With more than a decade of bodybuilding experience, Akim Williams is no stranger to the demands of a top-tier IFBB Pro. He has placed as high as sixth on the prestigious Mr. Olympia stage (2020), boasting a freaky blend of proportions, symmetry, and muscle separation. In a recent Muscular Development interview with Ron Harris, Williams reflected on injuries from a car accident and revealed he will take some much-needed time off to repair his shoulder before jumping into the 2024 Arnold Classic.
Akim Williams has found success throughout his lengthy career despite suffering from injuries. Last year, he weaponized his signature muscle volume and massive chest to pick up a victory at the 2022 Tampa Pro, where he denied former 212 Olympia Kamal Elgargni his bid for gold.
When it was time to square off against the best on the 2022 Mr. Olympia stage, Williams found himself outside of the top 15. However, he quickly bounced back in March at the 2023 Arnold Classic in sixth, where Samson Dauda emerged victorious. Just days after his performance in Columbus, Ohio, Williams revealed he competed at his last two shows with a slew of injuries.
With his sights set on the future, Williams laid out what’s next for him after a series of health struggles. He also explained why winning the Arnold Classic would be the perfect achievement to add to his résumé.
Akim Williams Tells All on Injuries, Targets Return at 2024 Arnold Classic
According to the Open standout, he sustained injuries to his bicep, shoulder, and back as a result of a car accident last May or April. Pushing through the pain on a daily basis, Williams “dug deep” and redeemed himself during his Arnold Classic performance.
“Yeah, yeah. I got into a car accident last year… and I think it was right around May, April-May I got into this car accident. At the time, I was getting ready for the Tampa Pro, still pushed into the Tampa Pro and won that.
But you know… eventually, you keep training and it’s just going to get worse. So I still pushed and I decided to do the Olympia. I wanted to pull out, but you know what, for me I don’t have that luxury of pulling out of a show especially when I already committed to it and everything like that.”
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. And I dug deep, I spoke to the owner of MuscleMeds, I was like let’s push it and try to do the Arnold. I redeemed myself at the Arnold. I was still able to place top six at the Arnold.”
In light of his setbacks, Williams says now is “perfect time to take some time off, let my body heal, repair my shoulders, and try to come back in 2024.”
“And right after the Arnold was finished I was going to push and do the New York Pro to try to qualify for 2023 Olympia but I said to myself, since I turned Pro in 2013, I’ve never taken any time off. And having this injury right now would be the perfect time to take some time off, let my body heal, repair my shoulders and try to come back in 2024,” said Akim Williams.
“Yeah [the shoulder injury] was during the car accident. I was always getting pain. After the car accident, I injured my back pretty badly. I wasn’t able to deadlift or squat – none of that. I had to go to physical therapy, I was getting shots in my back and in my spine and everything like that just to prevent some of the pain.
The back injury was pretty crazy but as far as the shoulders, I felt the pain. But you know as us being bodybuilders… we’re used to training through pain and stuff like that. It started getting worse and worse and it was like it’s not right. When I got an MRI, they [said] your labrum is torn.”
“My bicep was partially torn too,” added Akim Williams about his car accident. “Shoulder movements was being affected by that.”
“At the end of prep I was doing all machines, I couldn’t do free weights.”
Not only has Akim targeted the 2024 Arnold Classic, but he also wants to become a New York Pro champion before he closes the curtains on his career.
“In a perfect world, I would definitely love to step back on the Arnold stage again before I do any other show. I feel in my heart like I have what it takes to win one of those big shows, especially the Arnold. So my goal is definitely to try to get back to that 2024 Arnold Classic. I think that will be a win for me, getting back on there and proving what I can do, what I’m able to still do, basically.”
“I’ve always been a huge fan of the Arnold Classic, especially with what Arnold has achieved and everything like that. I would definitely like to have an Arnold Classic win under my belt. Ifi could achieve that, it would be a career for me.”
“I think 2024, I’m also going for a New York Pro title. I’ve never won the New York Pro. I came close a couple of times but never won. That’s on my bucket list also.”
While he admits youth is no longer on his side, Williams stressed that he still has “a lot left in the tank,” adding that his biggest challenge since the car accident was re-establishing his mind-muscle connection.
“I’m no spring chicken in this game I’ve been here for a while. But I still think I have a lot left in the tank but going back to the car accident, I think one of the biggest things for me to answer your question was finding that muscle-mind connection again in terms of the shoulder being repaired again,” said Akim Williams.
Overall, Williams doesn’t believe he’s missing any body parts, which is why he’s been able to stay relevant for so many years.
“I still maintain all my lines, my waist is still small, I still have full muscle bellies.”
“I still look the part. It’s not like I’m lagging or missing body parts and stuff like that. I still have everything and it still looks good. That’s why I’m able to stay relevant,” said Akim Williams. “The judges are still going to have to take a look at me.”
Akim Williams isn’t the only high-profile Men’s Open talent taking the rest of 2023 off. Recently, former two-time Arnold Classic titleholder William Bonac laid out his future plans in the sport. He also maintained a rigorous schedule and shared that he needed time for personal obligations. “The Conqueror” finished ninth place at his last Mr. Olympia, though he’s yet to abandon his dreams of one day winning the sport’s most coveted title.
Next year is shaping up to be an exciting one for the Men’s Open, with names like Akim Williams and Bonac returning to the stage. Given the injuries he’s dealt with lately, “The Beast” plans to return better and more healthy than ever in 2024.
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