Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout

The Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout

Ever fancied training like Rocky?

Today I’ll show you how, as we take on The Expendables creator Sylvester Stallone’s biceps-building, triceps-blasting, forearm-shredding workout.

Warning: This isn’t going to be a walk in the park.

But given that you’re here reading this, I guess you didn’t want a walk in the park anyway, right? This workout is every bit as tough as Rocky Balboa himself.

Sylvester Stallone workout for Rocky 4

The Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout Structure

Today’s workout is going to hit all the major muscles in the arms; triceps, biceps and forearms (which many neglect to train).

You’ll notice that Sly has some of the best forearms in the business today, and after performing this routine I’m sure you’ll understand why…

If you’ve ever wanted to build a pair of arms which wouldn’t look out of place in a movie like The Expendables 4, this will certainly help you get there.

But the results come at a price.

Sly trains fast, moving quickly between exercises with little-to-no rest at all.

At a time when most action movie stars were using traditional bodybuilding training to stay in shape, Stallone was one of the pioneers of HIIT, cramming an insane amount of volume into each and every workout.

That means you’ll have to go lighter than your usual weights on most of the exercises in today’s workout. But in doing so, you’ll be performing the session in exactly the same fashion as Sylvester Stallone, and earning a pump worthy of any Rocky training montage!

The workout is broken into 4 separate circuits. Sly will fully exhaust each muscle by performing 4 rounds of the biceps circuit before moving onto the forearms circuit, then the triceps circuit, and finally the cool-down circuit.

Sylvester Stallone workout for Rocky

The Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout

Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout

Phase 1: Biceps

  • Underhand Pulldowns

Perform 12-15 reps with an underhand, narrow grip.

  • Barbell Curls

Go to failure with a narrow grip then perform 6-8 finishing reps with a wider grip.

  • Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curls

10-12 reps per side.

  • High Cable Curls

10-12 reps per side.

Hold and squeeze forcefully at the top of the movement for extra impact!

  • Zottman Curls

10-12 reps.

Sly uses a bandbell for this exercise, but a regular dumbbell or a chain with a plate attached will be just as good. Sly performs 4 rounds of this biceps circuit before moving onto the next phase.

Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout

Phase 2: Forearms

  • Wrist Curls

20-25 reps.

  • Reverse Wrist Curls

20-25 reps.

  • Handshake Curls

25-30 reps.

To perform this exercise, Sly grabs a BodyBar (although a very light dumbbell can be used if you prefer) and works his forearms as if shaking someone’s hand.

  • Timed Hang

Up to 2 minutes.

As simple as it sounds, hang from a pull up station for as long as you can. This will improve your grip strength massively. Sly performs 4 rounds of this forearms circuit before moving on to the next phase.

Sylvester Stallone forearms routine

If you don’t have access to a jet, hanging from a pull up station will suffice…

Phase 3: Triceps

  • Explosive Close-Grip Bench Press

12-15 reps.

Use a Smith Machine for this, as it’s far safer.

  • Dips

20-25 reps.

  • Lying Triceps Extension

12-15 reps.

  • Bench Dips With Feet Elevated

12-15 reps.

Place feet on another bench or on an upright dumbbell.

  • Triceps Pushdown With Rope Attachment

12-15 reps.

Sly performs 4 rounds of this triceps circuit before moving on to the next phase..

Sylvester Stallone Rocky IV workout


  • Close-Grip Push Ups

Go to failure.

  • Plank

3 sets with 30 seconds under tension and 30 seconds rest.

Sylvester Stallone biceps workout

Russ’ Tips For The Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout

Stallone works fast!

Don’t expect to be breaking any personal bests here in terms of how heavy you can lift.

Work through the first three phases in a circuit motion, performing 4 rounds of the Biceps phase before moving on to the Forearms phase for 4 rounds and then again on to theĀ Triceps section.

The last phase focuses on finishing you off completely, although you should already be literally struggling to push out another rep by then.

When you reach the end of each circuit be sure to take 60-90 seconds rest before starting the next round, and don’t be afraid to take unplanned mid-set rest breaks if you absolutely need to – just keep them as short as possible!

The great thing about this type of workout is that it can easily be adapted because the most devastating thing about it is the volume, not the exercise selection. This means you can chop and change certain exercises if you train at a busy gym and can’t get hold of certain equipment.

Sylvester Stallone used this very workout to get in the shape of his life for Rocky IV, and it is every bit as grueling as the training montages shown in the movie as he prepared to do battle with the monstrous Ivan Drago, a.k.a. Dolph Lundgren (try his workout here).

Even 30+ years later, I still consider this to be the best physique ever captured on the silver screen.

Have fun with this session!

Sylvester Stallone workout

After that hard workout, I want you to do two easy things:

  1. Share the link to the Sylvester Stallone arm workout with two gym buddies. They’ll appreciate you laying down the challenge!
  2. If you’re using my website to get in great shape, I want to hear about you on my Facebook page!


5 thoughts on “The Sylvester Stallone Arm Workout

  1. Thanks for yet another awesome workout Russ! I’ve tried the Forearm phase ALONE in a workout n its was Fudging brutal! Like you I’m a big Stallone fan so this is definitely going in the regime!

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