When you look at an NPC National event, all the athletes are great—the competition is stiff, and with close to 1,000 athletes onstage, it would seem no easy task to crown a winner. All genetically blessed in their own ways, these athletes train hard and know what it takes to make it to a National-level stage.
So one question I get all the time—and have really been getting a lot since my client, Brian Yersky, took the 2012 NPC National overall title recently, is: At that level, what is it that separates the top group of athletes—and any overall winners, for that matter—from the rest of the pack? My answer is pretty simple: work ethic, sacrifice, suffering, and knowing how much you really want to win. These are what push an elite competitor into the winner’s circle. At this level, genetics will definitely help the cause, but genetics alone won’t push you over the top.
The “Tough” Is What Makes the Sport Great
The thing that makes pro athletes exceptional (no matter what sport they participate in) is going the extra mile, living their sport, and not shutting down when the competitive season has concluded.
Of course, the off-season is a more laid-back time—the diet isn’t as strict, you have a stomach full of good foods and plenty of energy, and the stress of contest prep isn’t looming over you. But you still have to work as hard in the off-season, and take it just as seriously as the contest prep. This type of mindset will enable you to outwork your competition and forge ahead. This is exactly how Brian did it—he not only trained his ass off all year, but when it came to diet—mentally and physically the toughest part of competition— he knew there was no room for error. Slacking on his cardio training or cheating on his diet never entered his mind.