Do you sometimes notice there are a lot of people who have a much easier time at bodybuilding than you do? They seem to build muscle more rapidly and easily, get ripped with a minimal amount of effort, and were born with much better shape and symmetry? When you start comparing the difficulty of your journey versus theirs, it can be quite frustrating, can't it?

On the surface, they seem to be so lucky, don't they? Let's examine the situation a little more closely-and maybe a little more objectively. Is it really luck, or something other than hard work, that has helped them achieve their admirable physiques?

It seems that in every facet of life, whether it's at the workplace, in the classroom, on the playing field, or in the gym, people seldom want to accept the fact that someone else may have actually earned the success they enjoy. Most people don't want to believe others are working as hard or even harder than they are.

"Sty-roids and speed! Sty-roids and speed!" is how a co-worker of my training partner, Tony, thinks all bodybuilders achieve their impressive development. "Bodybuilders look the way they do because of sty-roids and speed!" he says. Tony and I are amused with his outrageous way of thinking and the bizarre phrase he uses. We often banter and joke with each other using his words.

It's easy to see how a middle-aged, out-of-shape man who has never worked out a day in his life would discredit and disrespect all bodybuilders that way-simply because of the fact that they are bodybuilders. That's the common perception of the general public. They don't think-not even for a moment-that our physiques are built with discipline, intelligence, years of consistent training, and sound nutrition. No way! It's got to be the "sty-roids and speed"!

But knowledgeable lifters, those people with years of experience living the disciplined bodybuilding lifestyle, would never think such idiotic nonsense, would they? You would be surprised.

Tony, himself, would often criticize the professional and top amateur bodybuilders saying, "C'mon, Skip! Most of the top bodybuilders are lazy and don't know more than anyone else. Those guys don't need to work hard. They don't need to train as efficiently or eat as strictly as guys like me. The drugs do all of the tough work for them. And, even if they didn't use the drugs, they are so genetically blessed that it doesn't matter what they do! They're going to grow anyway." As I communicate with hundreds of drug-free bodybuilders around the world, the same sentiment is all too common.

Ironically, Tony has told me (as many as a dozen times) of the opportunities he's had to meet some of the top pros and amateurs. "You know, Skip, that guy is really intelligent, well spoken, and knows a lot about bodybuilding. He's a nice person and is really disciplined."

Most people don't want to believe others are working as hard or even harder than they are.

Still, from time to time, Tony launches into that garbage of "All of the top guys are lazy, don't work hard, and look the way they do because they are genetic freaks." The last time he shared a favorable opinion of a top bodybuilder, I stopped him and said, "You must have told me about at least a dozen of the top bodybuilders who you've met that were hard workers. Why do you stilhave this overriding opinion that they are all a bunch of no-good slackers? Are you going to have to meet every one of them in person in order for you to change your general, negative opinion?"

Sometimes, I think it's we bodybuilders who perpetuate the "dumb, lazy bodybuilder" stigma just as much as the general public-except that the label doesn't apply to ourselves, naturally!

The path of least resistance, or the easiest thing to do, is believing we have it just a little bit tougher than the next guy. We tend to want to believe that we need to work much harder, be more disciplined, and be more knowledgeable to earn what we have-unlike the other guy who has the great body. It's easier on your ego when you believe that everyone else has an easier time of building muscle, losing body fat, and looking good.

In my opinion, however, adopting this mindset is tremendously disempowering and takes the control of your bodybuilding destiny out of your own hands. That way of thinking may make us feel better in the short run, but it won't help us earn the physique that we ultimately want. As we expend our efforts avoiding the pain of feeling a little inadequate at times, we prevent ourselves from stepping up to the challenge, raising our standards, and seeing what we really can accomplish with our physiques by taking our efforts to the next level. And believe me, there's always a next level. Maybe we'll never look like the next guy, but we can always add a couple more pounds of muscle, drop a few more pounds of body fat, or look just a little better.

You know, you just may not be a hardgainer after all! The quadriplegic who's laying in a hospital bed for the rest of his life-now, that guy's a hardgainer-not you. You're just comparing yourself to the wrong people or have the wrong perception of yourself. I know that diagnosing yourself as a hardgainer would be a nice way to explain why you haven't yet figured out all of the many complexities and challenges of bodybuilding, but it simply may not be necessarily true in your case. And, even if the idea has a little bit of truth, it may not be as limiting as you think.

Consider this statement for a moment: Maybe the reason that someone else has a better physique than you has nothing to do with anything that you are necessarily doing wrong-maybe the other person is just doing a few more things right.

Maybe you're not giving the people with the physiques that are better than yours the credit that they deserve. Maybe they do indeed know more than you do. Maybe they've worked harder, stayed more focused, and paid the price for a longer period of time than you have. Maybe it's not "sty-roids and speed"!

I understand that you are working very hard. I know that you are persevering through the challenges of building your physique and are paying the price. I encourage you to keep doing so. But, if someone is more successful than you, I can assure you they've paid the price to earn that success. Maybe you just don't have any idea of the price that they've paid. Maybe if you had the opportunity to know their story, you would have the same revelations that Tony often has.

Sometimes, I think it's we bodybuilders who perpetuate the "dumb, lazy bodybuilder" stigma just as much as the general public-except that the label doesn't apply to ourselves, naturally!

Bill Gates of Microsoft earned an estimated 90 billion dollars in 1999. If you are like me, your first instinct might be to think "Hey! With 90 billion dollars in my bank account, my life would be great! I wouldn't have any worries or problems."

