April 8th, 2012

Rise Of The Physique Artist

There’s a hot new trend taking over the fitness industry like wildfire, and the great news is, it’s not some new fad program that will die off in a few years. In fact, this rising trend is not new at all. It’s been time tested and proven to continue producing the best looking physiques for over half a century. Now that’s an impressive track record that cannot be ignored!

The trend is Physique Training and it’s now more popular than ever, which should not come as a surprise to anyone. After all, the concept involves “Training for Looks”. The same “Look” that draws your eyes to the cover of a fitness magazine, causing you to daydream about looking phenomenal in a swimsuit.

According to Stef O’Donnell (pictured to the right), “I like the female model “look” because I believe it’s a look that holds universal appeal, as it projects the epitome of health and vitality, as well as youthfulness. Instead of having to wear shoulders pads, tight belts, and jeans that give your butt a “lift” (lol) isn’t it better to actually sculpt your body to really have that shape?!”

Sculpting your body into a work of art… isn’t that what training is all about? Chiseling out a symmetrical physique with ideal proportions. Carving out your most aesthetically pleasing figure. Developing sexy muscle with curves in all the right places. Bringing out the finer details to create a polished look that catches the attention of the opposite sex.

Yet, for reasons unknown, mainstream fitness spent the past ten years shunning the practice of physique training. “It’s not functional!”, they shouted from the roof tops. “It doesn’t transfer over into real life situations” they proudly claim as they balance with one foot on a ball and juggle pretty pink 3 pound dumbbells.

What the heck does “functional” mean anyway? I’ve jokingly been known to say that the function of my training is to look hot, but the truth is, Physique Training has improved my hockey game and allows me to perform daily tasks to the best of my abilities. I’m also certain that I can out sprint many of these desk jockey’s who have been pushing this nonsense to fitness enthusiasts.

I can’t even begin to count how many real life situations where I’ve had to lift objects in a curling motion, yet there isn’t one single incident where I’ve had to balance objects while standing on an unstable surface. So wouldn’t that make biceps curls more functional than any exercise where you are lying down on a ball or standing on a wobble board?

Oooh, I bet that just sent chills down the back of some mainstream fitness trainers. They’ve spent the past decade frowning upon isolation exercises calling them a waste of time.

Unfortunately, this one swift blow took the art and beauty out of training, for it’s the isolation exercises that are the icing on the cake. They bring out the finer details of your physique, creating the finished and polished “Look” that you desire.

It’s isolation exercises that carved out the detail in my lateral, rear, and front delts as you can see illustrated in the picture to the right. Isolation exercises have sculpted my arms by focusing on more than just the biceps and triceps muscles. One of my favorite muscles to train is the Brachialis muscle, which you can see popping out the side of my arm.

Crunches and twisting movements have also received a bad rap from mainstream fitness, yet it’s those very exercises that have allowed me to get my abs to “POP” and my obliques to stand out. I chuckle every time that I read an article or email that claims these exercises will break your back or make you fat. HA!

The truth is, Physique Training incorporates all of the best functional exercises that you could possibly perform, such as Front Squats, Deadlifts, Pull-Ups, and Dips, just to name a few. We simply choose to take things a step further and perform those finishing exercises that enhance your physique, allowing you to look your absolute best. We’re not just creating a leaner body… we’re sculpting a masterpiece!

Stef O’Donnell echoed similar sentiments, stating “It was not my desire to become a smaller, skinnier version of my old self. I wanted to actually physically change the proportions and structure of my body. I started out with narrow shoulders and wider hips. My goal has always been to reverse that and have wide shoulders, a v-taper, and a lean lower body. That can only be accomplished through body sculpting.”

The Physique Artist Mindset

The difference between mainstream fitness and Physique Training goes well beyond the weight room. What makes physique artists unique is their mindset toward fitness. This has been one of the greatest insights that John McLellan has gained since he recently adopted the Physique Artist lifestyle. John shared, “On the surface, body sculpting is using weight resistance training to build a strong physique that radiates confidence, strength, sexiness and fun. However the change isn’t just seen in your muscles. One’s mental attitude is forever changed.”

