Retro Athlete: Tom Prince

The massive man nicknamed "The Thing" rocketed to fame 20 years ago.

It was only his third contest, and he had no titles to his name. So when Tom Prince finished second in the loaded heavyweight class of the 1995 NPC Nationals, he shocked the bodybuilding world. “I was so blown away that this was really happening. I went back to the room and lay in bed for like an hour, crying with my wife. I saw it all then. My dream had come true.” That feeling was the apex of his career, even better than winning the overall 1997 NPC Nationals. Subsequently, in eight pro contests, Prince nailed it only once, at the 2001 Night Of Champions, in which he was third.

Competing at around 260 pounds, the 5'8" Prince was nicknamed “the Thing” for the “clobberin’ time” muscle he crammed on his frame. Highlighted by his humongous hamstrings, his side chest pose ranks among the greatest of all time. But Prince is perhaps better known for another reason. He suffered kidney failure in 2003 and again when trying to make a comeback the next year, and he admitted to his reckless drug use in FLEX. He was on dialysis for years. But this story has a happy ending. Prince received a kidney transplant in 2012, and today he and his wife run a successful property management business in Southern California.


"On shrugs, never jerk the weight up. Simply lift as high as possible and get full contractions."

"I never lock out my overhead presses. The lockout is done with triceps, and it’s a resting position."

"On side laterals, don’t bring the dumbbells in front of your body. Start reps with the dumbbells at your sides."


Dumbbell Rear Lateral: 4–6 sets, 15-8 reps

Dumbbell Side Lateral: 4–6 sets, 15-8 reps

Smith Machine Front Press: 4 sets, 15-6 reps

Barbell Front Raise: 1 set, 20 reps

Dumbbell Shrug: 3 sets, 10 reps


For years, Prince and fellow pro Bob Cicherillo were training partners at Gold’s Venice. – FLEX


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