You have seen the magazine covers I am talking about, the ones with either the jacked, ripped dude or the ripped, lean woman on the front with the typical article headlines of:
“Put 3 inches on your arms in 4 weeks”
“Lose 20lbs in 6 weeks with this new green tea”
“6 Great Moves for washboard abs”
Trust me, don’t follow the washboard abs crap – I guarantee all the moves in the article are 6 ways to flex your spine and do nothing else!
Often the models in these magazines are pinned up on fridges or bedroom walls as motivational goals to use for people to get in shape, which is great that you are using an external tool to motivate yourself but I ask you if it is the best source of motivation.
Remember a few weeks ago I wrote an article on ‘comparison’, especially with social media? If you missed it here it is for you again…
In it, I spoke about how the thing with social media is, that the context and reality are missing. The same applies to these magazine covers and fitness model photo shoots!
The people don’t just rock up to the studio looking like that, it takes a lot of specific, intense and often unhealthy preparation to get into magazine cover shape! Check out some of the things known to happen…
“Most fitness models are at least five to ten pounds heavier than they are in the photos,” Jill Coleman
It has been known that models give up carbohydrates one week before they pose away until the photo shoot the only carbohydrates ingested are through green vegetables. After a long time without carbohydrates (usually over a week) you can start to enter a phase known as KETOSIS. The way this works is that you deplete your glycogen stores, as a result, your insulin levels drop in response to low carbohydrate availability. This drop triggers the breakdown of fatty acids as well as their uptake in liver mitochondria (cell organelles).
During this, no carb cycle the models will still be working out. However, they can’t lift anywhere near the weights previously lifted, often 30-40% less.
A huge primary goal of getting into magazine cover shape is to pull the subcutaneous water—better known as “water weight”—from underneath the skin and into the muscle cells. Fuller muscles and less water under the skin give that lean, “shrink-wrapped” appearance that’s coveted by marketing teams!
To achieve that, fitness models tend to manipulate their carb and water intake. Carbohydrates can hold a lot of water. Some models have spoken of a routine of drinking four gallons of water a day, then the day before the shoot cutting water out completely. Some go the extra mile and go to dry saunas as well.
Bring Back The Carbs
The night before the shoot, carbs are back in! Models devour potatoes, wine, candy bars, cheesecake, or if they really want to stay as dry as possible: oatmeal, rice cakes, or toast with peanut butter. This swells the muscles with glycogen, the stored sugar that you use for energy.
On The Day…
You know the feeling, when you have done a tough workout, you look in the mirror and you look lean as hell or your muscles are pumped and the feeling of “I wish it just stayed like this”?
Like I said before, the people don’t just turn up and take the photos. Before a photo is taken, men typically will have done a session in order to get a nice “pump” on, lifting weights before and during the shoot in order to maintain that muscular, god-like physique and the same goes for women who will often be workout out minutes prior and during the photos!
And remember this isn’t even touching on the lighting, angles, makeup and post photo photoshop!!!!
It all comes at a cost…
Limiting your carbohydrate intake and playing with other variables within your overall nutrition and health and wellbeing is not sustainable and comes at a cost. Models often admit to being awfully cranky, grumpy and irritable during the time leading up to a photo shoot and even though they look like the perceived peak of fitness in the photos, they actually feel terrible, tired and ridiculously unhealthy!
One model, Gale, is quoted as saying…
“It destroys your social life, you start to have an incredibly bad relationship with food, but it’s a satisfying achievement once the photos turn out and you see all your hard work captured in that moment in time.”
This blog post isn’t about knocking you down and saying you can never achieve magazine cover physiques, it is quite the opposite. It is written with the view to educate and inform that the supposed “perfect physique” is a physique made with smoke and mirrors, and extreme measures took place. None of the above is sustainable, and so, in my opinion, shouldn’t be used as a goal marker.