The Art of Physique Transformation: Tom Venuto Interviews Scott Tousignant
by Tom Venuto
Physique transformation is all the “Rave” right now and rightfully so. The truth is, if you want to look your absolute best and carve out your most aesthetically pleasing physique possible, you need to “Train For Looks”. You need to view your body as a work of art and focus on bringing out it’s finest details. This is what Physique Transformation is all about. Creating that finished and polished look that you desire. It’s a simple shift in mindset that transforms an ordinary fitness enthusiast into a Physique Artist!
In this candid interview you will discover how to unleash the Physique Artist within you, sculpting sexy curves with spectacular symmetry and perfect proportions.
Tom: Hi Scott, you’ve made some pretty amazing changes in your physique over the last year and that’s gotten you some well deserved attention and feedback across the blogs, forums, and Facebook, so I think a good way to start is could you tell our readers about this transformation you’ve made over the past year? The numbers would be great, but tell us overall how you feel about the changes. It would be great if you could share your progress pictures as I believe they speak a thousand words because the numbers don’t always tell the whole story when it comes to this kind of physique change.
Scott: I’ll start by first sharing what I believe is the most important part of my physique transformation, which occurred in the months leading up to where it actually began. Like many others I had struggled to commit to a plan. I would start to eat better and train hard, but after a few days I would come up with some kind of excuse to pig out and brush off a workout. I knew that I wanted and deserved better, but I seemed to keep putting it off to some date in the future. Like many others, I found myself saying, “I’ll start back up tomorrow or Monday”… and I would, but then I would repeat the same vicious cycle.
Then one day I watched a video from one of my mentors, where he mentioned living to your fullest potential. For some reason, in that moment a switch flipped on in my head and I told myself, “I refuse to settle for anything less than the best from myself. I deserve nothing but the best.” From that moment I’ve never looked back. It’s been a journey of continuous growth and improvement.
Like you said, pictures speak a thousand words, so I will use these progress photos to illustrate the point…
First of all, I’m not a very big guy at 5’7″ tall. At the beginning of my transformation I weighed 165 pounds and sported a nice spare tire around my midsection. My number one goal at that point was to get ripped. I announced on Facebook that I was going to give myself a 6-pack for my 36th birthday… and I did just that as you can see in the second photo, which was taken four days before my birthday.
In order to achieve that goal I had to give myself permission to “be light”. I knew that my weight would have to dip well below 150 pounds in order to achieve my physique transformation goal. This was a tough pill to swallow at first, but as I became leaner everyone began to comment on how much more muscular and bigger I looked. Not a single person guessed anywhere near how much I actually weighed… which was just a tad over 140 pounds in that second photo.
At that point I knew it was time to pack on some muscle and continue shaping my body, but there was no way that I wanted to lose my hard earned six pack abs, so I focused on lean gains over the course of 14 weeks, which lead me up to the third photo where I weighed 157 pounds. At that point guys in my gym thought I weighed 180-185 pounds. They flat out refused to believe that I was only 157 lbs and one of the guys actually made me step on the scale to prove how light I actually was. He was still in disbelief after reading the numbers in front of him. That made my day!
Now that I had gained some precious and sexy muscle I set a goal to get more ripped than I had ever been before, which lead me up to the final photo in the progression above where I weigh 147 pounds. Much like the first time, people thought I was actually getting bigger as I was burning the fat off my body. It was all an illusion.
You asked how I feel about the changes… well, frankly words cannot describe how much better I feel. I’m a new man with a new outlook on life. I’m doing things that I never dreamed about doing before this transformation and I’m experiencing life to the fullest. I’m unstoppable!
Tom: You mentioned that you are doing things that you never dreamed about doing… and I understand that you want to take this and go to an even higher level. Whats your next big goal?
Scott: Yes, I am definitely taking this transformation to an even higher level and set my next big goal to win a bodybuilding competition on October 27th, 2012 in the lightweight division.
Tom: That’s awesome and, I can’t wait to see you onstage. What really interested me the most about what you’ve achieved so far was the way you’ve approached this mentally and philosophically. We’ve both been talking a lot lately about the revival in popularity of natural bodybuilding and especially all the new spin off divisions like fitness, figure, fitness model, bikini, and physique, so there’s not only been a resurgence of interest in bodybuilding, the entire sport has morphed into something different, that we can probably call physique sports. But from what I can see, you’ve taken an approach that it’s even more than sport… its art. Would you tell us about your philosophy and mindset on this?
Scott: Absolutely! I attribute this simple shift in mindset as the biggest factor in my success during this past year. Viewing training as an art form and your body as a sculpture brings out the beauty in your ongoing body transformation. I consider myself as a Physique Artist, and with this outlook it becomes easier to withstand the consistent hard work that is involved in the process of sculpting your body into a work of art.
