When folks think of body transformations, they think of people like Christian Bale and Chris Pratt, but included in that discussion needs to be Sylvester Stallone. From his humble beginnings as a thin and less-defined soft-core porn actor, to the beast mode he enabled in the Rocky and Rambo films, we’ve watched Sly’s physique morph through the years even as he’s entered the final stages of his career. Here’s a thorough look back at the many body types that Stallone has sported through his legendary run in Hollywood.
The Party at Kitty and Stud’s (1970)
Meet Sylvester Stallone. He’s trying to make it in Hollywood, and his first stop is slanging some faux dangalang in this soft-core porn. We all have to start somewhere. As for his physique, well, it’s a bit thin and sparse. But Sly is still young — 24 — and has time to grow. Let’s fast-forward a few years past some uncredited roles, some TV appearances, and some bit parts to Sly’s breakout film.
To play a battling bruiser on a quest for the world championship, Sly packed on some pounds and provided himself some muscular definition. He’s still far from the jacked monster he would soon become, but we’re getting somewhere now. Stallone’s body would be one of his signature traits, and Rocky headed him down the road of ripped-ness (I know it’s not a word).
Rocky II (1979)
Three years after his signature character’s debut, Sly really started to beef up. Maybe it was all that Stallone pudding, or maybe it was the memory of his embarrassing soft-core beginnings, but he began to take his work seriously and seriously started building a body that would befit his roles.
Rocky III (1982)
Bam! Welcome to Ripped-ville, where the current mayor — Sly — doesn’t waste time shaking hands and kissing babies; he scarfs down protein shakes and does triceps pushdowns in the mayoral office while kicking chumps in the teeth between sets. Sly’s abs are finally popping, and it looks like he’s down in the single-digit body-fat percentages.
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
When you need a hero to travel to VietNAAAM to bring back some POWs, you don’t call the flabbiest guy in your squadron. You call the ripped, machine-gun-wielding destroyer with the headband. You see, Sly fears nothing except sweat getting in his eyes. Because he has to see in order to kill, and sweat is the enemy of violent tendencies.
Over the Top (1987)
Never mind the constipation face. Just look at those guns! Pow, pow, b*tches! Turn the cap and flip the switch!
Rambo III (1988)
Say it with me now… jaaaaaaaaacked. Stallone could have seriously gone into professional bodybuilding at this point. His traps look like they’re about to burst from his frame and start doing pushups themselves. That choker necklace is holding on by a thread and a prayer. Look at the vascularity. With emphasis this time… jaaaaaaaaacked.
While he’s been vascular for some years now, Sly is packing on the weight, and he looks to be his thickest in Cliffhanger. Too bad those arms of steel couldn’t save that lady at the beginning of the film. Maybe do more wrist curls? Some better form on the lat pulldowns? Whatever you need to do, just stop dropping people from mountaintops. Not cool, bro.
Cop Land (1997)
OK, I see what you did there. You went the other way. Sly packed on the pounds, and not in the healthy way. To play a slow cop fighting corruption, Stallone ate a bunch of doughnuts and garnered a paunch that’s worthy of reverence. Way to commit to a role, you Italian sausage-eating hero.
Get Carter (2000)
After 1998, Stallone’s career started to slow down, and rightfully so: Sly fatigue was beginning to set in after films like Judge Dredd and The Specialist, but he still returned for Get Carter to prove that he could burn off those doughnuts from Cop Land to show off some horrible ink work and arm veins like garden snakes.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Stallone got back into fighting shape for another Rocky sequel, and gone was the mesomorph frame he was sporting in the earlier flicks. He was now rocking a more muscular endomorph look with more muscle and wider shoulders. He’s still ripped, but definitely not as tan as he was in the Rambo films. Like, he’s really white. Maybe a little color would help those abs pop a bit more, Rock?
He took my advice and got a tan. Not bad. Sly is still using a thicker build to intimidate his enemies, this time Burmese terrorists. You can see it in Stallone’s face that he’s put on some healthy weight. Really, this guy’s body is his work, and it’s amazing how he keeps in shape well into the twilight of his career.
The Expendables (2010)
Why Stallone decided to add a ton of ink to his canvas is anyone’s guess, but while it makes for a startling transformation, it totally works for him and accents his still-impressive physique even as he continues to defy physical boundaries in his 60s.
Bullet to the Head (2012)
Possibly the most ripped he’s been since he played Rambo, Stallone looks great in his 60s. How many of you hope that you’ll look as good as this guy when you’re only a decade or two away from kicking the bucket?
Grudge Match (2013)
Stallone was 67 when he did Grudge Match, and while he wasn’t in as great a shape as he was in his last boxing film — Rocky Balboa — he’s still in great condition. The constant weight fluctuations may have made his skin a little looser, but that’s to be expected when you’re knocking down the door of your 70s.
Turning 69 this week, Sly still looks like a beast. There’s no denying he’s one of the biggest box-office draws of all time, but you also have to respect the man’s lift game. Very few human beings in this world can stay in great shape for such a long period of time, but Sly does it, and he does it well.