Article - Skiploading by Ken "skip" Hill
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?
This is actually the easy and most predictable part of the process. In weeks prior to the load, we have already determined how long it takes that competitor to drop the water from the load and get back to their sharpest condition. Excess water is dropped in a period of one to four days prior to the show.
Following the load, water intake must be high, as it was throughout the prep. During a load, it is difficult to drink the required amount of water because the volume of food ingested is very large. This usually keeps water intake down during the load from the levels during prep. Immediately after the load is finished, water intake has to return to the high point that it was prior to the load. This is usually in the area of seven to twelve liters a day depending on the competitor.
The diet must return to the pre-carb intake levels, as well. Even if there are carbs in the diet, and there almost certainly will be, the level of carbohydrate intake is so drastically low compared to during the load that it will not get in the way of moving water and drying out the competitor. Most would think that carbs need to be cut to zero or very low but that is not the case.
Sodium must also return to pre-load levels and sodium levels should always be relatively high while prepping. Usually, sodium intake is anywhere from 3-8g per day depending, again, on the competitor. Another misconception is that sodium levels must be low for water to be moved and the competitor to get dry. This poor advice and theory has resulted in many competitors appearing flat and lacking detail on stage. Approaching a show, sodium levels should not be cut provided your water intake is where it should be (very high). I have witnessed many competitors go from looking incredible a week before a show to looking terrible following a cut in sodium.
After a couple days the competitor will see the water shifting away from under the skin and being excreted. However, the fullness in the muscle stays because sodium is high, water intake is high (fully hydrated), and there is no activity other than posing so glycogen isn't being depleted at a dramatic rate. Fullness will remain constant unless the diet from the end of the load to show day is too low in calories and carbs.
With SkipLoading, there should be no loading on Saturday morning. You simply get up in the morning, keep your diet just as you had the previous day and step on stage in incredible condition with a nice balance of fullness vs. dryness.
Q: How do you control "spilling over" during your water manipulation, using the SkipLoading technique?
The body will hold water when there is not enough water being ingested. When water is running through the body on a consistent basis little water is retained if the electrolytes are balanced. If your sodium levels are too high you can still hold water but if the water intake is high, the sodium requirement increases as well.
Also, it is important to note that water is not "shed" or controlled by manipulation of sodium levels with SkipLoading. It is manipulated entirely by loading carbs and adjusting water intake. The fastest way to go flat, and I see it happen all the time, is to drop sodium levels too low trying to "get water off". The amount of water and the timing of its intake are crucial and will vary between clients. It is not uncommon for sodium levels to remain anywhere from 3g to as high as 8 or 9g per day up to the last week before a show. When you understand how sodium relates to other electrolytes and how it relates to manipulating water, you will hit the stage harder, fuller, and drier than ever before.
Q: What is the biggest difference your clients have noted between the SkipLoad and other methods they have used for manipulating water and increasing fullness?
The primary difference is that the balance of fullness vs. dryness is achieved. Every competitor has a balance of dryness vs. fullness that is optimal for THEM. You always have to give up at least some of one to get the other. The trick is to find the balance that has that competitor as dry as he can be and yet as full as he can be. This is exactly what SkipLoading accomplishes.
Most other loading methods are based on the concept that you load up to a day or so before the show and try to control water by cutting it at ridiculous times, cutting sodium a couple or three days out, etc.. When people ask what SkipLoading is, I tell them that if they take what the normal competitor does and simply do everything opposite, that is SkipLoading. Most of the principles of SkipLoading seem to be very backwards from what is known as "fact" when it comes to the last week of prep. My reputation is taking things that are supposed to be known as fact and blowing them out of the water.
Q: Many competitors including pros have found themselves in high risk or even fatal situations due to diuretic use or better yet, misuse. You've experimented and found a way to bring people in bone-dry consistently without using diuretics, thereby making it a safer way to obtain that final stage-worthy dry look that is so sought after. Could you give us an overview on how this came about and how it works?
Diuretics have ruined many competitors’ conditions and it is not needed if you know how to manipulate water. I have always said that people get too caught up in water restriction or elimination when they should be focusing on water MANIPULATION. You don't want to necessarily get rid of water; you want to make sure it is in the right place which is in the muscle. Just like a carb load, diuretics are often misunderstood and misused, and can ruin a competitor’s conditioning.
