Franco Columbu Biography, Net Worth & Workout Routine

Franco Columbu: The Life and Legacy of a Bodybuilding Legend

Franco Columbu was an Italian bodybuilder, powerlifter, and actor who made a significant impact on the world of fitness. Born on August 7, 1941, in Sardinia, Italy, Columbu began his athletic journey as a boxer before turning his sights to the world of bodybuilding, which ultimately led him to international fame and a long-lasting friendship with none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. This blog post will explore the life and accomplishments of Franco Columbu, as well as provide insight into his net worth, and the workout routine that made him into the legend he is today.

Early Life and Bodybuilding Career

Franco Columbu's introduction to the world of sports began with his success as both a boxer and powerlifter. In fact, he became the Italian champion in Olympic weightlifting before transitioning to bodybuilding. Columbu met Arnold Schwarzenegger at a bodybuilding competition in Munich, Germany, in 1965. This meeting ignited a friendship and a competitive rivalry that would last for decades. Together, they moved to America to pursue their bodybuilding dreams under the tutelage of Joe Weider, the famous publisher of various fitness and bodybuilding magazines.

Bodybuilding Achievements

The relentless dedication of Franco Columbu to his craft led him to numerous bodybuilding accolades. Known for his symmetrical and well-defined physique, Columbu became one of the greatest bodybuilders of his time. Some of his most notable achievements include:

  • Mr. Olympia, Lightweight class (1974 and 1975)
  • Overall Mr. Olympia (1976 and 1981)
  • Mr. Universe (1969 and 1970)
  • Mr. Europe (1968 and 1969)
  • Mr. World (1970)

It is worth mentioning that Columbu's victory at the 1981 Mr. Olympia was particularly special, as he made a triumphant return to competitive bodybuilding after a severe injury in the 1977 World's Strongest Man competition.

Acting Career and Net Worth

Beyond his success in bodybuilding, Franco Columbu sought to diversify his talents by entering the film industry. Often starring alongside his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, Columbu appeared in movies such as Pumping Iron, Conan the Barbarian, and The Terminator. His acting career, combined with his success in bodybuilding, resulted in a net worth estimated to be around $10 million at the time of his passing in 2019.

Franco Columbu's Workout Routine

Franco Columbu's workout routine centered on an intense and highly focused approach to training. A strong believer in the power of compound exercises, Columbu's typical workout included lifts like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. His workout appeared as follows:

  • Monday: Chest and Back
  • Tuesday: Shoulders and Arms
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Chest and Back
  • Friday: Shoulders and Arms
  • Saturday: Legs
  • Sunday: Rest

He emphasized both heavy lifting and high reps in his workouts, making sure to target all muscle groups for balanced strength and physique. Columbu would often train each muscle group twice a week, following the above outline, and vary the specific exercises from session to session to maximize muscle growth.


Franco Columbu's impact on the world of fitness and bodybuilding can still be felt today. His incredible physique, combined with his dedication to the sport and passion for helping others achieve their fitness goals, has left a lasting impact on the generations that followed.

In conclusion, Franco Columbu's life serves as a testament to the power of perseverance, determination, and an unwavering commitment to achieving one's goals. From his early days in Sardinia to his rise as a bodybuilding and acting icon, Columbu's inspiring journey and impressive legacy will long be revered in the world of fitness.

What was Franco Columbu's net worth?

Franco Columbu was an Italian bodybuilder, actor, and author, who had an estimated net worth of $10 million at the time of his death in 2019. Franco was a two-time Mr. Olympia winner and a close friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They both were central characters in the bodybuilding documentary 'Pumping Iron'. Columbu's wealth came from a combination of his bodybuilding career, acting roles, and business ventures.

How did Franco Columbu become famous?

Franco Columbu became famous as a professional bodybuilder, with his success in competitions such as Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe. In the 1970s and 80s, Columbu was known for his incredible strength and muscular development. His rise to fame was further boosted by his appearance in the acclaimed bodybuilding documentary 'Pumping Iron', alongside other big names in the sport like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.

What movies did Franco Columbu appear in?

Franco Columbu appeared in several movies throughout his acting career. Some of his notable roles include the following films:

  • Pumping Iron (1977): A documentary film that follows professional bodybuilders as they prepare for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests. Columbu starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilders.

  • The Terminator (1984): A science fiction/action film directed by James Cameron. Columbu made a cameo appearance as a future Terminator.

  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): A fantasy/adventure film based on the character Conan the Barbarian. Columbu appeared in a small role as Pictish Scout.

  • The Running Man (1987): An action/science fiction film where Columbu played the role of a resistance fighter.

  • Beretta's Island (1994): An action film that starred Columbu in the leading role as Franco, a retired Interpol agent.

Throughout his acting career, Franco Columbu appeared in many different films and television shows, often in action-oriented roles or as a bodybuilder.

What businesses did Franco Columbu have?

Franco Columbu was not just a bodybuilder and an actor but also an entrepreneur. He co-owned a chiropractic and sports medicine clinic with his wife, Deborah Columbu, in Los Angeles. Besides, he authored several books on bodybuilding and nutrition, further expanding his professional reach. Columbu also had a line of nutritional supplements that catered to bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts.

How will Franco Columbu be remembered?

Franco Columbu will be remembered as a pioneer in the world of bodybuilding, with his victories in prestigious competitions like Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe. His passion for the sport and close friendship with Arnold Schwarzenegger helped to popularize bodybuilding in the mainstream. Additionally, his acting roles and business ventures allowed him to leave a lasting impact not only in the bodybuilding world but also in the entertainment industry and the health and wellness sector.

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