Meeting a Legend and Stealing His Muscle Building Secret

/ Posted 04.10.2011

I got a chance to meet, chat with and take some photos of legendary IFBB Pro Robby Robinson recently. He was doing a photo shoot at IFBB Pro, Dave Fisher’s Powerhouse Gym in Torrance, CA with Iron Man’s master photographer Mike Neveux. At 64 years of age soon to be 65 Robby is in unbelievably great condition.

A few minutes in the gym told the story about how Robby is able to maintain so much muscle and conditioning at his age. This was a real training session and Robby was handling weights guys half his age would buckle under. These were not “posed” exercise shots my friends. Not by a long shot. While he wasn’t doing deep full ranges of motion, his reps were very slow and deliberate and it was very clear that so was his focus and intensity. In short Robby’s workout was a ball buster.

Robby was being spotted by his physical performance coach and therapist Dean Murray. Dean has a self-developed technique and has worked with many competing Pro Bodybuilders and was instrumental in keeping Joe Gold healthy in his later years. He also uses his technique on 1,600 pound show horses.

When I was coming up in bodybuilding, one of the champions often featured in the magazines was Robby Robinson. Robby’s moniker was “The Black Prince”. Robbie ended up doing battle many times with a man who would become my training partner Danny Padilla. Robby’s battles include legends like Danny, Frank Zane, Boyer Coe, Lou Ferrigno, Ed Corney, Bill Grant, Roy Callender, Albert Beckles and the list just goes on and on.

Probably the coolest part of the day was what Dave Fisher told Robby. He said; “When I was growing up I had pictures of you in my gym, I never imagined back then that I’d have you training at my gym some day.” Well Dave, I never imagined I’d being taking photos of Robby’s workout at your gym.

What can we learn from Robby about training?

Robby says that rotating training variables is an important part of his training recipe. You’ve read this in my posts before and here is a champion who follows that approach. Robby states, “I’m always rotating the different parts of my training. I rotate a set selection of exercises, training workloads, foods and even supplements. It keeps the body confident about what to expect, but at the same time on its toes – guessing and excited.” That makes sense to me Robby.

He says, “The whole key to bodybuilding is being able to communicate with your body. I think the light-heavy approach has saved me from injuries and getting burned out. The idea to alternate light and heavy goes back to my early days of lifting in Tallahassee. I split my love for focusing on the muscle, and my love for challenging myself with heavy weight.”

What does Robby think about the inevitable question of workout volume?

Robby states that on his heavy days his reps are 8 to 10, and his lighter days 12 to 15, sometimes as high as 20. Well I saw him get into 2’s and 3’s so even at 64 he’s not afraid to go heavy. He says; It’s like I’m using a different set of paint brushes – a heavy stroke one time around and the next time I’ll go back in with a lighter stroke, for detail. I’ve always seen training as art; you’re able to create that muscle, if you really focus on it. It’ll look exactly how you want.” That’s a great insight from a great champion.

Check out the complete interview that Iron Man magazine writer Rob Labbe did with Robby in the January 2011 issue. Also check out Robby’s website at: http://www.robbyrobinson.net/

If you’re ever in the South Bay area of Southern California, be sure to stop by Dave Fishers Powerhouse Gym for an old school workout.

Now I’m ready to hit it hard and heavy!