Muskle Modifikation…

Looking Good Different 

I recently watched a television show chronicling the history of tattoos, body art, and extreme body modification. I was mesmerized, and a bit taken for all that people are willing to do to change the appearance of their body.  I marveled at the price people are willing to pay, both in dollars and discomfort, for an enhanced aesthetic. 

And the best part is, he can play checkers wherever he goes...

 Although I have a small tattoo on my right shoulder, watching this show I felt an inkless world away from the subculture of extreme body modification. Then I remembered, I too am a participant in another form of body modification; bodysculpting.  I have been a bodybuilder (a more extreme version of bodysculpting), though I no longer care for that term, that ideal, and all the negative connotations that go with bodybuilder.   I’m simply an amateur artist of malleable tissue, pursuing a (perceived) more reasonable form. 

Rasta Ric and some surfboards; more my personal coat of arms than a tattoo...

 Professionally I do write, speak, and live the ideal of functional fitness, but I also embrace the (intended) physical changes which accompany that pursuit.  Within the scope of my fitness week, I may work toward greater balance, enhanced flexibility, increased endurance, and improved internal fitness, but I’m also attempting to carve out a statue – on myself. 

You, The Flesh Artist 

I’ll let you in on a little secret: If you go to the gym regularly and engage in strength training, you’re a bodysculptor too. I’ll bet you don’t often think of yourself  as someone engaged in body modification, but you are… 

…oh yes you are you little flesh-artist you. Don’t deny it – be proud of your desire to live in the world of body modification. Pride is due, for the change you are making doesn’t come easy – and it does not come without (at least some) pain. 

To take a muscle, change the shape, the size, and to improve the clarity of it – that is no small task.  That kind of change is both a tall order and a long journey, though the journey can be beautiful.  Like tattoos and piercings, that journey can also hurt – depending on your intentions when you workout.  The progress of muscle modification tends to manifest better when the workouts bite a little more. 

Not sure which was worse, the pain of getting my body to that point, or the pain of cutting my hair...

Pain In Trade 

In tattooing, it is said that you earn the tattoo by virtue of the pain. In bodysculpting you also earn the change by way of pain – to some degree, but also by consistency in that pain.  The pain does not end with burning or sore muscles either.  For many, the struggle to get off the sofa and just move, exceeds the pain of the workout itself.  

Somebody endured a lot of pain to wear this -- for the rest of their life!!! Now we have to endure the pain of looking at it... (courtesy of

Dare To Stand Out From Others – By Doing What They Do…? 

A good number of people who tattoo and pierce their bodies are drawn to body modification because of the history behind it – it’s a romance thing. These practices have been around for thousands of years, and are most often associated with war, battle, or an individual’s status within a culture. So too has been the practice of strength training for muscle modification.  In tattooing and weightlifting, what arose from war, now manifests in fashion. 

There is evidence that weight training began as early as 4,000 years ago in China. Bigger stronger soldiers would fare much better in battle, and battle back then was often done shoulder to shoulder.  That these early strength trainers also looked the part, lent itself to intimidation on the battlefield.  That they became the hottest men in the village was just an unintended benefit, but was likely good motivation to keep on lifting those stones. 

Genghis Khan to do list: Eat protein. Do lateral deltoid raises. Do some squats. Conquer and subjugate Asia...

Today, a majority of body modification has less to do with battle and tribal status, and more to do with identity within our diluted cultures. The new Western ideal is often one of pursuing a unique identity among the masses — who are also seeking a unique identity. We tattoo, pierce, put Krazy Kolor in our hair, even change the shape of our musculature, to stand out and be recognized among the sea of equals who surround us — and often end up looking like just another face in the crowd of people who are doing the exact same thing so they can stand out.. 

A Life-Long Commitment To Commitment 

Regardless of intent, the primary difference modern between bodysculpting, and modern tattoos and piercings as a form of body modification is this; to keep the muscles looking good – looking changed, one needs to remain committed to exercise ongoing.  Muscle modification is not permanent like ink, stainless steel pins, or silicone implants.  Muscle modification requires a commitment of maintenance which most other forms of body modification do not.  Keeping the shape and the clarity of that improved musculature is an ideal and a victory only so long as the workouts keep coming.

