10 Steps to Snapping that Perfect Abs Selfie

For all of its bad press, vanity can be one hell of a fitness motivator. But how does one pull off that magazine cover six-pack glory? Thankfully, Photoshop isn’t the only answer. Here are 10 pointers to learn the secrets of achieving that perfect ab selfie—follow them and you’ll be collecting those precious Instagram likes before you know it.

  1. Hit the cardio hard. Truth be told, everyone already has the perfect six-pack just waiting to be discovered. The problem comes with the thin layer of fat that spreads over your abs like butter, forming a barrier between your sexy muscles and the girl of your dreams. Short of surgery, there’s only one way to get rid of this pesky flab: by burning more calories than you’re consuming. That’s right, it’s all about the cardio. There are plenty of ways to achieve this result, from swimming to cycling to rowing to jumping rope, but your best bet is to run. Run fast and run far. Run away from your fat until it’s nowhere to be seen.
  2. Build that core. If you’ve done any research on the topic of ab development before, then you’ll know that performing a million stomach crunches isn’t going to get you a six-pack. It’s annoying, sure, but no matter how hard those stomach muscles are, they’re not going to join the party unless you address the aforementioned layer of fat first. However, if you’ve managed to reduce those excess pounds, then working on your core strength is a great way to really force that pack to pop. The list of exercises to experiment with is extensive and includes burpees, squats, leg raises, and lengthy planking sessions. Add weight resistance for bonus rewards and join a yoga class to stretch out that posture.
  3. Clean up your diet. The third and final point of the sacred ab-trinity happens in the kitchen. As impossible as it sounds, completely cutting out sugar and alcohol will make a noticeable difference very quickly. Avoid belly-bloating foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Load up on fiber to keep your intestines flowing, such as beans, peas, and grain. Stuff your face full of protein to power up those muscles with things like eggs, nuts, and greek yogurt. And finally, eat good carbs to raise your energy levels, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, and oatmeal. Keep in mind, however, that carbs should only be enjoyed post-workout, as this will prevent your body from storing it. Furthermore, one should also drop all carb intake one week before you snap that selfie close-up.
  4. Change how you eat. Being selective with your diet is only half the battle. In order to maximize your body’s abilities, you need to eat in a certain way too. Experiment with reduced portion sizes, ideally with four to six smaller meals a day. Chew each mouthful 30 times or more to aid digestion. And slow down your pacing to give your brain a chance to register how full you are before you overeat.
  5. Try the water/sodium trick. It goes without saying that drinking water is always a good idea. If you’re dehydrated then your body will hold onto any liquid it can find and you’ll bloat. Drinking water also helps to suppress the appetite. Armed with this knowledge, here’s a secret trick only those in the selfie business know. Two weeks before your photo, increase your sodium (salt) intake, which will help you to water-load. Four days before the selfie, cut out all salt by cooking your meals yourself and reading the food labels carefully. And then 18 hours before your big moment, decrease all water intake substantially. This will dry you out and tighten the skin around your stomach, revealing your abs much easier.
  6. Work on your overall presentation. Now that your body’s ready and your selfie date has arrived, it’s time to make sure you look the part. The sweetest spot of the day for minimum bloating is before breakfast but after the first time you pee. Remember that a hairless body always translates better on screen. Before the photo shoot, perform a quick round of jumping jacks or push-ups until you get that natural sweat glow. During the photo shoot, flex your muscles but don’t clench so hard that your blood vessels threaten to burst. Relax your face or smile effortlessly. Look confident, and then fully exhale all of your oxygen just before you press the button.
  7. Use a decent camera. Modern day smartphones will snap a decent pic, but remember that a proper camera will make a noticeable difference. Mirror selfies are incredibly popular and acceptable in today’s society, but a reflective surface can mess with the focus—plus, it looks like you have no friends. For your best shot, set up a tripod camera on a timer which is facing away from a mirror so that you can still see what the camera is seeing. One final fancy tip is to shoot a video while you experiment with different positions, as this will allow you to choose from hundreds of frames rather than just one.
  8. Get good lighting. The level of your fitness or the price tag on your camera won’t mean much if the lighting speckles your selfie until you look like an optical illusion. Forget the flash, avoid fluorescence, and seek out bright, natural light. To really accentuate that ab definition, opt for lighting which shines directly from above your head, as this creates shadows in the important crevices. Most gyms already have this set up, and for good reason.
  9. Location location location. One mistake so many people make is the bathroom selfie. The bathroom isn’t a sexy place, so get out. Instead, go to the gym or use a nice clean bedroom setting. Be aware of your surroundings. The more cluttered the atmosphere is around you, the less of a focal point you will be. Don’t let anything steal the show from you. Finally, if you’re of a darker complexion, use a lighter background to enforce contrast. If you’re of a lighter complexion, then do the opposite.
  10. The editing part. Once you’ve obtained that perfect ab selfie, you might want to cautiously venture into the world of editing. There are plenty of apps out there to warm yourself up with filters and effects, but use these with restraint! Less is more! The idea is for your photo to look unedited and natural, so don’t warp yourself beyond recognition. That said, let your creativity fly and get experimental with it. This should be fun! It’s only a selfie, after all.