Sylvester Stallone's Training: The Mind and Body of Stallone
Sylvester Stallone is an inspiration in many ways. Bodybuilder, writer, actor, painter, entrepreneur and more; and against insurmountable odds. He encapsulates the spirit of never giving up on your goals in every way. As he says: 'It ain't how hard you can hit, it's how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward!'.
The following, from his book 'Sly Moves', demonstrates this attitude:
Sly's Top 10 Tips for Life
1. If it's not broken, break it. That's how new discoveries are made. That's why everything that changes life is called a breakthrough.
2. Only choose a goal that - if you had to - you'd gladly pursue for free. In order to achieve success, you've got to follow your passion.
3. Enthusiasm is like a wonderful disease - keep spreading it until everyone's infected.
4. Study people's success stories hard. Study their failures even harder.
5. Being naive in business and in understanding human nature is a recipe for disaster.
6. Don't be afraid of embarrassment while pursuing your goal. It's all part of being committed.
7. If other people can steal your idea, they most likely will.
8. Don't discuss your dreams. Pursue them!
9. Every day - every few hours - see your vision materialising.
10. Believe it! Truly, it can be done and it will.
Through hard work, determination and pure will, Sly achieved massive success, worldwide acclaim and a physique that was called 'the body of the 80s'. This is actually an under-statement however, as Stallone was possibly in better shape that even that of Bruce Lee, with 16''+ arms and around 2.8% bodyfat in his prime.
How did Stallone get into this shape though? Well apparently his training began when, inspired by bodybuilder Steve Reeves and comic book heroes, he used to head to the dump to lift hunks of scrap after school. This kind of basic training served him well early in his career but for the film Rocky 3 he would transform himself into a specimine of physicality. Much like Bruce Lee this involved pushing his body to the absolute limit with a regime that even Sly now admits was ill-informed. The same kind of drive that made both Bruce and Sly icons also has a habbit of over-loading the body with work. This was the case with Lee who eventually died of a brain hemorage (almost certainly caused partly by his extreme over-training) and also the case with the Slyman who blacked out while filming the training scene in Rocky 3.
So it's not a recommended training regime, but you're curious to know what he was doing all the same right? Well apparently an average day for Sly at the time would involve the following:
Rocky 3 Regime:
Jogging (2 miles),
18 rounds of sparring,
Weights (2 hours)
That's a hell of a lot of CV and as much weight lifting as a professional bodybuilder. More muscle work if you consider that the muscles are involved in both boxing and swimming too.
I know from experience - having trained with my 5-day a week full body 2 hour 'Time Division' sessions for most of my life - that this is the kind of training that will lead to ripped, lean muscle. And while any good bodybuilding book or site will emphasise the importance of rest days and breaks, for a body like Stallone's this is definitely the quickest way to achieve these results. It's just not healthy is all...
And to make things more extreme his diet at the time was just 10 egg whites, a burned piece of toast and a piece of fruit every third day. This obviously provides no-where near enough energy, vitaimes, minerals, or even protein, and Sly reports feeling 'dizzy' as a result. Having purposefully dropped his weight to 155lbs however, he then used just this diet and the above routine to gradually build up to 175lb.
The good news however is that Sly now trains like an ordinary human and is still looking great. In his book 'Sly Moves' he advocates a healthy balance between lifestyle and training, and acknowledges that you can look almost as good as he did in the Rocky films with no-where near as much dedication and sacrifice if only you understand the science behind the training.
To get the slightly bulkier look he has going on today the following programme from his book will serve you well:
Mondays & Fridays:
Incline bench press,
Wide-Arm push ups,
Smith machine shoulder press,
Seated lateral raises,
Incline dumbbell flys,
Incline dumbbell curls,
Reverse wrist curls,
Lat 'Rambo' pull downs,
One arm dumbbell rows,
Another one of his favourite exercises is the 'broomstick twist' - which involves suspending yourself halfway through a sit-up on an incline bench with a broom behind your head then twisting left and right. He's used this since Rambo 3 and explains those awesome abs and obliques. Give it a go.
Currently Sly's diet is healthy and balanced and heavily oreinted toward Italian food (understandable given his sirname). On top of this he uses supplements by Instone (or he ought to... it's his company), and Human Growth Hormone (which is illegal in the UK and parts of the US but not a steroid). While he may no longer be one of the most ripped or most powerful contenders, he is possibly number one among the over 60s, and I imagine he'll continue to stay in great shape for the rest of his days. He described working out as 'the backbone of his life'.
'If you make exercise your hobby instead of your enemy it becomes your friend; it's the one thing that will never let you down. It will always be there for you and it will always make you better than you were before. Remember: every time you go to the gym, every time you put the right supplement in your mouth, you're better than you were ten minutes ago. [...] The irony is most people know what to do, they just don't do what they know.'
'In the warrior's code there's no surrender, though his body says stop, his spirit cries: never!' - Survivor, Rocky 4