In an exclusive interview with ProSource, Sylvester Stallone opens up about life, fitness, creating a world-class supplement company, and reprising his most famous movie role as he works on a long-awaited sequel.
It's a name synonymous with an innate desire to be the best, training your heart out, and ultimately overcoming all odds to emerge victorious. He's a creation so real, so meaningful to men everywhere, that indeed, he has transcended his celluloid form to become a living, breathing part of American culture. In the eyes of millions,
Rocky has been a true inspiration
. It could be argued that this simple character, born from the imagination of a struggling actor in the early 1970s, has done more for the worldwide
than any other singular force. Just think of how many people have felt their adrenaline surge at the first notes of "Gonna Fly Now," have risen pre-dawn to don their sweats and hit the city streets running, or have even gulped
a glass of raw eggs
, turning a film into a life-changing event, adopting a
as their own. What other movie has moved and motivated so many to action? And for the person who created this legendary figure, the time has come to lace up the gloves and step through the ropes one more time, to prove to all of us, and to prove to himself, that the dream embodied by Rocky still lives on, no matter what your age. Over the past few months,
returned to the streets of Philadelphia to film the sixth installment of the ultra-successful franchise. In the movie, written and directed by Sly himself, a widowed and older Rocky comes out of retirement for some lower-tier bouts when the opportunity to fight reigning heavyweight champ
Mason "The Line" Dixon
, played by top
pro boxer Antonio Tarver
, arises. Reprising the role of the beloved brawler, Stallone is in nothing short of amazing shape -- cut, muscular and strong, a feat made even more remarkable by the fact he's entering his sixth decade. Sly's a marvel, and stands as living proof of what fitness can do for anyone who takes their health and vitality seriously.
The Big Break
Stallone's muscular quest was launched long before Balboa. "I got my inspiration to pursue exercise and nutrition when I saw (1947 Mr. America and 1950 Mr. Universe)
in Hercules," he recalls. "I was only 13 years old, but was in awe of films such as Hercules Unchained, Goliath and the Barbarians and The Thief of Baghdad." That prompted the youngster to cobble together a five-day-per-week workout strategy that was primitive, but set the stage for the
to come. "My first programs were unorganized, since I was still learning how each body part integrated with the others," he says. "I was dedicated, though, and most of my workouts involved bodyweight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts, pull-ups, deep knee bends and running. Looking back, I was overtraining my body, but at times undertraining each body part." His exercise habit continued into his early 20s as he also attempted to break into acting, earning small parts and holding odd jobs along the way to make ends meet. The embryonic nature of the
at that point in time, coupled with his lack of cash flow, led to some dubious choices in products to augment his diet -- "Brag Liquid Amino Acids, brewer's yeast, lecithin granules and kelp tablets," he recounts, to name a few. He didn't know it yet, but those days would plant a seed in his mind that would result in a bold and ultimately lucrative business decision later in life. In 1975 came the lightning bolt, the decision that would prove to be the genesis of one of the biggest careers in movie history, a move that would elevate Stallone in a few years to the top of the food chain in Hollywood. Fresh off his first acting break, a lead role in
The Lords of Flatbush
, Stallone relocated from New York to Los Angeles, where he penned a script (literally, writing it all in longhand) about a down-and-out fighter who gets one shot at glory and takes it for everything he can: Rocky. But he shopped it around with one non-negotiable caveat -- he would play the lead role. He got his wish. Released November 21, 1976, it was a huge hit, eventually earning $117,235,247 in the U.S. and earning the Academy Award for "Best Picture." Many more blockbusters would follow over the next quarter century, from
and its two sequels to
Tango & Cash
In the original Rocky, Stallone had a physique that showed he knew his way around a gym, but his bodybuilderesque transformation was in full view for the world to see in
. Noticeably more brawny and chiseled to the bone, Stallone had ramped up his workouts in an effort to achieve his awe-inspiring condition. However, even he admits now that he didn't quite go about it the right way. "I lived on around 200-300 calories per day, or basically until I almost fainted," he says. "Foolish, I now know, but this is how I learned how to "switch" into get-lean mode, a process I can now use at will." Stallone has learned a lot since then, and now his meticulous and scientific method of lifting, eating and
has helped him build and maintain a body better than most men half his age. His explorations for the best nutrition possible even spurred him to start his own
, in 2004. In preparation for
