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in: Featured, Fitness, Health & Sports

• Last updated: October 6, 2020

The Complete Library of Rocky Training Exercises

Poster of rocky movie showing "Train like Rocky" by Art of Manliness.

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.

Rocky I


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). 

Running With Bricks in Your Hands

Rocky running with bricks in his hands.

Distance Running

Rocky running down the street.

Hitting the Speed Bag

Rocky hitting the speed bag.

Alternating One-Arm Push-Ups

Rock doing alternating one-arm push-ups.

Clapping Push-Ups

Rocky doing clapping push-ups.

Sit-Ups

Rocky doing sit-ups.

Punching Meat

Rocky punching meat in his movie.

Sprints

Rocky sprinting along the sea.

Running Up Steps

Rocky running on the stairs.

Rocky II

In Rocky II, our underdog protagonist gets a shot at a rematch with Apollo Creed, and again trains in scrappy fashion — continuing to improvise his exercises (shouldering a log; chasing a chicken), while adding some weight work as well. Rocky also does an encore run that once more culminates atop the art museum steps, this time joined by a crowd of kids cheering on their hometown hero.

Hitting Junk With a Sledgehammer

Rocky hitting junk with a sledgehammer.

One-Arm Pull-Ups on a Jungle Gym

Rocky doing one-arm pull-ups in a jungle gym.

Sit-Ups, Straight, and With Twists or Punches at the Top

Rocky punching while doing sit-ups.
Jumping Rope

Rocky on a jumping rope.

Hitting the Speed Bag

Rocky hitting the speed ball in training.

Hitting the Pads

Rocky hitting the pads while training.

Back-to-Back Medicine Ball Pass

Rocky performing back to back medicine ball pass.

One-Arm Push-Up

Rocky doing one arm push-ups.

Lateral Dumbell Raises

Rocky doing lateral dumbbells' raises.

Front-to-Back Barbell Presses

Rocky doing barbell presses while training.

Frog Hop and Duck Walk With a Log on Your Back

Rocky doing frog jumps with a log on his neck.

Hitting the Heavy Bag

Rocky hitting the heavy bag.

Chasing a Chicken

Rocky chasing a chicken.

Distance Running, With Children

Rocky running with children.

Rocky III

In Rocky III, Balboa is no longer an underdog in the traditional sense; having successfully defended his title ten times, he’s garnered significant fame and wealth. But when he learns that his manager hand-picked lesser opponents for his fights and that he hasn’t truly been squaring off against the best, he decides to take on a young, hungry, powerful contender — James “Clubber” Lang.

Balboa’s new challenge becomes sloughing off the softness he’s accumulated from being on top, and trying to find some of the old hunger himself. At first he fails, and his unfocused training regimen results in a loss to Lang. Balboa must then deal with not only the fallout of this failure, but the death of his manager. It turns out to be Rocky’s former rival, Creed, who helps him to again find his fighter’s heart. Creed trains Rocky with classic boxing exercises, while putting a new emphasis on speed, footwork, and agility, and taking his runs off the urban pavement and onto the beach.

Hitting the Speed Bag

Rocky hitting the speed bag.

Footwork Drills

Rocky doing footwork drills.

Shadow Boxing

Rocky while boxing with his shadow in movie.

Swimming

Rocky swimming.

Hitting (and Dodging) the Double-End Bag

Rocky hitting double-end bag.

Jumping Rope

Rocky on a jumping rope.

Hitting the Pads

Rocky hitting pad in his movie.

Sand Runs

Rocky running with his trainer along sea shore.
Rocky IV

Rocky IV is a study in contrasts. The individualistic, democratic United States vs. the communist Soviet Union. A kind-hearted boxer vs. an unfeeling robot. And an old school, back-to-nature training regimen vs. a modern, high-tech one.

While Rocky’s opponent, Ivan Drago, uses all kinds of experimental gizmos (and drugs) to get in shape, Rocky sets up camp on a remote Russian homestead and goes full-on wild man, creatively utilizing what’s at hand to get “farmer strong.” The stakes of the fight — a chance to symbolically establish national superiority and avenge Creed’s death at Drago’s hands — call forth the longest training montage in the series, an epic sequence that requires two parts to fully encapsulate. 

Hitting the Speed Bag

Rocky hitting the speed ball in movie.
Sawing Wood

Rocky sawing wood in snow.

Tossing Rocks

Rocky tossing rocks in snow.

Pulling a Weighted Sled

Rocky while pulling a weighted sled.

Pull-Ups on a Beam

Rocky doing pull-ups on a beam.

Carrying Log on Shoulders in Snow

Rocky carrying loft on his shoulders in the snow.

Outdoor Nightime Shadow Boxing

Rocky doing outdoor nightime shadow boxing.

Felling a Tree

Rocky while cutting a tree.

Jumping Rope

Rocky on a jumping rope.

Hanging Sit-Ups With Punches, or Held, at the Top

Rocky doing sit-ups with punches while hanging.

Splitting Wood

Rocky splitting wood.

Hitting the Pads

Bearded rocky hitting the pads.

Hoisting Rocks

Rocky while hoisting rocks.

“Dragon Flag” Core Exercise

Rocky doing dragon flag core exercise.

Cleaning and Pressing a Wagon Full of People

Rocky pulling a wagon full of people.

Ducking and Throwing Upper Cuts Back and Forth Under a Rope

Rocky dukking and throwing uppercuts under a rope.

Shouldering and Twisting a Wooden Yoke

Rocky shouldering a wooden yoke.

Running/Crawling in the Snow + Scrambling to the Top of a Mountain

Rocky running in snow on a mountain.

Rocky Balboa

In the final installment of the series in which Rocky fights (these days he’s mentoring Apollo Creed’s son), an aging Balboa comes out of retirement for one more fight. In his late 50s, he can’t hope to compete against his younger opponent on quickness and agility and will instead have to rely on raw strength and power. As Rocky’s trainer tells him:

“To beat this guy, you need speed — you don’t have it. And your knees can’t take the pounding, so hard running is out. And you got arthritis in your neck, and you’ve got calcium deposits on most of your joints, so sparring is out.

So, what we’ll be calling on is good ol’ fashion blunt force trauma. Horsepower. Heavy-duty, cast-iron, pile-driving punches that will have to hurt so much they’ll rattle his ancestors. Every time you hit him with a shot, it’s gotta feel like he tried kissing the express train!”

In order to build some “hurtin’ bombs,” Rocky really hits the weights hard and incorporates compound barbell lifts into his more traditional boxing exercises. Things come full circle as “Gotta Fly Now” (which went missing in Rocky IV) returns, and Rocky once more ascends the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. 

Jogging

Rocky running with his dog.

Neutral Grip Pull-Ups

Rocky doing neutral grip pull-ups.

Bench Press

Rocky doing bench press.

Kettlebell Clean and Press

Rocky cleaning and pressing kettlebell.

Back Squat

Rocky doing back squat.

Lat Raises With Chains

Rocky doing lit raises with chains.

(Not Pictured: Incline Press)

Medicine Ball Push-Ups

Rocky doing medicine ball push-ups.

Tire Slams With Sledgehammer

Rocky slamming the tire with a sledgehammer in snow.

Overhead Keg Slam

Rocky doing overhead keg slam.

Hitting the Heavy Bag

Rocky while hitting the heavy bag.

Walking Upper Cuts With Dumbbells

Rocky's walking uppercuts with dumbbells'.

Pull-Ups

Rocky doing pull-ups.

Clean & Press

Rocky lifting heavy weight.

Punching Meat

Rocky punching meat.

Running Stairs, in the Snow

Rocky running on stairs with his dog.

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