photo shoot ready in 4 weeks curl

Photo Shoot Ready In 4 Weeks

Y’know that saying “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is right now”?

Cutting or getting photoshoot ready isn’t like that.

Trying to drop a bunch of weight as quickly as possible might not highlight your strengths and shadow your weaknesses. It may do the opposite-leave you underperforming, feeling like death, and looking like trash.

99.9% of people screw up their hyper-restrictive crash diets, and enter themselves into a vicious cycle: drastically cut calories/carbs, endure fatiguing and destructive workouts in an environment not conducive to recovery, see and then devour an entire cookie cake and offset a week’s worth of deficit, end up back where they started but this time filled with guilt, shame, and diminished self confidence.

Not my recipe for success.

Keep this in mind please:

The best diet is the one that you can stick to.

So what, then, is the solution to looking lean and mean for one-off events?

Staying lean year round.  

By lean, I mean:

-The tailoring job on your suits doesn’t need to be redone, even though you’ve gained a few pounds

-Your top four abs and linea alba are clearly visible

-You’re a 10 lb drop away from making heads turn if you took your shirt off

-Good lighting and a pump doesn’t induce total disgust when you look in the mirror, even though you haven’t counted macros in a year

Achieving that state, in my half decade of doing so and then improving upon it, is dependent on one thing, and one thing only:

Building muscle.

Now, assuming that you, dear reader, have achieved that state (heuristic: do people tell you about their workouts and PRs, without any prompting?), let’s talk about how you can maximize your efforts, and looks freaking awesome when the camera bulb flashes and you’re at the mercy of your efforts and Instagram filters.

photo shoot ready in 4 weeks curl

4 Weeks Out

You haven’t noticed any change in the fit of your clothes for a while, for better or worse. When blearily flex your abs before peeing every morning, you acknowledge to yourself that you’re not looking as bad as your guilt for not diligently counting macros makes you feel.

Your years of discipline are paying off. You’ve blasted, now it’s time to cruise, so to speak.

But you get word that there’s a company party at the lake.

There will be grills, girls, and you.

It’s one month away. You take another look in the mirror and know that you could turn everything up a notch or two.

Some quick meathead math reveals to you that in 4 weeks, you could drop 8-10 lbs of mostly fat, and not even have much a drop in performance levels.

First and foremost, dude, you know you have to eat less. You calculate your Total Daily Caloric Expenditure, and factor in your activity level and lean body mass. That number is how many calories it costs just for you to keep the shape you’re in. However, since this is only for one month, you take a big deficit-25%.

From experience, you know that while it can be effective, it’s more often than not a recipe for total disaster, so you decide to keep carbs in the picture. In fact, they’ll play a major role, because sticking to your deficit will be way more fun with carbs. It’s fat that’ll take a major hit. You decide to get about 20% cals from fat. This will give you enough fat for your hormones to function, but also keep you in a deficit easily.

Muscle is key here, so you’re keeping protein at 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. It’ll fill you up when you’re feeling hungry, and it’ll keep you warm and tell you’re special when you’re cold and lonely (pun not intended, but the Thermic Effect of protein is actually rather pronounced).

You continue crunching numbers. Since you’re training has lately only consisted of getting a pump on the pull-up rig and some heavy deadlifts once per week, and your only cardio has been a furtive glance in the direction of the stair master, you know you should stick to a plan.

You decide on the tried and true, Ye Olde Standby, Push-Pull-Legs. Three days per week at heavy loads will serve a few purposes:

  1. Give you time to recover, since you’ll need all the help you can get, being in a deficit.
  2. Hit the largest muscle groups, which, for your immediate purposes, means “beach muscles”. You want your upper back to be wide and powerful with waist narrow (The V Taper sends a strong message), chest thick as an armored plate, and abs taut and arms bulging, and your booty meat helping you win whatever SportsBall endeavor you undertake.
  3. Not be a drastic change to your lifestyle. Like diet, the best training program is the one you can stick to.

