He stands 6’1” tall and weighs 235 pounds. His eyes are void of emotion as he concentrates on lifting the dumbbell. As his workout progresses, his veins form a roadmap. In that moment all his problems cease to exist.
Staff Sgt. Robert Timms, 756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons lead crew team chief, won first place and overall in Jon Lindsay’s Muscle Contest in the men’s classic physique category January 2016 in Las Vegas.
While Timms is a serious competitor in bodybuilding today, he wasn’t always that way.
“Before bodybuilding, I did martial arts as a child, kickboxing in middle school and boxing in high school,” he said. “Since joining the Air Force, I’ve played semi-pro football, practiced mixed martial arts, Muay Thai, Taekwondo and now bodybuilding.”
It was during a deployment Robert got a taste for bodybuilding.
“At first bodybuilding wasn’t a sport for me,” he said. “In 2011, I deployed to Afghanistan where a friend taught me how to lift and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t until I was stationed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea that a friend told me to try out bodybuilding. I took his advice and after my first show in 2013, I’ve kept at it ever since.”
During Timms’ first show, the Camp Humphrey’s Bodybuilding competition in Korea, he competed in the heavyweight bodybuilding category and placed first. Then one week later, he competed in the Muscle Mania competition in the same category and won first place. In 2014, he competed in the Luke Air Force Base bodybuilding show, placed first and won overall for his category. Thereafter, he competed in the Association of Natural Bodybuilding Federation competition before competing in his most recent show, the Jon Lindsay’s Muscle Contest.
Before the men’s classic physique category was introduced earlier this year, there were only two categories men competed in — physique and bodybuilding. In the physique category competitors must show symmetry combined with muscularity but can’t be too built, while in the bodybuilding category competitors are overall enormous in mass, Timms said.
“Before men’s classic physique was brought back as a category, there wasn’t a category I fit into,” Timms said. “I was too big for men’s physique and I was too small for bodybuilding. In order for me to compete in that level with other bodybuilders I would need to be around 280 pounds, but I wasn’t willing to do what it takes to be at that level — steroids. During the Arnold Classic I had a coach and he brought me all the way down from 240 pounds to 198 pounds. I was still told my back was too big for men’s physique. I was caught in a catch-22 but now that they have the classic physique category, I have a category that’s perfect for my body type.”
While others may find motivation through external sources, Timms finds motivation within himself.
“I think most people have something they want but never really strive for it,” he said. “For me, I know the only way I can get the result I want is by pushing myself. I motivate myself to come back to the gym every day because I’m the only one I can depend on. I never have the feeling of, ‘I don’t want to work out today’ because it’s my stress relief. It gets me out of what may be going on in my life and is my serenity.”
Bodybuilding also brings Timms a sense of security.
“The aspect about bodybuilding I love is the fact that I can control it, meaning the only thing you can really control in life is how you control yourself,” he said. “I like being able to manipulate my diet and exercise routine and see the change in my body from what I do.”
Timms has words of advice for others regarding motivation.
“There will always be people supporting you, but at the end of the day you can’t depend on others for your motivation,” he said. “You have to focus and figure out what you want and go after it.”
For one Airman, Timms is not only a bodybuilding competitor but her friend and boyfriend.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone as dedicated as he is,” said Tech. Sgt. Jessica Keller, 56th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog kennel master. “He is on point with his training and diet and hasn’t missed a day at the gym. I think he’ll be one of the first to compete in the classic physique category during Joes Weider’s Olympia bodybuilding competition. I believe he has set the standard for this category and is making history. It’s also nice to have someone who has the same experiences and interests in bodybuilding as I do, and he was my number one supporter when I was going through competition prep.”
For those interested in competing, the Luke Air Force Base Bryant Fitness Center is holding a bodybuilding competition Aug. 20. For more information, call the Combat PT Center at 623-856-2291.