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Sylvester Stallone / Rocky Balboa Strength Workouts

Sylvester StalloneSylvester Stallone is one of modern cinema’s great action heroes. He first shot to fame in Rocky in 1976, and then continued his success through the Rocky franchise as well as the Rambo series, which started with the drawing of First Blood in 1982.

Stallone’s physical appearance altered significantly between his first and second Rambo films, from 1982 to 1985. Sly Stallone actually only started working out for Rambo: First Blood Part II, six weeks before filming started.

Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu Helps Sly Bulk Up

Stallone hired Franco Columbu, an Olympic weight lifter who won the title Mr. Olympia several times from 1974 to 1981, to help him bulk up and develop his muscular body that he became most famous for in Rambo: First Blood Part II and the later Rocky films.

Sylvester Stallone’s weight training routines were intensive, and therefore split over the week. He also trained twice a day, training different body parts each time. To undertake such a training program strict adherence to diet, rest, sleep and good form in training is essential to avoid over-training and injury. Read more: Sly Stallone’s diet.

Sylvester Stallone’s Weight Training Schedule

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he splits his training into two sessions per day as follows:

Stallone’s Morning Training:


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Chest, back and abs workouts, including bench presses, lateral pull downs and crunches.

Stallone’s Afternoon Training:

Shoulders, arms and more abs, including military presses, lateral raises, bicep curls and tricep extensions, and more crunches and leg raises.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays Stallone also trained morning and afternoon:

Stallone’s Morning Training:

Calves and thighs, including calf raises and squats.

Afternoon Training:

Rear deltoids, traps and more abs, including rear deltoid / bent-over rows, shoulder presses, upright rows and more crunches.


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Stallone’s routine was a very intensive six days per week with a double split, which is the style of weight training that professional bodybuilders use when competing – not surprising, seeing that he employed a professional bodybuilder to guide him.

Sly followed a standard 8-12 repetition with 3-4 sets pattern. He did 3 to 4 exercises per body part. Each day he varied the exercises using instinctive training, to keep the muscles form falling into a routine, and ensuring a plateau was not reached too soon. He also exercised his abs furiously, with abdominal routines daily.

Sylvester Stallone’s Ab Training

Sly Stallone’s abdominal workout consisted of a total of 1000 repetitions, by training four different areas with combinations of sit-ups, leg raises, side leg raises and side bends. Often 50 reps of each exercise would be done for each 5 sets, i.e. 5 sets of 200 exercises. This was old school circuit training done to the extreme, which any military training instructor / drill sergeant would be proud of.

Sylvester Stallone Training Mentality

Sylvester Stallone learned how to train like a professional with the help of Franco Columbu, and he built on these training routines throughout his career to build himself up into one of Hollywood’s greatest action heroes. Sylvester Stallone’s is certainly one of the 20th Century’s great action heroes, and by following his workouts and nutrition advice, you too can sculpt the body of an action hero.

Web resources

You can learn more about Sly Stallone on his website, Sylvesterstallone.com. Of particular interest is the page on Training and Exercise which discusses his workouts with Franco Columbu. With Columbu’s help Sly put on 10 pounds of muscle in 6 1/2 weeks. Pretty impressive.

In the archives of John Stone Fitness there is an old forum thread on Stallone’s training regime that discusses an article from 1984 about his training.

An even older and more complete article is The making of ‘Rocky’ By Sylvester Stallone on ESPN that dates from 1977. It shares an excerpt from “The Official Rocky Scrapbook” by Sylvester Stallone.

An article from Muscle & Fitness (Dec, 2004), “Stallone speaks and reveals secrets for fat loss success” talks about training and nutrition (although it seems a bit product focused nearer the end).


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Finally some more training advice from Muscle & Fitness which shares another Stallone Workout, in “Sylvester Stallone: Fitness’s Renaissance Man” by Michael Berg. The exercise is an example of a pull day and provided by his trainer of the time, Gunnar Peterson.

Stallone’s Fitness Book: Sly Moves

Sly Moves: My Proven Program to Lose Weight, Build Strength, Gain Will Power, and Live your DreamIn 2002 he brought out a book on fitness and weight training, called Sly Moves. Here is one readers review of the book:

“I am a fitness instructor and a huge “rocky” fan and wanted to see what sly recommended in his training guide. As expected we get the usual, “exercise changed my life” comments and a few really interesting insights from the man who was once named “body of the 80’s”.
The book itself is excellent reading, with good exercises. Even the diet is humane, with none of the “egg-whites only” expected from a Hollywood star, and he even recommends seeing a trainer before beginning the exercises shown. All in all, thoroughly worth buying, please write more SLY!”

Sly Moves: My Proven Program to Lose Weight, Build Strength, Gain Will Power, and Live your Dream, By Sylvester Stallone

Many of the most popular ways to lose weight incorporate strength training routines like the one above to help people lose weight and get in shape. Building some lean muscle really does help you to manage your weight in the longer term. Cardio is great for burning fat off in the short term, but for long term health and fitness you should think about becoming more athletic and stronger.

More like this in the Strength Training section

  12 comments for “Sylvester Stallone / Rocky Balboa Strength Workouts

  1. Sameer
    February 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I am not satisfy this schedule. How i make a good body

  2. MotleyHealth
    February 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Sameer, what are you finding wrong with it? Are there certain exercises that you do not like or have you reached a plateau?

  3. martin
    March 9, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Could you tell me what diet sly used?

  4. MotleyHealth
    March 9, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    We do not have much information on that, but there are some details here: Sylvester Stallone’s Diet: a.k.a. The Italian Stallion Diet

  5. Badrish
    March 24, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Sly has very tough exercise session. Due to his very busy training schedule he has nice body even at 63 years old.

  6. farouk taki
    September 26, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Excuse me , but i would like to have a link for sly’s workout program and what did he use to eat please

  7. Boy at seventeen.
    March 29, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Hey, about the way Rocky training his abs.
    Is it just before a contest or is it for get that ripped body?

  8. MotleyHealth
    March 29, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Sorry, what do you mean? Sly Stallone trained his abs like a bodybuilder to look good when playing Rocky.

  9. Boy at seventeen.
    March 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Oh, okay. I just wondering is it possible to me get abs like Rocky and keep them, if i am training 6 times a week?

  10. MotleyHealth
    March 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Yes it is. How long it will take you is another matter, but if you do not try you will never get.

  11. Boy at seventeen.
    April 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Okay. Thank you for your reply.

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