Physique Artists don’t workout because they “have to” or need to lose some weight. Weight training is an expression of who they are and what they are made of. Commitment, dedication, focus, and perseverance. Physique Artists find joy and peace during grueling workouts where they step outside of their comfort zone. The gym is their serenity. It’s where they become “in-tune” with what makes the tick.

Training is their craft, much like sculpting is to an artist. Physique Artists take the time to step back and view their art work in progress. They see the big picture and have a keen eye for the changes that will make the most visually stunning impact. Most important, the physique athlete views body sculpting as a life long journey. It’s a lifestyle absent of quick fixes. Each workout is viewed as an opportunity to grow. Not just physically in terms of gaining lean muscle, but to grow as a person spiritually and emotionally.

When I asked my fellow body sculptors to define a Physique Artist, their response reflected this unique mindset approach to training. Vicki Pittman McCarter stated, “It means being in control of your life…mentally, physically and spiritually. It’s honoring your body…feeding it well and making the mind body connection that is needed to address all aspects of life! All while looking pretty darn good!”

“Honoring your body.” Now that’s something that really resonated with me!

Taking Physique Training To The Next Level

The greatest discovery many of my fellow Physique Artists make, is that their potential is much greater than they had ever thought. Their ability to continue improving their physique never ceases to be an eye opening experience. And then it happens… Somewhere along the line throughout this journey something magical takes place. They realize that they have what it takes to step on stage and stand side by side next to the best looking fitness models in the world.

Somehow, these former “Average Joe’s and Jane’s” of all ages find themselves entering physique contests. This is one of the reasons that we are witnessing a BOOM in natural physique and fitness model competitions.

You can count 42 year old Shaun Flaherty (photo to the right), among this crowd now that he has selected his first event to compete in. Shaun summed this transition up by stating, “I just saw it as the next step really. The chance to better myself at the ultimate level.

Most people can look good on the beach or by the pool but never really take it to the max and stand up on stage. It’s a combination of all you have learned all coming down to one day under the spotlight. Perfect body perfect posing.”

Not everyone develops the desire to step on stage. Some Physique Artists, such as Stef O’Donnell prefer to simply “look like they could compete” without ever entering a contest. What many of us have found is that going through the experience of a photo shoot is very similar to stepping on stage… minus the itsy bitsy posing trunks 😉 It’s just as rewarding too. A photo shoot is the best way to capture your body as a work of art.

However, even the shyest among the Physique Artists who swear they would never enter a physique competition, end up finding themselves up on stage. As Shaun shared with me, “It fills me with mortal terror just to think about it because by nature I’m the most placid shy man you can ever meet, but I figure to break the cycle I need to go all out.”

That’s something that I can totally relate to. I never ever thought that I would see the day when I would compete in a physique contest. It wasn’t in my nature either. Yet hear I am scheduled to compete in my first event on October 27th, 2012. (Note: How’s that for public accountability?) 😀 I admit that I’m scared as hell. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. I don’t have a clue about posing, nor how to go about purchasing posing trunks. But that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that I’ve made the commitment to take my physique to the next level and share the results of my hard work with the world.

It’s a Lifestyle

Continuous growth and improvement is a motto of mine, and as previously mentioned, this growth occurs both physically and spiritually. The beauty of the Physique Artist lifestyle is that it’s an ongoing journey of self-discovery. You will be amazed at what you learn about yourself through the process of sculpting your body. You will become fascination with your true potential and your ability to continue shaping your body while you improve your health. Every goal you achieve opens the doors to more possibilities. When I first adopted the Physique Artist lifestyle in early 2011, I never could have dreamed that I would look like I do today. I knew that I had it in me to get ripped, but I couldn’t fathom how I would look with more muscle.

