Serge Nubret Training Program

The Serge Nubret diet is all about to high protein and cut carbohydrates, while competition. His diet plan has a broad approach to the nutrition. He is also known for his intensive and unique workout style. Stay connected to read in depth about Serge Nubret diet and workout plan.

Bodybuilding historians often refer to the 1960's and 1970's as bodybuilding's 'Golden Age,' an homage to the then popularity of the sport and the iconic physiques that represented it.

While the bodybuilders winning contests today are certainly bigger leaner, and dryer, few would argue that they actually 'look' better, at least from a purely aesthetic point of view.

Serge Nubret Training Program

Nubret's revolutionary program is based on achieving the maximum possible pump, which he believed is the single most important factor by far in achieving muscle growth and maximizing leanness. His training prioritized short rest periods and high volume to maximize the pump. Serge Nubrets Training Routine. Try out this classic bodybuilders personal workout routine. Training Programs. The cube method smolov jr madcows 5x5.

Modern day bodybuilding has in some ways become a quest for extremes: jaw-dropping mass, razor-hard conditioning, or freak show bodyparts, all in an attempt to stand out from the other two dozen or so behemoths crowding the stage.

But back in the day, bodybuilders each had a certain 'look' that eventually became their calling card: Frank Zane's lean aesthetics, Franco Columbu's compact mass, and Robbie Robinson's legendary symmetry. To achieve their specific look, bodybuilders would train differently, eat differently, and even pose differently.

Serge Nubret Bodybuilder

Serge nubret training program

It was an idealistic, painstaking approach that created physiques as unique as the men that forged them, and none was more impressive or had a greater effect on me than the great Serge Nubret.

Serge nubret training program

You might remember Serge Nubret as the imposing black bodybuilder with the incredible pecs in Pumping Iron that comes within a whisker of 'taking' the title from then-five time Mr. Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Five Hour Training Day

Known for his incredible ab development and near-flawless conditioning, Serge never once counted calories, watched his macros, or dieted in any fashion. In interviews, he stated that he always ate simply what he felt he needed and that was it.

Even before competitions, Serge didn't believe in special dieting. He said he'd just train harder, sometimes up to five hours a day, six days a week. This also allowed him to stay near his competition weight year round, something very rare in today's bodybuilding world.

Nevertheless, 'overtrainaphobes' will wonder how he could train so much? How was it possible?

Was it simply due to pharmaceutical help? Not likely – Serge said he'd never even heard of performance enhancing drugs until he'd already built his winning physique. (He started training in 1958 and lived on a small island.)

Was it genetics? Work ethic? Luck? Black magic?

I argue that the secret to Nubret's success lies in some of his training philosophies. The good news is, while you can't steal his DNA, many of these philosophies are applicable to natural trainees today.

Serge's training was unique, from the split he followed down to the rest periods he used and weight lifted. His goal was always to get as much of a pump in the target muscle as possible using an extended time under tension and low rest.

For example, Serge always did 6 or more sets of 12 reps, using a weight for the first set he could likely lift for 20 reps. He also never went to true failure on any set and focused on keeping the pump throughout the workout. Using such a high volume combined with low rest periods meant he never went very heavy, something many bodybuilders' egos won't allow.

Furthermore, in terms of recovery, it meant his training didn't put nearly as much stress on his central nervous system as doing even just a few sets to failure. This shortened his overall recovery time, allowing him to train more often.

I've used Serge's program in the past and made exceptional gains. I put on five pounds of muscle in just four weeks while dropping my waist half an inch, from 28.5 inches to 28 inches.

Best of all, my joints felt great, I never felt as if I was overtraining, and I always had plenty of energy. Since continuing with his light weight, low-rest philosophy my waist is down to 27.5 inches at near 200 pounds.

However, as stated, the legends in bodybuilding all trained differently and got great results, so what worked for Serge and me may not work for you. You'll just have to try it out and see.

Fortunately, jumping into training five hours a day as Serge did later in his career isn't necessary (not to mention borderline crazy).

Here's a basic layout Serge himself often recommended to young bodybuilders right before he died. This is what I started with and since adapted as I got more accustomed to it.

Serge's Basic Routine

  • Day 1: A
  • Day 2: B
  • Day 3: C
  • Day 4: A
  • Day 5: B
  • Day 6: C
  • Day 7: Rest

Workout A: Quadriceps and Chest

BLeg Press812
CLeg Extension612

Wait at least 15 minutes and move onto chest. If possible do them later in the day.

ABarbell Bench Press (always performed extremely wide)812
BFlat Dumbbell Fly612
CIncline Bench Press812
DIncline Dumbbell Fly612
EDumbbell Pullovers612

Workout B: Back and Hamstrings

BBehind the Neck Lat Pulldown812
CFront Lat Pulldown612
DBent Over Row612

Wait at least 15 minutes and move onto hamstrings. If possible do them later in the day.

