Case Study: A Deep Dive Into My Photo Shoot Prep

Leading into this prep I had been focused on putting on muscle from October 2018-May 2020. October 2018 was my last bodybuilding show. A solid 1 and a half years of dedicated building phases. Now during this time, I wasn’t just gaining weight, as I had a few mini cuts thrown in there (to make sure I didnt get overly fat).  But the majority of the time I was focused on increasing my weight. 

During this time my weight went from 155 to 177 at the highest point, again this was a planned weight gain to build muscle, read here to see why you need to spend time doing this, even if being leaner is your goal. Since I had been gaining weight for so long it was time to run a full-length cut and lean out. My choices were to either get fairly lean or shredded. When I say shredded, Im talking the level it takes for a bodybuilding competition/photoshoot. 

I chose to focus on a photo shoot so I could get professional pictures taken for my website and social media. 

So at the beginning of May I started cutting.

Here is my starting point: 

Phase 1: May 4-June 14


In this phase, I actually did ZERO tracking. My goal here was to drop some of the initial weight, which I knew would be fairly easy. So my goals were to cut down on my portions, slow down when eating, and leave each meal feeling like I was a little hungry. 

I also tracked my weight to make sure it was trending down. Here is what it did:


During this time I still had to train from home because of Covid, so it was all very basic movements based on what I had access to. For example, I wouldn’t ever put single-arm dumbbell bench press into my routine.  Towards the end of this phase from training at home I was sick of it. I was ready to get back into the gym. Here is what my split looked like:

Monday: Push focus

  • Single Arm Bench Press 10-15 Reps x4 Sets
  • Deficit Push Ups 10-15 Reps x 3 Sets
  • Strict Dip 10-15 Reps x 4 Sets
  • Upright Row 12-20 Reps x4 Sets

Tuesday: Pull Focus 

  • Pull Up 8-10 reps  x 3 Sets 
  • Bent Over Barbell Row to Belly 10-15 reps x 4 sets
  • Straight Bar Bicep Curl 12-20 Reps x 4 Sets

Wednesday: Leg Focus

  • Sissy Squat 15-25 Reps x 4 Sets
  • Front leg elevated lunge 10-15 reps x 3 sets
  • Barbell Good Morning 10-12 Reps x 3 Sets
  • Standing Calf Raise 12-20 Reps x 4 Sets
  • Reaching Sit Up 12-15 Reps 3 Sets

Thursday: Push Focus

  • Close Grip Bench Press 10-15 reps x 4 sets
  • Lying Tricep Extension 15-20 reps x 3 sets
  • Deficit Push-Ups 15-20 Reps x 4 Sets
  • Bilateral Upright Row 10-15 Reps x 4 Sets

Friday: Pull Focus

  • Bent Over Barbell Row To Chest 8-12 reps x 3 Sets
  • Bent Over Barbell Row to Belly 10-15 Reps x 2 Sets
  • Chin Up 10-12 reps x 4 sets
  • Seated Bicep Curl 12-20 Reps x 4 Sets
  • Band Rear Delt Rows 15-20 Reps x 3 Sets

Saturday: Leg Focus

  • Stiff Leg Deadlift 8-10 Reps x 3 Sets
  • Sissy Squat 15-25 reps x 2  Sets
  • Heels Elevated Front Squat 10-15 Reps x 2  Sets
  • Standing Calf Raise 20-30 Reps x 4 Sets
  • DB Lateral Raise 20-30 Reps x 4 Sets

This is what I looked like at the end of this first phase:

Phase 2: June 15 -July 19

I reached out to Jeremiah Bair to help me with my business and I told him I was actually planning on doing a photoshoot so we talked and I decided to have him guide me through the process and get me looking as good as I could. Having him as my coach was a great choice and it also brought so much more structure to my fat loss diet. 

Nutrition: With nutrition, we started with these numbers:

We decided to add in one high day and then keep the other days lower so I could enjoy a meal out if I wanted to. This all comes down to personal preference. I don’t mind going lower on some days if it means I can go out and enjoy a meal. This can be a good strategy to help with adherence during a fat loss diet. 

Training: Was able to get back into the gym during the start of this phase. It was a great change of pace. Here is what my split looked like:

Progress pics/measurements: 

Here is what my body looked like at the beginning and then the end of this phase


Deload July 20- July 26

Calories stayed the same. Workout intensity was lower to get rid of any training fatigue. 

Phase 3: July 27- August 23

Nutrition: Nutrition stayed the same during this phase since I saw such a good rate of decrease during the first phase. There was no need for any adjustments. I attribute this to tracking, and going lower with my calories than I have in the past. 

Training: Training stayed very similar. Keep exercises mostly the same. The last thing you want to do is add in a ton of novelty/new exercises from phase to phase. Here is what my split looked like during this phase:

Training was getting tough at this point. I started to feel the low body fat levels and low-calorie intake start to really effect me. I could tell at this point I was just fighting to maintain as much muscle as possible. Again another reason why you need to spend time gaining weight if you want to change your body (read here).

Progress pics/measurements

Here are the physique changes over this phase:

Deload August 24- August 30

Just like the previous deload, the goal was to lower my training fatigue. Calories also went down this week, but I go over that below. 

Phase 4: August 31- September 13

Nutrition: My weight started to plateau a bit so we decided to drop calories a bit more and we wanted to make sure there were no stones left unturned. Making 1-2 drops in calories throughout a fat loss phase is totally normal. Very rarely can someone get through an entire fat loss phase without having to make 1-2 nutrition adjustments. 

Here were the new numbers:

Training: Since I only had 3 weeks before my shoot we were in a tough spot with training. Ideally, you would spend at least 4 weeks in a training phase, but since we needed to keep training light leading up to the shoot we only had 2 weeks for this phase. Here is the training split:

Again, very similar throughout this fat loss phase. 

Progress Pics/ measurements:

Here are the physique changes during this phase:

Peak Week: September 14-September 21

Nutrition: At this point all of the hard work was done. I had gotten lean, so now it was time to fill out leading up into the shoot. Here is what my calories consisted of leading into the shoot:

Training: For training, the goal was to just chase a pump and leave plenty in the tank so I wasnt inflammed heading into the shoot. 

My split stayed exactly the same as the week before, just less sets and intensity. 

Here I am the day of the shoot and during peak week:

Before and after:

Hopefully you enjoyed reading this and it gave you more insight into how to run a fat loss diet. If you have any questions about my photoshoot prep send me a message on Instagram @jeffh91_ or email me at

If you would like to run a structured fat loss phase, building phase, or photo shoot prep fill out the online coaching application here, and lets get to work. 

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