As a Physique Artist I take the time to step back and view my art work in progress. I see the big picture and have a keen eye for the changes that will make the most visually stunning impact. 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. 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.
Tom: I love this approach and if you think about it, between nature and the human body, that covers a huge portion of the history of all kinds of art, so if you can appreciate art at all, why not appreciate your own body as a work of art? Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s we had trainers like Vince Gironda whose entire approach was based on what he called cosmetic bodybuilding, or simply training to look good. That’s what the movie studios wanted for their actors, that’s what the competitive bodybuilders wanted, and frankly that’s at least one part of what almost everyone wants. But ironically in the last decade or so the last place you’d think you’d get resistance to this idea is the fitness industry itself, which has rallied against cosmetic training on two major grounds; 1) they say its non functional and 2) some add that it’s vanity and we should be training instead for health not looks. Whats your rebuttal to these two objections?
Scott: First off, I love Vince Gironda’s approach of cosmetic bodybuilding. His philosophies definitely made a huge impact on me.
Frankly, I’m dumbfounded as to why the mainstream fitness industry developed this agenda against cosmetic training and I don’t see their logic in claiming that it’s non-functional. The truth is cosmetic body sculpting 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!
Cosmetic body sculpting gives you the best of both worlds. You can be functional and look great nekkid! I know that physique training has helped improve my hockey game and I am certainly able to perform every day tasks to the best of my ability.
It’s easier to argue that many of these so-called “functional” exercises are less functional than the isolation exercises used in physique training. 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 using an unstable surface such as lying down on a ball or standing on a wobble board?
As for the vanity stand point, I think that anyone who claims that they aren’t working out to look better is full of crap. Personally, I don’t see why we have to separate the two. When you train for vanity purposes, improved health becomes an incredible side benefit. You’re lowering your body fat to a healthy range, you improve your strength, which improves your quality of life, and it improves your mental health with increased self-confidence.
Tom: There are quite a few strength and conditioning coaches who say that “form follows function” and we definitely see that sometimes with some really well built athletes, but do you think that is ALWAYS true? Does training for performance always lead to a great body?
Scott: I hear that argument all the time. Another similar argument that I hear is, “If you want to look like an athlete you need to train like one”. But, athlete is a very broad term. They often use the example of a sprinter vs a marathon runner, but isn’t a marathon runner an athlete? Isn’t a sumo wrestler an athlete? They train for strength and performance, but do you want to look like them?
Bottom line, high caliber athletes are training for a purpose… to be the best in their sport. It’s their life. They are dedicating countless hours to their training and they have a team of experts looking out for them, such as massage therapists, chiropractors, and nutritionists. Unless you have the time and resources that these high caliber athletes have, you are at risk of running yourself into the ground and bringing your transformation to a halt.
Tom: Scott, weren’t you more or less part of the mainstream fitness industry for years yourself, performing short workouts for the busy person, body weight stuff, even the functional stuff? If that was in your history, why the change now to physique training and going all the way to bodybuilding competition?
Scott: Absolutely! I was definitely a part of mainstream fitness, but I never argued against the benefits of physique training. In fact, my abbreviated workout programs were simply condensed physique training workouts with little to no rest. This kept me lean and fit during a time in my life when I was beyond busy with two very young children and a business that demanded 16 hour work days, but the trouble was that these short burst workouts were not enough to produce the physique that I truly desired. As many others have discovered with mainstream fitness, you end up simply becoming a smaller version of your current self. I didn’t want that. I wanted to look like the guys on the cover of fitness magazines or the guys playing the starring role as a super hero. I wanted a physique that earned respect… not just from others, but from myself.
As I mentioned earlier, I now refuse to settle for anything less than the best from myself. I am driven to live to my fullest potential. Mainstream fitness has it’s limits. It would be impossible for me to reach my potential with these quick abbreviated workouts. But with physique training there are no limits.
Tom: The people who do appreciate the well built physique as art often use words like classical or symmetrical or proportionate when talking about body shape. Some people even talk about Greek ideals or even go as far as giving ideal proportions in the way of mathematical equations or exact body measurements to strive for. How do you really judge whether a physique has a classical artistic appeal? Are there really certain numbers to shoot for such that the body fat must be at a certain low level, and the waist has to be so small, and shoulder breadth so wide, and so on? Or is it purely subjective in the sense that it’s all about the look? And if it’s a look, how does a person “sculpt” out their physique with training in order to move more toward that ideal?
Scott: Yes… and yes! Yes, there are certain numbers to shoot for and yes it’s a subjective look ;)
The mathematical term “Phi” has been associated with ideal proportions… not just with the human physique, but in nature in general, in architecture, as well as in art work going back over the centuries. With the human physique and art, it’s been known as the “Golden Ratio” since the Renaissance era.
