Skiploading, contest prep, picking his brain, the works
Im going to give you guys a little treat....I told you we talk about alot of things in the Supermoderator Forum.....one day us supermoderators started to pick Skip's brain.....and it kept going and going and going so i said "Screw it, lets turn this into an article and let Skip run the floor with this stuff".....so Homon, Kidrok, Sweatmachine, Massive G, Creator, Winnie and myself just kept asking Skip questions over and over and let him run with the ball of string....and then we threw it into article form.....
Without further delay:
There seems to be a phenomenon sweeping over the internet in the last couple years regarding last week contest prep called "SkipLoading". It is the brainchild of Ken "Skip" Hill of Colorado, a renowned contest prep/dieting trainer. It flies in the face of the conventional Wednesday to Friday (yams, oatmeal, pie filling) carbups that have been around for decades. After numerous high placings by his many competitors in contests over the last few years, we set out to talk to the man himself about his distinct methods.
Q: Skip, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My name is Ken Hill but everyone in the industry knows me simply as Skip. I am originally from Michigan and have lived in Denver, Colorado for the last eleven years. My wife of fifteen years and I have four children: sixteen, ten, eight, and three years old. I co-own IntenseMuscle.com and I own my contest preparation and nutritional consulting business, TEAM SKIP. I have been doing contest prep online for the last six years with clients worldwide. I have been training for twenty-four years and I am also a competitive bodybuilder. I knew that with my structure and size I would not dominate the competition so I needed another way to win. I decided to focus on conditioning and nutrition so that if I couldn't beat you on size I was going to beat you on condition. The problem was that the more I read and listened to others, the more things didn't make sense. I figured I would find out what did and did not work. Over the last twenty-four years I have set aside the "rules" and found some very successful, albeit unorthodox, ways to peak before a show.
Q: Before we get into the specifics of it all, how did the name "SkipLoading" come about? Did some of your trainees name it that and it became a staple over time or was it a conscious decision by you to have a specific name for the process?
SkipLoading is my version of what has been historically known as Sh**loading. An oversimplification of Sh**loading is to deplete your body of carbs, sodium, etc., then load on foods high in fat, carbs, and sodium usually the morning of the show. Using this approach, I adjusted timing, water intake, and types of food to find the right balance. Over time it evolved so much that it didn't resemble Sh**loading anymore. I discussed a lot of the differences on my website a few years ago and someone referred to it as SkipLoading and from there the name stuck. SkipLoading is the result of a lot of hard work to tweak and perfect the process. The name not only recognizes my efforts, it separates my adaptation from the original and gives the entire concept more credibility.
Q: Again before getting into the specifics of SkipLoading is there a testing process you use on a competitor in the weeks approaching a contest to see how he will react to it?
Absolutely. SkipLoading is incorporated into the leaning down process to a certain extent. As much as SkipLoading is a protocol for loading the last week before a show, quite a few components of the load are utilized in the leaning down process. This helps the metabolism stay fresh and primed and allows me to see how that client reacts to certain timing of foods, amounts of food, effects on the body's condition, etc. SkipLoading is very predictable but the constant trial runs throughout prep make the process as efficient as possible and at the critical last week before the show, the client and I know EXACTLY what to expect. Without the trial runs I would have clients asking me, "You want me to do WHAT???"
Q: When dieting down competitors are you pretty standard with your dieting methods at that time? Is there a certain plan of attack you use (hi/low/med carb days, Paleo diet, low carb, low fat...etc) or again does that vary by the individual?
I use the same principles for each client, and all diets include a combination of proteins, carbs, fats, and TrueProtein.com supplements to ensure they are getting the highest quality nutrients available. All clients will use re-feed or high-carb days, and I will not eliminate any macronutrient. That is where the similarities between clients cease. Based on the information requested of and provided by the client, food types, macro ratios, re-feed, and high-carb days are all designed specifically for that person. I do not use templates, software, or basic outlines for my diets. I develop individual starting plans for each client using a calculator, pencil, and paper. I do not make a client's situation fit my nutritional plan; I create a nutritional plan that fits the client's specific needs.
