Welcome to this new “Get inspired by…” article. While this website is mainly for natural bodybuilders, it’s undeniable that old-school bodybuilders were inspiring and were in great condition on stage, steroids or not. It would be a shame not to get inspired from their stories and work ethic.
We will go through a quick biography of the athlete presented and discuss their main beliefs and best training advice. Then, we will talk about their program and see what, as natural bodybuilders, we can learn from them.
This article will only take you 5 minutes to read! Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section, they will be answered!
Today we are talking about someone special…someone huge and green…!
The Incredible Hulk! Played by Lou Ferrigno in the ‘80s. A lot of bodybuilders have had an acting career and whilst not everyone can claim to have had the same career as Arnold Schwarzenegger… bodybuilders like Lou Ferrigno and Serge Nubret also had their moments of fame in the movies.
If you do not know who Lou Ferrigno is, this guy was a monster – there are no other words to describe him.
Lou Ferrigno was Arnold’s rival in the movie Pumping Iron. Lou did everything he could to beat Arnold but unfortunately for him, he got the 3rd place at the Mr. Olympia in 1975, with Serge Nubret at the 2nd place.
These are Lou Ferrigno’s titles:
- 1971 : Mr. America Pro (WBBG), 1er
- 1971 : Mr. America Teen (AAU), 4e
- 1972 : Universe (NABBA), 2e
- 1972 : Mr. America Pro (WBBG), 2e
- 1973 : Mr. America (IFBB),
- 1973 : Universe (IFBB),
- 1974 : Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 3e
- 1974 : Mr. International (IFBB),
- 1975 : Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 3e
- 1992 : Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 12e
- 1993 : Mr. Olympia (IFBB), 10e
- 1994 : Olympia Masters (IFBB), 2e
When Lou was a kid, he suffered an ear infection and partially lost his hearing. When he was a teen, other kids would make fun of him and call him “Deaf Louie”. This is one of the reasons Lou started bodybuilding at the age of 13. He gained a lot of motivation from those hard years. Lou also had a complicated relationship with his dad which led him to work even harder.
Growing up, he was a fan of Steve Reeves, Larry Scott and Sergio Oliva. He was into comic books like Superman, Batman or The Fantastic Four with the Hulk! These characters motivated him to become big and work hard on his body.
During his bodybuilding years, Lou was working in a sheet metal factory in Brooklyn. Bodybuilding was not enough to fund his lifestyle. He then quit this dangerous job after one of his co-workers lost his hand on the job.
After his fight for the Mr. Olympia title in 1975, he took a break from bodybuilding. He then made a come back in 1992 and 1993 for Mr. Olympia and finished at the 10th and 12th place.
In 1980, Lou married psychotherapist Carla Green who was also his manager and went on to become a personal trainer. Lou and Carla have 3 children: Shanna, Brent and Louis Jr.
What was impressive about Lou Ferrigno?
Lou Ferrigno was a mass monster. He was always heavier than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, and as Nick’s Strength and Power said in his youtube video, he made Dorian Yates look small in 1992.
Here are Lou Ferrigno’s stats:
His height: 6″4/ 195 cm
His competition weight: 275lbs/125 kg
His off season weight: 310lbs/140 kg
His arm size: 23″/58 cm
His thighs: 29″/74 cm
His calves: 20/51 cm
His waist: 34″/86 cm
His chest: 58″/147 cm
Lou Ferrigno just like Arnold Schwarzenegger had a massive chest and massive arms!
It is even said Lou had bigger arms than Arnold in his prime. In Pumping Iron, you can hear his dad tell him to intentionally show his arms to the judges, as these are bigger than Arnold’s.
Another impressive fact about Lou Ferrigno is the amount of volume he would do in a session. Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Serge Nubret, Lou would stay in the gym for a very long time and do a great number of sets.
Talking about impressive numbers, here are what Lou Ferrigno’s best lifts are:
Lou Ferrigno workout routine analysis
Looking at his Tuesday session, this is the kind of workout which takes a good 5 hours.
This is the sheer volume Ferrigno was doing some days.
Lou Ferrigno’s program was very smart. And when it’s your full time job, it’s easier to fit a lot in your training and to do it smartly. As I said in many other old-school bodybuilder workout analysis, Lou seemed to just stick to his training days no matter what. It is very important to keep the same routine to improve in bodybuilding.
By keeping the same routine in bodybuilding, you then have landmarks and because you always practice the same exercises – you improve on them quicker.
Doing chest and back the day before shoulders and arms was definitely his best option there.
You would not want to do shoulders and arms the day before chest and back as it would be more detrimental than the other way around! Your shoulders and triceps would make you very sore for your chest session.
Your biceps the day before would make you very sore for back session. Doing back the day before biceps might not be the best, but if you are an advanced bodybuilder then it is ok. If you are starting out, you do not need to train that much in a week, which means you can have recovery time in between your sessions.
If you’d like to “train like” Lou Ferrigno as a beginner, here is what you could do:
Wednesday: Shoulders/ Arms
Friday: Chest/ Back
The same would apply for intermediates, but you can add some more:
Friday: Chest/ Back
Saturday: Legs/ ARMS OR SHOULDERS
As an advanced bodybuilder, you could try Lou’s routine. The only thing is that you might have to dramatically reduce the amount of sets. Or you could follow this intermediate routine and adjust it to the amount of sets that will suit you.
What can we learn about Lou Ferrigno?
As in most of old-school bodybuilder articles, here are a few quotes which we can learn from:
“I certainly don’t agree with the bodybuilders who say you can get big forearms just by squeezing the dumbbell handles when doing curls. In a few cases this may be true, but those guys would build big forearms by merely eating eggs in the morning. Most bodybuilders, myself included, have to work very hard for any kind of meaningful forearm development.”
This tells us a lot about forearms. These kind of muscles, just like calves, are quite neglected and often done at the end of the session. Truth is, if you want big forearms or calves, you have to do big sessions and train them seriously. You can’t just grow your forearms by working them for 15 minutes at the end of your workout.
There is an article on how to get bigger forearms where I explain those points.
“Pumping iron is not what it used to be. It doesn’t have the personality it used to. When we started out, people who worked out had nothing. Now there is so much money involved; back then it was the love of the sport. We appreciated what we have. Today it’s not the same”
This quote might be a bit more controversial but it is to remind us that old-school bodybuilding had its own great vibe of hard-work with no shortcut. The modern bodybuilding industry is all about marketed products and an aggressive underground market of PEDs, steroids, sarms… We often hear that bodybuilding is not the same anymore, the passion is gone.
So don’t go for the shortcut, go in for the passion first! Otherwise, you will burn out fast!
How is Lou Ferrigno doing now?
In the video above, Lou Ferrigno said he was keeping himself active although he does not train like he used to do. He said there is no need for the heavy weights anymore. He simply keeps it pretty light and uses friendlier movements with accessories like machines. He does quite a lot of cardio in one session, 30 to 40 minutes and then does 30 minutes of weights. Considering he is almost 70 years old, that is a great everyday routine.
Will his son Lou Ferrigno Jr. catch him on his size?
Lou Ferrigno Jr. has been seen quite a few times with his dad working out and is already an actor.
Who knows what’s next for the Ferrigno generation!
Conclusion, what to remember from Lou Ferrigno’s program:
- Find a good routine and keep at it
- Don’t be scared of doing too much as a natural bodybuilder, but know where you stand and what your current level is
- Train small muscles like calves and forearms like any other bigger muscles. Give them proper sessions.
- Passion should come before anything else in bodybuilding!