It just so happens that when we achieve this “golden ratio” with our physique, it creates a look that is most aesthetically pleasing. For guys it involves having nice broad shoulders and a tight waist. For women it’s about the hour glass figure… shoulder width, small waist, shapely hips/thighs. It’s as if we know it when we see it. It attracts our attention immediately. You’ll often hear it referred to as a v-taper, where your upper body is formed in the shape of a “V”.
But I believe that it goes beyond just hitting your golden ratio. You should strive for sculpting your most detailed, finished, and polished look possible. When you hit your golden ratio in addition to carving out deep cuts in your abs, striations in your shoulders, as well as defined arms and legs, your physique will truly become awe inspiring.
This is clearly where physique training trumps mainstream fitness. It’s the attention to detail that sets it apart. Specific exercises and training are designed to give you this “Look” and ideal proportions.
Tom: Is there such a thing as a physique ever being there or hitting a goal of an ideal physique? I mean did Frank Zane need to do more work? Did Lee Labrada need to improve even more. Was Steve Reeves lacking in anything when he was at his peak? Or had these guys arrived and they just had to keep what they had?
Scott: The Physique Artist Lifestyle is a celebration of the transformation journey. The achievement of each goal is cause for pause and reflection on what you can accomplish when you commit to a plan, but the greatest joy is experienced through the ongoing process of becoming better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you are today. That’s something that I learned from you Tom. You mentioned it a few years ago when the tables were turned and I interviewed you for the Unstoppable Fat Loss audio series. I played it over and over again, which is why it’s become my motto throughout this past year… Continuous Growth and Transformation! I even used it as the title of my progress journal in your Burn The Fat Inner Circle when I set out on this journey last year.
Am I happy and proud of my current physique… Heck ya! Ridiculously proud. But I know that I’m capable of even better… so why settle for anything less than the best?
Some people may view this as being excessive, which is when I like to quote the hall of fame quarterback Jim Kelly who said, “The day that you are satisfied with where you are at is the day that you take a step backward.”
Stopping short of your potential is like taking a step backward because your body and your health is the greatest gift that you will ever be granted. Refusing to make the most of it is simply a disservice to yourself and to others. When you are at your best everyone else wins!
It’s like running a race and stopping short of the finish line… only with physique training, there is no finish line. You will always be able to improve your physique in some shape or form. You don’t always have to aim for big goals and massive changes. It’s the accumulation of small changes that make the greatest impact over time.
Zane, Labrada, and Reeves were well beyond the “ideal” standards long before they ever reached their peak. What kept them going? I believe that it’s that same burning desire that I have deep within my belly. It’s that fascination with the potential of the human body and our ability to shape it with physique training and nutrition. It’s absolutely awe inspiring when you think about it… how lifting an object can have such a significant impact on the appearance of your physique.
Tom: Who are some athletes of yesterday and today who you think embody the physique artist ideal or whose physiques you really admire?
Scott: Well, you’ve listed several of them already. Number one in my eyes is Frank Zane. Not only did he sculpt one of the most symmetrical and proportionate physiques of all time, but he was a master presenter of the human physique as a work of art. When he stepped on stage he captured the attention of everyone. If you watch old videos of his competitions you can’t help but be mesmerized by the sheer beauty of every movement and every muscle. What I really like about Frank Zane’s physique is that he didn’t look big and blocky. His physique was poetry in motion.
Vince Gironda is another one of the classic greats who truly embodied the physique artist ideal. His training was all about creating an illusion, whether it be longer looking legs or a smaller waistline. He too, was not a big and blocky guy. He’s got that classic physique look that I desire.
Without a doubt Arnold Schwarzenegger oozed the physique artist ideals. This was apparent 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’s right, and you exercise and put those deltoids on, whereas an artist would just slap on some clay on each side.”
As for athletes of “today”, Shawn Phillips is the first person who comes to mind. I’ve been admiring his physique and approach to training since the mid 90’s. He once told me, “Training is less science than art. Be the artist.” That still resonates with me to this day.
Tom: Alright Scott, this is some great stuff, and I’m sitting here nodding my head agreeing with everything and I want to hear more, though I’d like to hear about some specifics, like how exactly do you train to get the classical body shape that looks like a Greek sculpture, how do you keep your waist small and get the deltoid cap and the V-taper, and even how do you eat to get your body fat low enough so all that muscle shows through. Could we dive into those details for part two?
Scott: Absolutely Tom! I look forward to dishing out all the juicy details about what it truly takes to sculpt your body into a work of art.
Tom: Ok then, we will pick this up in part two and in the meantime if anyone wants to check them out, do you have more info about the exact workout programs you used on your home page and what’ s the link for that?
Scott: You bet… The entire collection of Metabolic Masterpiece Body Sculpting Workouts can be found at www.MetabolicMasterpiece.com
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. Check out the Metabolic Masterpiece!