Roy Duval Mr. Universe Workout

Back in 1973 London Roy Duval had the the pinacle of his bodybuilding career. He won the NABBA Mr. Britain title, followed a few weeks later by the Mr. Europe award, then shortly after that the coveted Mr. World crown.

One year later, in 1974 he was again on winner’s rostrum, this time as Amateur Mr. Universe.

Roy Duval, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Earl Maynard and Frank Zane. They are the only four men in bodybuilding history to win both NABBA and IFBB Mr. Universe titles!

He started out with boxing and their instructor made them do some weight training to build more power into the shoulder and arm muscles. From there he joined a weight lifting club and although he went quite regularly he really didn’t enjoy weightlifting. He found it quite boring, so after a time he gave it up.

Then one day a friend of him suggested he start bodybuilding with him. Well Roy told him he was not interested because he would done it all before and found it too boring.

Anyway he told him that bodybuilding was very different from weightlifting and soon he found himself walking through the doors of Wag Bennetts gym in Forest Gate.

Roy: “I believe in training as heavy as possible but without sacrificing style of movement. I put a lot of emphasis on correct style and proper procedure rather than just trying to strain out a heavy weight. I’ve found that when I train too heavy it messes up my joints especially the elbow joint. I do get a lot of elbow problems and I find I can’t train as heavy as I would like to.”

One of his hobbies beside bodybuilding is shooting. A close friend of him belongs to a shooting syndicate, and he invited him to join. They got skeet shooting and hunt pheasant with 12-bore when in season.

Roy: “I love the hunt and the outdoor air as I tram around the fields looking game.”

Here’s Roy’s training methods and diet

For the Mr. Universe contest he trained six days a week. It was fairly fast, with rests of 20-30 seconds between sets. He used both supersets and trisets. His training was split up into three sections:

Monday and Thursday Calves, shoulder, biceps and triceps
Tuesday and Friday Calves, chest and back
Wednesday and Saturday Thighs and calves


Monday and Thursday Reps Sets Comments
Seated Calf Raise super setted with Standing Calf Machine 12-15 total of 4 – 5 super sets
Dumbbell Presses He did a lot of presses but since his his automobile accident a couple of years ago he never pressed a weight above his head
Seated Presses Behind the Neck
Dumbbell Lateral Raises 8-12 4 He did many different forms of dumbbell laterals raises;side dumbbell lateral raises lying face down on an incline bench for the rear deltoids. Prior to a contest he turned these three exercises into a tri-set!
Preacher Curl Barbell 12,10,6,6   He started out light with fairly high reps 12, next 10, then 1-2 sets of 6 reps
Seated One Arm Dumbbell concentration curls 8-12 3 He do these with his elbow resting along the inside of his thigh and when he curls the dumbbell up he makes sure that his little finger side comes up first. Strict as possible.
Alternate Dumbbell Curls 8-12 3
Bent Over Dumbbell Kickbacks 15 3 He used two light dumbbells. He has to start off with these because his elbows are pretty badly injured. 
Tricep Pulley Pushdowns OR >20 Very strict style, never going below twenty reps each set because of the injury to his elbows
One Arm Reverse Grip Tricep Pressdown (Optional) Working arm alongside the body and palms uppermost, knuckles to the floor.
One arm lying dumbbell tricep extension Similar to what Steve Reeves used to do. In other words he lower the dumbbell to the other side of his body.


Tuesdays and Fridays Reps Sets Comments
Seated Calf Raise super setted with Standing Calf Machine 12-15 total of 4 – 5 super sets
Incline Dumbbell Press 8-15 3 Following this exercise he pre-exhausted decline dumbbell flying with the bench press on a bench press machine. Then he will do 3 sets of straight arm pullovers which he finds extremly good.
Pulldowns behind the neck or to the chest 12 3
Barbell Bent Over Rowing 12 3
45° Angle Pulley Work 12 3
Maybe some floor pulley work 12 3 Before a contest he did a lot of super sets for his back.
Wednesday and Saturday Reps Sets Comments
Thighs and Calves      
Leg curls 12 3-4  
Leg extensions 20,15,12 20 reps first and then increases the weight and does 15 reps.He increased weight again an did 12 reps. He never went below 12 reps on leg extensions.
Hack slide machine 2-3  
Seated Calf Raise super setted with Standing Calf Machine 12-15 total of 4 – 5 super sets  

Mental Attitude
He did work his thighs hard because they would grow too big which tends to throw his body out of balance. He has got long thighs for his height.

Roy Duval: “For instance I haven’t got a nice sweeping like Frank Zane. Mine is a very straight looking thigh which appears shapeless and horrible when too big, so I prefer to keep my thigh light and show more separation.”

He always let his body tell him when he has had enough. Sometimes this will be after 3 sets and sometimes it will be as high as 5 sets, although he has seldom ever gone over five sets per exercise.

Did he train to failure?

Roy Duval: “Well I’m not sure what is actually true failure. If someone held a gun to my head and told me to do another two reps after I had just reached failure then I’m sure I could do those two more reps. But it’s just so hard to motivate yourself to true failure each time you workout. Especially when you workout ny yourself as I do.”

He ate like any other normal person, except maybe for his breakfast which always consists of a ‘MILK and EGG’ protein drink plus some dessicated liver tablets.

He really did believe in heavy supplementation all year around. Even when he was not training for a contest. He even took his supplements when he was in holidays and on Chrismas day!

After his ‘MILK and EGG’ protein drink at breakfast he went to the gym. At about 7:15 a.m. He started working out.

At about 10 a.m. he had carton of cottage cheese or maybe some hard cheese and another milk and egg protein drink.

At midday he had more or less what he felt. If he felt like a peanut butter sandwich then he will had it.

If he felt like a chicken salad then he will had a chicken salad. 

Midafternoon he had another milk and egg protein drink with maybe a scoop of ice cream in it.

Then in the evening he just had an ordinary general meal which could be meat, chicken or fish with some potatoes and fresh vegetables. If he felt like it he had a piece of fruit or a scopp of ice cream afterwards.

Who helped him in his whole career?

Roy Duval: “I think everybody has had some help along the way in some way. With regard to training I’ve had some invaluable help from Len Sell. Len never actually gave me workout routines although he did when I first started training. He did however give me honest criticism. 

Honest criticism is hard to come by. It’s all right the guys in the gym telling you, you look great. But a lot of guys look great in the gym.

It’s only when guys like Len Sell tell you to work your calves harder, or your shoulders are good but your triceps are terrible. This is honest constructive criticism. 

I’ve also had a lot of help from Boyer Coe and Dennis Tinerino. Frank Zane was also very helpful to me.”

2 thoughts on “Roy Duval Mr. Universe Workout”

  1. First time i ever set foot in a gym was the Chippenham Bodybuilding gym.I am from Glasgow and was working there for 6 months. Imagine the first guy you see when you first go to a gym is Roy Duval, Mr Universe. He was a true gentleman, not too big to take time out to advise a skinny wee new start. He even managed to get me place on their bus going to Plymouth for a comp, i think the South East Britain -does that sound right? Brian Buchanan was guest poser.

  2. I knew Roy from Gyms in Frome and Trowbridge…. His protein powders and creatin were the best I’ve ever had.
    A true gentleman, always willing to give helpful and deeply knowledgeable advice…. a dry and funny wit too. Great guy.


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