80’s Action Hero Bodies / Workouts Ranked (WHOSE IS BEST?)

If you could choose one action hero workout partner, who would it be? In this video, I am going to rank the individuals that I’ve always wanted to train with based on the criteria of motivation, physique goals, training style, and their x-factor.

So who did I pick for my top 6? Well these legends I want to train with are Jean Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Carl Weathers, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, and Sylvester Stallone. These Hollywood legends set the stage for their physique and training that inspired me to begin training myself.

While the order of appearance does not reflect the ranking of each individual, I gave each one a score that shows which one I would most like to train with (even though I would love to train with every single one of them!)

First up in the list of legendary action heroes that I would want to train with is Van Damme. He was not as motivating to me because I think he might be TOO nice. With that in mind, I give his motivation factor an 8/10. His physique was something I always wanted to achieve myself – lean and muscular. Being my aspiration, I gave him a 10/10 for physique goals. As I mentioned before, his training was very athletic while incorporating an eye on aesthetics, thus Van Damme’s workout an 9/10 in this category. When it came to his x-factor he earns a 7 with an overall score of 34.

Dolph Lundgren has always motivated the hell out of me, inspiring me to train hard and put in the effort to achieve my dream body. This motivation score is granted a 9. While his muscular development was nothing short of amazing, it wasn’t 100% the physique that I dreamed of having, however I still wanted to resemble him somewhat. Here he earns an 8.5. Dolph Lundgren’s workout was almost exclusively athletic until starring in Rocky IV and moved to light weight and high reps. In this category, he earns a 7. That x-factor and what it meant to me earned him an 8 with an overall score of 32.5.

The next action hero that I would love to workout with is Carl Weathers. In the motivation category, he was nothing short of amazing to me. I know that getting a training session in with him would push me to new limits – here he earns a resounding 10. With great muscular development and leanness, something I aspired to have too, I give him a 9.5. Carl Weathers’ workouts, while impressive, were not exactly my favorite. There are a few things I would change, so I give him 7.5. The x-factor he brings to the table got ranked an 8 with a final score of 35.

How could any action hero list exist without the inclusion of Arnold Schwarzenegger? Knowing that training with him would push me past what I wouldn’t want to do he earns a 10/10. His physique was something that almost everyone in the 80s and 90s wanted, including some of my aspirations myself. Here, he earns an 8.5. Schwarzenegger’s workout, with his Golden Six, was an inspiration for some of my own training as well as some of the training programs I’ve written these days. Here, Arnold earns a 9. His x-factor, bringing that little bit extra to the table makes him one of the most ideal training parters around, giving him a 10 and an overall score of 37.5.

Number 5 on this list is the legendary Chuck Norris. In my opinion, he wouldn’t bet the most motivating out of this list to me (that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t at all) so he earns a 7. Norris’ physique was not exactly what I aspired to have or related to that well, so he earns a 5. With a training style least similar to mine, I have to give him a 6. That x-factor he brings to the table however earns a 9/10 with a final score of 27.

If you know anything about me and what got me into training in the first place as well as who I modeled myself after, you know I would have to include Sylvester Stallone. Knowing he would push me to train hard and be a good parter, I give him a 9.5. Sly had the perfect balance of leanness and muscular development, something I related to in my aspirations overall. This perfect relation gives him a 10/10. With an impressive training split that showed his work ethic and with a style very close to the way I train myself, I have to give Stallone’s workouts a 9.5 out of 10 here. When it comes to Sly’s x-factor, how much I admired him, his movies, and everything he meant to me growing up in the 80s and 90s – he earns a perfect 10 here. With an overall score of 39.5 out of 40, Sylvester Stallone is hands down the one I want to train with the most.

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52 thoughts on “80’s Action Hero Bodies / Workouts Ranked (WHOSE IS BEST?)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    *NEW “FAST ACTION” Q&A* – Leave your most burning question about this video or any other training, PT or nutrition question within the first 2 hours of this video’s release (AS A SEPARATE COMMENT!!) and I will pick 8 to get a detailed reply from me right here in the comments. Answers will be posted within the first 24-48 hours of you leaving the question. Good luck!

    • Julio Cuello says:

      Hello Jeff, for someone whom managed to lose some weight (about 60 lb) and then gained it back during the pandemic, and now I am looking forward to return to month 1 with AX1. All things considered, do you have anything to suggest on what could I change ?