It wasn’t until I saw the true shape of my body after peeling away the layers of fat that I realized where I needed to make some improvements. Achieving one goal led to new goals of adding muscle to my chest, shoulders, and back. This process of strategically adding muscle to specific areas of your body in order to create a symmetrical and proportionate physique is what really sparks the artist within you. Arnold Schwarzenegger talked of this in the movie Pumping Iron when he said, “The good bodybuilders have the same mind that a sculptor has. If you analyze it, you look in the mirror and you say, okay, I need a bit more deltoids so that the proportion is right, and you exercise and put those deltoids on, whereas an artist would just slap on some clay on each side.”

It’s this attention to detail that really separates Physique Artists from mainstream fitness. There is no way that I could have chiseled out this physique if I had continued along the path of abbreviated workouts that focused solely on compound exercises. As good as mainstream fitness may be for some people, it does have it’s limits. Whereas Physique Training is nearly limitless. It’s where you discover your true potential.


It’s time for me to give you a little homework. Set aside 10 minutes to check yourself out in the mirror. What do you see? An incredible masterpiece in the making of course! There are no “trouble spots” or “problem areas” to a Physique Artist. Excess fat is simply material to be chiseled away. It’s part of the beautiful marble that you’ve been provided with in order to sculpt your work of art. Now carefully examine the areas where you need to slab on some clay (muscle) in order to improve upon your symmetry and proportion. How do you envision the finished product? What details do you see? How do the shadows accent the features that you’ve carved out? Think about what this work of art represents… commitment, consistency, and character.

You have what it takes to sculpt your body into a masterpiece. Embrace the Physique Artist lifestyle and become part of a growing movement that will reshape the fitness industry and how we view training. Your first step… visit the Metabolic Masterpiece website today, where you will find an incredible collection of training programs designed to sculpt an aesthetically pleasing physique with spectacular symmetry and ideal proportions. Bottom line… You’re going to look great nekkid! Get started NOW!

-Scott Tousignant

About The Author

Scott Tousignant, BHK, is a Certified Fitness Consultant with a passion for transforming fitness enthusiasts goal driven, dedicated, and voracious physique artists who take pride in their body, fitness, health, and lifestyle. Embraced by physique artists around the world, his Metabolic Masterpiece Body Sculpting Programs will guide you through the process of sculpting your body into a work of art, by applying what Scott has coined, “The A.T.T.R.A.C.T. Formula.

With his synergistic, boredom busting body sculpting workouts you will melt stubborn fat and gain muscle while skyrocketing your metabolism!

The art of molding and chiseling an aesthetically pleasing physique with ideal proportions and spectacular symmetry is one of life’s most rewarding and fulfilling experiences. It’s an opportunity for self growth and self discovery that will impact every area of your life.

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27 Responses to “Rise Of The Physique Artist”

  • Alain

    I feel the same way when I am training in my martial arts. I focus more on technique, movement and agility rather than how I look, but the mindset is the same. When I learn something new, I don’t think about how bad I’m doing it, I see it as a new skill I am learning that I am going to excel at if I keep at it.

    There is also a strong body-mind connection with martial arts, as you said, except that the focus different. I find myself also at ease when I train knowing that what I am doing is only helping me to get better in my (martial) art!

  • Great article Scott! I highly recommend your Metabolic Masterpiece program. It is very detailed and well thought-out training. It’s super thorough with enough flexibility to meet anyone’s needs. The Journal is insightful and an inspiring “insider look” at what it takes to really get in shape. I especially appreciated the strategic use of snacks/cookies here and there showing us that you really can use this program in “real life”.

  • When was this discovery made? I have been doing this for over 30 years.

    • Tom Venuto

      Me too! I picked up my first barbell in 1983 and did bodybuilding / physical culture / physique “sculpture” workouts since day one… never stopped and never changed my tune or message to follow the latest fad. But most of the fitness industry DID… they ridiculed bodybuilding and cosmetic training in favor of “functional fitness”. But new people are “discovering” or re-discovering” physique sports today with a huge re-birth and revival that goes way beyond bodybuilding… we now have bodybuilding, physique, fitness model, fitness, figure and bikini. It’s a rebirth of physique sports and the appreciation of the physique as art and I for one am THRILLED to see it.

