Robert Johnson, Gardner, was excited about turning 40.
“There’s been a lot of body builders who have been very successful in their early to mid-40s,” Johnson said. “I’ve looked forward to it for a long time, because I saw lots of guys winning in their 40s. I couldn’t wait to get there.”
He made it to 40 in October of 2013, and won his first world title shortly thereafter.
He won the Drug Free Athlete Coalitions World Championship in pro men’s heavyweight and overall champion in Miami in November.
Johnson is a natural body-builder.
“I’m not enhanced by hormones, steroids,” he said. “We’re polygraph tested. We’re drug tested, so they know we don’t put anything in our bodies.”
Natural body builders are allowed to take supplements, however. Johnson uses whey protein and creatine. He also takes a multi-vitamin. Johnson is sponsored by Complete Nutrition, a company that makes supplements. However, the competitions have a banned substance list that’s a mile long.
When Johnson started body building, he didn’t take anything.
“I knew nothing about supplements, so I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “But they hold my body together and allow me to keep growing.”
Johnson played college football at Ottawa University, and hoped to make it into the National Football League. After he graduated in 1998, he pushed himself at the gym in hopes of attaining that goal.
“Someone at the gym asked me if I knew anything about body building,” Johnson explained. “My impressing of that was all these people in magazines on steroids. I wasn’t interested, but he told me there was natural body building that I could be a part of.”
He first competed in 2002.
The natural body builder works as a supervisor for Johnson County Corrections. He always looks like he’s getting ready to hop a plane. The natural body-builder carries a bag full of supplies everywhere he goes. The bag includes gym gear and meals.
“Always, I pack my bag,” Johnson said. “I pack my supplements. I pack my food. Everything. People look at me like, you going somewhere?”
The answer is yes and no. He isn’t leaving town, but he will be hitting a gym. He holds two gym memberships – one near his work in Lenexa and one in Gardner. He typically works out for an hour or an hour-and-a-half each day. The workouts vary depending on which muscle group he’s working.
His workouts start with about 10 minutes of warm-up.
“That will be on a treadmill or stairstepper,” Johnson said. “Today, I train my legs. I’ll start with some core movements – the squats. Then I’ll focus on kickbacks.”
He’ll also do exercise that work his calfs and his entire leg including glutes.
“That will probably take me an hour-and-15-minutes,” Johnson said.
The workouts are critical, equally important is his diet.
“Eating is a key component to everything,” he said. “I eat constantly. I eat all day long, at least six meals a day.”
Johnson tries to eat his body weight in protein each day, and then double the amount of carbohydrates.
“That alone will push my calories to 4,000 a day,” Johnson said. “Then add in fat of 50 grams a day.”
His diet and workouts change a little bit depending on the season. Now is the off-season. About 10 to 12 weeks before a competition, he’ll slowly lower the amount of carbs he eats, but he says, even that is only a slight and slow changes.
“It’s nothing drastic,” Johnson said. “In order to keep my body as big as possible, I have to do small drops. I just kind of taper off.”
Johnson said his diet was trial-and-error in the beginning. He doesn’t like to give dieting advice.
“I can’t give solid advice to anyone based on what I do, because their bodies might respond differently,” Johnson said. “I know exactly what works for me, because I’ve been doing this since I was 28-years-old.”
Winning a world title was always his goal, but reaching it doesn’t mean he’ll stop.
“It’s kind of like the Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant thing,” Johnson said. “I’ve got one title. Can I get two? I’ve got two titles. Can I get three? One is just the beginning for me.”
Local wins world body-building championship