By Ken "Skip" Hill
If you compete you know what I mean – you have done a ton of cardio, tanned, trained almost every day for fifteen to twenty weeks and then the last week before the show you feel that you should be doing more but it is time to sit back and let your body rest. This is where I am right now and I can’t help but think about my motivation to compete and what my goals are these days.
When I got started in this sport almost thirty years ago all I wanted to do was stand on stage and look like a bodybuilder. Once I got to the point of looking like I worked out a little bit and started to compete, I very quickly changed my position and all I wanted to do was win. I was convinced that my world and who I was, would change from one day to the next after winning that show. I was going to instantly become a celebrity of sorts and gain the respect of my peers.
When I finally won that first show it quickly became evident that not only did my peers who didn’t work out not give a shit, but my bodybuilding peers didn’t give much of a shit either. Instead they were all quick to point out that if they had competed against me I might not have come out on top. Hmm…this respect thing wasn’t going over like I thought it would for so many years.
Fast-forward many years and many shows and kids and business and…. well, a lot of shit. I sit here contemplating a few things. I know I have written before that I do my best thinking on the toilet but I also do some pretty good thinking the last few days before a show. Now that I think of it, put me on the toilet before a show and I could probably solve the woes of the US economy! But that is another rant altogether.
I know this sounds cliché and I know that some will read this and say, “whatever, you are full of crap.” However, the people close to me know this to be true. My goal getting ready for a show is not to win. I used to think about winning all the time and it would consume me when I was younger. These days my goal is simply to do everything I can, leading up the show, to be in my best condition and top my previous best. Sure, I WANT to win. It just isn’t the focus of my energy getting ready for a show. Why? Because the only thing I have control over is how hard and how smart I can work in preparing and the condition that I am in come showtime. I have no control over who shows up at the show and who is better than I am when we stand on stage.
I was having a conversation with my fourteen-year-old daughter yesterday and she asked me what I would do if I didn’t win. After I told her that I would throw the trophy into the crowd and kick the guy next to me, I explained that it isn’t about winning as much as it is about doing everything possible to ensure that no matter what my placing, I can take solice in the fact that there was nothing else I could have done to be any better on that particular day. I could tell she didn’t get it. I went on to explain that I have won in the past while not at my best (even finished third to Phil Health on one occasion) and yet have also finished twelfth while in my best condition ever. My point was that some wins have been less satisfying than some lower placings where I have been very pleased with what I had accomplished.
I go into this show with the same mentality. I am not going after a pro card and I will never threaten at the national level. This isn’t cynicism, it is me being realistic. By being realistic I keep the sport and my future in it in perspective and I have fun with it. The sport, in turn, provides me with constant opportunity to challenge myself to improve and I will continue to do so until I decide that I have had enough and that Cheetos and beer are more fun than training and being in great condition. After doing this for almost thirty years, I doubt the Cheetos and beer will win any time soon but never say never.
The truth is, I don’t really live for the stage. Three minutes of standing onstage under blistering lights, covered with slime tan and oil and trying not to cramp while posing just isn’t a ton of fun to me. I do what I do for the weeks leading up to the show – the cardio sessions, the exhaustive training, the diet, etc. I live for the structure and the daily challenge of the journey itself. I am one of those sickos that could prep for fifty weeks if I needed to (and secretly wish I could) as I hate the offseason. I love being in incredible shape and seeing someone whisper to their friend and point at the veins in my legs with a gross look on their face. I enjoy doing something that less than 1% of the population is capable of. I enjoy not being mediocre and I enjoy knowing that my kids don’t have a normal Dad.
It is unlikely that I will win the show on Saturday. However, at forty-two-years-old I have continued to improve and will be at my all-time best. I will also have my kids and my wife of twenty years in the audience along with my mother who has not seen me compete in almost twenty years. If you don’t think I have already won, you are very wrong. Just Thinkin’… And Sayin’.
Ken "Skip" Hill has spent 30 years in the trenches of bodybuilding. He owns TEAM SKIP Nutritional Consulting, where he specializes in conditioning for bodybuilders and high-level athletes. You can reach Skip through his website, TEAMSKIP.net and follow him on Twitter (@IntenseMuscle).