  • Mike Wilcox

    I’m finding way better improvement in my body by ditching the weights and going for body weight exercises that work several muscle groups like dips, muscle ups and pull ups. It makes sense , as I’ve never seen more balanced muscular development than on gymnasts and these guys working out on playground equipment.

  • Scott’s transformation is incredible. He’s been looking great for a long time (I follow his blog), but I’m sure that even he was surprised by the physique he now has.

    You’re right. This isn’t new, but it may feel new to some of us who have been bombarded with BS fitness advice over the past few years.

    • Amen to all the above 😉

      12 months ago I never imagined having this extra muscle and being as lean as I am now. But now that I’m here, I can only imagine the wonderful ways that I will continue to improve my physique during the next 12 months.

      It’s an amazing journey.

  • Chris

    Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, but noone wants to lift any damn weight!

    All show and no go springs to mind, which has been the attitude for 90% of gym goes for years. The new trend is compound movements and big lifts to be big AND strong, the brad pitt fight club dumbell and treadmill routine is dead.

    • Tom Venuto

      Thank you, Chris; Stereotypes are great time savers. See, this a perfect example of the misguided thinking about bodybuilding/physique training and about the trend away from bodybuilding and toward the “functional” fitness over the last decade or so – just lift heavy, get as strong as you can, be all function and be all “go.” I like strength too and naturally I understand the need for sports -specific training. But what makes a person think you can’t be show AND go? My trainer for example, has multiple black belts in various martial arts, he can do full splits, smash cinderblocks with his bare knuckles and has benched 450 and he is first and foremost, to the core, a bodybuilder – with many bodybuilding trophies on his mantle. Why stereotype bodybuilders for lack of strength and athleticism? (especially the natural guys). Some of the strongest people I know are bodybuilders and did you ever ask yourself the question, “how much strength do you really need?” Even some really smart strength coaches have written about this, and the answer is, training to only get stronger and stronger with no concern for any other attributes of fitness – or cosmetic improvements – is just as misguided as training 100% for cosmetic improvements without regard for strength or other aspects of fitness. Saying you shouldn’t work out to look good is ridiculous. “Just add weight to the bar” has lead many people to injury especially after decades of doing it and a lot of the “functional’ stuff, as scott mentioned, is just plain silly. Due to specificity of training, no you cant have it all.. but you can have most of it…. and look damn good… and Ive never had a client, ever, who didn’t want to look good. We’re here to tell you, physique training – with all the new divisions and a revival of interest – is back, even though it never really left us… some of us never stopped doing it.

  • Thank you for this Tom! I have been fighting this ‘it’s not functional’ argument for years, and I’m tired of it. And women come to me because they want to LOOK GOOD although it takes them a bit before they actualyl will say it out loud, as if they’re not supposed to want to look sexy, tight and hot! What’s wrong with that? I recall walking into a high faluten fitness facility and I asked one of the trainers where the Smith machine was…he said they didn’t have one because it ‘wasn’t functional’, to which I said, “I don’t care if it’s not functional, it builds a great ass!” He just about spit out his carrot juice! Anyway, thanks for the support for all of us women out there! You rock!

    • Tom Venuto

      Hi Karen! Thanks for your post. Thats so silly that the gym wouldnt event put a smith machine in their facility. LOL’ing over here. I could agree that its not optimal to use a smith machine exclusively – I do lots free weight / barbell squats, lunges, etc myself – best way I can describe it is that doing ONLY smith machine squatsand avoiding barbell squats maybe makes you “lazy.” That said, I’ve been using the smith machine with safety and success for over 25 years. Thanks again – and keep up the great work… and btw, you look fantastic!

      • Thanks Tom! And for the record, I do barbell squats too, 8 sets, heavy and hard! Gotta do it! Thanks for the reply! Keep up the great work! I have a library of all your writings and I reference them often! LOVE Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle…a must read for everyone!