    • Optimistic Outreach says:

      Paisan! I almost cried tears of joy watching this. Sly has been my motivation, while I always found Norris overrated. Great content!

    • Dagoth Ur says:

      This was a fun video. Make me think what fictional character/videogame character would you want to train with?

      I’d pick either Big Boss (Snake) because of his bulky but athletic physique, and determination.
      Or Duke Nukem, because, he’s Duke Nukem.

  2. Someone on Youtube says:

    Bruce Lee for me. Absolute strength and body control. But Sylvester motivates with his dedication ( he has his own full gym at home).

  3. TheKisj says:

    Personally I’d choose Carl weathers, always found his physique to be nothing short of peak body type

  4. Adrian Vedoy says:

    I’d choose Jeff. He’s not on the list but he’s motivated me to do things I never thought I could.

    • Stephen Bergman says:

      I agree, Jeff has been pivotal in taking my training to the next level…. Thank you for that !! Although I am slightly surprised that my schedule looks more like Dolph, I’m a year older than Jeff, and recovery is fine. Maybe I misunderstood something?

  5. Jacopo Dainotto says:

    If I had to pick 1 it would be JCVD. If anything, because he’s an athlete first and has a background in shotokan karate and kickboxing. Therefore, I’d have definitely enjoyed learning from him and sparring too.
    But, there are things that I like better from other guys that you mentioned.
    Motivation speaking, Stallone has to be the one for me. Similar to you, he’s a fellow Italian and the Rocky movies are epic. On top of that, he simply gives me the right vibes.
    However, Weathers’ physique looks the most impressive to me. He’s so ripped and isn’t excessively big. If Van Damme didn’t focus so heavily on bodybuilding, it would’ve probably been between the two.
    When it comes to the X-factor, I don’t particularly favour one over another, they are unique in their own ways and there may be things that I’d want to take from all of them, but there’s one man whose charisma would really win me over, and that’s Bruce Lee.
    Unfortunately, he’s not on the list, so I’m going with Van Damme.

    • Jacopo Dainotto says:

      @Patrick Espana well, Stallone, Weathers and Lundgren must be fun options as well.
      No matter what, kicking trees, getting beat up, forced to split and getting chased by german sheppards sounds a lot funnier

  6. Mike Starshak says:

    Hey Jeff!
    I’m a new follower/fan of your workout channel. I’m 58 and have been playing baseball since I was six. I took 18yrs off after I got married and raised my kids and went back to baseball 3yrs ago. Doing well, all things considered, but would like to up my game and looking for a challenging routine to help me. I pitch, play middle infield and catch. 5’9″, 170lbs. Thanks and keep up the great work! (Shout out to Jessie too!)

    • Hrcky says:

      Bro you’re 58 and U play baseball? Props to you man, I’m not even 20 and I can barely shoot a ball

  7. GalaxyTraveler says:

    Actually, my ‘training partner’ has been Matus Valent for the longest time. He has a great physique!

  8. Robert Russell says:

    Sly was always being motivated by some Greek tragedy in his life, it was the guys around Rocky that motivated me, Creed being my favorite with the technical aspects of training in R3. But Mickey was right there with his old school regimen and his craggy voice encouraging you to “crap thunder” or chase chickens and run around with logs on your back. Mickey’s workouts were or are the most fun. Sometimes I can hear Mickey’s voice in my head doing a farmer’s walk with 5 gallon water jugs I bought from Home Depot

    As far as physique in my younger days Stallone hands down. Now that I am 57 and soft…I’d take Chuck Norris just to get back to a decent starting…but I like wine and comfort food which is on me

  9. Rick Murphy says:

    JCVD for me. Huge street fighter fan growing up, and seeing him as Guile with the ridiculous biceps and flip kicks made him very memorable. Carl Weathers is a runner up because of Predator. Arnold is iconic but always seemed unachievable for my body type.

  10. offroadlegend_xp says:

    Love the content, relatable because everyone’s fitness and how they want to look will always be from someone. Most likely the media. At a young age it was Bruce Lee, then Brad Pitt, ronnie coleman, dave bautista. But no one can say mark walhberg isn’t insane goals!

