How to eat and train like a male model

What does the life of a male model look like? How do they train and what do they actually eat?

Introducing Todd Finlay – a childhood friend of mine who truly is the epitome of a “handsome” hunk, who has made a name for himself as a successful fashion model in major cities like Sydney, Miami and NYC. On top of his busy modelling schedule, Todd also works as a personal trainer. Over the years, his outlook has shifted from one of eating and working out for purely aesthetics, to one that is more balanced and sustainable. We talk to the handsome Todd today and share with you some key insights into what it’s like to eat and work-out to look like a model, despite a demanding and hectic lifestyle.

Happy perving! (I mean… reading).


Name: Todd Finlay

Occupation: Fashion Model & Personal Trainer

Agencies: Chadwick Sydney, MP Mega Miami, Wilhelmina NY

Location: Miami Beach, FL, USA

How long have you been modelling and working as a personal trainer? Can you elaborate on what is required of you from these jobs from a physical and mental point of view? Any challenges?

I started working as a personal trainer & model 12 years ago, back in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia.  Since 2011, I have been based overseas working as a fashion model in London, New York, Hamburg & Miami.

Personal training & modelling could not more different! As a trainer, I have always worked for myself, so everything has always been structured very carefully to help me find work-life balance. At times this has proved to be extremely difficult.

Everything with my clients is very precise – weekly training times, goals, assessments, training periodisation, eating plans and recovery phases. As a trainer, physical demands are to be expected – participating in training sessions with some clients, constantly moving, racking weights etc. This should be second nature for someone that is physically fit and strong. Mentally, some days can be more draining depending on your client roster. Not only do you become somebody’s health/ fitness/ lifestyle/motivator/ mentor, you can become their counsellor/ confidant too. I have been really lucky to train some amazing individuals over the years and they have given me perspective & insight in to areas in not only their training and lives but mine too.

Todd Finlay model

The modelling business has next to no structure at all. Castings & photo shoots can be so last minute. You could be buying your groceries for the week and get a phone call from your agent to say you have booked a job and you need to head to the airport immediately to jump on a flight. If structure is what you are after, the modelling business is NOT for you. Personally I found it very hard to adjust to this way of life and inconsistency with bookings. You rely on your agent to get you seen by the right clients, for those clients to book you and then finally complete the job. The business can be a rollercoaster at times and it can feel like you are always waiting to hear back from potential clients – this will never change. Like anything in life you just learn to adapt. Physically, modelling can be taxing for sure. Shooting in the burning hot sun in Mexico for hours on end, or in the snowy streets of Manhattan or submerged in water during winter in the Florida Keys. Also travelling on long international flights, then jumping off the other end and heading straight to work for a 16-hour day.

Mentally it isn’t as easy as people think just standing there and getting your picture taken. You have to satisfy the photographer, producer and client before you can move to the next shot. Movement is imperative to capture beautiful images. Photographers hate models that are stiff as a board and that can make for a long day for all involved. I always put thought into what position I will be in to best accentuate what I am wearing. One of the more challenging things can be a production on location with 60 people that have never worked together, particularly if there are language barriers. A lot of the time you meet at a certain location in the world, do the job and then go your separate ways all in the space of 24 hours. I would say working with a range of clients in training has helped me be much more personable with my agents, production and clients.

Todd Finlay model

Can you provide some details on your training in the past, how it has changed over the years and how it’s influenced you later in life as an adult? 

My training has changed greatly over the years. I used to train very specific for the sports I competed in. My weight training sessions in the gym were relentless in order to gain muscle and strength. Running sessions were gut busting, skill sessions for football and tennis were intense with focus on agility, speed, endurance and plyometric exercises. During track season, my team had a flexibility coach come in 3-4 times a week and work us through a stretching routine for around 1 hour. All of this guidance from a variety of specialist coaches along with a lifetime of continuing education in the classroom and at work has given me an excellent skill set and huge volume of information that I have been able to pass on to clients and utilise in my own conditioning.

