Why I Compete | Tim Nassen
A question I am often asked or a comment I hear from time to time in the gym is, “Why do you compete?”. It is a question I’ve been asked by my wife, my parents, my friends, and by complete strangers. Many times the answer comes without much thought behind it, I like the challenge of it! Sometimes I try to convince myself that the answer is much deeper and more complex then what it really is. The short and sweet of it is that I really enjoy the challenge of competition.
In the mid 2000’s I began training for my first strongman contest. At the time I simply planned on doing one contest to experience some of what I watched each Christmas Day on ESPN and watched years before on CBS. I quickly realized that I enjoyed the training, the preparation, the comradery, and the challenge of the sport. In Strongman I met more wonderful people then I ever could have imagined. Many of these people I still consider my closest friends. I competed in many contests and volunteered in ones that I did not compete in. The competition was outstanding and there were numerous quality shows in my region to participate in. I was lucky enough to win a few shows and place well in a few more, but the thing that always drove me was constantly trying to improve my performance and strengthen my weaknesses. I was able to do this by surrounding myself with athletes who knew more than me. I surrounded myself with people who knew more about technique, conditioning, nutrition and building strength. I absorbed as much as I could and became a better Strongman because of them. I am eternally grateful to so many of these athletes for helping to mold me into a decent Strongman competitor. The challenge to continually improve stoked my fire.
Once I became involved in Strongman it was an easy transition into Powerlifting. Many of the same Strongman athletes competed in Powerlifting and it wasn’t long before I entered a few push/pull meets. Fortunately, the training for each sport is very similar. Both sports involve heavy weights low reps, maximal effort, and explosive strength as cornerstones. They fit hand in hand. Progression in Powerlifting was even easier to measure. If my numbers or totals went up I knew I was getting better. Striving to improve those numbers was my challenge and focus.
Fast-forward to 2015, in the months following a triple hernia repair I searched for an identity and a purpose in my training. Strongman and Powerlifting were no longer viable options for me. In 2015 I decided to step outside my comfort zone and committed to training for my 1st bodybuilding contest. I took much of the knowledge that I had gathered through years of weight training and began my preparation. My plan was, much as it was when I started Strongman, enter one contest then evaluate the experience. It didn’t take long to get hooked. I was hooked by the challenge of trying to bring a better version of myself to stage each time by learning from each prep and adjusting accordingly, but mostly I was attracted to the physical and mental challenges of contest prep.
In short, I have always competed to fill a competitive void and push myself to new levels. These are levels that I would have never reached without the challenge of having to “go out and prove it”. I have been forced to research new techniques and training styles, take a closer look at nutrition and diet and how to manipulate it for my own progress, take a more serious and studious look at supplements and the benefits they offer, and examine my own self disciple and willingness to sacrifice.
For me, competing isn’t about going out and proving I’m better than anyone else other than myself. Competing has accelerated my progress and knowledge, forcing me to expand what I thought I was capable of. Competing has forced me to be committed, even when I wanted nothing more than to bail out. The challenge of trying to constantly improve has forced me to focus at times when I wanted nothing more than to close my eyes and walk away. For me, the answer is simple, I enjoy the challenge of it!
Thanks to HMB and PEAK ATP for allowing me to write this piece and share my feelings. They are awesome products that allow me to continue to improve and compete at the level I do.
-Tim Nassen, Master’s Bodybuilder