SkipLoading not only fills you out but manipulates and shifts water into the muscle so using a diuretic becomes unnecessary. It isn't always easy to tell a new client that they will not be using a diuretic because they are so used to using them. I have heard many times "then how in the hell am I going to get dry?” as if there is no other way to get bone dry. My loading protocol has become so popular not only because of the competitor’s ultimate condition, but also because it does not stress the kidneys like the use of diuretics does. My clients do not have to worry about a trip to the emergency room after a show. In my opinion, diuretics have likely contributed to the increase in failing kidneys in bodybuilding over the last ten years. This increase in kidney related issues is alarming.
Q: How do you manage the SkipLoad during the day of the show?
If everything has been done properly and the competitor's condition is 100% in the morning, the day is handled as the previous day less the water intake. Water is routinely cut at bedtime on Friday night for a Saturday show. After the body cycles through such a large amount of water over the course of so many days, it will assume that when the competitor gets up Saturday morning that this will continue. Since the body assumes water intake will be the same, it will continue to excrete water the day of the show. As a result, the competitor continues to dry and harden as the morning progresses.
If the competitor wakes up flat on Saturday morning after SkipLoading, it is due to a lack of carbs. Because water intake has been high, the body is essentially 100% hydrated. Sodium is high and would not be the cause, leaving carbs as the culprit. At this point, carbs need to be ingested but the best way to do this is to take in foods high in three things: sodium, carbs, and fat. The sodium will efficiently pack the carbs away as glycogen, and the fats will control the rate that the carbs hit the bloodstream preventing a shock to the system. These foods are very easy to incorporate because they are things that taste very good like fast food burgers, fries, doughnuts, pizza, cookies, etc. The best foods are those you crave as they contain the sodium, carbs, and fat. You then eat in relation to your condition. If you are filling out, you do not need to eat as much. If you are not filling out, you keep eating. The only thing to watch for the day of the show is abdominal distention. Overeating can cause the stomach to bulge so if you are working on filling out, you will want to eat as much as you can without causing stomach distention. With water intake being cut the night before, there will be no water control issues while eating these foods. When loading in this manner, your condition will not worsen unless you take in too much water.
Q: Are there times you will not use the SkipLoading process on a competitor and will go to a more traditional plan?
No. I may change the timing, the loading day or days, water, sodium, and/or other variables but the principle of SkipLoading remains the same for every single competitor. I had forty-seven clients take the stage in 2007. Each one used SkipLoading tailored to their needs and this put them in their best ever condition.
Q: What are some of the things that can go wrong with SkipLoading if not done right?
A few things can go wrong but you have to really work at making it fail:
1.If a client does not load enough, they will not fill out, which results in a flat look minimizing muscle detail. A full muscle shows much more detail and hardness.
2. Overloading or not cleaning up the water post-load, results in a smooth appearance.
3. Water retention varies greatly between people, and forcing off water with diuretics or drastically cutting sodium often results in a flat appearance on stage.
While only a few things can go wrong, they can be disastrous on your conditioning and ultimately affect your final placement.
Q: Do your clients generally experience a rebound after a SkipLoading week?
Rebounds are not common. The main reason is that the only real change is in the amount of carbs that are eaten. Sodium levels are not dropped, water is not cut early, and diuretics are not used, so there is no real rebound after the show. During a typical load, most competitors’ rebounds are due to the reintroduction of water, sodium and after the use of a diuretic. When sodium is reintroduced combined with increased water intake, a competitor may put on up to twenty or more pounds in the days following a show.
With SkipLoading the rebound is subtle and when the post-show foods are introduced there is little shock to the system and weight does not fluctuate dramatically. The heart and kidneys are typically much safer from the dangers frequently found when other methods are employed.
It should also be noted that with SkipLoading it is very easy to compete in shows that are only one to two weeks apart because of the lack of rebound in bodyweight. After a show, if that competitor is back on his diet Monday his condition will be rock solid by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. The load typically requires modification, and will vary by the individual, but it is relatively easy to pull off and much more predictable than a traditional approach.
Q: Can you or would you SkipLoad a fitness or figure competitor?
I do, yes. The process for fitness, figure, or female bodybuilding does not differ from that of a male bodybuilder. All require a balance of fullness and dryness and SkipLoading can be used for any of them.
Q: When dieting down competitors is there a specific number of weeks out from their show you like to start the dieting process or do you do this on a case by case basis?