  • Dan Calabrese

    No one less than Bruce Lee use to do many “bodybuilding” moves and wanted to look good as well as being powerful and “functional”, which no one can deny he was. I have seen pictures of him doing barbell curls which is one of the exercises the functional crowd criticizes. Another bodybuilder from the past who was a Mr. America and Mr. Universe was John Grimek. He was very heavily muscled and at the same time able to do gymnastic moves back then that many of today’s functional trainers could not be able to begin to duplicate. While I’m sure that Tom Venuto knows who he was, if anyone ready this has never heard of him they might want to google him to read more about him and his training. Thanks Tom. This was a very good article. I’m glad to know I have been training correctly for the last 35+ years. With all these “functional” programs, I was beginning to wonder.

    • Tom Venuto

      Dan – you said “I was beginning to wonder.” Thats what bothers me. Because most personal trainers today who were born into the current mindset and are too young to remember John Grimek, Jack Lalanne and steve reeves or vince gironda (or have not bothered to study physique culture history) and because internet fitness publishers today are almost all a bunch of sheep, just following the herd, the readers / consumers of fitness information and programs are either indoctrinated into this new functional strength /anti- bodybuilding/physique view or even worse, they begin to second guess themselves… NEVER second guess yourself. Your results and personal satisfaction with those results are what count… but most people too chained by conformity; too busy following the followers to pursue their own goals. thanks.

    • I study the martial art that Bruce Lee studied, Wing Chun. A punch in Wing Chun is called a chain punch. After lifting heavy weights to build muscle and get ripped, it is like that Bruce Lee would have done some chain punching in the air to stretch out the muscles. When you lift heavy weights the bicep muscles can shorten, so when you chain punch in the air, it will stretch and make sure the muscle is flexible to ensure punching remains at maximum speed. My point is that it is a good idea to mix in both heavy lifting and some form of martial arts or yoga, so that you can be ripped as well as stay flexible. This is what my Sifu (Wing Chun instructor) suggested and is what Bruce Lee did.

      p.s. Thanks for the post Tom.



  • We call it ART! I love it!!! Keep it up Scott! This is Freakin Awesome!!!!!
    The results you’ve gotten are an inspiration to us all.
    You are creating a movement that will inspire the masses towards better health and fitness.

  • Yes internet fitness experts…some of which have made a small fortune selling marketing phrases and terms…like what’s his name with ‘muscle confusion’…when did a muscle ever respond effectively when it was confused…the only thing that is being confused are the people who buy into that contradiction of terms…but you have to give the guy credit he made a fortune on other peoples confusion…but let’s not pretend that there is any fact involved in this marketing hook and sadly that is what is being promoted when people buy into muscle confusion…on the other hand at least it gets people up off the couch and exercising and that’s a good thing…everyone has to start some place…right..

    You have to laugh…’functional training’…doesn’t that apply to all training, all exercise? When exercising you might want to start with at-least the correct movement…Preforming the correct movement involves your functional ability…and your functional ability is in direct relation to doing the exercise correctly.

    You know it really doesn’t matter how many different varieties of exercises you do…if you are not using your muscles correctly then you are simply not being effective in the exercise…in which case you will not get the results that the exercise produces…

    Muscles are fully activated in the full stretch position. How many so-called ‘functional trainers’ know the stretch position for every muscle group? this is fundamental to all exercise… neuro-transmitters in the brain send signals to the muscle fiber to activate…the signal is received by the muscle receptors and the muscle fires or activates…when you do not hit the full stretch position you only get partial activation…in-order to get full activation you must first begin with hitting the full stretch positions for the muscle your are using…at that point you will begin to plugin all the neuro-receptors for the pec muscle…it takes some time for this to happen so repetition is important in-order to get all the receptors to activate…once you have full activation then you can begin to increase the force of the activation through ballistic movements…I’ll tell you this you can do a thousand different exercises and if you are not hitting the full stretch positions and fully activating the muscle fiber then you are simply not being effective in your training…

  • Tim

    Great article! I like the comment about the functional movement proponents. I believe there is a place for all movements functional or not.

