There’s no doubt about it — at some point, you’ve seen someone snapping one by a weight machine, and you’ve seen someone who just broke a sweat smiling back at you all over your social media feeds. Yep, we’re talking about the workout selfie. And by now, you’ve considered posting one yourself.
But what should you wear? Are you supposed to snap one before or after your workout? Does it matter where you take the photo? Indeed, considering — and posting — a workout selfie can make one self-conscious.
Still, there are many powerful reasons to go ahead and do it. A workout selfie is empowering. Not only are you showing off your dedication to physical fitness, but you’re also showing that your embrace your body. It’s not just about getting a few “likes” (though that certainly doesn’t hurt the self-esteem), it’s about celebrating your efforts and furthermore, holding yourself accountable.
Ready to flaunt your fit self? Follow these guidelines for some Instagram-worthy selfies.
Location, location, location
The environment plays a key role in taking a substantial selfie. Avoid the locker rooms — not only do they make for a boring backdrop, but it’s also where other gym-goers are changing and chilling out, and you want to respect their privacy.
Instead, opt for an empty section of a room with free weights, a window opposite the treadmills or the corner of a dance studio — really anywhere where you’re sure there won’t be people in the background. If you’re taking your workout outside, you’ll have even more opportunities for some interesting backdrops, like against a tree or near a lake where you’re stretching post-run (extra points if there’s a stunning sunrise or sunset in the shot).
Look for optimal lighting
As a general rule, natural lighting is your friend when it comes to flattering photographs — and this holds true with workout selfies as well. Why? Because it offers crisper, sharper shadows, and that additional contrast means your muscles look more defined. So if you’re taking your shot at the gym, try to find a spot near a window.
Show off your style
A sweat session is still an opportunity to flaunt your style. You probably think about the ensemble you’re wearing for other photos you post on social media, so why should your fitness selfies be any different? It’s an optimal chance to get some wear out of those cute new printed workout leggings you bought, those brightly colored sneakers or that workout tee with a sassy slogan on it.
Naturally, you want to opt for apparel that thoroughly flatters your body. That means a supportive sports bra, which will give you the kind of much-needed lift and be shaping that not only makes for a more comfortable workout but also keeps your bust line looking flawless for those pics you post.
Don’t shy away from sports bras with fashion-forward accents, like an exposed front zipper or contrasting panels in bright hues. You’ll likely want one that’s made of moisture-wicking material, especially if you plan to take your selfie post-workout — after all; you don’t want any pesky sweat stains showing through.
Try using tools
The camera on your phone has plenty of features that will prove to be helpful when taking your selfie, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of them. Play around with the brightness, sharpness, contrast and color saturation, as well as the highlights and shadows, to get your optimal aesthetic. Most smartphone cameras feature a built-in timer, which can be helpful if you don’t feel like holding it in your hand, or would prefer to use your arms for a complex yoga pose or holding dumbbells or a barbell. All you have to do is prop your phone up on a surface and choose the seconds that you’ll need to get into your desired position before the camera snaps a shot.
By the way — don’t be shy about using a selfie stick if you have one. These handy little devices free up your hands so you can get more creative. Plus, by creating more distance between the camera and you, you can often get a more flattering angle and even get more of your backdrop in the frame.
Strike a pose
Selecting the perfect pose all comes down to which part of your body you want to show off. For example, if you’re dying to show off all the hard work you’ve put in on your glutes, opt for a side view, which will draw attention to the curve of your behind. On the other hand, placing your hands on your hips will emphasize your arm and shoulder muscles — the biceps, triceps, and deltoids.
Keep in mind that whatever is closest to the camera automatically appears more significant — so you can cleverly adjust the camera angle to draw attention to specific body parts or muscle groups.
Confidence is key
The most important thing to remember is that a workout selfie is about so much more than showing off how your body looks at a particular angle. Don’t get in your head that other gym-goers or people scrolling through their Instagram feed might be judging you — those concerns will only get in the way of you snapping a shot that shows the most confident version of yourself (and believe us, that confidence will come across in your photo).
Speaking of confidence, don’t let yourself pass an hour obsessing over the best possible lighting, location or angle. Snap a few shots, and then get to the important part: your workout. After all, there will be many more opportunities in the future to take new workout selfies and show off your progress. For now, it’s all about loving your body and giving it some much-deserved attention.