Muscle Posing

By Shawn Petrovich of Totally Ripped of Los Angeles, which specializes in photography and video of fitness models.

When new models think of photo shoots, they envision a model posing rapidly, which flash strobes popping off every few seconds. While many experienced models can pose this way for fashion shoots, we tends to encounter students who need guidance because they lack modeling experience.

One Pose at a Time

When working with new models, we find it is better to capture one photo at a time, rather than rapidly firing off the camera. Models concentrate on finding a flattering pose before the photographer captures the image. Then the model tries another pose, which the photographer captures, and so on. This may involve holding still for 30-90 seconds, much like a statue.

Posing To Show Off Muscle Groups

This method of posing is especially useful when a male model is showing off muscles.

When a model stands for a full-body pose, he flexes his quads, then his delts, then straightens his back. Flexing abs is the last step. However, it is easy to forget and relax his shoulders by the time he flexes his abs. So, the photographer reminds him. It is best not to think of flexing your muscles as a whole: It is best to concentrate on flexing each muscle groups one at a time.


First, when people view your photos, they will not be looking at the background. They will be looking at your muscles. Do not worry about where you pose for your photos. You also do not need to have your back against a wall. Just stand far enough from the camera so it can see your full body.

Experiment with a Mirror

By experimenting in front of a full-length mirror, find poses which you feel highlight your body's assets. For example, how can you make your lats show for the camera? Flex your lats and memorize what the flex feels like, then relax. Now close your eyes and try to match that flex. Open your eyes to see if you were able to match that flex with your eyes closed.

Do Not Show Weak Areas

Do not show unflattering areas in your photos, such as fat, scars, underdeveloped areas, etc. De-emphasize these areas by covering them. You can cover these area with clothing, props, or by choosing a pose that does not allow the camera to see these body parts.

Do Not Let Flexing Distort Facial Expressions

The camera frequently sees things differently than the human eye. Muscle poses that look easy aren't necessarily easy on the body. Getting a good pump for the camera should not mean distorting your face.

After a guy has flexed all his muscle groups appropriately, it is very common for a model to find that he has a distorted expression on his face. Having a facial expression like you are taking a shit will not make you look sexy.

Therefore, you need to also concentrate on giving a pleasant, attractive and comfortable facial expression, as well as flexing all your muscle groups. This isn't easy for a new model.

Flexing all your muscles while giving a natural or pleasant expression with your face is not the easiest thing in the world to pull off. Many guys get exhausted after flexing for hours at photo shoots! Muscles are important, but your facial expression is important also. You don't want your expression to appear like you are taking a shit while you are flexing your body parts. Flexing your body so it is as ripped as possible simultaneously while making your face seem pleasant is not easy, but you will need to learn to not distort your face if you want good quality photos.

Examine your facial expressions in front of the mirror. What do your expressions look and physically feel like? Find expressions that you like, ones that reflect different and interesting or appealing moods, ie., inviting, approachable, seductive, peaceful, innocent, mysterious, masculine, bad-ass, sexy, etc. Try to make your face look horny, not afraid. In front of the camera, imagine one person or thing that "turns you on."

You can read more on practicing facial expressions.

Next... Techniques for Making Muscles Bigger in Photos.