If you thought Sylvester Stallone's muscular physique in the Rocky movies was the result of some sort of special effects wizardry or an intensive course of manhood-shrinking steroids, then you'd be wildly mistaken.
For one, the film was made in the 80s, so there's no way in hell would you'd be able to jack up a body like that in editing. 1984's Terminator was a great example of the limits of CGI back in the day. Body-warping steroids, on the other hand, are plausible, but I think the results would be dramatically different to what we see on screen. No, Sly's body is the result of hard work and determination.
Sly put himself through some pretty crazy stuff in an attempt to live up to the billing of Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion. The kind of stuff most sane people would take a pass on. Think of him like the crazy fitness Instagram page you follow for 'inspiration'.
A crazy diet and intensive exercise regimen were par for the course with Stallone back then, but the fans probably don't realize quite how absolutely insane his efforts were. If you want something bad, you go and get it, and Sly was the epitome of that.
Much like Rocky in the movie, who loses focus and fitness as reigning champ before a shock defeat to Mr T's character, Clubber Lang, Stallone embarked on a regimen that even he admits was a little dangerous.
Stallone survived on an "extremely high protein diet" that he recently revealed in an Instagram post. It consisted of small oatmeal cookies, brown rice, spoonfuls of tuna, and up to 25 cups of coffee with honey a day.
The Oscar winner admits that the high protein diet often left him feeling "light-headed" during filming and that he often lacked "physical and mental energy". It had the desired effect though; Stallone's body fat percentage dropped to 2.9 percent, a level that he admits was dangerous.
The diet is the stuff of legend, with Stallone also claiming he was forced to make himself do handstands in between takes to get the blood flowing back to his head; not sure there is much in the way of a medical basis for that 'energizing' technique, but it seemed to work at the time.
Stallone said: “Between rounds, I would get lightheaded and quite exhausted. I would literally go to the corner between rounds when I wasn’t directing and try to get some blood back into my head so I could carry-on with the complicated fight choreography.” All in the name of muscle definition.
Stallone added "I wanted to look like Tarzan - sleek, tight and almost catlike. I wanted to forget the bulk and go for well-developed muscles." That looked was definitely achieved, with the actor looking leaner and meaner in the third Rocky film than he did in the others.
What's amazing is that it still sounds astonishing today, even with a lot more fitness trends in circulation. Stallone remains an avid gym bunny and fitness freak, but he'd probably advise against the Rocky diet moving forward.
Stallone made several unnerving admissions about his health at the time of filming in 1981 in his post on Instagram. Read it in full here:
"I was on a very high protein diet which did not provide Much physical or mental energy. During the period I only ate very small portions of oatmeal cookies made with brown rice and up to 25 cups of coffee a day with honey and a couple of scoops of tuna fish. Sounds incredible right?
At the time my body fat got down to 2.9 which is a really dangerous level. I may have looked pretty good on the outside but inside it was very dangerous thing to do. But I wanted the movie to be about change. How people have to adapt to different challenges because if they don't they will be conquered.
I will always believe the adaptation is the key to survival and that's what this story was all about ... and while getting smashed by Superstrong CLUBBER LANG continuously four months of rehearsal plus the fight, tended to wear a person out so I would literally go to the corner between rounds, when I wasn't directing and try to get some blood back into my head so I could carry-on with the complicated fight choreography … It's funny, I never knew this picture existed!"
Despite Stallone's vehement protests, there's bound to be one person out there mad enough to take it on. Just not me.