The golden era of bodybuilding produced numerous legends that simply transformed the sport of bodybuilding. One such legend was the great Sergio Oliva.
Sergio Oliva was nicknamed ‘the myth’ and he indeed was an anomaly. The monstrous muscular size that he sported was something unusual in that era. His physique also exhibited a great deal of aesthetics.
Owing to his insane physical development, Sergio went on to win the coveted Mr.Olympia title three times in a row. And to date, his name is remembered as one of the most iconic Mr.Olympia of all time.
So stay with us as we throw light on Sergio Oliva’s workout routine and diet plan that made him a dominant and unstoppable force in the world of bodybuilding in the late 60s.
Let’s get started.
Sergio Oliva’s Workout Principles
Sergio’s lifting journey started with competitive weightlifting. Well, that’s what gave his body the kind of muscle density that made his bodybuilding career a successful one by giving his body a big, strong, and brutal appearance.
When Sergio switched to bodybuilding he already had the foundation to build an amazing physique. And he did so by sticking to his well-structured and intense high-volume exercise routine.
You can get an idea about Sergio’s dedication from the fact that he worked for long hours as a butcher during the daytime and then used to train at night without fail. So without further ado, let’s find out more about his workout routine in the next section.
Sergio Oliva’s Workout Routine
Sergio Oliva’s workout routine was truly one of its kind. It followed a high-volume approach. Owing to this reason, he performed numerous sets and reps for each of his muscle groups which made his physique an iconic one.
You might be surprised to know that Sergio never used to count the number of his working sets. Instead, he used to pre-plan his sets intuitively and knew very well what it would take to adequately stimulate the target muscle group(s).
Sergio used to perform his exercises with partial, fast, and continuous repetitions. Talking about his leg training, he always performed full repetitions on it.
On most of the exercises Sergio preferred to use moderate weights. Doing so ensured that his exercise form is perfect.
But at the same time, he never shied away from using heavy weights on his compound lifts, especially the bench press. In his training sessions, Sergio always made it a point to hit his muscle groups from different angles.
Sergio used to train for 6 days a week hitting each muscle group at least twice a week. Now let’s find out what all exercises were there in Sergio Oliva’s weekly workout routine:-
Monday- Chest and Back
- Bench press (with 200 lbs, 220 lbs, 260 lbs, 300 lbs, 320 lbs, 350 lbs, and 380 lbs)- 7 sets of 8 reps supersetted with Chin-ups- 7 sets of 15 reps
- Dumbbell flys (with 80 lbs dumbbells)- 5 sets of 15 reps supersetted with Parallel bar dips- 5 sets of AMRAP
Tuesday- Shoulders, biceps and triceps
- Military press- 5 sets of 12-15 reps
- Extending heavy barbell curls- 5 sets of 5 reps
- French press- 5 sets of 5 reps
- Preacher bench barbell curls- 5 sets of 10 reps
- Preacher bench dumbbell curls- 5 sets of 5 reps
- Bench dips- 5 sets of 5 reps
Wednesday- Abs, and legs
- Sit-ups- 10 sets of 50 reps
- Hanging leg raises- 5 sets of 20 reps
- Side bends with barbell behind neck- 5 sets of 200 reps
- Barbell back squats- 5 sets of 5 reps
- Standing calf raises- 10 sets of 8 reps
Thursday- Chest and shoulders
- Barbell bench press- 5 sets of 6-8 reps
- Behind the neck barbell press- 5 sets of 5 reps
- Seated dumbbell press- 5 sets of 6-10 reps
- Parallel bar dips- 5 sets of 8 reps
Friday- Arms and back
- Close-grip bench press- 3 sets of 5 reps
- Extending heavy barbell curls- 3 sets of 5 reps
- French press- 3 sets of 5 reps
- One-arm dumbbell tricep extensions- 3 sets of 5 reps
- Close-grip triceps pushdowns- 3 sets of 5 reps
- Behind the neck pull-ups- 5 sets of 5 reps
- Close-grip chin-ups- 5 sets of 5 reps
Saturday- Abs and legs
- Sit-ups- 5 sets of 10 reps
- Leg raises- 5 sets of 10 reps
- Side bends with a bar behind the neck- 5 sets of 50 reps
- Squats (300 lbs)- 3 sets of 3 reps
- Squats (400 lbs)- 2 sets of 3 reps
- Squats (250 lbs)- 3 sets of 20 reps
- Front squats- 5 sets of 10 reps
- Seated calf raises- 5 sets of 5 reps
Sticking To The Basics
Sergio trained in an era when there was no modern gym equipment. Hence, he relied on the basic exercises such as the bench press, squats, chin-ups etc. to build his monstrous physique.
The exercises in his training program were simple but indeed the most effective ones.
Sergio always incorporated certain intensity techniques into his workout routine. He was a big admirer of Joe Weider’s rest-pause training protocol.
Along with that he also loved performing supersets (of antagonist muscle groups), dropsets, combos, etc. to completely exhaust his muscles.
Sergio Oliva’s Diet Plan
Sergio’s physique had proportions that were simply unparalleled. His monstrous torso of 59 inches tapered down to his narrow waist of just 28 inches. Maintaining such jaw-dropping proportions was possible by sticking to a perfect diet plan. And Sergio was always disciplined enough to do so.
Sergio Oliva’s muscle-building diet plan primarily consisted of eggs and steak. He used to eat a lot of them owing to their high-protein content. Such a kind of diet plan not only fetched him size gains but also made him as strong as a bull.
Sergio Oliva’s meal plan consisted of 4 major meals. Let’s get to know what all food items were included in each of them:-
Meal 1- Breakfast
- Scrambled eggs
Meal 2- Lunch
Meal 3- Snack
- Protein shake
Meal 4- Dinner
No Serious Dieting
Unlike the majority of bodybuilders of current times, Sergio was never too cautious about his eating habits. Once he even went on saying,
“I only dieted three weeks out from the show. I didn’t need to diet; I was eating everything.”
Sergio had a sweet tooth and owing to this reason he used to enjoy pastries and soft drinks. But at the same time he also trained hard enough to ensure that he doesn’t ever go out of shape.
Apart from eating like a horse, Sergio also ensured to keep his body hydrated. To serve that purpose he used to drink two gallons of water every day.
Sergio Oliva’s Supplements
In the times of Sergio Oliva, the supplement industry was still in its infancy stage. Nevertheless, he used to rely on whatever few supplements that were available at that time.
Sergio Oliva’s supplements stack included the following:-
- Whey protein
The former fueled his muscles with amino acids that boost muscle recovery and growth whereas the latter fetched his body with certain micronutrients along with covering up for nutritional deficiencies.
The name of Sergio Oliva will always be remembered with respect. Apart from being a champion bodybuilder, he was also someone who many people look up to even in the current times.
And if you are reading this we can be pretty sure that you must be inspired by his legacy. You can certainly learn a lot from Sergio Oliva’s workout routine and diet plan and can utilize it to take your fitness levels to whole new heights.