day didn’t impact my weight loss so we kept it in there.

The Results:

(Alot more muscle here compared to the first photoshoot as I had more years of training to grow muscles, higher priority in maintaining strength through the dieting phase and it was definitely a smarter approach where I was doing less work compared to the first photoshoot)

Who this method works for:

  • You can only do 1-session day
  • You can and don’t mind increasing steps to 10,000/day+ when needed
  • You like variety in your training programs and exercises

Photoshoot Nutrition & Training System 3 – My First Video Shoot

This was by far the easiest process and funnily enough I didn’t even have to take my shirt off at any point during the video shoot. It was for BodyBoss, an online program where I wrote and instructed their weight training program. We were doing a video shoot as part of their promotions and instructionals for the program. This process was 8-weeks and involved training only 1 X day again, managing steps and only rotating between a Training Day and Rest Day nutrition plan.

E.g. Training Split for 1 X Day Training Sessions:

Monday: Full Body A
Tuesday: Full Body B
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Full Body C
Friday: Full Body D
Saturday: Full Body E
Sunday: Rest

E.g. Program for Full Body A:

A1: Flat BB Bench Press, 4 X 8-10 rest 0 sec
A2: High to Low Cable Flys, 4 X 10-12 rest 90sec
B1: Wide Assisted Chin Ups, 4 X 8-10 rest 0 sec
B2: Seated Neutral Grip Row, 4 X 10-12 rest 90 sec
C1: Standing BB Shoulder Press, 4 X 8-10 rest 0 sec
C2: Standing DB Lateral Raise, 4 X 10-12 rest 90 sec
D1: Leg Press, 3 X 8-10 rest 0 sec
D2: Lying Leg Curl, 3 X 10-12 rest 90 sec

The program set up for this was super-setting the same muscle group e.g. Chest to Chest to hypertrophy and deplete glycogen stores to help with fat loss and getting leaner. We’d do this throughout the whole body 5 X per week and manage steps 10,000+ a day over a 7-day average.

Example Nutrition Setup: Training Day & Rest Day Model

Training Day – Higher Calories & Carbs

Protein: 190g (Moderate-high)
Carbs: 160g (Moderate)
Fats: 60g (Low-Moderate)

Rest Day – Lower Calories & Carbs

Protein: 190g (Moderate-high)
Carbs: 80g (Low)
Fats: 60g (Low-Moderate)

The Result:

(Didn’t have to take my shirt off but at least I looked good in clothes for the video shoot, ha!)

Who this method works for:

  • You can only do 1-session day
  • You can and don’t mind increasing steps to 10,000/day+ when needed
  • You can stick to your nutrition on the weekends – The downside of this is that there’s less food for you on the weekend whereas the Depletion & Refeed model allows for more

My advice to planning to get into your best shape, photoshoot ready shape or deadline day event:

  • Plan for it by accurately knowing how much time for you it’s going to take. There will also be sacrifices such as going to less social events, choosing healthier options on the menu and drinking less alcohol. If you it’s going to be a 8,12,16 or 20 week process, you’re going to be accepting of it rather than finding it too hard
  • Know how to train properly and eat healthy first before you start the stricter and more aggressive approaches to nutrition and training. Before each of my photoshoots I was already training 4-5 X per week regularly and eating healthy. I obviously wasn’t shredded but I was at least living an active lifestyle. All I really needed to do when I started the photoshoot process was turn it up a notch and track my food, steps, get my training sessions in and have less free meals
  • Know what you’re doing it for. I had clear reasons to go through those processes, my business needed new photos for the website, I had deadline day events where I was going to be on video and thousands of people were going to be watching those videos. I had my wedding!
  • Employ and work with the right coach, going through my experiences and knowing what I know, a fat loss phase and getting into photoshoot ready shape doesn’t have to be a linear, bootcamp style approach where you’re dieting for 8-12 weeks straight. If you’ve got the right coach and team behind you, you’ll have periods of rest and intermittent periods of higher food to de-stress your body throughout the process. This is the correct way and with all 3 of my photoshoots I always had de-loads, high carb days and free meals structured within it
  • Know that photoshoot ready shape is a temporary experience, it’s great to experience it for at least once in your life. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, your nutrition, training and how much motivation and discipline you can actually execute for yourself. Unless your job requires you to be shredded 24/7 it’s not healthy or normal to be in that shape all year round

Do you want to train for a photoshoot, get into the best shape of your life at least once or have a deadline day event coming up such as a holiday or your wedding? Do it with less stress and more confidence by leaving it up to me and my coaches to plan out your nutrition and training to help get you there so you can keep focusing on other areas of your life.

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