Robert Collins Hoffman, who was 6′ 3″ by the age of thirteen, developed an early interest in athletics. He initially became involved in long-distance running and in water sports, competing in marathons and rowing championships.
Hoffman first became interested in weightlifting in 1923 and formed the York Oil Burner Athletic Club, a team made up of employees from Kraber’s company. In 1932, along with George Jowett, he created the Strength and Health Publishing Company and began to publish the magazine Strength and Health. Around this time, he also took on a leadership role in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), a national organization dedicated to amateur sports and physical fitness. In 1935, he bought the Milo Barbell Company. Three years later, he founded the York Barbell Company and sold York Oil Burner for $380,000. York, Pennsylvania became a national center for weightlifting, and Hoffman grew increasingly prominent in the field. He wrote dozens of books on the subject, coached the U.S. Olympic team from 1948 to 1956, and himself won over 600 awards in the course of his career. Hoffman promoted the use of health foods and dietary supplements, as well as anabolic steroids, and continued his entrepreneurial endeavors by marketing his HI-PROTEEN powder as an aid in building muscle. In 1964, he began to publish the magazine Muscular Development and shifted his area of interest to powerlifting. Throughout the 1970s, he regained some of his fame through the philanthropy of his Hoffman Foundation, appearing on The Today Show and The Mike Douglas Show, being featured in Reader’s Digest, and meeting President Richard Nixon.