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 take you 6 minutes to read! Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section, they will be answered!
If you do not know Serge Nubret…
Serge Nubret is one of the most beloved, successful, iconic bodybuilders of the 70s and 80s:Serge Nubret is the type of guy who have had got that kind of titles:
- 1958 – Mr. Guadeloupe
- 1960 – IFBB World’s Most Muscular Man
- 1970 – NABBA Mr. Universe 2nd
- 1970 – IFBB Mr. Europe (Tall)
- 1972 – IFBB Mr. Olympia (3rd)
- 1974 – IFBB Mr. Olympia (2nd)
- 1975 – IFBB Mr. Olympia (2nd)
- 1976 – NABBA Pro Mr. Universe
- 1976 – WBBG Mr. World (2nd)
- 1977 – WBBG Mr. World
- 1977 – WBBG Mr. Olympus
- 1981 – WABBA Pro World Championships
- 1982 – WABBA Pro World Championships
Serge Nubret, or the “Black panther”, was born in Guadaloupe in 1938 and passed away in 2011 in Paris, France. He was a highly reputable bodybuilder and just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, was an actor but with a more modest career.
Passing away, Serge left behind one of the most influential and well-respected bodybuilding careers of all time. While not a Mr Olympia champion, his physique still commands respect and is one of the most iconic in all of bodybuilding!
Just a few months after he started going to the gym, he had already started competing and won the title of Mr Guadeloupe. He carried on and got the title of “The most muscly man in the world” as he got the Mr World title in 1960.
Thanks to his reputation, he will get his first opportunity to play in a movie from Italian producer Duccio Tessari. He would go on to act in many movies in his career such as “Cesar and Rosalie” with the famous french singer Yves Montant and “Le professionel” along with famous french actor Jean Paul Belmondo, or “My son, the hero” in 1962.
The most reputable movie for all of bodybuilding, Serge made an appearance in the classic documentary, Pumping Iron. Serge never quite had the screen-fame of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but became a defining character in his own right.
In 1976, Serge Nubret created the World Amateur Body Building Association (WABBA) which is still active to these days.
Serge Nubret was an awesome bodybuilder, and his training was inspiring. Serge Nubret mainly lifted light weights – especially compared to what he might have been capable of – because he wanted to play it safe and healthy in the long term.
His training could go up to 5 or 6 hours in one day, split across two sessions. This is similar to the kind of volume Arnold Schwarzenneger would perform. Serge Nubret was not there to joke around – a true inspiration of hard work!
Let’s add a final note that Serge Nubret disliked the way bodybuilding was heading with all the drugs and was happy to have been a bodybuilder at the time of the 70s and not after. While drugs were certainly a problem in the 70s-80s, they would become much more common and severe by the time Nubret retired and in current times.
What was impressive about Serge Nubret?
Serge Nubret just like Frank Zane was an aesthetic freak.
Nubret’s physique was powerful and impressive. This is the type of physique everyone wants to see at the Mr Olympia.
If someone like Serge Nubret was making a come-back, no matter what the size of these dudes are, he would still have some of the best proportions in the game. This is what golden-era bodybuilding looked like!
It’s hard to spot any weak parts on Serge Nubret’s physique, maybe his legs, but that’s the same as most old-school bodybuilders. It was just part of the aesthetic shape standards.
If you look at his upper body, he has an exceptional shape overall. His chest was big so were his shoulders. Something quite rare to have both at the same time, and easily among the best chests and delts of all time.
One thing which makes it even better than it actually is his tiny waist. This is the whole point of an aesthetic physique – creating a significant difference between the width of the shoulders and waist. While his shoulders and chest are both highly impressive, his tiny waist definitely emphasises that look and provide the staggering V-taper that Nubret is famous for.
He also had an INCREDIBLE back and insane biceps. It is definitely rare to be that “lucky”, genetically, and to maximise it with great training.
Despite having long biceps, Serge Nubret still managed to get a great bicep peak. Keep that in mind next time you’re worried about your genetics!
Another impressive thing about Serge Nubret is his high volume type of workouts. Serge would always go for lighter weights and use very-high repetitions. We could say that this type of work-out works better if you are enhanced, but it’s also less risky for tendon injuries which we see often in PED users.
It is also totally possible to improve on a high rep scheme. People always fight over what you should exactly do. But, the truth is, you can make great gains with both higher and lower reps – as long as you’re challenging yourself by the end of the set and this resulting in progression overtime.
We will talk about his program soon, so you can see how Serge Nubret trained. Last impressive fact, but certainly not least, it has been said Serge Nubret could bench-press 225kg/500lbs. That explains his amazing chest and delts!
What can you learn from Serge Nubret?
Just like in others “get inspired” articles, we will get a few quotes from Serge Nubret and see what we can learn from him as natural bodybuilders.
“Trust me when you love something you don’t need motivation“
That is certainly 100% true.
