Movies for Meatheads that like to Train: A Top 10 List
Skillfully crafted movies can provoke all sorts of emotions – happiness, anger, gratitude, sorrow – you name the feeling and there is a movie that produces it. This is a blog about training, and I want to share with you what I believe to be the top 10 movies that make you want to get up, get your butt off that couch, and go workout right at that moment. The countdown begins now:
10. The Karate Kid – a feel good movie about a kid who gets bullied, learns karate from a wise old sensei, and then ultimately is able to kick some butt because of it. It is a good story, it has some classic training montages, and even some interesting ideas – who didn’t toy with the idea of painting their fence to become a karate master? And that final kick still goes down in history as a bad ass move.
9. Conan – While this movie is not about fitness per say - it is about becoming a bad ass (which is a side product of becoming fit) and it stars the one person that likely had the biggest effect on the psyche of young men between 1970-2000: Arnold. You can’t help but appreciate how awesome Arnold looks as he wreaks havoc with his sword and it is because of this movie everyone knows ‘what is good in life’. I think this is the only movie that can make one regret not growing up tied to the wheel of pain, because of course that is how Arnold built his awesome physique.
8. Without Limits – The best of the movies about legendary runner Steve Prefontaine, this movie makes even the standard meathead think about taking up running, and the thought might linger even a few minutes after the movie finishes (but it will probably dissipate after 5 minutes on the treadmill). This is a good story that gets even better with each viewing and you can’t help but cheer for Pre in each race even though you already know the outcome.
7. Miracle – This movie is about the true story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team, and how a coach was able to take a group of players and make them into the best team in the world, at least for a little while. It is a cool story and the fact that it is true makes it all the more inspirational. Do you believe in Miracles? I do.
6. Over the Top – Any movie that magically combines big rigs and armwrestling has to be good, and Over the Top doesn’t disappoint. It is a movie about a trucker (Stallone) that is also a professional armwrestler, and on top of it all he is out to get his son back. This movie has some great training montages and one-liners and while it does contain a bit of cheese and it is pretty predictable, it is still a good movie and one that will very likely have you armwrestling your friends with 10 minutes after it stops.
5. Bigger, Faster, Stronger – An interesting and well-made documentary about steroids in sports. It tries to provide an unbiased view, but through it all you can’t help but want to hit the gym and build some muscle (be it naturally or with assistance).
4. Ronnie Coleman: Unbelievable – This is Ronnie Coleman’s (8x Mr. Olympia) first video, made when he had been Mr. Olympia for 2 years. He has produced several videos but this is his most classic one. It is a documentary that follows Ronnie around during his everyday life, his job as a cop, and during his workouts. Ronnie is extremely strong, a hard worker, and quite charismatic. You can’t help but want to hit the gym right after watching this video. Light weight, baby!
3. Blood and Guts: A portrait of Dorian Yates – This is another documentary of (at the time) the world’s best bodybuilder, Dorian Yates. It is a black and white video that shows Dorian’s workouts for a full week using the HIT methodology. Dorian has less charisma than Ronnie but this training video is more hardcore, more gym focused, and in my opinion just a tiny bit more motivating. When you are ready to “get busy”, put this one in the DVD player and realize you haven’t been training nearly as hard as you thought you were.
2. Pumping Iron – The documentary that started it all, this chronicles several key bodybuilders training for the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition, namely Arnold and company. It has footage in and out of the gym and you get to know the players much more personally. The physiques in these days looked great and looked attainable to most (even if in reality they might not be) and thus in my opinion this type of footage is more inspirational than seeing the current bodybuilding super-freaks do their thing. It is pretty tough to watch this movie and not have the follow up thought be “I want to look like Arnold so I should go train like Arnold”.
1. The Rocky Series – I get to cheat a bit and use multiple movies for my number 1 spot, but even if I couldn’t Rocky would still be number 1 – the only question would be which Rocky to select? The first Rocky is a brilliantly made movie (won the Oscar for best picture the year it came out) and in my mind the ending is equally brilliant. In Rocky II, III, and IV, Stallone masters the training montage – to this day no one does it better. Seeing Rocky train for Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang (Mr. T), and the big Russian Ivan Drago, it is virtually impossible not to get fired up. Need some motivation while you are performing cardio? Put Rocky in and you’ll be thinking the machine is too slow for you. Rocky V is the one big significant knock on the series because it sucks bad but I just do what all true Rocky fans do and I simply pretend it doesn’t exist. Rocky VI – Rocky Balboa, is actually really good. It is definitely the best 6th of any movie series and it provides a fitting ending to the series. The Rocky series are extremely re-watchable which to me is a sign of a truly good movie. You might have watched Rocky III 10 times previously but when it comes on and Rocky is trying to find the ‘eye of the tiger’ it is tough to change that channel. What else are you going to watch that is better than that? An hour later you are screaming at him to smash Clubber Lang’s face in.
There it is: my top 10 movies for Meatheads that like to train. If you haven’t seen all of these movies - each one of them, at least 5 times I am not sure you can call yourself hardcore. Don’t forget to share these movies if you have little ones running around, there is nothing quite like sharing your favorite movie with your kids. Karate Kid, Miracle, Over the Top, and Rocky II-IV are all kid friendly and will likely drawn them in just like they did to you in your younger years.