Gates has worked very hard, has exhibited tremendous vision, and has been extremely driven and focused for many, many years. He and his company Microsoft have totally revolutionized how the world operates in terms of business production and communication, as well as how almost everyone on this planet communicates every single day. He has been a powerful influence who has literally changed the world-and will stimulate more massive changes for some time to come. In my opinion, Gates deserves every single penny of that 90 billion dollars. But, just like everyone else who achieves success at any level, he has certainly paid the price-and continues to pay the price.

Life has got to be easy for him, don't you think? You can bet that's not necessarily the case for Mr. Gates-even with all his money. Don't you think it gnaws at him, at least a tad, that the United States federal government wants to limit what he's trying to create and alter his vision? How about the fact that many smaller computer companies routinely sue him for unfair business practices or that HBO created a movie that basically makes him out to be a villain? There are literally thousands of militant, vocal "Gates-PC haters" out there. I wouldn't be surprised if he constantly worries about his family's safety.

No matter how good it may seem for others, you can be assured they are paying the price. Life oftentimes works like an equal-arm balance. You know, the two measuring pans on chains that the "Justice is blind" statue is holding? For everything that goes great in your life, it's balanced out with some difficulty oo price to pay.

No matter how good it may seem for others, you can be assured they are paying the price.

A client of mine recently expressed how envious he was of the bodybuilding lifestyle that I'm able to live. "Man! I'd love to be able to do what you do for a living. You've got it made doing what you love to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!"

I feel extremely fortunate to live the lifestyle that I've created-by working hard, taking some risks, as well as a lot of lumps along the way. My client didn't realize or see most of those things. He only saw the victories or the end result -just as most people only think of his ungodly amount of money when they see Bill Gates.

My client didn't know about the many times I had of total uncertainty, the long stretches of time I worked long hours and was lucky to get four hours of sleep a night, the relationships with special people that were sacrificed, or the constant self-doubt that I've experienced along the way.

He didn't know about my disappointing contest placings, like the time I came in third place out of three competitors in my class or the time I didn't place in the top 15 at the NPC USA. He didn't know that I've had seminars scheduled where no one showed up. No one. Not a single person. He didn't know about the letters from several endorsers that I've received over the years who no longer desire my services. He didn't know about the nasty, vicious e-mails that I occasionally receive.

He didn't realize the tremendous amount of money that I invested along the way in airfare, hotel rooms, rental cars, computers, contest entry fees, dozens of bottles of Protan, and other business essentials-instead of spending my money on expensive cars or relaxing vacations.

He didn't realize that I don't automatically receive a paycheck, whether I do a good job or not, and I don't have an employer putting money into my retirement account every week or paying my health insurance. This kind of pressure takes its toll at times. I must constantly step up, continually improve, and always provide an outstanding value. If I don't, I go broke!

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, Skip. But the bodybuilding lifestyle is a lonely lifestyle. I spend a lot of time alone," he said.

I know what he feels firsthand. The many years of getting up at three o'clock in the morning and going to bed at 11 o'clock or midnight day after day, spending most of that time working on one of the many aspects of bodybuilding (training, dieting, writing, coaching, etc.) doesn't leave lot of time to spend with other people.

The challenges you are going through are normal.

After winning one of the biggest shows of my career, the 1994 Musclemania, I watched the national television broadcast by myself. That doesn't sound like much of a celebration, does it? I did the same with a videotaped version of Musclesport USA's showing of my 1998 NPC Team Universe overall victory.

You don't see all of those things when you see my picture in one of the international bodybuilding magazines, do you? No matter how glamorous my lifestyle may seem on the outside, I informed him, there's a price to pay. You may not know what that price is, but trust me, the bigger the reward you receive, the bigger the price you pay!

You know what? No matter how discouraging my story may sound, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm glad I've paid the price. My efforts and sacrifice have created awesome memories that will last my entire life!

I bet that person you are so envious of in the gym has a story he could tell you too.

The moral of what I'm trying to say is that there will be a price to pay for the bodybuilding success that you are striving to achieve-and everyone is paying it. The challenges that you are going through are all part of the game. You're not so disadvantaged, you're not so unlucky, and you're not getting screwed.

The challenges you are going through are normal. They will make the reward of victory, however you define it, that much more satisfying in the end. Realize that fact; understand that fact; accept that fact; and I would even say, welcome that fact. As I always say, God puts a price tag on everything!

After winning one of the biggest shows of my career, the 1994 Musclemania, I watched the national television broadcast by myself. That doesn't sound like much of a celebration, does it? I did the same with a videotaped version of Musclesport USA's showing of my 1998 NPC Team Universe overall victory.

Maybe an even better mental strategy to help you get through the difficult times is to focus on the benefits that you'll ultimately receive instead of constantly focusing on the difficulty of getting there.

Other people are working just as hard, disciplined, and intelligently as you are. In reality, no one else has it that much easier than you. Even if they do, I can tell you that they probably don't think so. Besides, the situation shouldn't affect your mental approach anyway. Just keep plugging away and be the best that you can be. And, most importantly, enjoy the bodybuilding process, darn it!

  1. Gina Alajar 12 April 2009 at 21:38  

    I am an endomorph and I really think I can't gain more muscles than I want...

  2. Chriss 19 April 2009 at 02:08  

    Well, great post :) I think that a lot depends on your body type - thats what sometimes make me lose my motivation. Someone work not as hard as me, but get realllllly great results, because he have better body type for muscle building, but i don't. So, it's really hard to stay motivted....