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Franco Columbu’s Workout Routine and Diet Plan

Franco Columbu is a former Mr. Olympia winner and a legend in the sport of bodybuilding, appearing on Pumping Iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was known for his extreme strength – although not being  a better bodybuilder than Arnold, he was a much stronger one. 

“Train each body part twice a week, as hard and relentless as possible each time. Every second week, I’d dead-lift after my leg routine. My dead lift 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.”

FRANCO COLUMBU’S 14-DAY TRAINING SPLIT

DNgSNzHMORNING / AFTERNOON

1 Chest, shoulders Arms

2 Back Legs

3 Chest, shoulders

4 Arms

5 Legs / Back

6 Chest, shoulders

7 Rest

8 Arms / Legs

9 Back

10 Chest, shoulders Arms

11 Back /  Legs

12 Chest, shoulders

13 Arms

14 Rest

NOTE: Columbu trained abs in the morning on days 3, 5, 6, 9, 11 and 12, and in the afternoon on day 1.

POWER BODYBUILDING PROGRAM

These are Columbu’s workouts leading up to his 1981 Mr. Olympia victory.

CHEST

Barbell bench presses: 3 * Sets of 15, 10, 4 Reps

superset with

Cable crossovers: 3 * Sets, Reps 20

Flat-bench dumbbell flyes: 3 * Sets of 20, 15, 6 Reps

super-set with

Cable crossovers: 3 * Sets of 20 Reps

Barbell incline presses: 3 ** Sets of 15 Reps

Barbell pullovers: 3 ** Sets of 15 Reps

Parallel-bar dips: 3 ** Sets To failure

Cable crossovers: 3 ** Sets of 25 Reps

* For the first two super-sets, Columbu pyramided up in weight (and down

in reps) for bench presses and flyes, but he kept the weight the same

for cable crossovers.

** Columbu performed these as a giant set, which is related to a

superset, but with four exercises instead of two. Columbu used the same

weight for all three sets of each movement.

Franco performing a deadlift

SHOULDERS

Standing dumbbell lateral raises: 4 Sets of 10 Reps

Bent lateral raises: 6 Sets of 10 Reps

Behind-the-neck presses: 4 Sets of 10 Reps

Alternating dumbbell front raises: 3 Sets of 8 Reps

Cable lateral raises: 3 Sets of 10 Reps

BACK

Wide-grip pull-ups: 6 Sets of 10-15 Reps

T-bar rows: 4 Sets of 10 Reps

Seated cable rows: 4 Sets of 10 Reps

One-arm dumbbell rows: 3 Sets of 10 Reps

super-set with

Hammer-grip pull-ups *: 3 Sets of 10 Reps

* Use a parallel-grip cable attachment hanging from a pullup bar.

ARMS

Cable pushdowns: 4 Sets of 8 Reps

super-set with

Standing dumbbell curls: 4 Sets of 8 Reps

Lying barbell triceps extensions: 4 Sets of 8 Reps

super-set with

Barbell preacher curls: 4 Sets of 8 Reps

Seated barbell extensions: 4 Sets of 8 Reps

super-set with

Dumbbell incline curls: 4 Sets of 8 Reps

LEGS

Barbell squats: 7 Sets of 20, 15, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 Reps

Leg presses: 4 Sets of 50, 25, 15, 8 Reps

Leg extensions: 6-7 Sets of 20 Reps

Barbell lunges*: 2-3 Sets of 12-15 Reps

Dead-lifts**: 6 Sets of 5, 5, 5, 3, 1, 1 Reps

* Performed every other workout pre-contest

**Performed every other week

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