Robby Robinson, popularly known as ‘The Black Prince’ and ‘Mr. Lifestyle’ is a retired American professional bodybuilder. He has also done remarkable work as a trainer, bodybuilding coach, actor and writer. Robinson was the first winner of the prestigious Masters Olympia competition.
During his career, Robinson raised his voice against unfair pay, racism in bodybuilding and other important factors. This is his complete profile, biography, training routine and diet.
Robby Robinson Statistics
|Full Name: Robby Robinson (The Black Prince, Mr. Lifestyle)
|215 lbs (98 kg)
|213 lbs (97 kg)
|5′ 7″ (170 cm)
|Date of Birth
|May 24, 1946
|Los Angeles, California
Robby Robinson Biography
Known worldwide as The Black Prince, Robby’s start in life was far from auspicious. Bodybuilding was not a natural path for a black man born in the deep South in 1946. Thanks to TV’s Jack La Lanne, he began training at twelve years old, and by fifteen he was a high school football and track star.
Robby learned early on that his body responded to weights and began bodybuilding in earnest while still a teenager, constructing his first set of weights from scrap metal salvaged from a sawmill. In spite of racial jeers and questionable judging, he competed in over 300 amateur events while attending art school and later working at the Tallahassee Democrat. Bodybuilding was his avocation until he got a letter in 1975 from Joe Weider, luring him to Venice, California.
Robby arrived just in time to see Venice become the mecca of bodybuilding, thanks to Muscle Beach, Gold’s gym, and a dawning health consciousness movement. For Robby, who had never seen blacks and whites holding hands, Venice was paradise. He trained with the greats and was one of the stars of the “Pumping Iron” documentary.
He competed professionally for twenty-seven years, winning titles including the IFBB Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe. However, he has always stood apart from the bodybuilding community, having spoken out for decades about the corruption of the business and later about the dangers of steroid abuse. That defiance earned him another moniker: the Bad Boy of Bodybuilding.
To escape the destructive politics of the business, Robby moved to Amsterdam for much of the 1980’s. He continued to compete, teach, and exhibit his “art” all over the world, from Germany to Hungary, Spain, Italy, Japan, and even in apartheid South Africa.
In 1994 he became the first IFBB Masters Mr. Olympia Champion over the Hulk, Lou Ferrigno. He went on to capture the over-50 title every year until he retired from professional competition in 2001 at the age of fifty-four.
Philosophy and life after retirement
If anyone can reverse the perception that bodybuilding is based on vanity, it is Robinson. His philosophy is that the body is a gift which can be molded into a beautiful piece of art if fed and trained properly. He calls his weights “the paintbrushes” which have helped him achieve a body so chiseled it resembles a sculpture. Like many artists, his goal has been to shock audiences with the possibilities of human expression and achievement. His art is visual, his training movements dance-like.
Now, at 77 years old and back in Venice, Robby still trains with an intensity that’s clearly evident in his DVD “Built.”
His website encourages a healthy approach to the practice of bodybuilding. His message steers people back to bodybuilding’s original intent: creating the ultimate art through proper training and nutrition.
Mr. & Masters Olympia Results
1977 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 1st (Heavyweight)
1977 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 2nd
1978 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 1st (Heavyweight)
1978 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 2nd
1979 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 3rd (Lightweight)
1984 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 17th
1987 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 5th
1988 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 17th
1991 – IFBB Mr. Olympia: 13th
1994 – IFBB Masters Olympia: 1st
1995 – IFBB Masters Olympia: 2nd
1996 – IFBB Masters Olympia: 4th
1997 – IFBB Masters Olympia 50+ : 1st
1999 – IFBB Masters Olympia: 6th
2000 – IFBB Masters Olympia 50+ : 1st
2000 – IFBB Masters Olympia: 3rd
2001 – IFBB Masters Olympia: 4th
1974 – AAU Mr. Southeastern USA
1974 – AAU Mr. Southern States
1975 – AAU Mr. America Most Muscular
1975 – IFBB Mr. America
1975 – AAU Mr. Florida
1975 – IFBB Mr. Universe (Medium)
1975 – IFBB Mr. World
1976 – IFBB Mr. International
1976 – IFBB Mr. Universe
1978 – IFBB Night of Champions
1978 – IFBB Professional World Cup
1979 – IFBB Best in the World
1979 – IFBB Night of Champions
1979 – IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Invitational
1981 – NABBA Mr. Universe Pro
1988 – IFBB Niagara Falls Pro Invitational
1989 – IFBB World Pro Championships
1991 – IFBB Musclefest Grand Prix
Robby Robinson Workout
Robby Robinson’s training routine is old school and classic. He mixes up machines as well as free weights and claims that he never got any training related injuries from it. He does not overly rely on modern machinery and equipment and is a big believer of basic compound exercises.