    For example, I use my biceps all the time, picking up my daughter, carrying groceries etc. So bicep curls are definitely functional. Think about barbell squats on the other hand. How often do you put something really heave across your shoulders and squat down?

    I’m always fascinated by the way changes in my exercise create changes in my physique. Weighted dips help create separation in the upper chest and blow up my triceps while dumbbell flyes create more of a squared look and help to beef up the outer portion of my chest. That little aspect alone is enough to keep me moving forward, trying new exercises to see how my body responds.

    Great article Scott!

  • Jim

    I think a lot of personal trainers feel that they have to constantly change things up for their clients to keep them interested and motivated. I see some of the trainers at my gym having their clients do some really goofy looking “functional” exercises. I always think to myself that these clients would have much better bodies if they concentrated more on proven physique development exercises.

  • “Instead of having to wear shoulders pads, tight belts, and jeans that give your butt a “lift” (lol) isn’t it better to actually sculpt your body to really have that shape?!” – Ouch, that’s a knockout blow on the fashion industry right there. Nice one Stef. But seriously, the problem is most women don’t want to put the work in to get that bikini body. So they resort to “fashion illusion” techniques (I don’t know if that term is original but if so, you heard it here first and I’ll appreciate the credit).

    @Scott – Looking good. Honestly this is the first time I heard the term “Physique Training” but it seems like something that should be pushed more towards mainstream. I’m sure a lot of women would want to go with that, you just have to convince them to put the work in.

  • Yeah Jim…that’s funny. lol I saw the similar thing in my gym the other day where the personal trainers were discussing some ways to make exercises more interesting for people and were doing some demos. The exercises look too difficult and awkward for the average fitness seeker. I just keep things simple and stick to basic traditional exercises, especially with weight training. It works and keeps me building muscle.

    Scott, thanks for the post. 🙂

  • […] I read a blog article  ”Rise of the Physique Artist”  which outlined a new movement […]

  • Bill

    I think bodybuilding is a healthy sport, and likewise the “functional fitness” regimes such as CrossFit are good for making people more healthy, hardy and happy. The folks in either camp who drink too much of their own kool-aid and become cultic followers of the my-way-is-the-one-true-way mentality invite parody from outsiders. Most physique athletes are NOT totally narcissistic douches who can’t go 5 minutes without posing in front of a mirror in between sets of tricep extensions, and most functional-fitness athletes aren’t holier-than-thou b-holes who pretend to not give a rip what they look like. Likewise most powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters and strongman competitors aren’t ONLY concerned with their specific sport.

    It’s the folks in the extremes who become the stereotypes for the other groups.

    Thankfully I’m part of a barbell club where we train for physique, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, strongman, CrossFit Games, kettlebell, martial arts and other sport competitions, appreciate the value of both lifting heavy for strength AND appreciate the value of bodybuilding/isolation exercises (even the least vain among our athletes do bodybuilding work to strengthen joints and connective tissues) and everyone I workout with respects the others’ sports, goals and the work required to excel in those.

  • Hi Scott

    Great post and your right its all about the lifestyle that you lead and not a passing fad. I agree its all in the mind. Whilst there are some techiques to learn the real challenge is to maintain the motivation to get in the gym and keep to the diet you know you should

    If we were machines it would be easy and we would all have great bodies. However we are not machines which makes us unique with our own futures.

    We sort our minds and our bodies will follow



  • I had just watched Generation Iron 2 with some friends and realize I walked away with more questions.

    I want to know more about the passion for the art. What drove them there? What and why were they so hungry they committed so much? What is their sense of self in the here and now. What does it feel like to have a mirror reflect back so much beauty? What does the ideal mean to them?

    Your post has gone a long way to answering them. Thank you.

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