Sergio Oliva Diet and Workout Plan

Sergio Oliva Diet

The Sergio Oliva diet resembles what most bodybuilders ate during the golden era. They weren’t afraid of eating fat, loved steak, and ate whole eggs. Sergio held a job throughout most of his life, because he needed the money. He worked long hours doing hard labor, so he was burning many calories each day. Because of this active lifestyle, Sergio didn’t need to be very strict with what he ate.

Who is Sergio Oliva?

Sergio Oliva was a Cuban professional bodybuilder. As a child he worked in the sugar cane fields of Guanabacoa, with his father. One day Sergio was invited to a local weightlifting club, where he fell in love with lifting. He had major success as a bodybuilder and won the Mr. Olympia three consecutive times (1967-1969).


Height: 5’10” (177.5 cm)

Weight: 225 – 235 lbs (102.1 – 106.6 kg)

Born: July 4, 1941

Died: November 12, 2012

Sergio Oliva Diet Plan

The kinds of foods that Sergio Oliva ate, very much resembled the golden era diet plan. He simply ate tons of food high in protein, and wasn’t afraid to eat fat. Most bodybuilders today go for the high carb, low fat approach.

But Sergio and other bodybuilders like him favored high protein and high fat foods. The main bodybuilding staples during this time were eggs, steak, and milk.

  • 1st meal: 12 eggs, 4 pieces of toast and 4 cups milk
  • 2nd meal: Nuts and 4 cups milk
  • 3rd meal: Pork, rice, beans, and 4 cups milk
  • 4th meal: Steak, shrimp, fresh bread, large salad and 4 cups milk

Sergio wasn’t too strict with his diet, because of his intense work schedule. He wasn’t hanging out on the beach everyday in California like other bodybuilders. As a foundry worker in Chicago, Sergio would literally be sweating all day.

He drank at least 2 gallons of water and 1 gallon of milk each day. Sergio loved milk and it was a very popular source of nutrition during the golden era.

Chest Workout

The following workout is a mid 1960s chest routine from Sergio Oliva. He was able to grow a 50 inch chest by utilizing these techniques. He followed the 5 x 5 routine that was was made famous Reg Park. This approach is all about using heavy compound movements to build strength and size. After these heavy movements he would drop the weight and focus on definition.

  • 1st exercise: Barbell bench press 5 x 5
  • 2nd exercise: Incline barbell bench press 5 x 5
  • 3rd exercise: Incline dumbbell fly 5 x 10
  • 4th exercise: Flat bench dumbbell fly 5 x 8-10

Back Workout

Sergio had some impressive genetics, but he also put in the work to develop his v-taper. A wide back paired with a thin waist defined bodybuilding during the golden era. Most professional bodybuilders today are overly thick, and the v-taper isn’t as noticeable. Try out this 1960s back workout below, to develop a strong and thick back like Sergio.

  • 1st exercise: Bent over barbell row 5 x 6
  • 2nd exercise: Upright barbell row 5 x 6
  • 3rd exercise: Weighted chin up 4 x 10
  • 4th exercise: Angular chin up 4 x 10
  • 5th exercise: Isometric row 3 x 1 (hold for time)

Shoulder Workout

Developing the shoulders was another important part of the golden era physique. Wide shoulders make up the v-taper, so they are a crucial muscle group to train. Sergio’s shoulder routine is very different, because he completed them in a tri-set. Instead of doing one exercise at a time, he does one exercise, followed by a different exercise. Perform 4-5 of these tri-sets.

  • Warm up: Shoulder swings and light dumbbell raises
  • 1st exercise: Seated behind the neck press 4-5 x 10
  • 2nd exercise: Standing lateral raise 4-5 x 12
  • 3rd exercise: Forward lateral raise 4-5 x 12

Leg Workout

One criticism now of the golden era was the lack of leg development. Although these bodybuilders didn’t have massive legs like today, they were still developed and proportional. Sergio Oliva had defined legs, but his upper body received most of the attention. He followed a range of different movements that would target his quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

  • 1st exercise: Barbell squat 5 x 4
  • 2nd exercise: Seated leg extension 5 x 8
  • 3rd exercise: Hamstring curl 5 x 8
  • 4th exercise: Leg press machine 5 x 5
  • 5th exercise: Standing calf raise 5 x 15
  • 6th exercise: Toe press 5 x 20

Arm Workout

Flexing the biceps has been a classic bodybuilding pose since the golden era. Everyone wanted to have big arms and flexing the biceps makes them appear to look bigger. In the mid 1960s, Sergio managed to grow his arms up to 19 inches. He focused on a variety of heavy curls in order to gain this kind of bulk. This routine begins with the biceps, followed by triceps exercises.

  • 1st exercise: Barbell curl 5 x 10
  • 2nd exercise: Seated dumbbell curl 4 x 10
  • 3rd exercise: Concentration curl 4 x 10
  • 4th exercise: Bodyweight dip 5 x 10
  • 5th exercise: Triceps press 4 x 10
  • 6th exercise: Alternating dumbbell press 5 x 8
  • 7th exercise: Lying triceps extension 5 x 8

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