Robinson’s training split lasts for two weeks. It is divided into two parts – the heavy week and light week. He follows a three days on, one day off routine and structures the workouts to the last detail.
During the heavy week, the focus lies on putting the muscles under tension for as long as possible. Meanwhile, the light week emphasizes on getting a good pump and stimulating the muscles to stay active. Workouts in the light week are far less structured and the veteran bodybuilder goes with the feel. It also includes more supersets, giant sets and volume work.
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A typical heavy training week in Robby Robinson’s training routine looks like this:
Day 1 – Chest
According to Robby Robinson, focusing on free weight basics is of utmost importance for chest training. Back in the 1970s and 1980s when he was at the peak of his career, Robinson built his chest with basic free weight movements – bench press, incline dumbbell / barbell press and dumbbell flyes.
“Those three exercises have been the core of my chest routine since the beginning. I switch up the order… those free-weight presses and flyes are what built my pecs in the ’70s, and if you look at guys from the ’70s—Arnold, Lou, Franco—all of us had great pecs from all those free-weight presses and flyes.”
The chest training session looks like this:
- Incline Dumbbell Press – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Bench Press – 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Dumbbell Flyes – 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Pec Deck Flyes – 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps
- Decline Push-ups – 4 sets of 15 reps
Day 2 – Back
Sticking to the basics and omitting all the fancy stuff from the workout has been the key to Robinson’s back development. A lot of people emphasize using modern machinery and new methods to back training. However, Robinson has built the back with some classic compound exercises like pull-ups, lat pulldowns, dumbbell or barbell rows and T-bar rows.
“I don’t get too fancy when it comes to back. I know guys like to use all the latest machines and change up old exercises to work different angles. But my back was built with the tried-and-true classics.”
He finishes the workouts with dumbbell pullovers and once explained the logic behind it:
“When you finish your back routine with pullovers, you’re going to really feel it in your other lats and serratus—two areas that were always strengths for me. If I had a secret to back training, it was finishing with dumbbell pullovers.”
Overall, the back workout includes:
- Pull-ups – 4 sets of 10 reps
- Wide Grip Lat Pulldown – 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Bent Over Dumbbell Rows – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Bent Over Barbell Rows – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Dumbbell Pullover – 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
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Day 3 – Shoulders
‘Black Prince’s’ shoulder training revolves around working all three parts of the deltoid muscles with equal attention. Although the shoulder routine includes several compound and isolation exercises like overhead presses, reverse pec deck flyes and lateral raises, he puts a lot of emphasis on doing plate front raises using a 45 lbs plate.
“For shoulders I’ve been doing a front raise while holding the sides of a 45-pound barbell plate. I’ll get anywhere from 10-20 reps. If I did this first, it would be too light for me. But this is a good way of finishing off a shoulder workout. Also, I sometimes superset these with something else, like a shoulder press or upright row,” Robinson explained.
- Standing Overhead Barbell Press – 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps
- Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press – 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Reverse Pec Deck Flyes – 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps
- Cable Lateral Raises – 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps
- Plate Front Raises – 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Day 4 – Rest Day
Day 5 – Legs
Robby Robinson’s massive legs are the result of relentless work and consistent efforts. Similar to back workout, he sticks to the classic muscle building exercises to bring the legs up. Speaking about his preferences for lower body training, the veteran bodybuilder explained:
“One thing I like to do for legs is superset leg extensions and leg curls. I like that feeling of working the quads and hams, one after the other, 10-20 reps per set. I could go back and forth like that for 15 supersets and get a great workout in little time, but I usually do 4-5 supersets.”
The leg workout consists of:
- Superset – Leg Extensions and Lying Leg Curls– 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps for both exercises
- Hack Squats – 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps
- Leg Press – 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps
- Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts – 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Standing Calf Raises – 4 sets of 15 to 20 reps
Day 6 – Arms
Robinson’s arms are a sight to behold even at this point in his life. Locking out the arms in place is an important factor of arms training. Robinson explains:
“The key to my biceps has always been locking the upper arms in place. Whether doing a barbell curl with my elbows stationary or a Scott curl [preacher curl] where you can’t move your [upper] arms, those exercises have been the keys to building my biceps.”
