Would You Try Sylvester Stallone’s Unusual Back Workouts?

Sylvester Stallone is training hard for the next entry in the film series that made his physique legendary. Creed 2 is coming out this November, and every other day the 71-year-old fitness icon is posting a grueling workout that would put many younger guys to shame.

But the man isn’t posting squats and deadlifts. Instead, all of his recent highlights are back workouts, and some of these exercises even we haven’t seen before.

1) Headbanger Pull-Ups

Claiming that he “poorly copied” this movement from popular YouTube trainer Jeff Cavaliere, these involve pushing the body out horizontally from the top of the pull-up bar. Note that it looks like Stallone’s legs are being supported by something here. (He does call this “a different kind of pull up while hanging.”)

Even with legs supported, this exercise lights up the core and, according to Cavaliere himself, it’s a “potent developer of straight arm scapular strength,” which could help to improve deadlifts as well as regular pull-ups.

“Those will straight up murder your brachialis muscle,” says Steve Horney, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist based in New York City. “It’s a pretty durable muscle so injury risk is on the low side, but make sure your forearms are ready for it or you will wind up sidelined with tennis elbow.”

2) Paddle/Swim Ergometer

Burn baby burn! Fantastic machine!

Given how often he tags and posts about them, we’re fairly sure he’s doing some low-key marketing for its manufacturer, but Sly nonetheless has been using this unusual piece of equipment a lot.

According to the company behind the patented machine, the idea is to “provide both strength and aerobic range training to improve your stroke” and paddling. Some of the movements resemble a straight arm pulldown, and this machine definitely seems to primarily target the lats, along with the shoulders, core, and chest.

[Learn more: Why you should work swimming into your strength cycle.]

3) Pull-Down/Pull-Up Superset

Lats, lats, lats. Traditionally, pull-ups have been super important for boxers because a strong back can help the body absorb the impact of its own punches, stabilize the shoulder so you can punch harder, improve the speed at which you can pull the fist back for the next punch, plus it helps to balance out all the work the chest and front shoulder get from punching, thus helping to prevent overdevelopment.

4) Weighted Towel-Grip Pull-Ups

We wrote an article on this post as soon as he uploaded it because damn. That’s a 100-pound weighted pull-up from a 71-year-old man, and it’s a towel grip (or vertical grip) pull-up, which is extra taxing on the grip.

5) Power Climber

Feeling the BURN! I know it gets harder every year but hang in there, consider it a challenging hobby.

It’s called a power climber but this machine, particularly at Stallone’s age (no offense, Sly) can be a safer way to mimic a sled drive movement. Similar to the more popular Versa Climber, this is a pretty great for total body conditioning, improving pulling power (oh hey, lats again), and boosting injury resilience, plus the angle adds a little more posterior chain work than more vertical machines.

[Read more: 5 Sled Workouts Used by NFL Players.]

Stallone didn’t actually box at any point in the last Creed movie, but we’re holding out hope that we’ll see the results of these workouts in the next installment. It’s trite to say at this point, but we’ll say it: here’s hoping we’re all this fit at 71 years old.

Featured image via @officialslystallone on Instagram.


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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.