I am recognized for my work in the weeks immediately preceding a show. I do, however, prefer to work with a client through the entire prep. Sixteen weeks is typically an adequate time frame to evaluate a client’s reaction to various situations and scenarios prior to the critical pre-show focus. I may require more or allow less time, but sixteen weeks is best practice.
I also insist that guys do not come to me out of shape. There are those who believe they are "off season" when they are truly just too fat. I am very good at what I do and I have saved many a train wreck but that is not my business. I am in the business of putting people on stage looking like they have no skin. To do that, I cannot have clients that are too heavy and carrying far too much body fat. It makes the process of dieting torturous on the client, it usually eats at least some hard-earned muscle, and you will almost always get on stage tighter, harder and carrying more of your muscle when you come into the start of a prep leaner than fatter.
Q: What is the #1 mistake you see or hear about competitors doing during the last week of prep before a bodybuilding show?
Gee, only one?
The problem I hear most often is "I didn't carb up enough" or "I had too many carbs". If someone is flat, they naturally assume that it was a lack of carbs, when most of the time it probably was not the case. The problem was likely dropping water early, not taking in enough water, sodium too low, etc. If the competitor is soft and holding water, carbs are often blamed again when it is likely that they did not properly control water intake following a load. Even those not lean enough blame the carbs. Carbs are the usual scapegoat for almost all condition-related issues.
Q: How is cardio utilized during this whole dieting process? The last week?
I am much bigger on cardio than I used to be, during the course of contest prep. However, I still don't go crazy with it and I tend to use it more as a tool than something to rely on to get lean. As an example, most will make their caloric intake fluctuate to keep their metabolism off balance and that is a good idea. However, a comparable idea is to vary cardio levels and do so even before changing caloric intake. Anytime you reduce cardio, you rest your body which makes you less likely to over train. You want to do as little work as possible when in dieting mode whether that is training or cardio. Do what is necessary and that is it.
During the last week before a show cardio is not used. It is cut at least one week before the show as the metabolism is on fire at that point and usually can "coast" through the last couple weeks. This gives the lower body a nice opportunity to rest and recover before the show and it also makes it easier to load if your metabolism is not red hot.
Q: It is known thru the bodybuilding grapevine (underground) that you have worked with and helped some very well known NAME bodybuilders in the sport (pro's and top amateurs) yet it has been kept under wraps and not said publically, why is that? Due to the entities that sponsor that bodybuilder or the contracts they have?
Sponsorship and contracts are factors, but there are a myriad of other reasons names are not publicized, starting with professional courtesy. Often the bodybuilder has a long and established relationship with another top nutritionist and they come to me for the last couple weeks for fine tuning. Leanness can be accomplished with the help of most nutritionists in the industry. What separates me from others is the consistent, replicable achievement of hardness, fullness, and dryness when my clients hit the stage. As a result, many employ their nutritionist to become lean but come to me for the last, critical weeks leading up to the show.
Some request confidentiality because they do contest prep as well. While people of any profession benefit from the expertise of others in their field, many do not want their own customers to know they have someone else helping with their prep work. Such advertising might be great for my business but not necessarily theirs.
Until recently I have not publicly discussed the clients I work with. However, in working with more high-profile athletes and bodybuilders I am learning that the exposure for some clients may be critical in landing them endorsements or obtaining sponsorships. IntenseMuscle.com is well known and read by a lot of prominent figures in the industry. I was surprised to learn of the increasing attention the website and my clients are receiving. It only seems fair that they get the attention that they have earned.
Q: One last question Skip, you are known for your vast knowledge of diet, nutrition, and contest prep, however, do you develop training programs for clients as well?
95% of my clients are looking for assistance with their conditioning whether it be getting them peeled for a show, getting them leaner without giving up hard earned muscle, or maintaining their leanness during the offseason while they still grow and gain muscle tissue. I have trained for 24 years and will provide training guidance, if requested, but this is not usually what people are looking for when they approach me.
I am a conditioning guy, plain and simple. Because of the way I think and approach things, I will constantly be questioning the “facts” whether related to nutrition or supplementation. I will continue to work to find different ways to get into even better condition for a show or to get leaner while preserving muscle mass. It is almost an obsession for me.
Great article !!!
I found this pretty interesting ...
This is the Old "Shitloading" correct? I guess he changed the name to something a little more Narcissistic which is right up his alley!. Not a real Big Skip fan on a personal Level