Arm workout typically consists of following exercises:
- Cable Triceps Pushdowns – 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Close Grip Bench Press – 4 sets of 10 reps
- Bodyweight Dips – 4 sets of 10 reps
- Seated Dumbbell Curls – 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Standing Barbell Curls – 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- EZ Bar Preacher Curls – 4 sets of 10 reps
- Reverse Barbell Forearm Curls – 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Day 7 – Rest Day
‘Black Prince’ Bodybuilding Tips
Robby Robinson has pretty much trained for his entire life and continues to train with the same enthusiasm even in his late 70s. He has amassed vast stores of bodybuilding knowledge over all these decades and shared some valuable tips during an interview with barbell.com.
Tip #1 – Add variety to the routine
Results are hard to get by if you do not enjoy the work you’re doing, be it in terms of physical training or any other area of life. So constantly making adjustments and small changes to the training routine is essential according to Robby Robinson.
Going back-and-forth between heavy and light workouts is one way of doing it. This helps the 77-year-old keep training fresh, exciting and not feel like a chore.
“I change up how many reps I do, how many sets I do, the exercises I do, and the order I do the exercises in. There’s so many things you can change to keep your workouts fresh.”
These changes need not be big and can be very subtle as long as they make the workout feel like a new experience rather than a mundane routine that you keep repeating without real interest.
Tip #2 – Incorporate slow eccentric reps for better results
In modern times, bodybuilders like Nick Walker can be seen performing most of their exercises with a slow eccentric. This type of training gives an extra boost to the training intensity. It can be extremely beneficial in the muscle building process as it increases the amount of time the muscle spends under tension.
Robby Robinson learned this way of training from the late Mike Mentzer. He admits getting far better results once it became a staple of his training routine. Although the 77-year-old emphasizes more on eccentric reps for the last few sets of the routine, he recommends doing them for the entirety of the workout.
“It’s like doing a squat. You can’t just sink into the hole when doing a squat; you have to move into it to get that positive and negative effect. I think that’s the same with any movement, such as pull ups, barbell rows, curls, bench press, any movement you perform. Slow down and make the negative half of reps as hard as the positive half,” Robby Robinson said.
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Tip #3 – Manifest success and build fortitude
If you set yourself on a path to achieve something, you better enjoy the journey and maintain a positive attitude along the way. Afterall, how far will you go if you hate the work you do every single day of your life? Not that farm isn’t it? So visualize the success to fuel yourself with motivation to train and be consistent. Robby Robinson has an interesting take on this and explained:
“Bodybuilding is just repetition. You have to just keep going over these things. Visualization is my number one thing, because the more you visualize something consistency throughout training, the more it comes to be. You cannot just do the exercise like most folks. You have to create the image by visualizing the exercise and how you want your physique to look.”
In addition to this, having dogged determination is essential to push past plateaus and build a worthy physique that stands out. Robinson argues that you have to stir up that attitude and build the mental fortitude to achieve victories along the way.
“If my goal is 20 reps, I am going to get my 20 reps. You just have to have it made up in your mind: This is what I want to achieve, this is what I want to do, and you do it,” Robinson said.
Tip #4 – Never ignore cardio
Being fit regardless of age is one of the main goals of Robby Robinson’s training routine. He puts special emphasis on building cardio. He started out slow and built the cardio where he can walk one minute flat, one minute elevated, going back and forth for 15 to 20 minutes and two to three times per week.
“This hits me perfect. And I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years. As you get older, you kind of have to rev things up a little. There is something about those Santa Monica stairs, though. I run them from top to bottom. There are 189 stairs, and I do this probably two to three times. On my heavy days, when I really want to pound the cardio, I go down to the stairs and take two 50-pound dumbbells and walk them using this weight.”
Robby Robinson Diet
Robinson keeps things incredibly simple on the nutrition side of things. He recommends eating whole natural foods and suggests staying away from the highly processed alternatives. He is a big proponent of supplementation in bodybuilding. The supplement industry was not as advanced as it is today when Robby was competing. However, supplements have helped him tremendously in the later years to maintain good health and enjoy performance longevity.
“I tell anyone, and especially an aging athlete, that supplementation makes all the difference. You have got to become aligned with supplements that will help your body recover. Your body is not going to heal itself as you age; you need some support,” Robinson said.
He uses supplements like Testosterone booster, creatine, glutamine, vitamins and essential fatty acids, to name a few.
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A typical day of eating in Robby Robinson life looks like this:
- 1 Large Omelet
- Ground Beef
- Ground Beef
- Baked Potato
Robby Robinson is a prime example of someone that made all the necessary changes to his lifestyle, training routine and diet at each stage of life. Without a doubt, his accomplishments as a professional bodybuilder are impressive. But more importantly, the performance longevity and fitness he has maintained well into his 70s is a great example of young bodybuilders to follow in the later years.