Q: Why did you venture away from the traditional carb load used by so many? What were the problems you saw with that way of doing things?
How much time do you have? : )
Simply put, the results of traditional carb loading are very inconsistent and usually negatively affect a bodybuilder’s condition. I regularly see competitors head into the final week before a show looking incredible only to appear on stage looking terrible. Sometimes they would be smooth from carrying water or flat with little definition. Those varied results often came from using the same approach with carb loading, which meant the traditional approach was not working. I discovered that most people were unaware of how carbs and water work together when loading. This is where things got interesting.
Q: With the difference of timing with a traditional carb load vs. a SkipLoading procedure, is the contest shape you want someone in the last week or two pre contest the same in each scenario?
It is pretty much the same, yes. There is a balance between being very lean and partially depleted for SkipLoading to be effective. With the old, original method, you had to be very depleted and I discovered that the timeframe to load was not long enough to fill out someone with a larger amount of muscle mass like the heavy and super-heavyweights. If you were too depleted you weren't going to fill out in time, either. SkipLoading eliminates these two variables, completely. It allows plenty of time to load and the bodybuilder’s size doesn’t matter.
I should point out that SkipLoading isn't just about the loading aspect of food, either. The term is meant to encompass everything including water and sodium intake and manipulation. I want to be clear that water control and sodium control, etc., are critical components of SkipLoading just as the method of loading carbs and filling glycogen stores. Anyone can get full for a show but SkipLoading allows you to be at your fullest and yet be very dry, tight and hard, as well.
Q: As I understand it (correct me if I am wrong) the SkipLoading process is started Friday night for a Saturday show vs. Wednesday afternoon, all of Thursday, all of Friday, and Saturday morning for a traditional carb load. Does the short timing of the SkipLoad prevent mistakes and things going haywire vs. the longer traditional carb load?
The timing of the old method (Sh**loading) was to start either very early on the morning of the show or later Friday night. SkipLoading can vary depending on the individual but usually starts on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the show. It can last one to three days, again, depending on the condition and how that client's condition reacts to the load. Most of the timing is solidified long before the last week because of the trial runs. We are fairly confident coming into the last week with how the load will look, how long the load will last, how much food, etc..
What can sometimes make a client uncomfortable is that one of the components of the load is what I call "fill and spill". You load so hard and you load until you spill water and are holding water. This can make someone very anxious if they didn't already know how their body would react weeks ahead of time. After the initial loading phase, other elements of SkipLoading are employed to basically "clean up the mess". This is where the drying out process starts and continues until show day.
Also noteworthy is that SkipLoading does not use diuretics of any kind. They simply are not needed with this loading protocol. I know some think "there is no way he can get them as dry as someone who would use a diuretic", and they are absolutely incorrect. My condition on stage as well as that of my clients is evidence enough. Of my forty-seven competitors that I put on stage last year, only one used a diuretic and that was against my advice.
Q: Do your clients have to use certain foods each time they do a SkipLoad, or can they just make use of the foods in their current environment (e.g., when traveling out of town to compete)?
The list of foods is not terribly specific, however, there are combinations of carbohydrates that I have found work well together. Example: It would be hard to load using only sugary carbs like pancakes and syrup because some people get nauseous using very sugary carbohydrate sources, exclusively. So, it is wise to mix starchy carbs in as much as possible to offset any possible nausea associated with only sugary carb meals.
The food lists I provide are general as I have clients all over the world and some foods or brands are not available. If the carbohydrates are low in fat, processed, and relatively high Glycemic index (GI), they will work just fine.
Q: Eating dieting foods for 16-20 weeks of one type and then using the skip load---do people experience stomach upset? Or this is weeded out during the testing phase?