Today, the time I use to train is much more efficient, specific and I have a clear focus of what I want to achieve each time I complete my session. I rarely train at maximal output and consider recovery from sessions paramount. I never used to know the meaning of the word rest. Training is so much more enjoyable these days…

Over the years of training, what have you found to be most effective in keeping your body fat % in check? 

Honestly the recipe is pretty simple, I do some form of activity every single day. I cannot pin point one exact activity because there are so many. Walking, jogging, sprinting, cycling, swimming, lifting in the gym, tennis, golf, basketball, soccer, football, the list just goes on. I train much smarter these days and not every session is at 100%. Intensity is always pretty solid and sessions are 30-40min. If I am feeling sore, rundown, fatigued from travel I adjust my session accordingly. I work daily on my flexibility and mobility and hope that in doing this it should allow me to do all the activities I love for many years to come. Obviously I try and make the best choices with good quality food most of the time. I never count calories, nor do I restrict myself from a treat weather it be a burger or some chocolate. I always aim to be hydrated as best as possible, consuming 3-5L daily depending on the climate I am in and the amount I have been sweating during my training.

What keeps you mentally strong and able to stay on track with your fitness regime? 

Ever since I was a kid, I have loved sports and training. Pushing myself physically makes me feel so alive and mentally tough. I feel amazing after I lift heavy weights, play some soccer or go and run 400m intervals at the track. I am really not sure how I would cope if I couldn’t do these things anymore.

In another life I was playing competitive sports, and it was my intent to win at all costs. These days I am a lot more relaxed about things and I only compete against myself. Besides enjoyment, I want to live a long, pain free life and know that moving every day and eating well will go a long way in helping me to do this.

Todd Finlay model

Can you elaborate on what your weekly training and nutrition plan looks like? 

My nutrition plan is pretty simple. I don’t obsess over weighing food or beat myself up if I eat some junk food.

Daily liquids consist of 3-5L water, 2x matcha green tea and usually 1x black coffee. Alcohol is reserved for a special occasion these days, not just for the hell of it.

I try and eat around 20 vegetables per day of all different colours (whatever is in season); they are usually steamed or grilled. I do my best to eat a portion of fresh protein with my vegetables. Protein could be any of: fresh fish, chicken, steak, bison, turkey, veal, pork and lamb, whatever is looking the best when I buy my produce. I ate some grilled fresh red snapper for breakfast this morning, which was incredible!

I focus on consuming small amounts of good fats every day, which can range from cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, I supplement with wild caught fish oil tablets on days I don’t eat fresh fish and I always graze on nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios.

I eat much less fruit these days, not consciously; I just don’t enjoy it as much. Fruit can be anything really but I love all berries! These are perfect post-training for recovery.

I eat rice, sprouted quinoa, and sweet potato sporadically and eating this is dependent on my training volume for the day. I also eat sprouted grain bread 1-2 times per week. I really eat to how I feel. If I am not that hungry, I don’t eat. If I am ravenous, I load up.

I find fasting 12-16 hours occasionally is fantastic for re-charging your system and really improves my energy levels. I always make sure to keep my electrolytes intake high when I do this.

I am also pretty regimented with getting to bed at the same time every night. Obviously work, travel and social life can get in the way of this but I make sure I get 7-8 hours unbroken sleep every night, I find this is imperative for being mentally sharp, feeling physically strong and obviously looking your best.

Todd Finlay model

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? 

My dad used to tell me when I was a kid, “there is no such thing as can’t, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something”. Rock solid advice if you ask me.

Are there any go to books/people/podcasts that might have influenced your outlook on training? And what were they? 

My dad pretty much introduced me to every sporting activity under the sun from a young age. I used to do sit ups and push-ups with him when I was still wearing nappies. He was very mentally tough and I remember much of his guidance like it was yesterday. Perhaps it is just in my genes that I have a passion for training and sports.

I highly value any literature from Charles Poliquin, Kelly Starrett & Mark Sisson.   Poliquin is the ultimate for strength training, body composition, supplementation and nutrition. Kelly is incredible for self-treatment, mobility and rehabilitation. Mark is The lifestyle guru.

Follow Todd on Instagram: toddfinlay

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