ALying Leg Curl812
BStanding Leg Curl812

Workout C: Arms and Shoulders

ABehind the Neck Press612
BAlternate Front Raise612
CUpright Row612
DLateral Raise612

Wait at least 15 minutes and move onto arms. If possible do them later in the day.

A1Cable Biceps Curl812
A2Triceps Pushdown812
B1Barbell Curl812
B2Triceps Dip812

Perform both pairings above as a superset (no rest interval).


Serge Nubret Training Program

Serge trained his calves with workouts B and C using both seated and standing calf raises. One day he'd use light weights, the other day he'd go heavier.

Forearms and Traps

Serge never trained either directly – apparently his shoulder training hit his traps hard enough, and his forearms grew from using high volume and gripping the weights tightly.


Serge trained his abs once a day, every day. Immediately after waking, he would perform 2000 – yes Dr. McGill, twothousand – sit-ups. The sheer volume of the sit-ups is also the only form of 'cardio' he ever performed.

Lifters wishing to follow his path should take note that Serge recommended starting with as many sit ups as you could perform in one set and then stopping for the day.

So if you can only do 30 reps, stop there instead of doing 5 sets of 30. Just get that one set in and improve every day. According to Serge, it took around a year for him to reach 2000 a day.

Applying His Techniques In Your Training

Serge rested between 30 seconds to one minute between upper body exercises and between one to two minutes on lower body exercises. Occasionally, he would start paring down rest periods by 15 seconds every two weeks to get more work in during a shorter amount of time.

Furthermore, if you can't handle training six days a week, try the routine with 3 days on and one off. Many of my clients and friends still achieved great results this way. It looks like this:

  • Day 1: A
  • Day 2: B
  • Day 3: C
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: A
  • Day 6: B
  • Day 7: C
  • Day 8: Rest

Final Thoughts

Even if this type of training isn't something that you'd do personally, consider this article a dedication to a true legend of the sport of bodybuilding.

Although Mr. Nubret left us on April 19th, 2011, his legend and knowledge will live forever in those who were lucky enough to meet him or learn how he trained.

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Serge Nubret is a successful bodybuilder and actor from the 70s. And he was known for his unconventional approach to training. Back then there were basically 3 groups of training philosophies in bodybuilding. There were some bodybuilder that built their physiques by a low-volume high-intensity high-loads approach like Mike Mentzer and Boyer Coe. Then there were bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Platz which used to rotate and mix a variety of approach from high-rep high-volume to low-rep high-load training. An then there was Serge Nubret who led the third type of training approach to bodybuilding in those golden days of Bodybuilding which was high-volume low-intensity approach. That means he would do up to 54 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions with 30 to 50% of his 1 RM per training.

Bascially what he did is Strengthtraining-Cardio.

Before going deeper into his approach one important factor to note when analyzing and applying his approach is his training foundation. Before he started bodybuilding he was a quite successful track athlete, sprinting 100m in 10,5 seconds, being known as a good shot-putter and bench pressing 225kg for reps at a bodyweight of about 85 kg. He was strong to begin is bodybuilding career. Which was a great base to succeed with the high-volume low-intensity approach he used.

Why high-volume low-intensity?

His main point was that lower weights lead to less injury risk. Yet, based on stories he would occasionally lift really heavy if someone doubts his strength. And second point thats the be made here is the importance of a metabolic stimulus for maximal muscular development. Its primarily Glycogen Supercompensation that will lead to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy which is a key driver in bodybuilding. With some workouts being over 1000 reps the metabolic stimulus of this training approach is tremendous and even exceeds Milos Sarcev’s highly effective giant set approach in total number of reps done per training.

How to built up to such high training volume

Serge Nubret didn’t start out training like that. And he also had at least one longer break from training every year due to his job as an actor. After these breaks for shooting a movie he would go a start at 3 sets per exercise again and the work up to the 6 to 8 sets per exercise that he would do in peak condition. Thats 18 to 24 sets per workout at the beginning, which is a quite average approach to training. And then instead of increasing the weight he would add sets to build volume backup by adding sets. Up to about 50 sets of 12 to 20 reps total per workout.

