How to Take the PERFECT Fitness Pictures

          I have been asked multiple times (by friends, family, gym goers, and others) about how to properly take full-body fitness pictures. Most of the time it is hard to decide how to take these pictures unless you have done all of your research, lift on a regular basis, and have taken multiple types of pictures before. Usually you want to see what works for you and go from there.

          There are two main types of fitness pictures: progress pictures and muscle pictures. There are also fitness competition poses and pictures, but we will not be getting into those in this post. Progress pictures are taken at different angles (flexing as well as relaxed) usually once every week or two to show any progress made in that time period. Muscle pictures are flexing pictures to show off muscles either while posing or while doing a fitness activity. I plan to describe ways to improve both of these types of fitness pictures for you.


1. Clothing Choice:

These can be taken in all fitness clothing types which include: tank tops, short shorts, sweat pants, sports bras, etc.). You mainly just want to be able to display to your viewers the muscle group you are trying to show off. As long as you can see the muscle group that you are focusing on, then you are good to go!

2. When to Take Your Photos

Definitely take these photos right after or during your work outs. Before a workout, your body is relaxed and your muscles will not “pop” as much as they would after a workout. Plus you will be all sweaty after a workout so you have a slight shine to your muscles. That last comment is funny, but so true.

–These two pictures were taken RIGHT after a back workout. Which makes the muscles stand out more. However, the person on the right (which is me), should have moved their hair out of the way to get a better picture of their upper back.

3. What Muscles to Focus On:

When taking these photos, focus on the muscle group you worked that day. This goes along with the last comment. The muscle group you worked most on the day of taking your pictures will usually be more defined then other muscle groups that did not do much work that day.

4. Which Angles to Use:

These pictures are more for fun and just to know you look awesome. Try getting new angles and see what looks best for you! This is the fun part! You get to see how amazing your muscles look from different angles and you might find a new angle that makes you look even better than you already look!

-These are some examples of muscle pictures. The one in the middle is me before having my son. I added it because it is my goal right now. Then, when I reach this goal, I will push even farther and change my goals! The two on the sides are of my friend Stephanie and me from last night’s back workout.

-Notice how the hair on each “model” is moved out of the way. This is important if you want to be able to view upper back or chest muscles.

5. Photos During Workouts

Have someone take videos or photos while you lift. This helps you view your form to see how it looks and also gives you new angles for your muscle pictures!

-Notice the differences between these two pictures:

–Left one: The model’s jacket is on which is okay for workouts, but it makes it difficult to see any muscle while taking fitness pictures. The picture is also blurry and not focused well. This can be fixed by the model going slower on the workout while the photographer is trying to get pictures. The photographer can also help by getting multiple pictures and different angles in case some pictures do not turn out well.

–Right one: The model has a tank top on making it easier to see the muscles working hard. Her hair is pulled up and out of the way. Lastly, the photographer focused better and got a decent angle of the muscle group the model wanted to show off.

6. Editing

Use Instagram edits and filters. I personally like using that little sun button to make my muscles pop. I try using different filters to see which brighten and darken my muscles. Some may disagree with this part however I think it is an important step! I’m not saying to go make yourself look orange and dark or anything like that. Just have fun with filters and find which ones make your muscles pop even more than before.


1. When to Take These Photos

The best time to take progress pictures is in the morning before you eat or drink anything. This is because your body is dehydrated from sleeping all night and you usually look most toned right in the morning.

-These are both relaxed progress pictures. There are Pros and Cons to both of these photos, but I am just focusing on showing you the difference between a night picture and a day picture for this section.

—The left photo was taken at night. It is a good photo (lighting is better than the right photo and the photographer focused well).

–However, notice how the right photo makes the skin look tighter and makes my body look a bit skinnier. The photo on the left was taken last night and the photo on the right was taken this morning. So in one night that’s how different a photo can look! That’s why it is best to take progress pictures at the same morning time every week or two.

–The other comment I will make is how you can see the legs better without the long pants. I am still covering everything, I am just making sure I will be able to see the change in my legs.

2. Get different angles:

These ones are different than the muscle pictures though.

  1. Take your first progress photos. Get at least four relaxed photos. Get one from the front, one from the back, and one from each side view. Then feel free to take a few flexing photos.

  2. Repeat these every week or two. Take the same photos that you took initially so you can see where you were and how far you have come.

                     ^These are some photos I took of my workout partner and friend last night. They are all completely relaxed and from different angles of the body so that when we take her next progress pictures, we can see changes on all sides.

3. Clothing Choice:

You want to be able to see your stomach, back, chest, arms, legs, and shoulders. To be able to do this, it is best to wear just enough clothing to cover your private areas. This means wear a sports bra and underwear, a bikini, or short shorts for your front photo. Then take off the sport bra for your back photos. Unless you have a thin sports bra, it is easier to see your muscles in your back without it.

4. Filter…?

I prefer not using much filter for these. If the photo is dark, I will lighten it up. But I like to see the original, non-filtered photographs in order to see what real changes I have made.


1. Who Should Take Your Photos:

Have someone else take your pictures or use a self-timer. It is hard to flex when you are holding your phone or camera. It is even hard to take relaxed photos of your back with a phone. So don’t be afraid to find help.

2. Smile:

You are about to gain muscle and get healthier! Be happy!

3. Keep your hair out of the way:

To see the muscles or muscle growth, keep your hair away. Hair can cover key areas you are trying to get pictures of!

4. Lighting:

Check the lighting in the area. You want to be able to see your muscles!

I think it is SO fun to show off both types of photographs. However, you do not have to. They can be solely so you can see your own progress. Do what is comfortable for you and just have fun with it!

If there were any tips that I did not cover, feel free to ask! I can also explain steps in better detail if you didn’t quite understand me.

Also, I am giving a FREE e-Book about meal planning and fitness tracking to those who subscribe! it includes pages for a workout log, calorie tracker, and meal planning list as well! 🙂