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Progress Photos | Why You Should Take Them & How

Progress Photos | Why You Should Take Them & How

May 15, 2019



You just signed up at a gym. You’re nervous. You don’t know where anything is, you don’t know any of the people there, and you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb not knowing what the heck you’re doing, but you’re excited about the potential results. That’s when the trainer at the gym, a near-stranger, says “Hey we should schedule you for some progress pictures! We recommend wearing a bathing suit or spandex.”

Your first thought: Oh hell no!

Trust me, we know it’s a tough sell. As uncomfortable as you are at the thought of seeing some revealing pictures of yourself, it’s just as uncomfortable for us to ask. We want every single person in our gym to feel welcome and at home. Most people don’t like being on camera, never mind in revealing clothing like tightly fitting gym wear or a bathing suit. But we wouldn’t ask for you to do progress photos if they weren’t extremely important. And they’re not just important for our own marketing, in fact most of the pictures we take never make it to social media (and the ones that do are with client consent). They’re important for your results and for your motivation.

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Many of our clients have never done a legitimate strength training program before. Strength training is the backbone of most of our programs at Arkitect Fitness because it produces better results and more benefits than “cardio” alone. When you start doing a well designed strength program, you will build some healthy lean muscle. If your goal is to lose weight, and you lose 5lbs of body fat, but you built 5lbs of lean muscle, how much will the weight on the scale change? It’s not a trick question. The answer is ZERO. This happens to the overwhelming majority of our new clients, and if you decided to skip the progress photos, you will have no hard evidence of the amazing progress you’re making. If you’re busting your butt week in and week out in the gym, but have no real means of measuring your progress, you’re going to run out of motivation, and quickly. After all, why would anyone put in a lot of hard work if it wasn’t going to net them some positive result in the end?

Inflicting change in our bodies takes time. The difference from one day to the next is so subtle and gradual, it will be difficult to notice. Have you ever had a new set of tires put on your car, and it wasn’t until the new tires were put on that you realized how bad the old tires were? That’s because the old tires wore out gradually over time, making it difficult for you to notice the change. Progress photos work the same way. A photograph captures a moment in time, and your “before” photo will have a stark contrast to your “now” photo.

Hitting Home

There are many ways to measure progress. The scale is probably the most common, but as I mentioned above, it’s not without its limitations. Another way to measure progress is by doing


body tony then and nowmeasurements like the circumference of your waist,  hips, neck, and arms. Tape measures are a good tool, but they’re difficult to use by yourself, and there is an element of human error. If you’re not measuring in the exact same spot each time, or with the same tape, or at the same time of day you might not get accurate and consistent readings. Also consider the fact that body measurements are really arbitrary numbers in the end. Measurements are better for showing trends, but if your bicep is 13″ rather than 13.5″ it may not have much relevance to you.


Photos on the other hand, everyone can relate to. Pictures hit home in a way that other methods don’t. If you were to see a zero net difference on the scale, but you looked at your photos and your body was shaped completely differently, would you be happy? I think most people would say “yes.” Even if you were severely overweight, gaining some lean muscle will only help you in the long run because muscle is more metabolic than body fat. In other words if two people are the same body weight, but one has more muscle and the other has more body fat, the person who has more muscle tissue will have a faster metabolism than the person who’s body weight is comprised of more body fat. And since muscle is more dense than fat (meaning 1lb of muscle takes up less physical space than 1lb of fat),  if you gain muscle and lose fat, you will technically be smaller. However, you won’t be able to see any of those changes if you didn’t do pictures at the start of your transformation.

How to Get the Most out of Your Progress Photos

Perhaps by now, I’ve convinced you to take that brave leap, and do some progress photos, there are a few things you can do to maximize them. If you’re going to do them, you might as well make them worth your while.

  • Have someone else take them for you: This means no bathroom selfies. The reasoning for this is straightforward, it’s difficult to take decent pictures of yourself. Especially if you’re trying to take multiple angles, which brings us to our next point…
  • Take photos from multiple angles.  Multiple angles will allow you to see more changes in your physique than a single photo from the front. At the gym we do the following “poses”:
    • Relaxed front
    • Relaxed side (left side)
    • Relaxed back
    • Flexed back (known officially as the “back double bicep” pose)
    • Flexed front (the “front double bicep pose”
  • Do two sets of photos, clothed and “revealing.” For the more revealing shots we recommend a bathing suit for men and women, or tight spandex bottoms for men, and bottoms and tops for women. The reasoning here is simple: The more skin you can see, the more progress you can see. However doing some shots in regular clothes is great too, because it’s fun to see how clothes fit you differently. With that said, try to avoid anything too baggy, because again, you won’t be able to see much change in your physique.
  • Wear the same outfit every time. Different shirts or pairs of pants fit us differently. If you’re wearing a different outfit every time, it can be difficult to see change because it may be hard to tell if the difference is in your physique, or simply how the particular outfit sits on you.
  • Do them once every 1-2 months. Personally I think weekly or twice a month is too often. You probably won’t notice much change from one set to the next. If you wait too long, there may be too many ups and downs in your training for you to really appreciate your progress. For example if you took some in October, and then waited until just after Christmas to take another set, you might not be too thrilled with what you see, because most of us pack on a few pounds (even if it’s just bloat) over the holidays. Also remember, you can use progress photos as a motivational tool, so if you go too long without doing them, you may not be fully appreciated the fruits of your labor.
  • Take them before eating anything. If you’re doing your progress photos with us at the gym, this may not be a realistic, but if you eat or drink a lot before you take photos, you may be a bit bloated, which isn’t really conducive to showing your progress.

Badges of Honor

In the end, it’s your personal choice whether or not to do progress photos. Even if you choose not to do them with us, we hope that you do them at home. Progress photos often become a badge of honor for people. It feels good to see in a black and white way (no pun intended) just how far you’ve come. Many of us would rather not stare ourselves in the face at the start of our “journey” because we may not love what we see, but I’ve never met anyone that did progress photos and regretted it. On the flip side we have had many clients who made significant changes to their physiques and later said “I really wish I took pictures at the start.” This goes for people who want to lose weight and those who have wanted to gain it.

Don’t live in regret!


Dr. Brett Scott


Arkitect Fitness

“We Help Athletes And Active Adults
Lose Weight, Get Fit, And Optimize Performance.”