Making It in the Difficult World of Bodybuilding Takes Persistence!
By Skip LaCour, December 2000

Are you having trouble staying positive because of the disappointments you've experienced trying to build your physique? Brother, I feel you pain! No matter how difficult the journey toward achieving your bodybuilding goals may seem at times, keep the faith. We've all been there before. Any devastating "failure" you experience can be turned into an amazing victory-if you have the right attitude and perspective.

There's No Such Thing As Failure-As Long As You Learn Something

Some of the biggest victories I've experienced in my bodybuilding career have come as a direct result of what may have appeared to be failures. In 1993, after coming in second place at the Musclemania Natural Bodybuilding Championships when I was certain I was going to win left me devastated. The pain I experienced, however, ignited a hunger and drive inside of me that helped me capture the overall title the following year. That victory, because of all the international television exposure on ESPN, launched my career and heightened my publicity and marketability as an international bodybuilder.

When the giant supplement company TWINLAB decided to go "all natural" with their advertising campaign and magazine a couple of years later, I was the very first bodybuilder they signed to an endorsement contract. They created a television commercial centered around me that played at least 1,000 times over a yearlong stretch. TWINLAB also gave me the opportunity to write up to four articles a month for Muscular Development.

That incredible exposure and the chance to improve my skills as a bodybuilding writer, coach, and teacher have played crucial roles in making me what I am today. Obviously, no matter how disappointed I was at the time, coming in second place at the inaugural Musclemania can in no way be considered a failure because of the events that have spawn from the experience.

Did I have an easy road ahead of me from that point on? No way!

When TWINLAB decided not to renew my contract in 1998, I was potentially without an endorsement contract and a magazine to share my philosophies. I heard throughout the "grapevine" that many of my peers thought I was at the end of my career. To be totally honest, I often questioned if I was done myself after suffering that blow.

That "obvious" setback actually served as a call-to-action that landed me a better deal with limitless opportunities with AST Sports Science. At the same time, I negotiated a position as a regular contributing editor and feature article writer for Ironman magazine. Ironman gives me free reign to write whatever it is I am most passionate about, plasters a considerable number of photos of me throughout most issues, and even gave me my first official magazine cover.

Creating mutually beneficially situations with both AST Sports Science and Ironman have helped me contribute to bodybuilders all over the world on a massive scale. I have been able to share my bodybuilding and training strategies at a level far greater than what I would have been able to do with TWINLAB and Muscular Development. Being "dumped" by TWINLAB turned out to be no failure at all-just a launching pad toward greater success!

My biggest failure-to-success story is undoubtedly my 1998 NPC Team Universe overall win. That victory came just 12 months after an embarrassing 5th-place finished at the same show. The level of conditioning I achieved in '98 still has not been matched since by a drug-free competitor. Failure fueled my fire to diet for over nine months and put in tons of hours of cardiovascular training. And don't think for a moment that being presented the overall trophy by a TWINLAB representative, the same company that terminated my endorsement contract just two months earlier didn't make that victory even sweeter.

I can think of at least a dozen more victories that occurred as a direct result of what others would perceive as failures in my bodybuilding career.

I want to stress upon you it isn't that champions never experience failure-no way. In fact, the champions you admire most more than likely go through (or have gone through at one time) the very same challenges that keep you from achieving your own dreams right now.

Champions are not so great that they never experience failure. What makes a champion is what he does (or does not do) when those inevitable failures occur. Hey! If you never fail then there is no way you can be pushing yourself hard enough!

Who you are at this very moment in time is the direct result of all your victories--and your failures as well. You should embrace them both.

The challenges we face in life serve as "tests" or "gut-checks" to see what we are really made of. I have had so many references of turnarounds in my life that I actually get excited when a setback happens. I know me. I know how I'll respond.

You, too, can develop this sense of certainty and confidence when a so-called failure occurs during your journey as well. You'll need some faith and you'll need some courage.

I want to stress upon you it isn't that champions never experience failure-no way. In fact, the champions you admire most more than likely go through (or have gone through at one time) the very same challenges that keep you from achieving your own dreams right now.

The awesome fulfillment life has to offer all of us is in the journey-not the destination, things, or end results. This amazing journey called life is a totally enthralling process! The good times must be thoroughly enjoyed. The bad times must be weathered through-and give us greater appreciation for the good times.

I am confident any less-than-outstanding outcome I experience in the future will cause me to dig deep within myself and take my training, physique, and bodybuilding career to an even higher level. How about you? Do you have the ability inside of you to create the confidence needed come back from your own disappointments?

There's no such thing as failure-as long as you learn something. What failure does is give you the opportunity to learn a way to eventually succeed.

Actually, There's No Such Thing As Failure As Long As You Learn Something--and Are Persistent Enough to Use What You've Learned!

I would be remiss if I didn't stress the need for persistence in order for you to create failure-to-success turnarounds. You see, a failure can be just a failure-if you are not persistent enough to use what you've learned while you were not getting the outcome you wanted.

Persistence is what makes champions. Persistence takes courage. Persistence requires faith. Sometimes, persistence even takes being a little naive to the chances of failing again and again.

Will your next attempt be the one that helps you achieve your dreams? Will your next attempt be another failure that "breaks your back" and convinces to quit? No one knows for sure. What is certain is that you have absolutely no chance of success if you do not muster up the courage to try just one more time-or one hundred-and-one more times if that's what's required.

You must also have enough faith that you'll eventually be rewarded for your dedication and effort-even if the payoff is a couple of years down the road. Without faith, there's is no way you'll tap into 100 percent of your physical, mental, and emotional resources-no matter how hard you think you are working at the time. It's simply not possible.

You may have to be a little naive to the incredible odds you are up against in your quest to reach your goals. Being realistic doesn't create an amazing life.

Sometimes, you must be unrealistic-just like many of the great champions you admire today were at one point in their journeys.

Skip La Cour, 1998 NPC Team Universe Champion and three-time heavyweight class champion, has built one of the most insightful bodybuilding web sites on the Internet ( Yes, that's correct. He did all the writing, computer work, and creative design himself. The site contains so much information, you'll need a few hours to absorb it all. Training, nutrition, supplementation, motivation, and his own commentary are all included. La Cour even offers advice on how a bodybuilding enthusiast can earn extra cash from his or her knowledge and passion by marketing themselves more effectively. He personally sends out free training advice through e-mail to all those who sign up for his "Tip of the Week Program."

La Cour, who is arguably one of the hardest-working and most creative amateur bodybuilders in the world, has definitely honed his skills as a coach, motivator, and bodybuilding goodwill ambassador over the years.