Sylvester Stallone’s Fitness Routine For The Rocky Franchise Was Ferocious AF

There are actors who play characters, and then there are actors who live them. Sylvester Stallone’s performance in and as Rocky falls in the latter category. The sleeper-hit sports drama saw him in the shoes of a small-time boxer who gets the rare chance to compete against an invincible heavyweight champion, when his scheduled opponent is injured.

In order to (quite literally) save his face, he trains like there’s no tomorrow. Instead of fighting with the attitude that he’s merely a substitute in the ring, he decides to make the most of this opportunity and come out a winner. This is a great metaphor for life: When the universe makes you an offer, will you dare to take it?

Everyone comes across such junctures in life, but hardly a few walk the path less travelled. That’s because the path less travelled requires boundless courage, hard work and discipline. Sylvester Stallone’s real life story is no different. Born with his face partially paralysed and his speech slightly slurred, nobody ever thought he’ll grow up to be an actor. However, that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream and becoming not just any actor, but one of the best in the history of Hollywood.

Not only did he overcome his physical limitations, but made his name as one of the strongest, most muscular men in the world. Now that Sylvester Stallone is 75, he is still smashing it in the gym and doling out fitness goals. It’s like the Rocky mindset never left him in all these years.

AskMen India shares the workout and diet that readied him for the role (and for life).


Setting goals

Sylvester Stallone had a different vision for Rocky in each instalment of the franchise. For the first two parts, all he did was gain muscle mass. He wanted to look fully bulked up. In the third one, he wanted his muscles to have definition. He compared his transformation to Tarzan, a character he admired for being “sleek, tight and catlike”. The rigorous training for it brought his fat percentage to a dangerous 2.9% at one point. For Rocky IV, he aspired to look like a professional body-builder with a rock-hard physique. Being clear about what exactly he wants to achieve in terms of body type helped him reach his fitness goals faster.

Targeted weightlifting

Since his character had to have a rock-hard body with bulging muscles, Sylvester Stallone’s workout routine was largely centered around weightlifting. He focused on strengthening and shredding one or two muscle groups at a time. His workout routine would be split between Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, with Sundays set aside for rest and recovery. On the six days that he worked out, he would have two sessions – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The time in between would be dedicated to acting practise, or simply to rewind and refuel.

Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays

The mornings of these three days would be dedicated to chest, back and abs. Some of his go-to exercises were incline bench press, dumbbell flyes, raised leg crunches, wide grip chin-ups and seated extensions. In the afternoons, he would work on his shoulders, arms and abs with exercises such as military press, side lateral raises, concentration curls, alternate leg raises, oblique crunches and cable pull downs. He would perform between 4-6 sets of 10-12 reps each.

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays

The morning of these three days were dedicated to the calves and thighs, and involved exercises like seated and standing calf raises, incline leg press, leg curls and extensions and stiff leg deadlifts. In the afternoons, he would work on his rear deltoids, traps and abs by doing exercises such as cable crossovers, ab crunches, barbell upright rows, reverse pec deck flyes, barbell shrugs and bent-over dumbbell rear-delt raises. He would perform 4 sets of 10-12 reps each.


During the first Rocky, Sylvester Stallone followed a diet that was so extreme, the actor downright called it ‘dangerous’. He had a high protein intake, but little to no carbs in his meals. This meant that although his body looked bulked up on the outside, he seriously lacked energy. He felt lightheaded several times during the filming process.

In one of the pictures taken behind the scenes, he’s seen doing a handstand in the ring, just so that the blood circulates to his brain and he doesn’t feel dizzy. Although the final results were fantastic, he switched to a more practical diet in the subsequent parts, for the sake of his health.

High protein intake

Sylvester Stallone hugely depended on protein to bulk up his body. Before breakfast, he would have a glass of liquid aminos, followed by three egg whites, half a yolk and Irish oatmeal among other things. For lunch, he’d have roasted summer squash with broiled skinless chicken. And lastly, for dinner, he’d take broiled fish with high-fibre toasted bread,and veal every once in a while.


To combat the light-headedness accompanied by consuming less carbs, Sylvester Stallone started drinking a lot of water. He would religiously drink as many as eight to ten glasses of water in a day. Not only did this keep his body hydrated and energized, but also prevent hunger cravings that would come in the way of his physical transformation.

Raw food

Sylvester Stallone’s diet plan for Rocky was also rich in fibre. The actor would have bananas to satiate his hunger cravings. He also ate papaya, berries and figs to give his body a boost of antioxidants. He would take a serving of fresh salad with each of his meals.

Cover artwork by Dhaval Punatar/AskMen India

You May Also Dig:

Source link: by Ritu Ailani at