Hardcore Is ...
Hardcore is walking around with that dark patch of dry skin on the back of your neck, the mark you get from resting the squat bar on your upper traps and neck area. It's a badge of honor. Hardcore is setting a schedule, and being able to focus on a reward 18 weeks out. Hardcore is waking up, sore as hell but ready and willing to get your ass up out of bed, just to start plowing food down your throat when you know the food you're eating doesn't do anything for you but make you sick. Eating bullshit like oatmeal, peanut butter, and my all-time "favorite," boiled eggs. Eating that food day after day, for weeks at a time, with only slight changes, is a true example of how much that prize means to you.
Hardcore is that something down and deep that motivates you to get your ass to the gym to train back, after having trained legs the day before. I'm talking about the feelings you have when you wish you were a lazy fat ass, like everyone else in the world, or someone who's content to just drink beer, all day, every day. But not you. You're thinking about that guy in Jersey getting his shit in twice per day; or the person in Kickass, America, busting his ass, thinking about the same show you're doing. Hardcore is being able to turn the corner at the half way point and focus in on the small areas you need to clean up on your body to win.
Hardcore is getting your ass to the gym and having the tenacity to finish the workout with a killer lift on your final set of deadlifts and feeling like a pile of shit for the rest of the night for doing it.
Hardcore is trying to look like one cool customer when you're on stage, even though inside, you feel like shit and nervous as all hell. Hardcore is being able to keep all those emotions in check and focus on the job at hand: Winning the damn show.
Hardcore is being able to keep it all together, keeping yourself all together, during the comparisons of the class winners ... being able to flex those legs, one last time, to show off the crazy separations ... holding that most muscular shot until your traps feel as if they are going to rip off your neck.
Hardcore is when you find yourself back in the gym the Monday after winning show. All you can think about is how in the heck are you going to surprise them next time on stage. You haven't even found the right spot to put your hardware, and you're calculating your diet to rebound on. That's not only hardcore, that's insane, man. Even though it's cool to show off the trophy, you're worried about that weak point the judges picked on.
You've already started planning your next move. You need to build more muscle here, a little more separation there. Your focus is on how quickly you can start adding that new muscle so that you can keep moving up the bodybuilding ladder. This is the life of a hardcore bodybuilder. This is the life you must choose voluntarily. This is my life.