Scrolling through Instagram looking at other people’s fitness progress, whether that’s weight loss or muscle gains, can be disheartening. The instinct to draw comparisons with ourselves is natural, but should be avoided if possible. Social media, after all, is where many people go to share a curated, filtered version of their lives.
But as YouTuber MattDoesFitness explains, it might not necessarily be that everyone is more shredded than you—just that they’re more adept at taking photos which tell a certain story. In a new video, Matt demonstrates a handful of tricks which enable him to “warp” the way his own physique looks in a matter of minutes, simply by manipulating factors such as lighting. He takes two pictures, a before and after, to show the difference.
In the first photo, Matt stands facing a natural source of light, which he says will “wash out” the definition of his physique to some extent. He is also purposely not contracting his abs, and is leaning his shoulders slightly back.
For the second photo, Matt sets out to capture his best shot. “What I’m basically going to do here is create the best environment I possibly can, create the perfect conditions, to make my physique look absolutely nuts,” he says.
In order to achieve this, he closes the blinds of his gym, shutting out the natural light, giving himself full control of the down light LEDs in the room, which create more shadows and are therefore likelier to pick up on muscle definition. He also turns up the temperature to stimulate blood flow, before dropping to do pushups.
“I’m trying to get a short-term, sick pump,” he explains. “When it comes to front-on shots, you’re looking at your chest, your biceps and your front delts. Here, by doing pressups, I’m trying to direct blood flow to my chest and delts.” He also does a brief set of bicep curls, saying he keeps the weight light in order to maintain good form and ensure he can still fully contract the muscles during the photo shoot.
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As one final touch, Matt sprays his torso with water. “The fact that my physique is wet brings out even more of those lines and definition,” he says. “Now straight away, I’m contracting my abs, you can see the vascularity and the pump in my chest, my biceps, my delts… That difference is ridiculous.”
“Contracting your abs for 30 seconds for a photo is frickin’ hard,” he adds. “I don’t have to train abs, I can just pose for photos and get a sick ab workout.”
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