, which began filming in December 2005, he undertook an unorthodox but effective regimen, working out Monday, Wednesday and Friday, alternating upper- and lower-body routines, employing a low-rep/high-tension approach. "I'm doing two movements per body part, doing 5-6 reps per set," he explains. "Since I'm doing cardio -- sparring -- 5-6 days per week, I eliminated the high-rep sets I normally do." Maintaining a steady, strong tension through each rep, the lower rep schemes are more than enough to thoroughly blast his muscles, breaking them down and leaving them fully able to absorb the nutritional intake to follow. "In the mid 1990s I discovered meal replacements," he says. "Back in those days,
were really leading edge and allowed me to go into get-lean mode without losing all my muscle. At the time, these packets were like a miracle, especially since most average people didn't even know they existed. I know it's selfish, but this is why I wanted Instone to make our signature product a
. I knew it needed to be a quantum leap beyond those meal replacements of yesteryear because we now have better knowledge of nutrition, and most of all, I wanted the product to use personally." Stallone tips his hat to those who showed him the way in designing his effective formulation. "I want to emphasize that in my experience, it is
who made an art out of dieting to become super lean years ago -- these athletes taught me that you need more
protein and quality fats
in your diet when calories decrease or you'll eventually become a smaller and weaker version of what you were, at best! This was a major focus in formulating
." When Stallone started the leaning-out process for Rocky Balboa, he turned to his own products to make the difference in his diet, and they did. "I just added two
Intake Performance shakes
per day to the one I already have for breakfast, for three per day total, with oatmeal in the morning and fish for dinner," he says. "In the process, I save time, and have even more muscle and energy than I did 10 years ago. Believe me, this movie is a killer when you consider I spar and do the choreography with a real light heavyweight champ in Antonio Tarver." As with his entire line, from
, and all the excellent supplements in between, Sly didn't just want a copycat version of other products already on the market when it came to his
. He wanted something that could come as close to a healthy meal as possible, yet still taste fantastic. To fill the gaps he found in competitors' formulas, he hand-selected a number of critical ingredients. "
was added due to its tremendous scientific backing as it relates to fat loss. Fiber was included to slow digestion and allow for an even disbursement of nutrients. The custom and proprietary enzyme blend, a truly unique part of this MRP, aids in the digestion and absorption of the nutrients, specifically the
. We also add glutamine to aid the body in repairing itself after strenuous workouts -- and so on. No other MRP on the market contains all of these in our precise ratios."
set to wrap filming -- it's slated for worldwide theatrical release in 2007 -- and work on his next movie, the fourth in the
, to start soon, Stallone shows no signs of slowing down. While his motion pictures are sure to continue inspiring millions to take hold of their life and make fitness a priority, he hopes his example, his guidance, and his
can help those fans fulfill their goals. To those who are undertaking a training program for the first time, he offers these words of advice. "Stick with the basics," Stallone states. "Too many people complicate the situation from the onset. Develop a good workout emphasizing the core.
Supplementation (to start) should be limited to an MRP, fat burner and/or a creatine product.
Diet has to play a key role, or true success will never be achieved." If you've been at it awhile, with no appreciable results of late, he recommends a philosophical approach. "Evaluate the situation -- why aren't you making gains? Are you stuck in a rut? Don't be afraid to break the rules. Switch it up and find out what works for you." And to one final question, he provides a very straightforward answer, but one that speaks deeply of how close to his heart his physical pursuits lie. Summing up what working out regularly has meant to his life and career, he pauses, then says, "In a word--
Sylvester Stallone's Get-Lean Diet "My best diets are based on bland and repetitive meals, with no frills or foods that cause overeating," Stallone says. He eats every 3-4 hours, especially important during 16-hour workdays he has on the set of Rocky Balboa.
||Whole-grain rye toast, dry or Small bowl of oatmeal
Intake Performance shake
||Dry tuna with mustard and spices One slice rye toast Tomato slices
||Intake Performance shake
||Grilled salmon Wild rice Steamed vegetables
||2 handfuls of raw almonds 1 serving of Fiber One cereal
||Intake Performance shake (sometimes just 1/2 serving)
||Seasonal fruit or Sugar-free popsicle
Stallone High Protein Pudding
TOTALS: 2,500 calories, consisting of 50% protein, 25% carbohydrates and 25% essential fats.
Before Meal 1: 8
Instone Intensity capsules; 1-2 Instone
Leanfire Inferno capsules with black coffee
After Training Sessions: 3-4 I
nstone Reloaded capsules
Daily: 5-10 grams glutamine; 12 grams of essential fatty acids; 3 grams of sesamin oil; 2 multivitamin/multimineral tablets; 120 ounces of Glacia Nova water; 1/2 aspirin; 1-2 packets of Emergen-C
At Night: 6-8