Leroy Colbert Training Philosophy and Routine

Leroy Colbert was an idol to me – his biceps peak was revolutionary. His legacy in the fitness crusade lives on #RIP pic.twitter.com/LRMdbThtgK

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) December 2, 2015


Leroy Colbert (born May 9, 1933 NY, USA – died November 20, 2015 age 82) was an American bodybuilder. He is notable as being credited as the first man to develop 21″/53cm circumference arms

He used to train in his earlier training years with bodybuilding stars like Marvin Eder, Artie Zeller, Abe Goldberg and others. The following training routines are based on his own experience and by watching the training of these stars. I have added two kind of training in this article:
(1) Leroy’s Colbert’s training (2) Leroy’s training program for Beginner’s and (3) Leroy’s thoughts about diet

When Leroy started to train, the “rule” was that you never did more than three sets for a body part. He wanted a body so badly that after using the three sets idea for a while, he just decided he had to try something else. As he recalled, Marvin Eder and he decided one day that he would do ten sets of each exercise. Leroy started to grow as he never had been able to do up until that time.

He used many type of routines. The ones that worked best for him: He used 10 sets (minimum) for his “easy-growing” parts. Usually he did 15 sets for most part. And sometimes he went as high as twenty sets a workout for those parts that were really stubborn. He did so many sets to feel the muscle and pump better. But if he reached a level of sets which will not increase the pump anymore he stopped! It would be a waste of time and perhaps you would overtrain the muscle. He usually did about 15 sets for most areas

(1) Leroy’s Colbert’s training

Monday and Thursday: Chest, Back, Biceps and Triceps
Tuesday and Thursday: Thighs, Calves and Shoulders

bench press/wide grip: 6-8 sets, 10 – 12 reps
Flyes 8 sets, 8-12 reps
Pullovers 6 sets, 10 – 12 reps

Wide grip chins: 6 sets, reps – as many as possible
One arm rowing: 8 sets, 10 reps

Alternate dumbbell curls: 6 sets, 12 reps
Concentration curls w/dumbbell: 8 sets, 10 reps
Lying concentration curls w/barbell: 8 sets, 12 reps

Pressdowns: 6 sets, 10 reps
French press w/dumbbell: 8 sets, 10 reps
Dips w/weight; 6 sets, 10 reps

Leg press: 6 sets, 10 – 15 reps
Leg extension 5 sets, 20 reps
Leg curls: 5 sets, 12 reps

Standing calf machine: 8 sets, 12-20 reps

Seated press behind neck: 6 sets, 10 reps
Laterals: 5 sets, 12 reps
One arm dumbbell press: 5 sets, 12 reps

Knee raises
5 cycles – doesn’t count reps, goes for burns. You should breathe all the air out of your diaphragm before raising upper body.

Some important notes and thoughts!

Training with heavy weights was not effective. He used to train with weights with proper technique. Leroy cited that you have to move the weight in a controlled, steady way.

Every two or three months he changed his routine. If he tried staying on the same habit he will become stale. Sometimes he switched exercises or changed the order. Example:

First Back Training

Next Back Training
Rowing and finish with chins

Sometimes he switched to dumbell rowing, bent-arm pullovers, and close grip chins.

Set/Rep Scheme
In the big-3 you will be able to handle much weight. But Leory used 2/3 poundages he could handle on his heaviest set. He used to work up in sets of 8 reps until he hitted his top set of 8. Then he would drop back for 2 finishing off sets of 8 reps.

For exercises that didn’t require heavy weights, he would recommend to stay with that one weight for all sets.

Leroy: “I found that each new program was a new challenge”,


“All we knew was that if you wanted to gain weight and size, you trained like the devil and ate everything in sight. When you cut down, you trained like the devil and ate less”

(2) Leroy’s training program for Beginner’s

Leroy Colbert teenage bodybuilding training

The beginner should not train more than three times a week. He should begin with only one set of 10 repetitions each in all exercises and gradually increase to 3 sets, 8 to 10 reps, each exercise. The beginner should be careful not to overdo things, since it is easy to grow enthusiastic about bodybuilding and in this way progress can be hindered. A good basic routine is important for the first 6 months. Such a routine should include about 12 exercises such as standing press, rowing, shrugs, squats, bench press, laterals, cheat curl, leg press, calf exercise, forearms exercise and sit ups.

For average gains, perform 10 repetitions each exercise, up to 3 sets each. For more bulk, 6 repetitions, 3 sets is best, while for greater definition about 15 repetitions, 3 sets is best. After 6 months on such a basic routine, the bodybuilder should incorperate shoulder cheating, flushing and other more advanced methods in his training.

Leroy believed that too much abdominal training will hold the bodyweight down. He recommends that only one set of sit ups and leg raises be performed in a weight gaining routine, 10 repetitions each, just to keep the mid section in shape. More than that will tend to keep the bodyweight low.

(3) Leroy’s thoughts about diet

Diet is naturally important. It is not necessary to force yourself to eat more than you feel you require, but stay away from dead, devitalized foods. Eat more salads, fresh fruits, lean meats, eggs, milk, vegetables and whole grain products. Use honey instead of sugar and stay away from drinking and smoking. Weaking habits of any sort will lower your pep, limit the amount of energy you have for a work-out and lessen your determination to reach the top.

Editor’s note: Use the tag system below and click the button “arm workout” for more training articles developed by champions!

1954 Muscle Power
3 More Reps book, page 125
Very old Iron Man Magazine (year unknown)

Leave a comment

Consent Management Platform by Real Cookie Banner