Lou Ferrigno Diet and Workout Plan

The Lou Ferrigno diet is a classic meal plan that represents the golden age of bodybuilding. During this time most of the top bodybuilders ate more red meat (like steak and ground beef) and less fish.

Rice wasn’t a popular carbohydrate source as it is today, and Lou ate more oatmeal and potatoes. Continue reading for more information on his nutrition plan and training routine.

Who is Lou Ferrigno?

Lou Ferrigno is a retired professional bodybuilder, actor, and fitness trainer. During his bodybuilding days, he won an IFBB Mr. America title and two IFBB Mr. Universe titles.

Lou was featured in the documentary Pumping Iron, which showcased his friendly, yet competitive relationship with rival Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Height6′ 5″ (195.5 cm)
Weight285 – 295 lbs (129.3 kg – 133.8 kg)
Year of birth1951

Lou Ferrigno Diet

Today, there’s a laundry list of diets and meal plans available for anyone looking to get fit. You can count macros, follow keto, or practice intermittent fasting. But in the golden era of bodybuilding, nutrition wasn’t as complicated.

They still took their diets seriously, but kept things simple to gain muscle. Here’s what a sample day of eating looked like for him:

Meal 16 whole eggs, 4 pieces of toast and fruit
Meal 28 ounces of steak and a salad
Meal 31 can tuna, 1 cup oatmeal and unsweetened apple sauce
Meal 48 ounces grilled chicken and 1 baked potato
Meal 51 can tuna, 1 cup oatmeal and unsweetened apple sauce
Meal 68 ounces ground beef and 1 baked potato
Meal 76 whole eggs and 2 cups cottage cheese

Lou’s Favorite Snack

Lou stressed the importance of eating clean on the go. And when you travel as much as he does, it helps to have healthy snacks.

Lou has a unique bodybuilding snack that includes a can of tuna (water drained), 1 cup of oatmeal and a jar of unsweetened apple sauce.

This is a great high protein snack you can have in between meals, or after a workout. It tastes good and the oatmeal will also provide a valuable source of carbs. Lou says that he used to eat this snack on the plane when traveling and the smell would wake everyone up!

Lou Ferrigno Workout Routine

Day 1Back
Day 2Chest
Day 3Legs
Day 4Shoulders & arms
Day 5Rest

Later in his career Lou recognized the importance of taking care of his body. He found that maxing out each rep doesn’t help build muscle and it can actually cause injury.

Lou focused more on controlling the weight, even if it meant not lifting as much. When you respect the weights and your body, you will have a longer career.

Back Workout

Back exercises require the foundational pull movement. But Lou says you really need to focus on squeezing the back muscles when going through these exercises.

Many beginners often use too much weight when doing rows – which ends up using the biceps more. And you don’t want the biceps to dominate the back pose.

  • 1st exercise: Bent over barbell row 4 x 10
  • 2nd exercise: Pull up 4 x 10
  • 3rd exercise: Seated cable row 4 x 10
  • 4th exercise: Behind the head pull down 4 x 10
  • 5th exercise: Hyperextension 3 x 10-12

Chest Workout

For the incline dumbbell presses Lou likes to increase the bench by 20 degrees. Avoid arching your back during the motion and keep it flat on the bench.

It also helps to grip and press the dumbbells at a slight angle. When your hands are straight, there will be added stress on your shoulders – which can cause injury.

  • 1st exercise: Incline dumbbell bench press 4 x 10-12
  • 2nd exercise: Flat dumbbell fly 4 x 10-12
  • 3rd exercise: Incline barbell press 4 x 10-12
  • 4th exercise: Dumbbell pullover 3 x 15
  • 5th exercise: Standing cable chest fly 3-4 x 15

Leg Workout

Lou Ferrigno played The Incredible Hulk in the 1978 TV series. As a big muscular green guy, he needed to pack on a lot of muscle.

And he wouldn’t have been able to pull off those jean shorts without having some massive legs. Try this intense workout below, if you’re looking to build some thick legs.

  • 1st exercise: Barbell squat 5 x 8-12
  • 2nd exercise: Leg press 4 x 10-12
  • 3rd exercise: Leg extension 4 x 10-15
  • 4th exercise: Seated leg curl 5 x 10-15
  • 5th exercise: Barbell lunge 4 x 10-12
  • 6th exercise: Seated calf raise 4 x 15
  • 7th exercise: Dumbbell seated one leg calf raise 4 x 15

Shoulders & Arms Workout

If you’ve seen Pumping Iron, you’re familiar with the scene where Lou is doing barbell shoulder presses in the gym. You can see he’s putting all his effort into this exercise, as he yells Arnold’s name with each rep.

To top things off, Lou’s gym doesn’t even have a rack for the barbell. He has to pick it up off the floor, before pressing it over his head.

  • 1st exercise: Standing barbell shoulder press 4 x 10-12
  • 2nd exercise: Front plate raise 4 x 15
  • 3rd exercise: Dumbbell lateral raise 4 x 15
  • 4th exercise: Reverse pec deck machine 4 x 15
  • 5th exercise: Dumbbell shrug 4 x 10-12
  • 6th exercise: Standing barbell curl 3 x 10-15
  • 7th exercise: Bodyweight dip 3 x 10-12
  • 8th exercise: Seated alternating dumbbell curl 3 x 15
  • 9th exercise: EZ bar skullcrusher 3 x 15

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