This is not an issue because throughout the entire prep phase, a variation of SkipLoading is used for two reasons:
1. To keep the metabolism off guard and primed with a very high amount of carbohydrate approximately once a week and
2. To test the body's ability to fill out and how long it takes to both retain water and then shed it.
The effect that these re-feed or loading days have on the metabolism is insane. There are times where absolutely no diet changes are needed week after week due to the impact that the loading days have on the metabolism. I liken it to pouring gas on a fire in relation to carbs and the metabolism. Most of the time you can actually feel your body temperature go up either as you eat, shortly after you eat, or even all day on these loading days. It is common to sweat while eating these meals due to the metabolism gaining momentum. Also, the insulin response from high GI carbs once a week takes advantage of the body's own insulin production. When in a glycogen depleted state there is no concern with body fat being stored on these days due to the very high intake of high GI carbs. You come off of these days very full and can take advantage of added strength for a couple days in the gym as well.
The component of testing the body throughout the prep phase allows the competitor to know how much carbs are needed to fill out completely, how long it takes to retain water, and how long it takes to get that water off after returning to the original diet the following day. This is all priceless information as the show nears.
Q: What do you do for clients who are gluten intolerant or who have difficulty with dairy?
Dairy products are not included in contest prep or loads. Dairy is too unpredictable and many people have problems with digesting dairy on some level. It is just easier to leave it out, completely. I rarely run into someone with a gluten intolerance that actually gets in the way of a load so that hasn't been an issue, either.
Q: Can you give us an example of a hypothetical SkipLoad and the foods it would entail with a hypothetical competitor?
I will use my last show as an example to illustrate a typical SkipLoad. Understand that even though the foods may remain the same for someone else in a different situation, the timing of meals, frequency, duration, etc., would all be quite different. The varieties of foods that can be used are endless. I am listing the foods that I used.
I started my load very late on Monday night and it continued all day on Tuesday, only. It was structured like this:
Monday night about 11pm:
Texas French toast with real maple syrup
kid's cereal with TrueProtein.com protein powder mixed with water (strawberry Frosted Miniwheats, Fruity Pebbles)
1 large cinnamon and raisin bagel with jam and light cream cheese
Texas French toast and real maple syrup
kid's cereal with TrueProtein.com protein powder mixed with water (strawberry Frosted Miniwheats and Lucky Charms)
French toast with syrup
Texas French toast with real maple syrup
spaghetti with spaghetti sauce
kid's cereal with TrueProtein.com protein powder mixed with water (cinnamon streusel frosted Miniwheats, peanut butter Captain Crunch)
spaghetti with spaghetti sauce
Texas French toast with real maple syrup and blueberry syrup
2 large cinnamon and raisin bagels with light cream cheese and homemade jelly
kids cereal TrueProtein.com protein powder mixed with water (Chocolate Marshmallow Maties and Captain Crunch Berries)
It is important that the fat content of the foods is low but it doesn't have to be zero, either. Fat slows digestion and it gets in the way of carbs in the sense that if you eat less fat you can eat more carbs. You want the carbs to be high GI and highly processed so that the insulin response is as high as possible to pack away the carbs as glycogen. Also, it is far easier to get down a huge amount of carbs like this when they taste good. I am sure that you can imagine 1000g of carbs from white rice would be very difficult to do but 1000g of carbs from pancakes and syrup is not that hard to do at all.
You may think this would be easy, but I assure you that after that first meal or two, it becomes a chore to get the food down for the rest of the day. Some have to load for two or three days depending on their situation so getting down the required amount of food can end up an arduous task.
The day after the end of the load you should be skin-splitting full but watery or starting to get watery.
Keep in mind that there are variations of this load used throughout the leaning down phase of the prep to not only gauge the body's response to loading but to keep the metabolism fresh and running red hot. Clients often comment after their shows that this was the easiest prep they have ever done. Combine that with their best condition and you have a win/win situation across the board.
Q: After doing the loading part of SkipLoading, how do you handle the excess water and get that competitor tight and dry prior to a Saturday show?