By Tony Badal
Muscle Training Illustrated - March 1972

Sneaking a look at the champs warming-up backstage before a big contest, one might be able to catch a glimpse at an extremely friendly guy perking up the spirits of worried fellow competitors. He’s always welcomed and appreciated by all who know him, including myself. Although he’s not among the tallest of the champs, for his height he possesses one of the most magnificently well proportioned and muscular physiques of modern bodybuilding. His name: Leon Brown

Leon stands only 5 ft. 6 in. tall but weighs 180 pounds with 18 in. arms and a 28 in. waist. Bodybuilding wasn’t Leon’s primary interest for lifting weights when he first began at 16; he weighed only 110 pounds and had a tremendous desire to play on his high school football team. The coach, realizing the unfortunate situation, encouraged Leon to workout with barbells and try to put on more weight. So Leon bought himself a 110 pound Dan Lurie barbell set and started on his quest for size. While browsing around in the locker-room he spotted an old muscle book and began to casually flip through it. I guess he liked what he saw because he walked home reading the magazine.

LEONB31.jpgLeon came across an article on Billy Russo, Mr. Florida 1963, and decided to follow his routine. And follow it he did. Every rep of every set of Russo’s workout. Leon trained 7 days a week, 2 hours each day. Four days a week he trained his upper body and three days a week he trained his lower body. He wouldn’t smoke or drink and went to bed at nine o’clock sharp. He worked out in his basement with about 15 of his buddies. As the weeks passed on, many of them lost interest, and at the end of three months Leon was the only one left. When I asked him about how he felt training in alone in his basement, he said that he didn’t mind it at all. He told me that he would rest one to two minutes between sets and read a magazine during this period. At the end of the workout he would have the entire magazine finished.

After three months of training, his bench press went from 40 to 135 pounds (performing them on the floor) and his interest in football was diminishing. He kept up his training diligently, never missing a workout. In his second year of training he was able to do bent-arm laterals with 80 pound dumbbells super-setted with bench presses using 250 pounds for 5 sets. It was during this time that Leon decided to purchase a bench, and till this day that’s the only piece of equipment he has besides the weights themselves. Because of the absence of squat racks, he would have to clean whatever weight he used in the squat. He was still on Russo’s routine, only adding a few of Earl Maynard’s exercises.

Leon Brown starting entering contest at 18. The very first was an IFBB event; the 1966 Teenage Eastern America. He himself didn’t think he was ready for such a big contest at this early stage but a friend of his named Vinnie Reno convinced him that he had a good chance of placing. Leon was not very big at the time but had a lot of definition and determination. To his own surprise, he placed second in his weight class and took best abs and best back. In the same year, feeling in high spirits, he decided to compete in the Jr. Mr. America. He trained harder than ever for this event but about one week before the event he got an appendix attack and had to have it removed. The doctor told him not to touch any weights for at least four months. Leon was back in training after four weeks. Three weeks after that he entered the Mr. Tri-State and won Most Muscular over Harold Scott who had a record of winning that particular award.

Well, after that, Leon went on a long crusade of steady victories. To mention just s few: in 1967 he placed second in the Mr. East Coast, second in the Jr. Mr. America, and third in the Mr. Eastern America. In 1968 he entered his first major contest. It was the WBBG Pro Mr. America, in which he placed fourth to Harold Poole. The same year he also won his height class in the IFBB Mr. North America.

In 1969, while visiting the West Coast he met Arnold Schwarzenegger for the first time and finally changed his exercise routine. Arnold at the time was on a split routine training twice a day. Leon, after noticing his results decided to follow this type of workout. He mentioned Arnold as being very friendly, always willing to help an earnest bodybuilder. While out on the West Coast, Leon won the Mr. Venice Beach, Mr. Surf Festival, and took the 181 pound class powerlifting event.

In 1970, he won the Mr. Western America, placed second in the IFBB Mr. America, second to Franco Columbu, in the Mr. International and beat him for Most Muscular and Best Legs.

Presently, Leon is on a split routine; training chest, back and shoulders three days, and arms and legs three days. He usually eats whatever he wants but goes on a strict diet two weeks before a contest.

Some of Leon Brown’s routine exercises are:

Bench Press, 6x8, 225-325 pounds
Incline Dumbbell Press, 6x8, 90-110 pounds
Bent Arm Pullovers, 6x8, 200-220 pounds
Close-grip Rows, 6x10, 180-210 pounds
Wide-grip Rows, 6x10, 180-210 pounds
One-arm Rows, 6x10, 90 pounds
Seated Barbell Press, 6x8, 120-150 pounds
Behind Neck Press, 6x8, 120-150 pounds
Lateral Raises, 6x10, 35 pounds
Bench Squats, 6x20, 225-480 pounds
Leg Extensions, 6x15, 50-100 pounds
Leg Presses, 6x20, 200-500 pounds
Heel Raises, 10x10, 150 pounds
LEONB35.jpgSeated Barbell Curl, 6x10, 100-130 pounds
Alternate Dumbbell Curl, 6x8, 40-50
Concentration Curls, 6x8, 40-60 pounds
Reverse Dips, 6x15
Triceps Extension, 6x8, 100-130 pounds
Triceps Pushdown, 6x20, 60-110 pounds
Dumbbell Triceps Kickback, 6x12, 30 pounds
Sit-ups, 5x50
Leg Raises, 3x40

As you can see from Leon’s routine, much of his success can be attributed to hard work and dedication. When I asked him about the bodybuilding game he just replied, “I train because I want to stay in shape and look good, and if it’s possible, I’d like to train till I’m 90 years old.

For the time being, Leon has been working as a TV repairman, but he hopes to go back to college and become a gym instructor. He lives in Staten Island and does most of his training at home, however, now and then he can be seen at the Dan Lurie gym and R&J Health Club in Brooklyn. He also visits WBBG Headquarters in Brooklyn often. Knowing Leon personally as I do and watching him do his thing up on the posing platform proves that there’s no mystery why he’s chewing up the competition all over and will continue to do so for as long as it takes him to reach the top. So if you know of anyone who will be on the same stage as Leon, just tell them to muscle-up or mosey along.