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How Sylvester Stallone Got In Shape For The 'Rocky' Films

How Sylvester Stallone Got In Shape For The 'Rocky' Films

It's been 40 years since Sylvester Stallone first came to our screens donning the boxing gloves of Rocky Balboa. Since, he has become synonymous with the films, as well as a grey tracksuit, dead pigs, 'Eye of the Tiger' and anyone called ADRIANNNNNN.

Credit: United Artists

The series has had its ups and downs, Rocky V being an obvious example of the dip in performance. However, one thing that's remained constant in the films is the ripped physique of the Italian-American boxer.

For each film the training regimes changed, as did the end result Stallone was aiming for. For instance, in Rocky Balboa, the idea was look a lot bigger, whereas in Rocky III, for example, the objective was to have a much leaner torso.


Credit: United Artists

"I wanted to look like Tarzan - sleek, tight, almost catlike," Stallone once said when asked about his workouts. "I wanted to forget the bulk and go for well-developed muscles.

"I began a hardcore weight-lifting program, working out twice a day.


"When I made Rocky, I increased my exercise."

To achieve those famous abs and crafted pecs, the 70-year-old enrolled the help of two-time Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu. The trainer had worked with the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, so he certainly had the plaudits. The pair worked together across the Rocky and Rambo films.

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"I had to charge Sly a good amount for the training because he wanted to train full out, just as if he were preparing for the Mr Olympia contest," Columbu told Pop Workouts. "That meant two workouts a day, six days a week.


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"I had to drop almost everything else in order to concentrate on getting him in the best shape of his life."

Essentially Sly was mimicking Columbu's Mr Olympia training, using the same weights on a routine that consisted of a morning and afternoon workout, with two rest days in two week split regimes.

"I worked out a program that was right for him and then I led the way, constantly increasing weights and reps," Columbu said. "I knew for sure that this would motivate him to try and keep up with me.

"If I took a weight and did 12 reps, Sly would have to try and do at least seven. After all, I may be stronger than he is, but not that much stronger.


"Then, next set, I would do 15 reps, so he would have to increase his reps to at least 10. By the end of our training he was doing curls with 70lb dumbbells."

So, if you've got intentions of looking like Rocky it's pretty simple - just give up your life so you can spend the majority of it in the gym.

Featured image credit: United Artists/PA

Topics: Sylvester Stallone, Rocky, Workout

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Mark McGowan

Mark is a journalist at LADbible, who joined in 2015 after a year as a freelance writer. In the past he blogged for independent football fan channel Redmen TV, after graduating from Staffordshire University with degrees in journalism and English literature. He has worked on campaigns such as UOKM8? and IIOC.