male and female fitness models posing in London
How to prepare for a physique competition and photoshoot. Photo: Luis Rafael.

You think your body is in its best shape ever but do you have what it takes to show it off at a competition or in front of the camera? Big biceps and a washboard stomach are just the beginning. You need a lot more than that if you want to become a professional fitness model.

I caught up with elite fitness model Daniel Hammaecher to ask him to reveal the secrets of his success on stage and in front of the camera. Here is what he does in order to prepare for a competition and a photoshoot:

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO PREPARE FOR PHYSIQUE COMPETITION OR PHOTOSHOOT?

My normal body condition is lean as I try to stay in shape pretty much all year round. It takes me 8-10 weeks to prepare for a competition and about 6-8 weeks – for a photoshoot.

It’s easier to prepare for a competition as you normally know the dates well in advance and that makes it easier to plan – i.e. you can calculate when to start the preparation work.

Photoshoots are more unpredictable as you can land a contract at any time. That’s why it’s important to stay in shape all year round.

You need to bear in mind that the goals for a competition and for a photoshoot are different too. When I compete, I try to be as lean as I can and keep my body fat around the 3% mark. I am on stage, competing against other athletes and therefore I need to make sure I stand out.

When I am doing a photoshoot, I am alone in front of the camera. I try to keep my body fat around 4-8%, depending on the job. If you are doing a commercial photoshoot, you need to take into account not just your body condition but your face too. When your body fat is 4%, your face begins to look like a dried apricot.

TELL US ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF DIETING BEFORE A PHYSIQUE COMPETITION OR PHOTOSHOOT.

The diet is the key to reaching your goals. If you eat too much you will never get shredded, regardless of how much and how hard you work out.

There’s a balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn. It goes without saying that to loose weight and body fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. To achieve that balance and to get your body fat down, you need to adjust your diet each week.

Be warned though: the more shredded you get, the more tired you get.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL DIETS WHEN PREPARING FOR A PHYSIQUE COMPETITION OR PHOTOSHOOT?

There are different diet strategies before a competition/photoshoot. It all depends on your metabolism and the way your body responds to different diets. Some people show better results while on a keto diet (or using fat as main source of energy) while others react better to carb-cycling (or using carbs as main source of energy).

There is no “one fits all” diet. You should seek advice from professionals and avoid experimenting on your own. It could be a dangerous game.

WHAT’S YOUR WORKOUT STRATEGY AT THE PHYSIQUE CONTEST PREP STAGE?

Here’s a sample pre competition workout schedule:

MONDAY:

QUADS – 5 sets X 15 reps (pause at the top and contract the muscle for 2 secs)

  • Leg extensions
  • Vertical leg press
  • Hack squats (slow motion)
  • Single leg press

HAMSTRINGS – 5 sets X 12 reps (pause at the top and contract the muscle for 2 secs)

  • Lying leg curls
  • Seated leg curls

CALVES

  • Calf press – 5 sets X 15 reps
  • Standing machine calf raises (inside-outside) – 5 sets X 12 reps

TUESDAY:

BACK

  • Close grip front lat pulldown – 5 sets X 15 reps
  • Large grip cable rows – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Leverage iso rows – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Single arm rows – 3 sets X 12 reps
  • Rope straight-arm pulldowns
  • Traps shrugs – 5 sets X 12 reps

BICEPS

  • Close grip EZ barre curls – 8 sets X 10 reps
  • Seated incline dumbbell curls

ABS – 5 sets X 15 reps

  • Hanging leg raises
  • Seated leg tucks
  • Ab crunches (machine)

WEDNESDAY:

CHEST

  • Incline bench press (30 degrees) – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • (superset) Incline dumbbell bench press (70 degrees) – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Svend press 5 sets X 12 reps
  • (superset) Low cable crossover – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Butterfly (machine) – 5 sets X 12 reps

TRICEPS

  • Dumbbell triceps extension – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • (superset) Triceps pushdown – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Triceps pushdown reverse grip – 5 sets X 12 reps

CALVES

  • Calf press – 5 sets X 15 reps
  • Standing machine calf raises (inside-outside) – 5 sets X 15 reps

THURSDAY:

SHOULDERS

  • Dumbbell shoulder press – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Cable lateral raises – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Cable rear delt flys – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Incline dumbbell front raises – 5 sets X 12 reps

HAMSTRINGS

  • Lying leg curls – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Seated leg curls – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Straight legs dead lifts – 5 sets X 10 reps
  • Natural glute ham raises – 3 sets X 10 reps

ABS

  • Seated cable crunches – 5 sets X 15 reps
  • Flat bench leg pull-ins – 5 sets X 15 reps
  • Reverse cable crunches – 5 sets X 15 reps

FRIDAY

BACK

  • T-bar rows – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Single arm dumbbell rows – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Stiff leg barbell good mornings – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Chin-ups – 5 sets X 12 reps

BICEPS

  • Alternate hammer curls – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Barbell curls lying against an incline – 5 sets X 12 reps
  • Larry Scott pupitre curl – 5 sets X 12 reps

CALVES

  • Calf press – 5 sets X 15 reps
  • Standing machine calf raises (inside-outside) – 5 sets X 15 reps

SATURDAY – REST DAY

SUNDAY – REST DAY

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR A PHYSIQUE COMPETITION OR PHOTOSHOOT?

Before you go on stage or book a photoshoot, you need to learn how to pose.. without a mirror 🙂 Practise your poses and then practise again. Having the best body means nothing if you don’t know how to show it off.

There are rules on what poses you can and cannot do at a competition. You need to learn the poses and make sure you stick to the rules.

When you are on set of a photoshoot, you are alone in front of the camera. You are more flexible on what poses to do in order to show your body at its best. You have more freedom and input in what poses work better for the camera. You can also use your surroundings to create a more dynamic image.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO THOSE WHO AREN’T PROFESSIONAL FITNESS MODELS BUT WANT TO GET LEAN FOR A PHOTOSHOOT?

Make sure you follow the rules. People always want to achieve results faster than their bodies can cope with. Don’t rush things. Take your time and everything else will fall into place.

If you are not sure what you are doing, you must ask a professional to help/guide you.

WHAT’S YOUR POST-COMPETITION ADVICE – WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER A PHYSIQUE COMPETITION APART FROM CELEBRATING YOUR VICTORY? 🙂

I ALWAYS stay on my diet for 10-14 days after a competition. It’s very tempting to go on a junk food binge but you shouldn’t. Having a “celebratory” feast at the end of the competition is like a small suicide, especially when you are so dehydrated.

That’s a dangerous thing to do because [due to your pre competition diet] the potassium and sodium balance in your body has been disturbed. Eating a lot of salt in such a short period of time could affect your heart.

Continue with your diet and gradually go back to normal. It’s hard to resist the temptation but if you can diet for 2 months before a competition, 10 more days is not that big an ask.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU LIKE TO MENTION?

I’d like to thank my sponsors – Reflex Nutrition (www.reflex-nutrition.com) whose products help me achieve and maintain my best physique, both on stage and in front of the camera.

Now that you know what it takes to get ready for a competition and a photoshoot, have a look at Dan’s recent photoshoot with top fitness photographer Luis Raphael, where Daniel and Sammy Lee literally stop traffic in London.

[quote_box_center]Website: www.danielhammaecher.com
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