By Jessie Hilgenberg, IFBB Figure Pro (Photo by Paul Buceta)

We all compete to some degree, whether it’s on stage, in a race, on a field—or even just with the person staring back at us in the mirror. And any athlete will tell you: a thirst for competition is an important quality when it comes to succeeding in your sport. Unfortunately, there are countless ways to get caught up in the negative side effects of competition. The pressures can get in your head, shake your confidence, and easily become your worst enemy, holding you back from your goals instead of pushing you closer to your dreams.

I’ve seen great athletes fail due to their lack of confidence, as well as great athletes fail due to too much confidence. As athletes and women, we work hard to bring our best to all that we do. We feel empowered as we improve, grow stronger, and accomplish our goals. But sometimes all it takes is another strong woman to make us question our abilities, feel threatened and begin to compare ourselves to everyone else.

Even I have experienced these feelings of insecurity. I might be having an amazing workout, reaching personal bests with my lifts. I feel like a strong, beautiful woman, proud of the fact I have badass muscles and know my way around the weight room. But I admit, there have been times when another beautiful, strong woman has made me feel insecure and way too competitive.

What I’ve learned over time is to appreciate other women that have worked hard and to be inspired by my fellow femme fatale. And if I get the chance, I swallow my pride, and approach her to let her know she looks amazing.

It’s thanks to this attitude adjustment, that I’ve learned never to feel threatened by other women backstage when I compete. I stay focused and incredibly proud of the work I’ve put in to get myself to that moment. And I recognize that every woman there has had her own journey to the stage. We can’t control the score—all we can do is be a champion in our own sport.

The moral? Be your own competition. Remain humble, focused, and most of all, love what you do. We all have self doubt now and then, or compare ourselves to our competition—but a real champion gets on stage (or signs up for a race, or joins a team, or goes for her heaviest deadlift) in spite of her fears.


“Vision creates faith and faith creates willpower. With faith and willpower there is no anxiety and no doubt – just absolute confidence in yourself.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
STRONG Fitness Mag
STRONG Fitness Magazine is a trusted source of cutting-edge fitness and health information for the modern woman who lives to be fit. STRONG’s sophisticated editorial voice combined with raw, powerful imagery and a modern, athletic design reflect the direction fitness has taken in the last decade.