Leo Robert was born in Montreal on January 16, 1921. When he was old enough to support himself, he went to work on the docks along the St. Lawrence River in his hometown. It was a tough job, but it laid the foundations of Robert’s heavily muscled physique before he ever seriously considered weightlifting.
At 5′ 7″, weighing 140 pounds, and with an upper arm that measured 14 inches, Leo’s physique was, according to himself, “not good enough”. He described his then-powerful body as “flabby and soft” and he set out to improve it.
He began lifting weights at the relatively late age of 23. At first he used an expander, but after weeks of slow progress he became discouraged. At this point, Leo considered giving up on his dream of building a bodybuilder’s physique. Thankfully his friends encouraged him to continue lifting weights and motivated him to push himself further.
The Birth of a Bodybuilder
Three months after entering the gym, Leo had made great progress and began noticing considerable results. Within those three months, Robert almost completely transformed. He had a natural predisposition for heavy weight training, and all that work on the docks proved good preparation for his physique.
His strength grew quickly as he put on pound after pound of solid muscle. Leo became convinced he was on the right track and his confidence was back in the right place. He continued his workouts and make bodybuilding his pastime. By 1947, three years after starting his weight lifting, he realized his ambition of sculpting the physique he wanted.
Leo remained at job on the docks as a Longshoreman, determined to continue his active lifestyle. Admired for his transformation, and decided to begin competing as a bodybuilder. Leo entered his first show, the 1947 Mr. Montreal, where he placed first. Later that same year, Leo returned to the stage at the 1947 Mr. Province of Quebec competition, where he managed to take home the trophy yet again. By the age of 26, Leo earned his Pro Card, and realized his dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder.
Robert began winning contests in rapid succession, and soon appeared to be invincible on the stage. His confidence was at an all-time high. The titles Mr. Montreal, Mr. Province of Quebec, Mr. Canada and Most Muscular Man in America all fell to him within a few short years.
Now a fitness celebrity, Leo was asked by an interviewer what his goals were. His reply revealed a profound interest in improving the lot of his fellow man. Determined to help others in the area of physical health, his answer was, “I want to devote my time to training others. I feel that this is the most important job I can ever do, to make others strong and healthy.”
In pursuing that goal, Leo opened a small gym in Montreal’s rue Plessis. Thanks to his renown, he experienced considerable success, and was able to realize his dream of helping others achieve health and strength. He eventually opened and operated four gyms.
Leo maintained his condition. His abs routine included incline bench sit-ups, bent knee sits-ups across bench with added resistance, and side bends with heavy dumbbells, finished off with hanging leg raises. His supplements included high protein drinks and malted milk shakes with eggs, honey and bananas.
In seven years, the Canadian entered a 5 more competitions, placing in the top 3 in every contest. His biggest achievement came in his last show. In 1955, at the age of 33, Leo became the first Canadian to win the NABBA Mr. Universe. To win the title, Leo trained hard: upper body one day, lower body the next and waist every day. Being an advanced trainer he had no problem training twice a day.
Leo enjoyed split-training as well as working his upper and lower body on different days. He often mixed up his workouts to shock his body and force it to develop further. The Canadian also believed in resting to promote muscle growth, and spent the weekends away from the gym. Another one of his bodybuilding theories was performing more reps to stay shredded.
Leo Robert’s Training Plan
Workout 1 – Upper Body
- Bench presses 3 x 10
- Incline Dumbbell Presses 3 x 10
- Dumbbell pullovers 3 x 10
- Seated presses 3 x 10
- Lateral raises 3 x 10
- Pull Downs 3 x 10
- Barbell curls 3 x 10
- Triceps extensions 3 x 10
Workout 2 – Lower Body
- Squats 5 x 10
- Leg extensions 5 x 10
- Straight Leg Dead Lifts 3 x 10
- Leg curls 5 x 10
Midsection (End of Every Workout)
- Side bends and crunches to failure (3 sets)
- Hanging leg raises to failure (3 sets)
- Bent knee sit ups (legs on bench, 3 sets to failure)
Leo followed a two-on, one-off, two-on, two-off schedule.
Leo Robert focused mostly on these food groups, and added them in every meal:
Meal 1 – Oats, fruits and vegetables.
Meal 2 – Chicken and green vegetables
Meal 3 – Steak and green vegetables
Meal 4 – Chicken and green vegetables
Meal 5 – Fish and green vegetables
Meal 6 – Chicken and green vegetables
In 2012, Leo finally retired, left Quebec, and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Up until his retirement, he continued to help people achieve physical health. In his advanced age, he focused on helping senior citizens regain and maintain muscular strength and mobility.
No matter where he goes, there’s always a vestige of the former champion beneath his exterior. Leo retired from bodybuilding contests at the age of 35, but continued to run his gyms and even today maintains his fitness and health, most notably his pronounced abs.
The “Man with Mighty Muscles from Montreal” was one of the most admired bodybuilders of his time. The peak-physique achieved in his prime still inspires many bodybuilders of today, and it’s what makes him one of the great classic bodybuilders.
Strange to consider that he almost didn’t become a champion when he considered quitting fitness within his first few weeks of training due to lack of progress. Thankfully he continued working hard and eventually sculpted his dream physique, surpassing all of expectations by becoming one of the world’s most renowned professional bodybuilders of his time.