Franco Columbu's workout – success leaves clues
Which Franco Columbu workout tips can you apply to your training? Franco is an accomplished powerlifter and bodybuilder, holding numerous world records and titles, including Mr. Olympia in 1976 and 1981.
You might not be able to deadlift 750 pounds like Franco, but you can surely implement his sage fitness advice. How do you know that you can rely on Franco Columbu's workout tips? Franco developed from a teenage boxer to one of the strongest powerlifters of all time, competing in the first Worlds Strongest Man in 1977, and winning the coveted Mr. Olympia twice as a bodybuilder.
Sadly, Franco Columbu passed away on August 30, 2019, while vacationing in his native Sardinia at the age of 78. The video below is a poignant tribute to a man who is an inspiration to millions. Rest in peace Franco Columbu.
The Franco Columbu workout mindset
Here is the foundation of Franco's workout and training routine:
“Train each body part twice a week, as hard and relentless as possible each time. Every second week, I'd deadlift after my leg routine. My deadlift workout was 300 for five reps, 400 for five reps, 500 for five reps, 600 for two or three reps, 650 for one rep, and 700 for one rep.”
The main clue here appears to contradict those who preach squat or deadlift every day. Franco Columbu's workout did not consist of hitting squats and deadlifts every single day.
Training each body part twice a week gives ample rest and recovery time of at least 48 hours. As Anthony Robbins said – “Success Leaves Clues.”
Franco Columbu training routine
Here are 5 Powerful Franco Columbu Workout Tips You Can Introduce in Your Routine Today:
#1. Leg Workout
According to Rick Madden of Muscle and Brawn, Franco did the following squat workout: 7 sets of barbell squats starting with three warmup sets of 20 reps, 15 and 10. His squat workout sets went from 8 repetitions to 6, 4, and then 2. Besides squats, Franco also included four sets of leg presses, leg extensions 6-7 sets, three sets of barbell lunges, and six sets of deadlifts in the same leg workout.
This leg workout alone would take hours for a mere mortal to complete.
If you do seven sets of squats and rest between sets for 3 to 5 minutes, your squat workout will take about an hour. You have to warm up and rest between sets.
#2. Chest Workout
A superset is when you do two exercises, one after the other with no rest in between. In his chest workout, Franco did:
Three sets of bench presses using 15 repetitions, ten reps, and four reps. After each of these bench press sets, Franco did 20 reps of cable crossovers. Cable crossovers are a superset that you can immediately apply to your chest workout.
Besides bench press and cable crossovers, Franco also did dumbbell flyes with another superset of cable crossovers, incline bench press, barbell pullovers, dips, and more cable crossovers.
In total, Columbu's workout included nine sets of cable crossovers with 70 repetitions. Do not be discouraged because you have to remember that both Columbu and Schwarzenegger were young and using steroids (legal at that time, but not now), which helps you workout out harder and longer.
But, don't use steroids yourself cause they are illegal and cause a host of other minor physical and mental problems like:
- Heart disease
- Suicidal thoughts, depression, agitation, and irritable mood
- Hair loss
- Breast enlargement in men, also known as Gynecomastia.
- Shrinking of testicles
If you think the catastrophic consequences of steroids is a big fat lie, check out this article with a full list of 31 dead pro bodybuilders who died from steroid-induced health complications at a young age. They paid the price for building inhuman muscle. They won many prestigious awards, but at a deadly price. The Fit Apprentice is for improving health and muscle for beginners. Remember, your health always comes first.
#3. Shoulder Workout
Franco Columbu's reported shoulder workout included:
- four sets of lateral raises,
- six sets of bent over reverse laterals,
- four sets of behind the neck presses
- three sets of alternating dumbbell front raise and
- three sets of lateral cable raise.
#4. Back Workout
Franco's back workout consisted of:
- Six sets of wide-grip pull-ups,
- Four sets of T-bar rows,
- Four sets of cable rows and
- Three sets of one-arm dumbbell rows and
- a superset of neutral grip pull-ups,
another monster workout for the ‘Sardinia Strongman' who once blew up a hot water bottle in 55 seconds on live tv.
#5. Franco's Arm Workout Training Routine
He suggests five sets of Incline Dumbbell Curls supersetted with Lat Bar Triceps Pushdowns. Next, do five sets of Semi-Cheat Curls supersetted with Lying Triceps Curls and the last five sets of Scott Bench Curls supersetted with Close Bench Presses. If you want to follow this exact program, read Franco's own words on how to get massive arms here.
In those days when Franco was competing against Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane, they trained twice a day, with early morning and evening workouts. Columbu and Schwarzenegger were close friends and were brought to America by Joe Weider. He sponsored their bodybuilding training with a stipend of 65 dollars a week.
Most likely, you have a job, profession, career, or you are retired and are not a professional bodybuilder. You do not want to train 5 hours a day, like Columbu and Schwarzenegger. And you do not have a Joe Weider in your life to sponsor your workouts. So, you have to do what works best for your age and fitness level today.
Franco's 5 most important workout and training tips:
- Even though they were young, both Columbu and Schwarzenegger needed one full rest day in between body part workouts. So, for example, for one week, do not do a squat or deadlift workout more than three times, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You need at least one day in between, Tuesday and Thursday to recover. On Tuesday and Thursday, assuming your training is on weekdays and not weekends, you can work upper body or assistance exercises.
- Superset bench press with cable crossovers to build a champion chest. Success leaves clues. Why reinvent the wheel when you have a great workout strategy that you can immediately implement into your routine. Of course, every person's skeleton, tendon attachments, and body structure is different, but it is certainly worth a try for yourself and see how it goes.
- Superset incline curls back to back with triceps press down to build bigger arms.
- Allowing your muscles to rest helps them grow. Proper rest gives your tendons and joints time to get accustomed to heavy weight training.
- Less is More. Even Franco Columbu did not work a body part more than twice a week. According to this last note, perhaps it is enough to train squats and deadlifts only twice a week. In that case, you can do squats on Monday and Friday, deadlifts on Wednesday, and Bench Press/Upper body on Tuesday and Thursday.
Don't be a big shot and attempt to go all out on squats, deadlifts, or bench presses every day especially if you are an older powerlifter or bodybuilder. Eventually, your tendons will say “No Mas,” and you might end up with very painful tendonitis or tennis elbow or worse. Injuries will stop you dead in your tracks from training.
- Franco Columbu Deadlift Record Will Inspire You to Achieve Your Dreams
- 23 Best Eddie Hall Deadlift Program Tips
- 11 Best Steph Curry Deadlift and Training Secrets
- One Great Beginner Deadlift Workout Routine for Powerlifting and Fitness
- Calories Burned Lifting Weights: How Many Can You Burn in One Workout?
Books by Franco Columbu: (Why settle for a questionable free download of Franco Columbu's book of bodybuilding pdf when you can have his actual book?)
Rare hand-signed photo of Franco Columbu:
Pin the image below to share 5 Franco Columbu workout tips you can use today: