The Bodybuilder & The Artist
"Bodybuilding is an art, your body is the canvas, weights are your brush and nutrition is your paint. We all have the ability to turn a self portrait into a masterpiece."
Bodybuilders and artists, on first thought there's few professions that could be more of a polar opposite than these two.
But bodybuilding and artwork are very much the same.
The bodybuilder and the artist but start with the same three things.
- A blank canvas
- A vision
- The tools required to create something great
Anyone can go to the gym, anyone can pick up a pen and ink the canvas... but to create something that makes people say 'Wow!', to create that extraordinary physique, that piece of artwork that'll be called upon for centuries to come... that requires something special.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, without a doubt the greatest bodybuilder of all time had to look at his physique as if it were a sculpture in order to achieve the size, symmetry and proportions he did, resulting in many Mr. Olympia wins during the Golden Era of bodybuilding.
"You don’t really see a muscle as part of you, in a way. You see it as a thing. You look at it as a thing and you say, ‘Well, this thing has to be built little longer, the biceps has to be longer or the triceps has to be thicker here in the elbow area.’ And you look at it and it doesn't even seem to belong to you. Like a sculpture. Then after looking at it a sculptor goes in and works a little bit, and you do maybe some extra forced reps to get this lower part out. You form it. Just like sculpture."
If you want to build a top tier physique you're going to need to look at your body and your tools (the gym, nutrition, supplementation) through the eyes of a prolific artist.
How does one go about taking their physique to that level and changing their mindset in order to sculpt that perfect physique? Here's my advice...
5 Actionable Tips To Sculpt Your Physique Like An Artist
If you're just lifting the weight and going through your workouts with a simple 'ticking the box' mentality then it comes to me as no surprise you're probably not getting the results you want.
Focusing on the mind muscle connection and understanding why and what you're doing is key - call it 'mindfulness while bodybuilding' if you will - there's no room to be disconnected from what you're doing and expect to build a top-tier physique all of a sudden.
Identify Your Base
Your base is your canvas.
Before you start copying Arnold's routine or your training partners routine take some time to identify your starting physique.
Do you have naturally broad shoulders? Have you been blessed with a small waist? Do you store the majority of your excess body fat in your abdominal region or your legs?
Instead of jumping straight into a training regime I recommend finding out whether you're starting with an ectomorph (slender, skinny frame) an endomorph frame (wider shoulders, wider waist, naturally holds more body fat) or a mesomorph style physique (naturally holds more lean muscle, athletic).
Your body type will determine where you start.
If you're an ectomorph in order to build those broad shoulders you're going to need to up your caloric intake and spend several years smashing those big compound movements.
If you're an endomorph you should be focusing on reducing that stored body fat initially.
Everyone, regardless of their body type has different strong and weak muscle groups in terms of not only strength but in terms of size and difficulty to develop.
For example, my shoulders and triceps are my strongest points - I can lift the heaviest and they build mass way quicker than any of my other muscle groups.
And as such, I no longer train them with quite as much volume as I used to - as the artist is aiming to build an proportionate physique...
As I tapered off the volume and workout frequency of my shoulders and triceps I increased the workout volume, frequency and intensity of my back workouts, as my back has already been the muscle group I've had the hardest time increasing strength and size with.
This is why following someone else's workout regime is never ideal - we're all different in terms of our strengths and weaknesses and small changes need to be made to cater for this.
Understand Caloric Manipulation
When it comes to building muscle mass, burning fat and manipulating the appearance of your physique in any manner at all you NEED to understand caloric manipulation.
Your time spent lifting in the gym creates the demand for your muscles to grow.
But without manipulating your diet, specifically the number of calories you're consuming you will be fighting an uphill battle.
The bodybuilder who treats his physique like a piece of art knows his total daily energy expenditure (the number of calories his body burns on a 24 hour basis).
Based on this a surplus can be implemented to gain weight and pack on additional muscle mass, or this number can be reduced, putting him into a deficit in order to lose weight and reveal those shredded abs and roadmap vascularity.
Assess & Pivot Based On What You See
Don't be stubborn and stuck in your way.
A plan, a workout regime, a diet only works until it doesn't.
As progress halts, as your physique transforms, as you decide upon a different goal physique image you'll need to make changes.
Don't commit to a caloric number, a diet, an exercise or a routine for a set period of time - simply do it, look at your results and make the necessary changes.
An artist won't continue to use a brush when it's no longer the right tool for the job, nor should you continue to implement the same plan when you're trying to hone in on a different aspect of your physique or a different goal... make changes as necessary.
Forget The Scales, Body Fat Calipers... The Mirror Doesn't Lie
When it comes to measuring progress there's a number of different methods used including:
- Scale weight
- Body fat percentage
These are all numbers, the artist goes by appearance.
Gauge your progress by the mirror, make adjustments based on the mirror.
Your weight, body fat and measurements will fluctuate based on a number of different variables such as time of day, retained water weight, hormones and stress levels.
The mirror doesn't lie, what you see is what you get.