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Old school advice for beginners

Old-school bodybuilder Franco Columbu was famous for building a powerful physique for the bodybuilding stage.

Born in Italy, Franco Columbu was a powerlifter who won numerous strong man competitions in Europe before competing in the sport of bodybuilding. He is perhaps best known as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s training partner in the 1970s when they first arrived in United States.

Columbu won the Mr. Olympia title in 1976, fighting off a tough challenge from the insanely conditioned Frank Zane. After the competition Columbu announced his retirement from the sport but made a successful comeback to the competitive arena in 1981 when he won his second Sandow in a tight contest against 16 contestants on the Olympia stage.

In his book ‘Winning Bodybuilding’ Columbu recommends a programme for newcomers who are embarking on their first weight lifting journey.

The best exercises for beginners are:

  • Shoulders – standing barbell press
  • Back – bent-over-barbell rows
  • Chest – flat bench press
  • Legs – squats
  • Calves – calf raises
  • Triceps – dips
  • Biceps – barbell curls
  • Abdominals – leg raises

Columbu suggests beginners perform 4 sets of each exercise with as many reps they are able to complete in good form.

“As soon as you begin training, it’s very important to keep an accurate record of your weight and measurements,” the former boxer writes in his book. “Check your statistics every six to eight weeks, and take new pictures every eight weeks.”

According to Columbu it is easy to get big. “There are lots and lots of guys who get big. A lot of guys have one amazing body part. But to have proportion and not just one incredible body part, that’s hard.”

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