TBS Muse

Do Movie Workouts Work? Our Expert Weighs In

The workout montage is a time-honored movie tradition. But can you use them to get fit? We roped in our personal trainer to find out.


Movies, as all know, serve as inspiration. Prospective partners, lifestyle goals, revenge fantasies, whatever. 

Fitspiration is a particularly big one, as everyone on the silver screen is a bronze god/goddess. You think, as you shovel popcorn into your trap, If they can do it, I can do it.

However, if you follow the exercise regimen of Hollywood’s most notable characters, will that result in sweet sweet gains?

To find out, we roped in Jesse, a personal trainer with experience in the field of fitness and movies.


Workout #1 – Taxi Driver 



As a calorie burning workout, it could work. However, Travis is doing an awful job in evenly working out his body. It seems that he’s skipped leg, core, and chest day in favor of exclusively working the arms and shoulders. No.

His bicep curl technique is awful, as the elbows are not flush to his body. I’d also suggest he stops the push-ups with the elevated clap, as that’s a move for show-offs only.

While I like the DIY approach, using paint cans as a barbell, it’s obvious that he’d plateau quickly, resulting in fewer gains.

Credit must be paid to Travis, though, as he’s at least nailed the shirtless post-workout selfie.


Workout #2 – Teen Wolf Too



The key to a successful workout is variation, working the same areas differently. This way, you don’t get bored, and it doesn’t feel like work.

Clearly, Teen Wolf didn’t get the memo. Boxing training is all fine and well and good, but his program doesn’t seem sustainable. Alternating between the speed and heavy bag is okay, but repeatedly cutting between the two takes superhuman patience. It seems that he’s also roped in a mulleted beta and an endless parade of people to knock out, so it’s hard to see all those ends being met five sessions a week.

That, and developing power is a combination of core, leg, and shoulder strength. It’s difficult to build mass when you only get one rep in a session. What happens when the cavalcade of willing bodies dries up, Mr. Wolf?


Workout #3 – The Karate Kid Part III



Now, the 1980s fitness montage paved the way for the HIIT (high-intensity interval training) programs of today. However, Daniel-san’s efforts are a bit, meh. Standing on the sand moving your arms around might seemingly glean results when soundtracked to dramatic music, but garner it a body ready for summer, it certainly will not.

Painting a fence might burn some carbs, but it certainly won’t build muscle.

Do this workout at home. Both to save yourself membership fees, and us from seeing you.


Workout #4 – Rocky IV



Motivation is key. In this, Rocky excels. It helps to feel like you’re chased by something. For most people, this is failure or the sad eyes of their partners; but for Rocky, it takes the form of an automobile, the Cold War, and the machinations of the Soviet Union.

You know, whatever works.

Speaking of, the USSR trumps Rocky, as they understand that you also need a pumping soundtrack, and direct computer analysis. Now, it might seem that they’re doing the same program, however, the actual data that Ivan Drago is receiving is actually far more beneficial. Whereas, Rocky is working on grit and assumption. This is fundamentally unhelpful.

That, and it seems that Ivan is doing more reps, more correctly. Rocky may have righted a carriage, but Drago is activating his muscles more, and more often. In the question of technique, Drago is more likely to gain results, whereas Rocky is only going to succeed in lasting injury.

Example, Drago’s mountain climbers are perfect. Great posture, the core is clearly active. Whereas, Rocky doing the same exercise by pulling the sled looks like an impaired seal. A dislocated everything is in his near future.

One thing that Rocky does have that Ivan doesn’t, is positive reinforcement. I only counted one nod in the entirety of the workout program. Repetition. Form. Reinforcement. Only all three will see you succeed.

However, from a professional standpoint, the fact that Drago lost that fight is complete nonsense.


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