My journey - From skinny teenager to European Champion
My name is Luka Skubonja and I come from Croatia, more precisely from a Sibenik – a small town along the Adriatic sea coast. I am 22 years old and I have been in fitness for about seven years now.
I started my sports journey with football when I was seven years old. I trained football for about six years. I was already too tall at that age so I started to play volleyball by the time I was 15 years old.
I was really tall, almost two meters and really skinny so I decided to start weight lifting and to eat more healthy food. And that was it!
I found myself in the gym, lifting weight and just enjoying in process! I started with maybe 70 kilograms but after a couple of months I gained 6-7 kilograms so I was already „addicted“ and I didn’t want to stop.
Now, seven years later I can say that I’m really happy and satisfied with my achievements.
My first competition I did was in 2016. when I took 1st place at Balkan championship. In the next three years, I compete seven more times and one of my best achievements is European champion and World vice-champion.
All of that has led me to have a fitness trainer job in a local gym (Life Wellness Center Šibenik) and I’m very happy with working what I love.
Of course it is impossible to be motivated every day for good training and to give your best.
Actually, that’s ok and in my opinion you don’t even need to be motivated every day because that will be an easy way to achieve anything.
The point is to be strong in your head even if you are not motivated, or you are tired, or so on…
I always know before my training what exactly I need to do that day in the gym. I know every exercise with how many reps and sets I need to do and it’s simple, I’m not going home until I’m done!
And that’s my motivation, I just remind myself that I will get nowhere if I skip training every time when I’m not motivated.
That’s also my reason how I manage to keep train for so long time. I have been in training for 7 years and I think I never skipped more than week or two without training.
Also, when someone asks me what’s my hacks for better progress in the gym, I just tell him that there is no hacks, there is no magic pills for better and faster progress, only hacks that will lead you to your goal are persistence, knowledge, will and effort.
Also, when someone asks me „how can you find the time for lifting every day?“… well, 1 hour is only 4% of your day… So it’s not hard, if you can scroll Instagram and Facebook, or watching tv for hours, you can spend 3 hours per week in the gym for sure!
I think that the biggest challenge I have faced in my career was the opinion and judgment of others, my friends and parents because whenever you are different in something, the others will look at you differently too… but you have to get used to it and accept it and actually be happy with that!
For me, fitness is a lifestyle so I always train hard. Now at the moment, training is not my number 1 priority.
Now I want to achieve something as a trainer, I want to teach others and to have good life from it… so maybe now I train less than when I compete so I can rest my body a little bit from really hard trainings because my goal in the next years is to compete at some bigger competition and to be better than before.
That’s actually a point of fitness, to be better then you used to be! If I could start over my fitness journey, I would not change a thing, everything is as it should be, and it will be.
Luckily, I haven’t had any injuries so far! That’s because before every training I do a good warmup with stretching and lifting really light weight.
You always need to start your training with warming up your muscles lifting light weight.
So, if you train chest, you can start with bench; if you can lift 80 kilograms max, you first need to make couple sets with 10-20-30 kilograms to avoid enjuries later. Then, your first real set will be with 80 kilograms with atleast 8 reps.
But anyway to handle injuries first of all you need to rest for some time! There are several types of injuries but if your muscle is injured you need to rest and avoid to train that muscle until he recovers.
Later you can start with some lighter weight just to „turn on“ that muscle again and everything will be fine.
But if you have more serious injury like back pain, joints… You need to visit a doctor first and then you will know what to do later.
For recovering from hard trainings I love to use some supplements like whey protein and glutamine.
But also without a good sleep, you can’t help much with supplements. I love to sleep 8 hours per day but sometime it’s less.
When I’m in off-season of competitions I usually try to put on some muscle mass so I’m always in calorie surplus. That means I need to eat more calories then I spend.
At that time I usually eat lots of carbs and proteins and some fat. I can afford myself lot’s of carbs because I’m really too tall and also an ectomorph.
If you dont know, ectomorph is a body type. There are three body types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Ectomorph is lean and long, with difficulty building muscle.
For example, I eat for breakfast a couple of whole eggs and 100 grams of oats with whey protein. For lunch I love to eat some lean meat with rice and vegetables.
Before training, I usually eat the same as for lunch, and after training whey protein shake.
Dinner will be made of some meat or fish with some fats, and before sleep, I usually eat cottage low-fat cheese. Sure there are some snacks too for extra calories.
Also I love to have a balance between fitness and social life so I’m not so strict 100%.
For example, if I’m out with friends once per week, I will eat or drink whatever because one bad meal or even a day can’t destroy the whole week of work.
I avoid alcohol, but I can drink couple of drinks if I’m out with my friends but it is rare, and I very rarely get drunk.
Also, I drink coffee daily and there is nothing bad in it.
When the competition is closer, I need to start cutting. Then I’m eating less calories and less carbs. I slowly cut down the carbs and I need to be in calorie deficit every day.
The most common food I eat while cutting for competition is chicken breast, vegetables, eggs, egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese.
I always start my day with oats and egg whites. Oats are the best source of energy, carbs, and fiber for me! Also, egg white is the best natural protein.
So from my experience that’s the best combination for first meal while cutting and also you will not be hungry so soon.
Lean meat like chicken breast and vegetables with a spoon of olive oil is my usual lunch. After that I eat some snack like a couple walnut or hazelnut.
After training whey protein as usually, for dinner whole eggs and cottage low-fat cheese for the last meal.
It is hard and I’m hungry sometimes but nothing worth doing comes easy.
The best motivation for me is my own progress. When I see that I’m better then before, I’m more motivated to keep going and to be better and better.
I don’t have any idol, I just enjoy training and when you do what you love, you actually don’t need any motivation for keep going and to be better.
If I was new to fitness and I had to start over, I think I would do the same as I have done.
I will read a lot about everything, I will ask older and more experienced lifters for help and tips and that’s it.
Maybe I will train more in the beginning because at my very beginning I was not so persistent. I read mostly from the internet and from books I get in fitness school.
A lot of people make mistakes in the gym by trying to lift as much weight as possible. And this is usually not done right, and often they get hurt. So my advice for everyone is to keep their ego besides and to lift the weights they can.
Fitness can be combined with other sports too. And I recommend fitness with any sport because you will be stronger for sure, more explosive and faster.
Besides working as a trainer at a local gym (Life Wellness Center Šibenik) I also work privately with clients.
That’s something I love to do and it’s not a problem for me to stay after my work for a couple more hours to work with clients.
Also, I have my online clients. That consists of sending a training and nutrition plan and that they have the right to ask me whatever they don’t understand.
In my opinion that’s also a good way to start with fitness too!
The client’s main question is „how long do I need to train to see some results?“… well, that depends on many factors like your age, sex, height, weight… But let’s say that 3 months is enough for the first results.