Leo Robert is a French Canadian bodybuilder from Montreal, Quebec. At one time, he was billed as “America’s most muscular man”. He won the 1955 Mr. Universe title.
Training at Home Using the Basics by Leo Robert:
“They say that it is “a poor workman who blames his tools”. Well, this certainly holds true for strength training. My pre-Universe days began in the basement of my home which I later transformed into a gym with showers and lockers in my garage. I trained diligently never wanting to miss a workout! I was determined to reach my ultimate goal. I finally ended up in a regular gym when I began to train competitively. I never regretted the experience I had working out at home. It taught me valuable lessons about discipline and self-determination; positive proof that humble beginnings can transform into great endings.
Is it possible to attain a great physique at 40 years of age and beyond? Absolutely! I have owned and operated my own gym throughout my lifetime and have trained thousands of men of all ages, some of whom were well into their 70’s. These self-assured men could have blamed their sagging physiques on the aging process but instead decided to stand up and do something positive for themselves. They took the power that each one of us has been blessed with and harnessed it to change their destiny.
Is it possible to have a comprehensive workout program without having to invest in gym fees?
Certainly. All you will need is the basics, some dumbbells, a barbell and plates and a narrow width bench (not more than ten inches wide and approximately 48 inches long) preferably with a stand for the bench press. You can pick up this inexpensive equipment at your local flea market or used sporting goods store.
I have put this four month program together to get you started working out at home.
If you are beginning a strength training program for the first time or if you have laid off training for a long time, I recommend that you first seek the advice of your family physician. Start with one set of the prescribed reps for each of the exercises in your routine. Usually it will take approximately a week or two for your body and mind to adjust to the rigors of weight training. Gradually work your way up to two and finally three sets. To receive best results, wait only one minute between each of your sets. Commit yourself to train three times a week. Allow forty-eight hours between your workouts for your muscles to recuperate and respond to the exercise. To gain maximum results and to avoid injury, consider the rest period as important as your workout! Try to stick to a schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Friday OR Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. This routine requires 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each of the exercises with the exception of the sit-ups. Do 3 sets of sit-ups to your LIMIT. Consistently try to increase the number of sit-ups you do for each of your workouts.
Try to remain on this program for at least three to four months to build the power, strength and endurance you will need to advance to the next level.
It is important to jumpstart your workout with a good cardio warm-up. It will increase your circulation and get that blood flowing to all your major muscles groups preparing you for strength training. Start with a 10 to 15 minute warm-up of brisk walking/light jogging. This should be followed by some general stretching exercises.
Before beginning the bench press, warm-up your chest muscles with a couple of sets of push-ups of approximately 15 to 20 reps each.
1. Bench Press (Major Pectorals/Secondary Muscles-Triceps/Front Deltoids) – 3 sets of 10 reps
When done properly this is one of the best exercises available for developing your chest muscles. You will also notice gains in your triceps and front deltoid (shoulder) muscles although you should work these muscles separately to obtain proper proportion.
Lie on the bench with the barbell above your chest. To maintain your balance, be sure to rest your feet firmly on the floor. Grasp the barbell a few inches wider than a shoulder-width grip. Once you have taken your position, lower the barbell to just below your nipples. Do not raise your butt off the bench. Do not cheat this exercise – you must touch your chest each time you lower the barbell.
2. Dumbbell Press (Major Pectorals/Secondary Muscle – Front Deltoids) – 3 sets of 10 reps
Lie on your back on the bench with feet firmly on the floor. Grasp two dumbbells and begin by holding them over your chest. Lower the dumbbells slowly to chest level as if you were hugging a barrel, keeping your wrists locked. Bend your elbows at a 45 degree angle. Return to the starting position.
3. Strength Pullover (Lats Dorsi /Secondary-Ribcage and Upper Midsection)- 3 sets of 10 reps
When you first begin to develop your physique it is important that you concentrate on expanding your ribcage. It will not only make you look bigger but it will aid in your pulmonary function. The strength pullover is primarily a stretching exercise for developing the Lats (back muscles). Another important aspect of this exercise is the positive affect it will have on your ribcage. Be sure to inhale deeply through your nose when you go back and exhale through the mouth as you return to the starting position. This will facilitate the exercise and increase its benefits. You will also notice some toning affects of your upper midsection.
