One of the most musclebound movie montages in Hollywood boxing history takes place midway through Rocky IV, showing the fight prep of Sly Stallone’s Rocky and Ivan Drago’s Dolph Lundgren.
And Lundgren would like to set the record straight: From Stallone doing dragon flags and cleans with a carriage full of people to Lundgren doing shoulder presses, the entire montage wasn’t acted. It happened — and Lundgren says Stallone specifically requested that Drago’s treadmill be set to near vertical.
“That was real,” Lundgren tells Men’s Health. “That wasn’t acting. Running up higher and higher on the treadmill . . . Sly was trying to kill me on that shot.”
Not that Lundgren ever worked out Drago-style. His Rocky alter ego lived in a cutting edge (for the 1980s) gym, but Lundgren and his genius-level IQ would never train that way. “I stay pretty basic,” he says.
Now 61, Lundgren still stays basic. But four decades of pumping iron (and a genius-level IQ) have taught him how to train smart. He no longer lifts the biggest, heaviest weights he can. “A lot of people are lifting with their ego,” he says.
Want to stay jacked for six decades? Bury the ego and try these tips from Lundgren.
Listen to Your Body
Lundgren trains five days a week, doing chest and arms one day, back the next day, and shoulders and biceps the next. He’ll train legs and core twice a week. Years ago, he’d stick to that routine maniacally. Not anymore. “I have a plan in the evening what to do the next day,” he says, “but I adjust on how I feel. If I don’t feel like doing something, I won’t go.”
Lighten Up the Weights
One-rep maxes are cool, but Lundgren’s days of lifting heavy weights are over. He’s found other ways to maintain his muscle. With upper-body exercises, such as biceps curls, bench presses, and rows, he’ll do 4 sets and ladder the reps.
He opens with a 30-rep set, then does 20 reps, then 15, and then 10. “When you start with that many reps, you get blood into the muscle,” he says. “Each set after the first one gets easier.”
Walk the Plank
“When I was 27, I had the core strength there so I could do crazy stuff,” he says. “As you get older, you lose those stabilizing functions.” So today, Lundgren spends extra time training them, focusing on side planks.
He’ll also do forearm planks, then lift a foot off the ground for 2 seconds, tightening his core so his hips don’t tilt to one side. Aim to do three 30-second side planks per side and 2 sets of 10 forearm–plank leg lifts in every workout. Lundgren does hip thrusts, too, to strengthen his glutes.
By Ebenezer Samuel