Deficit and macros set? Check

Peanut butter thrown out of the house? Check

Training plan set? Check

Time to shred up.

photo shoot ready in 4 weeks curl

3 Weeks Out

It feels damn good to get to lifting again.Your energy has been through the roof all day long, and your body feels taut and powerful from sun-up to way past sun-down.

Your diligence in the kitchen has been paying off, too. The scale says you’ve lost like, 4 pounds. Half of that is water weight, sure, but seeing that progress in numbers feels great.

The mirror gives a hint of transformation, but you know you’re fishing for compliments to give yourself.

“Stay the course. Don’t slack now” you tell yourself. Might as well throw in some morning fasted cardio, just for good measure.

2 weeks Out

Your arms are getting veiny again. You just pulled in another notch on your belt. And yet, your t-shirt and suit coats are clinging fast to your shoulders and upper arms.

This time, it isn’t your eyes playing tricks on you in the morning-you’re definitely leaning out.

At work, you put both hands on your hips as you were watching a presentation. No longer do you feel the squish of your extra flesh. The fat that made up your love handles is gone.

1 week Out

Your boss just asked you how you’ve been managing to get so much done at the office and be hitting the gym.

The dudes in the cafeteria give you extra chicken at no extra cost.

You definitely need a whole size of pants smaller, but everyone keeps commenting on how much bigger you’ve gotten…in good way. You decide it’s probably best to keep to yourself that you’ve actually dropped almost 10 pounds. They’re not going to care about the process, just the result. And the result? Well, with one week to go, it’s staggering.

photo shoot ready in 4 weeks curl

0 days Out

You’re up before the sun. That’s become customary, in order to get morning cardio in and be on time for work. The early start has added a NOS boost of momentum to your day. Especially on a weekend such this as this, the extra time feels especially like a gift.

You get a relaxed swim in and soak up some vitamin D while reading a bit. Maps of Meaning seemed a bit too dense for poolside reading, so Goldfinger will have to suffice.

You decide to fast until you get to the BBQ. That way, you can have a cookie or two and some burgers and let your thirsty muscles soak up the glycogen they crave. Then, presto, instant pump and vascularity.

Your Mom FaceTimes you, and comments on how young you look! You check out your reflection and don’t see youth but rather, strength. You have a jawline. Like, a serious, stone cutting jawline. Guess I didn’t realize how impactful facial aesthetics really are, you think.

You show up at the BBQ. Everyone has been there for a bit. Jenkins is sunburnt to all hell. Smithson is drunk. All hail your arrival. The party photographer takes you to be the company’s fitness consultant (you assure him, for the fourth time, that you’re not-you’re in M&A). He snaps a candid of you talking to a few of the cute interns, who bashfully approached for you the first time after you pulled your shirt off to hit the volleyball court.

That night, a notification dings your phone. It is one of the interns, who has tagged you on Instagram. You think she must be wrong, but no…that’s you alright.


You look freaking jacked. Like, no wonder that guy didn’t believe you about your job. You legitimately look like you walked off of the screen in 300.

Thinking back over the past month, you realize how worth it it was.

The morning donut, the extra servings of pasta and Chipotle….the discipline you’ve developed was worth it for your newfound energy and output and confidence alone, not even taking into account the fact that your body looks like a topographical map covered in tissue paper.

Fun and productive mini-cut, you think. Time to pack on some muscle. You set your macros to surplus, and head for the deadlift platform.

About the Author

Michael Hewitt helps guys make epic and lasting change to their bodies, minds, and lives. He is the founder of the transformation program "The Anti DadBod Squad: from DadBod to Greek God in 90 Days", author of Statue Jacked and Cheat Codes, designed to optimize your nutrition and training (to apply for ADBS, and to pick up SJ and CCclick here). He is a professional opera singer, performing globally to sold out crowds. Connect with him at, and on all social media accounts @michaelhewitt23.