  11. MarkR1256 says:

    I’d have to go with Arnold, being in my 60’s, he was always thee guy . Posters in the gyms, his Encyclopedia Of Modern Bodybuilding, for training back then he was the go to guy. I definitely have to rate your videos and workouts next Vince, as you have refined and taken training to the next level with new and improved knowledge plus with the help of today’s media.

    • Walt Blackadar says:

      Agreed. Sly is good but Arnie is the best. Motivation? I still love his quote about a physique cannot be bought, stolen or inherited. And while Arnold is taller than I am, I share a similar frame (though his physique puts mine to shame) so I tend to relate to him in size a bit more than Sly. The movie Rocky may be motivational but that’s in a theater. In the gym Arnold is King.

    • Dan Kay says:

      @Walt Blackadar You can’t compare to Arnold. Though JCVD is probably more attainable for my physique and his flexibility is legendary. Arnold seems like who I’d want to hang with though.

  12. Andrew Scafidi says:

    Sly is the winner. One thing that you didn’t mention is his devotion to stay in shape and work out so hard over the decades he’s been doing it. Can never think of a time where the camera has caught him in average or bad shape. He is someone I would love to meet and talk with. Definitely an inspiration!!

    • KaosRunes says:

      @Jeff Robert de Niro should have just bulked up to match Stallone not the other way around.

    • Jeff says:

      @KaosRunes Well, DeNiro added weight, while Sly lost weight…at least that’s what Stallone said. Makes sense….DeNiro would have looked 2 weight divisions lighter than Stallone otherwise.

    • Jeff says:

      @KaosRunes It’s too bad DeNiro really couldn’t add a lot of muscle. I think he was 70 when that came out….at that age, it’s tough to add on bulk.

  13. Ezio Lacandia Bijelkic says:

    JCVD for me, not even a frog could do those epic splits. Jokes aside, his physique has always been a masterpiece. Carl Weathers does deserve a mention, i always dreamed to have his deltoids, so big and rounded. PS: when you put Arnie at the 2nd position, i was expecting Jessie to come in with Arnie’s voice 😀

  14. Thomas Barron says:

    Arnold # 1. His Encyclopedia was my bible in the gym. Would like to see his updated workouts and diet plans now. Stallone # 2. He was a huge motivator and increased the level of internal competitor in me. Would love to cut down to muscularity from Rambo 1-3.

  15. David K says:

    Since joining Athlean X, Jeff has given me exactly what I’ve needed…Heart, Lungs, Strength & Stamina. My vote goes to Jeff!

  16. Eddie Hajnasr says:

    It’s Jean Claude Van Damme for me. I grew up watching all his movies and I would get so motivated after seeing them. Just like you felt about Sylvester Stallone I felt about JCVD. His physique appeared to be very attainable and it was the way I wanted to look. This was a great video Jeff. Keep putting out the amazing content. You motivate me to workout as well and I’ve incorporated the things you have taught on your channel into my exercise routine and seen great results.

    • Robert Nguyen says:

      Definitely Van Damme, after Bruce Lee he was one of my biggest motivations in fitness and martial arts. The movie Kickboxer is what instilled my love for Muay Thai.

  17. Craft D. Pham says:

    respect the list and breakdown. personally for me, Bruce Lee would be the guy i want to train with and pick his brain. he was 5 foot 7 & a half at 140 pounds, i’m at 5’6″ 150 (125 being the leanest i ever was while training MMA). he was the one i looked up to the most as a kid, it was like watching my uncle on TV. but out of this list, Sly gets my pick. being from the Philly area, Rocky was the movie everyone watched and everyone wanted to be. with with the Creed movies, seeing him train with Michael B Jordan, i wanted to be in that gym. keep up the Amazon videos Jeff!

  18. Hovzlozki says:

    For me, my ideal gym partner would be Jeff Cavalier from Athlean X, the man that motivated me to turn my life around. From being too fat to fit into my clothes to now being too muscular to fit into them.
    So motivation is 10/10

    Plus going by the celebs physique you chose, we also have similar height and build, and your physique is what I aim to work towards.
    So physique is 10/10

    Training style: your videos are my training bible so 10/10

    And you know the x-factor is there, a man that knows how to joke around while be serious about the things that you need to be serious about 10/10

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