I admire those willing to undergo all the pain of a full bodysuit tattoo.  I may not  understand it, but I can still have respect for that which I do not understand.  The dedication of a successful bodysculptor should bare as much respect from the outside world, as anyone boasting the most extreme full bodysuit tattoo — it has been earned.  Be well.  rc

12 responses

  1. The energy efficiency of being able to play chess on somebody’s forehead can not be overestimated. My feelings on the ink thing have been previously described so question? – when you were in your superhuman form, was it a method of emotionally insulating yourself from the world? Cocooning?
    I can crush you fuckhead so don’t even look at me… Talk about masks some time.

  2. Robert: I don’t own a farm — repeat, DO NOT OWN A FARM, but if I did own a farm, I would bet that farm that you would have been the first one to comment on this. Thank you friend!

    My “superhuman form” cost me EVERYTHING; wife, daughter, $$$, and my ability to like myself. In the end — not worth it, but the lessons learned are supreme.

  3. I like the term body sculpting.

    With regards to ink I have to disagree with you. There was never any romance in getting it in my case; also I never felt like the pain required me to earn the ink I was getting.

    The way I have looked at acquiring ink has been liken to acquiring art. Although it is a very permanent piece of art that is usually on display at all times, it should be something that you love and not something that you want to show off or do to fit in or be noticed.

    I suppose body sculpting can be very similar in a lot of ways. It can be a form of art, it can be permanent if you work at it. I’ve never been one to give a shit on what people think of me so I suppose when I achieve the quan of a scultpted body I will not care if it pleases others, only if I am pleased.

  4. Very interesting article. As the mother of a tattoo artist, I have mixed feelings about body modification. I admire the art (and, obviously, the artist) but am not comfortable having it done to myself.

    I like your definition of “modifying,” though. I’m in the process of making my body into a smaller size, changes happening from the inside out. One step at a time.

  5. I love your analogies in here Roy! I think there are extremes to everything in life & sometimes to extremes in my eyes are too far but to the person doing it, not so much. Just like I don’t get the extreme body piercing & such (I am fine with tattoos & body art per se), I also don’t like the extremes of bodybuilding where in most cases, drugs are involved & they are not doing it on their own. Yes, working out but with the help of drugs. I don’t even like that extreme look.

    When I did my bodybuilding, it was all natural & I never even got big enough for people to consider me anything beyond a lady that worked out pretty hard with weights.

    I guess we all have to respect the individual choices people make but for me, that extreme body stuff is just something I can’t wrap my head around in terms of why… but that is their life, not mine.

    With tattoos, I used to look at people out & about with ones all over their bod & wonder why.. but with so many of the bloggers I read that do this & explain why, that helps me understand that part now.

    PS: I just want to call you mountain man from that one pic in your post! 🙂

  6. Bobbie: ” it should be something that you love and not something that you want to show off or do to fit in or be noticed.”

    I agree 100%, but will suggest that a majority (in this era) get tattooed to get seen, fit in, or both.

    Also look forward to your continued sculpting process.

    Karen: If only…

    Rapunzel: Now that you have “dusted off the treadmill” the sculpting can continue and be better seen.

    Jody: The only thing that should ever be taken to any extreme is moderation. In my pictures through the years I get a bit smaller for every year into my 40s, and that’s a sign that I’m (slowly) becoming more comfortable with the real me.

  7. Love the coat of arms!

    I guess we had to go through what we did to be who we are.

    If people are trying to stand out and be different, following the golden rule might be a good place to start.

  8. Excellent point, Roy! Staying fit and healthy IS rather like an art.

    Every time that I find my self-esteem taking a dip when I look at photos of exceptionally good-looking women, I remind myself that “back in the day”, people stayed healthy for HEALTH purposes, and were beautiful because of it. I know that if I’m in a situation that requires physical strength, I can absolutely succeed… and I would rather have that strength than be a little weak from not eating quite enough to energize my body.

  9. Dr. J: Ever the mindful voice of reason in my life, I agree with points 2 and 3. My coat of arms… well, it is there, as the kids say, for keeps.

    Sagan: Thank you. Form follows function — always has, always will.

    Wait, “self-esteem taking a dip”? You weigh like a gram or something, and eat something called “vegan chocolate rice protein powder.” Me thinks your self-esteem concerns might be unwaranted…

  10. That is one analogy I didn’t see coming. I have seen some shows with individuals who had done some extreme things to their appearance. I think there is also something in there about attention, when it is done on a place that is for all to see. There is, IMO, a statement being made. Not sure what it is, but it seems clearly to be there.

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