A bodybuilder showed how fitness influencers can make their bodies look Instagram-perfect in before-and-after photos

Bodybuilder Connor Murphy demonstrated how fitness influencers strategically pose to make themselves look good in photos.

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Bodybuilder Connor Murphy demonstrated how fitness influencers strategically pose to make themselves look good in photos.
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Connor Murphy/Youtube


Connor Murphy is a bodybuilder and fitness influencer who has over two million YouTube subscribers. Almost all of his Instagram posts emphasize his muscles.

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Connor Murphy is a fitness influencer.
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Connor Murphy

A quick look at Murphy’s Instagram page will make you think he can’t take a bad photo thanks to his toned physique. But Murphy told Insider there’s a lot that goes into making sure he looks muscular in his pictures.

When he started developing his social-media presence in late 2015, he learned a myriad of tricks that could make him look much more muscular.

“I realized there are a lot of things that make my body look drastically different,” he said.


In 2016, Murphy posted a “10 Minute Transformation Challenge” video to his YouTube account to share what he learned about posing for photos with his followers.

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Murphy wanted to be more transparent about how he made his muscles look their best.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

He posted the video in part because he thought it was a fun idea video people would enjoy watching, but also because he wanted to be more transparent with his followers.

“The fitness industry is known to be super, super fake,” he told Insider. “Everyone’s, like, Photoshopping their pictures, everyone’s lying about being on performance-enhancing drugs and stuff like that.”

“Most influencers aren’t gonna wanna show you the before photos because they don’t look good,” he added.


In the video, he demonstrated how things like lighting and camera angles can impact how your photos look. “Lighting is the most important from a bodybuilding standpoint,” Murphy said.

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Good lighting makes muscle definition more visible in photos.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

“Lighting is everything,” he said. “It can be the difference between you looking like you hardly lift and like you’re a professional physique competitor,” as a darker setting can make it difficult to see muscle lines.

Murphy’s biggest piece of advice to people trying to optimize their muscles in photos is to always face towards the sun in your photos.

“Never, ever face away from the sun in a photo,” he said. “You’re going to see no cuts in your body” if the sun is behind you.


Titling your body towards the camera can also impact your appearance, according to Murphy. “Whatever body you’re trying to make look bigger, lean it closer to the camera,” he said.

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Leaning towards the camera can make parts of your body look smaller.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

“You’re making the top half of your body closer to the camera than your lower half,” Murphy said, explaining why leaning forward is an effective pose.

“So your shoulders are closer to the camera than your waist is, which gives the illusion that your shoulders are bigger and your waist is smaller than it actually is.”


Murphy has also found that positioning the camera at a higher angle can make his muscles look bigger, especially if he’s trying to emphasize his upper body.

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The angle of the camera itself can also impact how you look in photos.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

But Murphy also noted that if you’re trying to emphasize your gluteus muscles, you might actually tilt the lower half of your body forward and turn slightly towards the side.

It depends on the body part you want to emphasize.


Flexing for a photo makes muscles more defined. “Your abs are not going to be visible unless you flex,” he says in the video.

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Body hair can cover up muscle definition.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

Murphy told Insider that shaving your body hair can make your muscles look more visible too.

“It makes you not look as defined because the hair is kind of covering it up,” he said of body hair.


Murphy said most bodybuilders tan themselves to make their muscles look more defined.

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Tanning can make your muscles look more defined.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

“When it comes to bodybuilding, it actually makes the shadows a little darker,” Murphy said of tanning.

“Especially if you’re under harsh lighting,” he added. “So that’s why on stage bodybuilders really have to tan, because when those lights are shining at you, if you’re not darker, you’re going to appear very washed out.”

“The harsher lighting that you’re under, the tanner you’re going to need to be to have any definition at all.”


Murphy makes sure to get his blood pumping before posing for a photo.

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Pumping can also make muscles look larger.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

In addition to swelling the muscles, getting your blood moving can make your skin flush, which in turn makes them look larger as well. Murphy recommended doing push-ups to get your blood pumping in his video.


Murphy says he applies oil to his body as the shine it creates makes his muscles seem larger.

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Murphy uses spray-on cooking oil to make his skin shine.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

He recommends spray-on cooking oil in the video, as it allows you to disperse the oil evenly.


Murphy thinks fitness influencers can give people unrealistic expectations of what they should look like.

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Murphy thinks social media photos can give people unrealistic expectations.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

“When people are being really fake online, whether it be they got plastic surgery and they’re saying that they didn’t or they’re taking performance enhancing drugs and they’re saying they didn’t, or they’re Photoshopping their pictures and saying that they didn’t, it’s giving an unrealistic expectation to their followers,” he told Insider.

Murphy isn’t the only influencer to call out the industry for setting unattainable standards for followers. Fitness star Sia Cooper criticized highly-edited photos in 2018.

Instagram also banned filters that promote plastic surgery earlier this year.


“It’s bad for the followers if they have these unrealistic expectations that can’t be met because they don’t understand that what they’re trying to achieve isn’t even real,” he said.

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Murphy wants fitness influencers to be more transparent.
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Connor Murphy/YouTube

“A lot of these people are selling products, and the followers are gonna be buying products thinking they can look like this person,” he pointed out.

“It’s very detrimental to the consumer, and the more transparent people can be, the better.”

You can see more of Connor’s video’s on his YouTube page.