The Sylvester Stallone Abs Workout

Ever wonder what abs workout Sylvester Stallone performed to get so ripped in Rambo III? Today you’re going to find out as I’m going to share with you the abs routine Sly used to chisel his midsection for ripped roles in Rocky IV, Rambo III and more recently in The Expendables.

sylvester stallone abs workoutOne of the main things you’re going to notice about today’s workout is that Sly is “on the ball” when it comes to core stability training.

Undoubtedly, Stallone was one of the guys getting eyebrow raising, “What the heck’s he doing?” looks thrown at him from bodybuilders back in the mid-1980’s when this form of training was nowhere near as popular as it is today.

But remember, if you want to learn how to build muscle with the best of them you need to first realize that there is no such thing as spot reduction, so if you want to achieve a truly great physique be sure to train your other body parts with the same intensity you’re going to have to show to get through today’s workout.

Now, before we begin today’s workout, I need to run a very quick check to ensure you’re up to scratch….

  • You want to get a defined midsection like Rocky? Check.
  • You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and push hard? Check.
  • You’re ready to look after your diet? Check.
  • Oh, and, erm… You’re ready to go to hell and back in the gym..? I’ll leave that last answer to you.

This isn’t a walk in the park and quite frankly you’d be disappointed if it was, right? As Sylvester Stallone put it himself, “Ab soreness is a cool pain, like a badge of honor. Start pushing yourself to the limit in the gym and you’ll begin becoming the person you always wanted to be.”

Are you ready? If there are any exercises you haven’t performed before or are unsure about technique, don’t worry, as usual I’ll be walking you through the entire session.

The Sylvester Stallone Rambo III Abs Workout

sylvester stallone hinge crunch

Floor Crunches
3 sets of 15 (work your way up to 30 reps per set)

Russ’ rules: How many people do you know who believe they need to do a thousand crunches per day to get ripped abs? Too many!

Sly’s crunch routine is perfect because if you perform each rep in a slow and controlled manner, focusing on squeezing your abdominal muscles at the top of the movement, you will not need an endless amount of reps.

Once you can comfortably manage this you should progress to a Hinge Crunch, which will have you bringing your knees up each time you crunch forwards.

Twisting Crunches
2 sets of 30 (on each side)

Russ’ rules: One of the best things you can do on any exercise is learn where you should be feeling it.

This knowledge allows you to zone in on the muscle and really push it hard. This exercise is fantastic for your upper abs and obliques. This is a great exercise for strengthening your overall core, which also yields rewards for your back.

Tons of people throw out their back without realizing that the problem is actually weak abs.

Also, be sure to avoid putting your hands behind your head on this exercise. People tend to pull on the back of their neck when the going gets tough and therefore they remove the focus from the muscles we want to punish.

Once you can comfortably manage this you should progress to Bicycle Crunches, which studies have shown to fire up to 200% more muscle fibers due to their extremely tough nature. Work up to that one, though!

sylvester stallone abs workout

Hanging Knee Raises
2 sets of 10

Russ’ rules: This is a tremendous exercise for your lower abdomen and is great for strengthening and toning the area most people want to get rid of, i.e. the bottom of the ‘six pack’ which tends to have a stubborn layer of fat over it.

Focus here on locking out your knees and rolling your stomach up as you pull your knees up, rather than just swinging your legs.

Pull in and roll back, breaking that 90* angle. If you’re not sure what I mean or you usually stop at 90*, watch my lower abs workout video and see why most people waste their time targeting their hip flexors on this exercise instead of their lower abs.

Broomstick Twists
3 sets of 10 (on each side)

sylvester stallone broomstick twist

Russ’ rules: This is the exercise Sly credits with giving him his Rambo III abs, and rightly so.

Sit upright on a Roman Chair or Decline Bench for this exercise the lean slightly back until your torso is at a 45 degree angle. Twist in both directions.

Now, this is going to hit almost every single muscle in your core, so be prepared to feel the burn on this one!

The trick is to focus on the twist, rather than crunching. It isn’t a crunch, so don’t lean into it.

The Wheel
1 set of 30


Russ’ rules: This is one of the hardest abs exercises of all, despite the fact that it looks the easiest.

The trick is to keep the tempo slow and controlled.

Go as far forward as your balance will allow you and really focus on controlling your breathing and tensing your abdominal muscles during the motion.

sylvester stallone abs workout

Swiss Ball Crunches
2 sets of 20

Russ rules: It’s always important to remind people to breathe out as they crunch forwards because lot of folks make the mistake of holding their breathe on this exercise.

Sly first adopted this version of the crunch when he hurt his back and you’ll notice the difference here between this exercise and the Floor Crunch we performed earlier in the workout.

Sly puts in twists for the last 5 reps of each set.

Rocky Leg Raises
1 set of 5 (work up to 10 reps)

rocky leg raises

Russ’ rules: Undoubtedly, you saw Sly performing this variation of a Lying Leg Raise in Rocky IV.

In one of the standout training scenes, Stallone mounted an old school table in a barn and performed an exercise which caused men everywhere to hit the gym.

The trouble is most people get this move slightly wrong, performing it the same way they would do a Leg Raise and focusing on the actual lifting phase. As a result, they don’t feel it (or get the results from it) like they should.

Instead, really focus on the lowering portion of the movement. Take a good 5 seconds to lower your legs on each rep here because that’s the section which is going to provide the results.

sylvester stallone abs

Cable Crunches
2 sets of 20

Russ’ rules: Very few people train their ab muscles with weights. It’s a muscle like any other and hitting it with resistance training will only benefit you further.

This exercise is all about pulling from your core, not from your arms, so be sure to use a relatively light weight which you can move by focusing on pulling in the muscles of your abdomen.

Think of your arms as cables which attach your core to the weight, they shouldn’t do any of the work here at all.

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Sylvester Stallone Abs Workout

If there was one word I could use to describe today’s ab workout it would be ‘epic’.

You’ll feel this one burning hard for a day or two afterwards but, like Sly says, you should wear that pain as a badge of honor.

Be sure to e-mail the link to today’s article to any gym buddies who want a serious challenge in the gym. Throw down the gauntlet!

Be sure to let me know how you get on via me Facebook page.

russ howe pti stalloneIf you fancy more Rocky-style training, you can tackle our Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout next time you hit the gym. Or if you’d like to tackle some of my other celebrity workout sessions, why not try the Dolph Lundgren Arm WorkoutThe Rock Shoulder Workout, the Arnold Schwarzenegger 2013 HIIT Workout or the Jason Statham Expendables Workout.

There are tons more brutal workout challenges in my workout program ‘Biceps Boom – Big Arms In 3 Weeks’. Be sure to pick up a copy.

Have fun with today’s brutal abs workout!


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Who Is Russ Howe PTI?

bbcurl5Celebrity trainer and author of Biceps Boom, Russ is the UK’s most followed personal trainer with over 34,000 followers and subscribers to his weekly fitness tips and workout programs. A Lifetime certified personal trainer and Premier certified Kettlebell instructor, Russ was recently selected as a premium trainer on Yoga & Fitness Television.

In the gym, Russ’ clients have ranged from busy mums and dads, mixed martial artists, athletes, bodybuilders, models, actors and actresses. He’s also worked alongside the UK government for 7 years in a venture to combat childhood obesity in the country.

Russ Howe PTI