Lie on a bench with the top of your head close to the edge of the bench. Place your feet firmly on the floor. Grasp a dumbbell with two hands, locking your fingers around one end of the dumbbell and position it at a forty-five degree angle over your chest. Lower the dumbbell behind your head and go down as far as you comfortably can without bending your elbows and without raising your butt off the bench.
4. Military Press (Front Deltoids/Secondary- Major Pecs)- 3 sets of 10 reps
This is wonderful exercise to build both strength and endurance. In a standing position hold the barbell at chest level with an overhand grip. Extend your arms up over your head and return to the starting position.
5. Seated Press Behind the Neck (Back Deltoids/Secondary Trapezius)- 3 sets of 10 reps
This superb exercise will not only develop your back shoulder muscles, it will also provide gains to your trapezius.
Sit at the end of a bench with your feet on either side and firmly on the floor. Place one foot forward and the other slightly back for balance. Position the barbell behind your neck. Take a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your elbows should be pointing downward. Lift the barbell above your head, fully extending your arms without locking your elbows. Return the barbell to the starting position.
6. Barbell Rowing (Latissimus Dorsi)- 3 sets of 10 reps
This is a power exercise for your lats and if done with correct technique and form will enhance the width of your back.
With your knees bent and your upper body parallel to the floor, take a wide grip of the barbell, which will open up your lats fully. Keeping you back straight, pull the barbell towards you chest then by tensing your lats muscles, lower the barbell as far as you can without moving your upper body. Return to the starting position.
7. Two Arms Curls (Biceps)- 3 sets of 10 reps
Stand holding a curling bar (or barbell) using a shoulder width grip. Start with your arms extended and the bar at your thighs. Using your forearms, tense your biceps and raise the bar in a curl motion to your chin without moving your elbows. Keep your back straight and do not move your upper body. A common mistake in this exercise is to try and build momentum. Don’t forget, when you cheat, you only cheat yourself!
8. Seated Triceps Pull-up (triceps)- 3 sets of 10 reps
This exercise will help you gain strength and size of your triceps. For best results, try to keep those elbows tucked in.
Sit on a bench, placing each foot on either side firmly on the floor. Grasp the end of a single dumbbell with two hands with your fingers in a locked position. Keeping your back straight, raise the dumbbell over your head. Using your forearms, lower the dumbbell behind your head as far as you can. Try to keep your elbows close and pointing forward and do not move them during this exercise.
9. Full Squat on Board (Quadriceps)- 3 sets of 10 reps
I recommend that when doing squats you use a 2 x 4 board to rest your heels on. Not only will it be easier for your to keep your upper body straight while doing this exercise it will prevent any negative affects on your hips. It is important that you do this exercise slowly as it is considered a cardiovascular exercise and demands considerable oxygen and concentration.
Use the stand to hold the barbell in between sets. Place your heels on a 2 x 4, hip width apart and toes turned slightly outward. Rest the barbell behind your neck grasping it with your hands in a fairly wide grip. Lower your body into a squat position. Keep your eyes focused forward. Try to keep your upper body straight as possible. Do not bend forward. Return to the starting position.
10. Calf Raises on Board (Calf muscles) – 3 Sets to Your Limit
Using a two by four and grasping a dumbbell in either hand, raise up on your toes as high as you can. Then lower your heels down tensing your calf muscles. Try to do as many reps as you can in each set.
11. Side Bends (External Obliques)- 3 Sets to Your Limit
In the standing position, take a narrow overhand grip, of a broom handle or stick of similar proportions. Raise the stick over your head and gentle bend from the waist first to the left and then to the right. Try to go down as far as you can without moving your hips. This is a excellent exercise for firming and reducing your waistline. Try to do this exercise to your limit, rest, then repeat sets as indicated.
12. Sit-ups on Abdominal Board (Abdominus Muscle/Lower Back/Obliques)
3 Sets to Your Limit
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your toes tucked under your couch or similar type of support. Beginners can cross their arms over their chests but eventually you should be able to place your hands in a locked position behind your head. Lower your back towards the floor, keeping your midsection tense at all times. Just before your shoulders reach the floor, begin to return to the starting position.”
source (illustration): Leo Robert’s old website (currently down)