Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 21, 2021

As a son of a bodybuilder mother, Piana started lifting weights at the age of 11 and won many titles by 18. He also became a respected entrepreneur in the fitness industry.

If you’re a fan seeking detailed information about Rich Piana workout routine and nutrition, you’ve come to the right page.

We dug deep into his social media, websites, and other relevant sources to provide exercise inspiration and advice for everyone who admires his incredible physique, fitness results, and honest personality.

His Stats and Accomplishments

Rich Piana standing up straight with great posture

Height: 6ft 1in
Weight: varied between 220 and 300lbs (competition vs. off-season)
Arms: 23.5in
Born: 26 September 1970
Died: 25 August 2017 [1]

Record lifts / maximum weights:

  • Deadlift - 1 rep of 585lbs
  • Bench press - 3 reps of 495lbs
  • Squats - 2 reps of 585lbs
  • Biceps lift with two-handed dumbbell - 3 reps of 275lbs
  • Barbell curl - 3 reps of 275lbs [2]

Career accomplishments and titles [3]:

  • NPC and Mr. Teen California Champion
  • Sacramento Pro – 1st place in Men’s Bodybuilding  –  Super Heavyweight (2009)
  • Border States Classic – 1st place in Men’s Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships  – Overall (2009)
  • NPC USA Championships – 11th (2003) and 7th place (1999)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rich Piana (@1dayumay)

Rich Piana's Workout Routine

Rich Piana doing his workout routines

Let’s dive into his chest, back, leg, shoulder, and arm routine that got him the Big Hulk monster physique.

Sample Training Sessions

The exercise examples he performed as part of his regular fitness program included:

Rich Piana Shoulder Workout

  • EZ-bar front raise (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Seated Smith machine overhead press (5 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Dumbbell lateral raise (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Smith machine upright row (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Standing Smith machine shrug (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Incline rear delt fly (5 sets x 10-15 reps)

Rich Piana 8-Hour Arm Workout

He would alternate between the following workouts every 30 minutes for 8 hours (which speaks a lot about his mindset).

8-hour arm workout one:

  • Skullcrushers (4 sets x 10 reps)
  • Barbell curl (4 sets x 10 reps)

8-hour arm workout two:

  • Single-arm dumbbell extension (4 sets x 15 reps)
  • Dumbbell hammer curl (4 sets x 15 reps)

Rich Piana Chest Workout

  • Incline cable fly (5 sets x 12-20 reps)
  • Hammer strength incline press (4 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Pec deck flat fly (5 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Machine flat press (5 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Standing cable crossover (5 sets x 10-15 reps)

Rich Piana Back Workout

  • Wide-grip pull-ups (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Smith machine row (5 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Behind the neck lat pulldown (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Close-grip seated cable row (5 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Wide-grip assisted pull-up (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • T-bar row (5 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Bent-over cable row (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Bent-over lat pulldown (5 sets x 10-15 reps)

Rich Piana Leg Workout

  • Lying hamstring curl (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Single leg hamstring curl (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Barbell stiff leg deadlift (5 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Seated leg extension (5 sets x 10-15 reps)
  • Leg press (5 sets x 8-12 reps)
  • Hack squat machine (5 sets x 8-12 reps)

The Workout Principle

Rich Piana trained instinctively by feel, listening to his body, so he had no set workout routine.

“I usually listen to my body and train the body parts that I feel are strong for that particular day.”

 

- Rich Piana, Bodybuilder

His approach to weightlifting involved focusing on one body part every day. He spent hours training in a gym.

He had massive, rounded shoulders and also was obsessed over his arms. His 8-hour arm routine was well-known among bodybuilders and his social media followers.

Piana found using cables for flys rather comfy as they offered increased resistance, imposing less stress on his shoulders.

He worked his lats to get a broader back and his hamstrings and quads for better leg stability.

youtube

Rich Piana's Diet Plan

Eggs with protein powder, rice with chicken meat

On his YouTube channel, this bodybuilder explained what his typical daily eating plan consisted of.

He also pointed out that he disliked cooking and that his meals were not set in stone because he didn’t follow a strict diet as many other bodybuilders.

Still, he believed that you need to eat big to get big.

So, this huge guy usually had eight meals per day. Here’s what he ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks before and after workouts.

Meal 1: 10 egg whites or 2 scoops of whey protein, and 4 packets of oatmeal

Meal 2: A shake with 2-4 scoops of Mutant Mass and 2 scoops of whey (with added oatmeal, peanut butter, and bananas if he tried to put on weight)

Meal 3: 3 chicken breasts with 2 cups of brown rice

Meal 4: Post-workout shake 3-4 scoops of Mutant Mass, 2 scoops of whey, plus 1 or 2 bananas

Meal 5: Steaks, fish, lean pork, or turkey (10lbs) with 2 cups of brown rice

Meal 6: A container of fat-free Greek yogurt with 2 scoops of chocolate whey, 80g of protein (his favorite snack once or twice a day)

Meal 7: He went to a restaurant for dinner and ate burgers, Italian, Thai, Mexican food like burritos, or anything he wanted.

Meal 8: Ben & Jerry chocolate fudge brownie ice cream (every night before bed)

Diet Rules

Piana ate healthy and nutrient-dense foods most of the time to pack on the muscle mass for bodybuilding shows and ensure enough energy for strenuous workouts every few hours. His diet was high in protein, low in carbs, with medium fat intake.

He also occasionally had his favorite cheat meal - ice cream, spaghetti, or other pasta.

Piana consumed:

  • Lean meat (turkey, chicken breast)
  • Eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Vegetables
  • Greek yogurt
  • Whey protein
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Water

He avoided:

  • Junk/Fast food
  • Fried food
  • Processed carbs
  • Refined sugar
  • Artificial additives
  • Chemical ingredients

What Supplements Did He Take?

Workout supplements and workout materials

Piana owned an apparel and health supplement company 5% Nutrition.

The supplements he used include:

  • Pre-workout - containing components that help him get the most out of his exhausting training sessions
  • Nootropic for better mood, increased focus, and higher energy
  • BCAAs with caffeine for high energy, glutamine for enhanced recovery, and NAC for optimal liver function
  • Liver support supplement to reduce stress and help detoxify his liver, kidneys, heart, prostate, lower cholesterol levels, and clear up acne
  • Keto support products to help his body convert carbs into muscles and deal with cravings
  • Sleep aid containing melatonin, tyrosine, GABA, and other substances supporting his recovery process

He also admitted steroid use (and steroids caused his death) but advised other athletes to go natural as he was aware of the harmful side effects steroids can trigger.

Other workout routines:

Are You Going to Try Piana's Workout & Diet?

Although his eating and workout routines weren’t set in stone and seemingly allowed a lot of freedom, they were pretty straightforward and intense.

If getting his monster physique is on the list of your exercise goals, do you believe you could follow Piana’s path - train and eat like him to gain the body shape, size, and appearance of your dreams? (Without using forbidden and harmful substances, of course!)

If not, make sure to get the desired results at your own pace, and do share your experience with us.


References:

  1. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2480738/bio
  2. https://www.greatestphysiques.com/male-physiques/rich-piana/
  3. https://www.musculardevelopment.com/contests/bodybuilders/1585-rich-piana/event/1425-national-bodybuilding-championships-2010

 

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