Robert Thompson is growing accustomed to posing triumphantly atop the podium.
Thompson, in just his second year as a competitive bodybuilder, was named the amateur world champion at the Drug Free Athletes Coalition World Finals in Miami last week.
Thompson has been focussed on bodybuilding for several years, but his first time on the competitive stage was last year at the DFAC World Finals. He won the top amateur heavyweight in his debut performance and, after this year’s victory, he’s earned the chance to compete professionally.
“I feel it just came with consistency, dedication,” he said. “Wherever you’re from or wherever we are in the world, once you have those characteristics, you’ll be able to succeed in anything.”
Thompson, who repeated as top amateur heavyweight this year, has a humbling beginning to his story in bodybuilding. He had hurt his knee in 2012, and a doctor suggested he begin lifting weights to strengthen the muscles in his leg. As time went on, he really began to enjoy it.
“I wasn’t 100% sure about the right way to work out and the correct way to eat, but I tried to work around it,” he said. “I started doing more research. I started looking up more stuff, reading and watching more videos. That’s when I started to see a drastic change in my body.”
Encouraged by his success last year, Thompson began pouring even more of himself into his workouts.
He said that he’s mostly subsisted on complex carboh
ydrates, making staples out of brown rice, potatoes, chicken breasts, fish and steak. But more than that, he’s intensified his fitness regimen, making time for cardio both before his work day and after he gets home.
“The majority of the day I was basically spending at the gym,” said Thompson.
“It took away a lot from my friends, family and my social life. It was very harsh on the body but I had to do what I had to do in regards to nutrition and supplementation to allow my body to recover optimally to be able to train the next day and the next day and the following weeks.”
Thompson has seen his hard work pay off in the mirror and on the stage. He said there was a much deeper pool of competitors this year, pushing him to find his best form. The actual posing, said Thompson, actually takes a lot more toll than the relentless grind of preparatory workouts.
“Going on stage, standing for 30 minutes under hot lights with [tanning oil] on, holding certain poses and trying to squeeze every muscle in your body is the most difficult part,” he said. “Just the simplest slip-up or the simplest release in regard to your poses can drop points for you in the overall scoring.”
Fitness, at this point, has become Thompson’s refuge. He lifts weights to reduce stress from his everyday life, and after seeing the results, it fuels him through the days when he feels exhausted.
What would he say to youngsters interested in following his trajectory? He’d tell them to take it slowly.
“I feel like you should take your time, find a local gym, start to really educate yourself in regards to fitness,” he said of encouraging fellow Caymanians to excel in the sport. “As a person, we can get discouraged and give up a lot of the time. You just have to find something that keeps you going and keeps you wanting to reach your goals. I think I’ve found that and I don’t plan on giving up anytime soon.”