Training legs is a badge of honor amongst hardcore lifters. Nothing says you’re a bodybuilder like cranking out a set of high-rep squats or a brutal set of deadlifts. When it comes time to put on the posing trunks, or even just a pair of shorts, you can instantly tell who has paid their dues and who has half-assed it on leg day. If you’ve been on social media long enough, there’s a good chance you’ve seen at least one form of “Don’t Skip Leg Day, Bro” meme or video.
For Nick Twum, skipping leg day was never an option. Once a lost teenager with little direction on where to go in life, Nick transformed himself from a basketball prospect at 18, into one of Canada’s best young bodybuilders, partly because he never skipped a leg day. “When I was younger, I was not happy, mad at life and very negative,” says Nick. “The weight room made me feel good and was a form of therapy – and legs are the most grueling workouts, but I’m sick in the head so I love the pain!”
At the age of 20, he started working at Oxford and Adelaide Goodlife Fitness – one of the most hardcore gyms in London, Ontario, a city of about 360,000 people a few hundred miles west of Toronto. This gym was an eye-opener for Nick and was where he was introduced to bodybuilding. Nick adapted to bodybuilding training quickly, in particular the leg workouts. He soon became known for having some of the most developed and deeply cut legs in the business, proof positive of his great discipline, dedication, consistency and great work ethic. In 2011, he won his first show and has never looked back – taking local and soon provincial titles on his way to earning qualification for the 2016 Canadian Nationals.
And then disaster struck.
Twenty-five weeks out of Nationals, Nick tore his vastus intermedius tendon while front-squatting 405 lbs. In an instant, the years of training and hard work flashed before his eyes. The diagnosis was swift and brutal: immediate surgery, and a long six months of recovery, dashing any dream he had of competing at Nationals. Or so thought the doctors, his friends and even his coach.
Many weaker minded athletes would have thrown in the towel – accepting their fate and spending the next six months getting fat on the couch feeling sorry for themselves. Even his coach told him to pack it in, but Nick wasn’t hearing any of it. He dusted himself off and started his 25-week prep for the biggest show in Canada with his leg in a cast. He treated his physio like he would the most conservative religion – never missing a session – while doing everything he could in the gym to hang onto as much upper-body muscle as he possibly could.
As you might expect from a leg tendon tear, recovery was slow and painful, but surprisingly, Nick never once thought about quitting. He grinded out those 25 weeks by focusing on the one singular goal – to finish his prep and, despite being dealt a terrible setback, step on stage with the best bodybuilders Canada had to offer.
Finally the date arrived: July 23, 2016. Nick had packed up and headed from his hometown of London, Ontario, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, dialing his physique over the last week and feeling confident he could contend even if he wasn’t at a hundred percent. In the end, he placed a respectable 13th in the Heavyweight division, missing out on his Pro Card, but proving to himself that no matter what obstacles or doubts came his way, nothing can kill positive thinking.
Nick Twum showed that bodybuilding is not only about looking good, but also about developing mental strength. While the average population sees bodybuilders as self-obsessed individuals, few are able to recognize the hard work and dedication, the ability to overcome obstacles, and the planning and consistency the sport requires.
For Nick, “Rock bottom creates more champions than privilege” is more than just a T-shirt quote – he’s living it.
|Shoulder, Traps, Calves|
Nick is a personal trainer out of Showtyme Fitness and Heavyweight National Level amateur bodybuilder.
|“No pain is forever.” – Unknown|