With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Friday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in April 2018.
The best part of many action/superhero/sports films is arguably the training montage scene, in which we get to see, in compressed time, the protagonist prepare to do battle with his opponent. There’s something incredibly inspiring, and thumos-inflaming, about seeing a man transform from clumsy and out-of-shape, to skilled and fit. It’s a potent symbol of the kind of metamorphosis we all often hope to make in our lives.
Of all the cinematic training montage scenes that have ever been, those from the Rocky films are unarguably the best. Featuring a perennial underdog who always manages to finds scrappy ways to beat the odds, and always gives it all he’s got, they never fail to light a fire in your belly.
Fictional though the Rocky character is, his training regimen provides real inspiration on tough, often creative ways to get fit and strong — no-excuses exercises that frequently employ free or improvised equipment and could be incorporated into your own routine (make sure you get the butcher’s permission before you go punching his carcasses of meat, though).
Below we break down every single exercise from the training montages featured in the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth Rocky installments (in Rocky V, Balboa takes a break from fighting himself to train another boxer). Some of the exercises remain consistent across the various films, while each installment also incorporates new moves and methods.
Use this complete library of exercises to get pumped, add some variety to your workouts, and start really training like a champ.
The training montage that sets the archetype for all others. We’re introduced to Rocky Balboa, a kind-hearted blue collar bloke who makes a living collecting debts for a loan shark on the mean streets of Philly. The small-time club fighter gets a chance to face off against heavyweight boxing world champion Apollo Creed.
Rocky doesn’t have the kind of training resources his opponent does, and makes do with what he’s got — running through scrap yards and wailing on slabs of beef. Rocky’s journey into fighting shape is accompanied by the greatest training montage song of all time — “Gonna Fly Now” — and culminates with one of the most famous scenes in cinema: a run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (an exercise that was part of the real-life training routine of Joe Frazier).