Volume Training like Serge Nubret – how one of his programs

This is how one of his actual workouts looked like:

A BB Back Squat, 8 sets of 12 to 20 reps
B Legpress, 6 sets of 12 to 20 reps
C Legextension, 6 sets of 12 to 20 reps
D BB Flat Benchpress, 6 sets of 12 to 20 reps
E DB Flat Flies, 8 sets of 12 to 20 reps
F BB Incline Benchpress, 6 sets of 12 to 20 reps
G DB Incline Flies, 6 sets of 12 to 20 reps
H DB Pullover, 6 sets of 12 to 20 reps

He would train 6 days per week. Always two body parts per day. One for the upper body and one for the lower body. Most sets would not be to failure by leaving one or two reps in the tank. He took as much rest between the sets as he needed with workouts often taking up to three hours.

Volume Training like Serge Nubret – An example program for the intermediate to advanced lifter

The following program is an adapted version of what Serge Nubret originally did with a total number of sets and exercise as well as a double station – A1 A2 – approach and Upper, Lower, Arms & Shoulders Split to fit this approach into the most efficient training time of one hour and the recovery ability of most intermediate to advanced lifters.

Day 1 – Upper Body

A1 DB 65° Incline benchpress, neutral grip, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 60 seconds rest
A2 Latpulldown, supinated, shoulder width grip, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 60 seconds rest
B1 DB Flatbenchpress, neutral grip, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 60 seconds rest
B2 Seated Row to the sternum, straight bar, pronated, shoulderwidth grip, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2011 Tempo, 60 seconds rest

Day 2 – Lower Body

A BB Back Squat, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 3010 Tempo, 180 seconds rest
B DB Romanian Deadlift, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 180 seconds rest
C 45° Backextension, Db in front of your chest, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 180 seconds rest

Day 3 – Rest

Day 4 – Shoulders & Arms

A1 Standing EZ Bar Curl, pronated, shoulder width grip, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 60 seconds rest
A2 EZ Bar Flat Bench Triceps Extensions, pronated shoulder width grip, , 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 60 seconds rest
B1 Standing BB Curl, supinated, shoulder width grip, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 60 seconds rest
B2 High Pulley Triceps Pushdown with Rope, 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, 2010 Tempo, 60 seconds rest

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Repeat Day 1

What Microperiodization system to use with this program?

The only Microperiodization system that makes sense with this set-rep-scheme is to start with the heaviest set and then decrease the weight from set to set. I recommend 1 to 2 warmup set for the first two exercises of each program.

Who is this Serge Nubret Volume Training Approach for?

This is definitely not a beginner program. Even though the sets and reps look similar to what many beginners get once they sign up to a gym. A beginner will barely make any progress with this training approach. To do this approach and get results there are two primary prerequisites.

First, one needs decent amount of strength and muscle mass. Serge Nubret could benchpress 225kg, yet he only used around 70 to 100kg for this amount of set and reps. So the absolute weights he used for this high-volume approach were fairly high, because of the high level of strength he had in relation. Doing benchpress with 40kg for these sets and reps will not give one the aspired results. You can see that in every gym all over the world.

Serge Nubret Training Method

Second, one needs a high level of work capacity. This is important to not drop too much load during a training session due to fatigue. Most will experience a drop in performance at around 15 to 20 sets per session. That is an average work capacity. To maintain a high work rate at 50 sets per session one needs a high level of work capacity. Compare it with running, doing one kilometer at 15 km/h is not that hard, doing 42 kilometers at 15km/ is quite hard, as its a marathon time of about 2:45h. Same counts for training volume, it only makes sense to use high volume if one can handle high volume which means one can progress in training with high volume.

How often can one do this program?

If someone has the work capacity and strength to handle this program well, one can do this program 6 workouts in a row, which is a full 30 days based on the split shown above. How long someone does this program is determined by how long one can progress from workout to workout that means use more weight or do more reps in every exercise from workout to workout. Once one cannot increase total or average weight or the reps, its time to move on to the next program.

Serge Nubret Training Program

This program is a great variation that I like for intermediate and advanced clients that have Body Comp goals and a work capacity that allows them to make progress from workout to workout.

Its a also a good approach for a once in a while workout right before a longer break like a vacation or a carb feast. As the high volume will increase insulin sensitivity a lot which improves blood sugar management and glucose metabolism.

Serge Nubret’s diet

To conclude an insight into Serge Nubret’s approach to training its with to also look at his food briefly. He was known have a fairly caribbean diet rich in meat, fish, vegetable, fruit and rice. He was known to eat up to 3kg of meat with rice and beans per day during his high volume training phases. He was a big believer in eating huge amounts of food to facilitate the recovery from this training approach. Which is definitely a critical point to consider for everyone trying this type of high-volume training.

Serge Nubret's Son Stanley Nubret

All the Best with Volume Training like Serge Nubret!

Legendäre Trainingsprogramme, Novagenics, 2009

Serge Nubret Workout Results

Picture: Serge Nubret showing the results of his high volume approach to training (source: tumblr)