By Ken "Skip" Hill
I get asked about secrets all the time. What is the secret to getting ripped? What is the secret to getting HYUGE? Skip, what is your secret to being so cool? I can at least answer the last one:
Quit chasing it, I was born with it! Don’t hate, congratulate!
I get tired of the same questions about secrets because there aren’t any. To get ripped you have to understand your body and its nutrition so well that you can get ripped. No real secret. To get huge you need to consistently train hard, feed yourself and recover. No real secret there, either. However, the more I got to thinking, I do suppose there is a secret to getting ripped and huge that not everyone knows. But as excited as you might be getting right now, anticipating a response that you have never heard but always thought existed, it’s not what you think. The secret? GENETICS.
Oh shit, everyone’s mad at me. I can hear muffled “Skip’s a dick” comments if I sit here real quiet and listen real hard. Look, you might not like it but I am going to remind you what most of you HATE to hear. Bodybuilders argue about genetics and limitations all the time on message boards, in person with me, at seminars that I do, etc. Why? Because nobody wants to admit that we have limitations. I don’t blame anyone for discounting it because if you don’t, you give up some sense of hope that you might one day look like my friend Steve Kuclo. All you have to do is train harder, eat more and take more supplements, right? Listen, the only way you are going to look like Steve Kuclo is if you buy a white F250, chip it and tint your windows. Then, someone MIGHT think you’re him. (The Plano, TX MetroFlex clan will get the reference).
For those of you that are still interested in this secret (all 4 of you) and have continued reading, here are some more secrets that fall under the genetic-secret tab that I would like you to understand and consider (it’s raining secrets up in he-uh):
You will not grow more the harder you train
You’re ability to recover from certain workloads and training frequency is limited by your genetics. Secret: the pros recover very, very quickly. They can usually train with far more volume and much more frequently than the rest of us mere mortals. Everyone can train hard but if you can’t recover, it does you no good.
Not everyone can get ripped the way they want
I get this one a lot: “I want to get ripped like you, Skip”. I can get 99% of people into their best condition ever and I say that with conviction because I have proven this for years. However, genetics play a big role in how you carry body fat and there are some people that can get into great condition but never the ripped status that we all strive for. Others can get ripped from the front but their back/glutes/hams won’t be in the same condition as their front. Others can get ripped everywhere and be in insane condition except for their glutes. (Right now there are prep guys reading this and saying to themselves how much of a badass they are and that if they just worked on them, they could get ripped glutes.)
Don’t lie and don’t kid yourself. That is something that an overly confident, start-up prep guy thinks. Veterans of this game and veterans of contest prepping know that the genetic component is just as prevalent in getting ripped as it is with getting huge.
Here’s another example to prove my point: Ever see a pro with a “fat” area? No. You might see them hold water in their hams or glutes but you won’t see a pro with a fat lower back or some area that just doesn’t get as lean as the rest of their physique. The premium genetics pros have allows them to lose fat evenly while dieting and put it on just as evenly in the off-season. Ever see a pro with fat titties or big love handles in the off-season? No. They gain fat evenly and look huge everywhere all year long.
You have very little control over the shape of your muscles no matter how you train them
Genetics dictate what the shape of your muscle is going to be. If you think one of us is nuts, it isn’t me. Clearly, you have limited control simply by increasing the size of the muscle. Example: I always hear “how can I get my inner chest to grow?” and the answer is simple – get a bigger chest. As the chest gets bigger, it will “fill in”, much like if you have a plate and you start to fill it with water. The more water you pour on the plate, the further to the edges the water goes until it covers the entire surface. Want a bigger quad sweep? Make the entire quad bigger and your quad sweep will get better. More peak on your biceps? Lol! Nice try. That involves changing the shape of the muscle and that won’t happen. Do you have high insertions for your lats or high calves? You can make them bigger but you won’t change the shape. Sorry. I know it sucks to hear but my life centers around irritating people with the truth.
You won’t be a huge and ripped pro if you can’t assimilate nutrients like a pro
Genetics isn’t only about what you look like. It isn’t just about bone structure, muscle insertions, body fat distribution, etc. It is just as important that you are genetically gifted in your guts, as well. Pros will assimilate far more nutrients, far more efficiently than the rest of us. This one gets overlooked all the time but is no less a secret than any of the other points I have outlined. You cannot hold a lot of muscle and get ripped if you have a slow metabolism. Metabolism and digestion are two often overlooked aspects of genetic limitation in this sport.
I could go on and on about genetics but I think I’m down to about two readers at this point so I am going to try and keep them through this last paragraph.
Understand that we all have control over how big we get and how ripped we get but our limits aren’t based on what we do as much as on what our genetic limitations will allow. Instead of arguing with me that I am wrong or simply dismissing what I say out of hand, come to terms with the fact that you can still have a great physique within the confines of what your body is capable of. In my opinion, when you accept your limitations, you can then quit focusing on what the pros are telling you in regards to how you should train or diet and instead focus on what YOU should do for YOUR body. Most pros work very hard in the gym but don’t kid yourself, they aren’t pros just because of how hard they work. We all work hard. They are pros because they have superior genetics. Just 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).