Sylvester Stallone’s Escape Plan workout

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‘I’ve never seen him more motivated,’ says trainer Gunnar Peterson of his most famous client – former Rocky, former Rambo, current Expendable and all-round badass Sylvester Stallone. ‘He’s the elder statesman, so you’d think he could pull back slightly. But he doesn’t want to. He wants to be the best he can be.’

This attitude is how Stallone’s stayed at the top of the action movie heap for almost four decades. But adaptation is key, too. ‘He does a lot less straight sets these days,’ says Peterson. ‘It’s not so much about straight hypertrophy as it’s about creating definition, delineation. He does a lot more back-to-back supersets to get in a lot of work in a short amount of time. Sly’s typical schedule is anywhere from two to five days in the gym a week. His philosophy is very much that if you stay in shape, you never have to get in shape. He’s an avid golfer, he’s got three very active kids – he has to stay in shape.’

Enter the matrix

Of course, to appear opposite (and, uh, fight) fellow action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stallone wanted to be the top of his game. ‘He worked hard,’ says Peterson. ‘For abs he did a lot of weighted cable crunches and medicine ball throws, rotational stuff. Sly loves pushing and pulling a weighted sled, and he uses a machine that allows him to do continuous rope climbs.’

To try one of Stallone’s toughest tests, though, all you need is a set of dumbbells. ‘One dumbbell matrix he did a lot is just six moves, done back to back with no rest,’ says Peterson. ‘Grab a pair of dumbbells and do overhead press, row, squat, upright row, triceps extension, curl. He’d do ten reps of each move, then eight of each, then six of each. That’s a killer.’ It certainly is. But that’s how you stay at the top of the game.

Escape Plan comes to DVD and Blu-ray on 17th March.