Iconic film star Sylvester Stallone is arguably known for his physique more than his acting skills. And that’s not a knock against his on-screen accomplishments.
Stallone’s chiseled physique continues to impress, even in his mid-70s. The action star still keeps in shape but he’s doing it more for his health than his movies.
After all these years, are Sylvester Stallone’s workouts still the same?
Let’s take a closer look at the new piece of fitness equipment Rocky is using to keep in top physical shape.
I’ll also cover some of the exercises that Sly used during his training to achieve that iconic body in Rocky and Rambo.
What is Sylvester Stallone Using in the Gym? #
Who could forget the training scenes from Rocky?
Whether it’s in the meat locker throwing haymakers at slabs of cow in Rocky or running through the harsh snow in Russia in Rocky IV, we all remember those training scenes.
In those famous shots, Sylvester Stallone was pumping up with dumbbells, farming tools, and bodyweight exercises.
But what about now?
Is he still using the same equipment he was during the filming of Rocky?
According to one of his Instagram posts, Sylvester Stallone has traded in the dumbbells and barbells for resistance bands.
Why would Stallone give up weights?
After countless injuries and surgeries, you could say that traditional weight training has taken its toll.
In a recent post, Sly says “the newest, hardest, toughest, most productive way [of exercising] is bands.” How can Slyvester Stallone go from throwing around giant barbells to using rubber bands?
Well, the man himself cited a few benefits including getting “an entire workout done in 20 minutes that is life-changing.”
He really enjoys the fact that one workout will help to develop your aerobic and anaerobic ability simultaneously.
Best of all, he never gets bored.
What Does Science Say About Resistance Bands? #
Has Sly taken one too many hits to the head or is there something to what he’s saying? The science says resistance bands are more effective for strength training than weights.
Bands are based on the principles of variable resistance training.
Variable resistance training involves maximizing the weight load at your strongest range of motion while decreasing the weight load at your weakest range.
This type of training has been shown to provide the following benefits:
More Muscle Activation #
Variable resistance training activates more muscle fibers.1:
Why is that important?
The more muscles you can activate in one movement, the greater the intensity, demand, and eventual results. It’s the same reason why compound exercises like squats are more effective than isolation exercises such as leg extensions.
Reach Muscular Fatigue #
That’s a lot to unpack so let’s break it down:
Time under tension refers to the duration your muscle is activated while lifting or lowering a weight load in a controlled manner.
Studies suggest if you want to build lean muscle and burn fat, each set of an exercise should consist of 48 to 60 seconds of time under tension.
To spend 60 seconds under tension when lifting weights, you’d have to lift lighter. With resistance bands, you can still lift heavy, and do it for longer.
By allowing for slow, controlled movement, resistance bands let you maximizing the amount of weight you’re lifting at your strongest range of motion.
What’s more, bands help maximize fatigue in each of the three ranges of motion: strong, mid, and weak.
So, not only are you lifting a lot when it counts, but you’re doing so for a longer period of time than you might be able to with traditional weights.
Reaching muscular fatigue during each workout is important if you want to tap into new levels of strength, muscle, fat loss, and overall gains.
Maximum Resistance #
To build his legendary physique, Sly was often training with traditional compound movements like deadlifts.
And Stallone was lifting heavy.
But heavy training comes with an element of risk. It’s hard on your joints, and puts you at risk for injury. One slip, and your weightlifting career is on hold for months.
Sly knew this, but he obviously wanted to keep seeing the benefits from heavy lifting.
Thankfully, bands made that possible.
Since the amount of resistance you’re lifting increases as you enter your strongest range of motion, you can lift more than you normally would with weights.
That means you can lift heavy while minimizing risks of injury.
Not all resistance bands are capable of offering greater resistance than weights, but with the X3 Bar and Elite band, you could lift over 600 pounds of resistance.
Sylvester Stallone Workout Plan with Resistance Bands #
Now for the fun part: a Sylvester Stallone workout (one Rocky would approve of). Stallone’s workouts are notoriously difficult to track down.
You can get glimpses of them on his Instagram but they’re rather difficult to break down.
With that said, there is a training series from Franco Columbu called How to Become Rambo.
For context, Columbu is a former Mr. Olympia who famously trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So, it should come as no surprise that while preparing for Rambo, Sly focused on traditional bodybuilding workouts utilizing both compound movements and isolation exercises.
Columbu had Stallone training six days per week, twice per day. Here’s the split:
MONDAY / WEDNESDAY / FRIDAY
TUESDAY / THURSDAY / SATURDAY
- Rear Delts
So, can we take this Rambo workout, ditch the weights, and replace them with bands? You bet.
For this workout, you’ll still train six days per week (or four days if you’re new to exercise), but you’ll only have to rotate two workouts: Push and Pull.
Resistance Band Rocky-Inspired Workout: Push Day
- Chest Press
- Triceps Press
- Shoulder Press
- Split Squat
- Pec Crossover
Resistance Band Rocky-Inspired Workout: Pull Day
- Bent-Over Row
- Bicep Curl
- Calf Raise
Acute Variables for the Resistance Band Rocky-Inspired Workout #
For each workout, you’ll perform just one set of 15 to 40 repetitions for each exercise. Here’s a beginners and advanced version for training frequency:
- Monday: Workout One
- Tuesday: Workout Two
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Workout One
- Friday: Workout Two
- Saturday and Sunday: Rest
- Monday: Workout One
- Tuesday: Workout Two
- Wednesday: Workout One
- Thursday: Workout Two
- Friday: Workout One
- Saturday: Workout Two
- Sunday: Rest
Want to Look Like Stallone? Try the X3 Bar #
The Sylvester Stallone workout routine above requires something more than a run-of-the-mill resistance band.
If you want to maximize the amount of resistance you can lift, reach muscular fatigue, and not have to worry about the band snapping, you’re going to need an elite piece of equipment.
That’s where the X3 Bar can help.
X3 bands are seriously tough, allowing you to lift more than you ever thought you could without the risk of injury.
What’s more, the X3 Bar comes with an Olympic-style barbell and performance ground plate. So your lifts won’t be limited by the amount of force you can grab with your hands, or your ankle’s ability to hold down a strong band.
X3 bar allows for the compound, total-body movements you need if you want to look like Rambo.
Try the X3 Bar for yourself to perform this Sylvester Stallone workout.
Cronin J, McNair PJ, Marshall RN. The effects of bungy weight training on muscle function and functional performance. J Sports Sci. 2003 Jan;21(1):59-71. doi: 10.1080/0264041031000071001. PMID: 12587892. ↩︎
Grosprêtre S, Gimenez P, Mourot L, Coratella G. Elastic band exercise induces greater neuromuscular fatigue than phasic isometric contractions. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2019 Aug;47:113-120. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2018.12.003. Epub 2018 Dec 11. PMID: 30554941. ↩︎
Optimize your health through science
Sign up for our newsletter to get a regular dose of science-backed tips, tricks, biohacks, and more.