If you love bodybuilding and have a plan ahead, this won’t feel like a chore. A lot of people complain about working out and how hard this is. Truth is, they might just not want to get into training yet. One good piece of advice if you are struggling with getting started is that you might hate it at first but once you see results, you will love it!
Bodybuilding is about getting return on your hard work, and that can take 4-12 weeks to see, even if it starts happening sooner.
Your body gets used to training and just like when you get quick dopamine reward from watching TV, you will get dopamine and endorphins reward from completing your workout. The key here is to get started, force yourself, you will love it in the end. Fall in love with the process and the results will flow in, making you more motivated.
“Genetics help to some degree, but the most important thing is the mind and the spirit. These two are even more powerful than physical characteristics that are passed on”
Serge Nubret is totally right there, genetics are not all. You don’t know your genetic potential until you get there – and that’s at least a decade of training away. If you train very hard with awesome genetics you will be place amongst the best. But it does not mean you do not have a chance to stand up with not so good genetics. Work on something else, your condition on stage, how ripped you are, how confident you are to the judges.
You can’t change your genetics, but you control what you do with them. I’ve never met someone who was limited by their genetics, rather than their habits.
“Eat a lot and train hard, I am sure that you will succeed”
There it is. Eat a lot and train hard. Not much else to be said in bodybuilding. If you are a “hard-gainer”, please read this article. You are probably missing a few key points! We also have an extreme guide on how to get big fast!
What was Serge Nubret’s workout?
Nubret was working each of his muscles twice a week. He did not think training once a week for each muscle group was enough for muscle growth to happen. Serge Nubret would basically do such long sessions that he would consider this as his cardio. He was certainly burning a lot of calories and his diet was well-structured.
At the end of the day, cardio is not necessary to lose weight. As explained in our nutrition guide, cardio just helps burning calories. You can do cardio if you enjoy it and for the keep-up of your heart. Just know that you can simply lose weight by being at a calorie deficit.
Many people will say you need full rest days for recovery. Serge Nubret was not part of this idea and trained 6 days per week with abs on Sunday. Surely Serge Nubret used some substances, but it is still definitely possible to train everyday if you are an advanced natural bodybuilder. He was completely right in his approach as a professional.
Let’s actually just see what his full program was like and what we can get out of it as natural bodybuilders.
Serge Nubret was doing crunches every morning, 7 days per week and this for an hour straight. That’s around 2000 crunches without a pause.
Serge Nubret’s Routine:
What can we learn as natural bodybuilders and apply from Serge Nubret’s routine?
One thing just like we saw with Arnold Schwarzenegger is that Serge Nubret was doing a high volume type of workout. Of course, performance-enhancing substances might have helped but it is good to remember that, as natural bodybuilders, the better you get, the more resilient/resistant you are. Being natural is no excuse not to push yourself – you just need to be smarter and more patient than a steroid user!
One thing we love about Serge Nubret’s routine is that he is specialising. We made an article on speciliasing which basically means doing the right exercise selection for your goals. Surely Nubret does a lot of exercises for one muscle compared to the average natural bodybuilder, but he still seems to focus on doing a lot of sets instead of doing more “pointless” exercises. This focus means more efficient training.
He goes onto doing 8 sets for some muscles. This is exactly what you should do to get better. Just hammer the exercises which are good for you. Why do 4 sets of one exercise and 4 sets of another similar one. Just pick one and do 8 sets instead, and focus on working hard consistently and increasing your weight when you can!
The last thing we want to point out is sticking to the basics and getting them right.
That’s very important. Too many bodybuilders try new techniques and things which they think will make them improve faster. There is no magic, it’s always about the basics even at an advanced level, and getting them right and improving them over time.
Looking at Serge Nubret’s routine, it’s pretty straight forward. He repeats the exact same routine over and over. His chest and quad days are the same as all other days, because it’s a good routine and it works.
We made an article on why you should stick to the same routine to improve. This is because you get good at what you do the most and once you have found something which works, why change it?
You can’t really find any fancy superset/dropset in his program apart from his arm training session.Serge Nubret had a very smart routine!
Arnold also did the same days over and over!
What has Serge Nubret become?
Serge Nubret was still in shape as he got older.
In this video, he was 70 years old and still had huge 20″ arms. This video is pretty funny: Serge Nubret just randomly pulls out a measure tape from his pocket and a fan measures his arms. This man knows he’s got a great physique ;).
Unfortunately, Serge Nubret left us in 2011 at age 72. In an interview for bodybuilding.com, Serge said he would still train 2 hours a day, 6 times per week. A real passionate bodybuilder.
May he rest in peace – and continue to inspire generations of bodybuilders to come!
What’s to remember about Serge Nubret and his routine?
- Stick to the same routine once you have found what works
- Do high reps if this is what works for you
- Stick to the basics even at an advanced level
- You have a very long way to go before hitting your “natural limit” – keep grinding!