25 Movies That Motivate Me To Train Hard

I find myself getting really pumped up when I watch a good movie. For one thing, I enjoy a good movie. Plus, it never hurts to see one in which the actor or actress is in top shape. Well, Caleb Lee happened to tag me to share 25 random things about me. So here goes – my top 25 movies that motivate me to train hard, kick ass and take names.

American Psycho
The self-obsessed and narcissistic psychopath played by Christian Bale takes great pride in every detail of his life. He is constantly on a diet and exercises religiously. The ironic thing is that although Christian Bale got into fantastic shape for the movie, the message of the film is that this level of body consciousness shows an unhealthy mind, obsessed with vanity. He is still a great physique role model though LOL.

I Am Legend
What better way to portray the solitude of the man dedicated to his training than to feature it against the backdrop of an empty city. Will Smith purposefully leaned down quite a bit in order to be convincing as a man fighting for his survival. Plus a real fun movie, folks.

russel crowe ridley scott gladiator training

I, Robot
Every movie with Will Smith is worth watching so that you can nourish on some of his contagious energy. He always gives it all. Because of the physicality of the movie Will Smith opted to present a powerful looking physique. So he made the list.

G.I. Jane
At age 35 Demi Moore really started showing she was taking great care of her body. Ridley Scott cast her in the role of a woman training to be a navy seal. What follows are some of the best training sequences captured on film, including Demi doing one arm pushups. Note – Demi also shows off a fantastic physique in 2 other corny but fun movies – Charlie’s Angels 2 and Striptease.


american history x - edward norton trained hard

American History X
We got Edward Norton. Personal trainer Anthony Cortés got him so buff and the change was so dramatic, that Arnold Schwarzenegger himself supposedly thought Edward was on steroids. Norton’s comment – he says he just are like hell and trained like it was going out of style.

Terminator 2 – Judgment Day
We’ve got not one, but two actors in fantastic shape in this movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in his usual muscular top shape but the real surprise is Linda Hamilton. Having undergone a strict workout and diet regimen, she displays her rock hard body fighting the evil T-1000 and doing chinups in her room in a mental asylum.

bruce lee enter the dragon training
Enter the Dragon
Bruce Lee’s last movie was also his most polished one. He trained vigorously so that his on screen appearance would be visually as impactful, as much the speed and accuracy of his punches and kicks were technically impressive. He looks like someone carved him out of a marble block. Plus, his on screen persona exudes raw and powerful charisma. Highly recommended.

Fight Club
Such a list can’t go without mentioning this one, right? Both Ed Norton and Brad Pitt are very lean in the movie. To match their characters, they have trained to enhance their movie persona. Edward Norton’s guy looks more like a weakling though – lean but not muscular, while Brad’s Tyler Durden is a Bruce Lee-like ripped bad ass. A note here – if you want to look muscular, get some muscle mass and then strip as much fat as possible. This is the secret to looking so muscular.

russel crowe ridley scott gladiator training

A brilliant portrayal of honor and manhood. Russel Crowe’s character is powerful and stoic, exuding calmness and rage, resolution and obstinacy.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
I have featured numerous Kung Fu movies in the list. They represent the pinnacle of what the human body is capable in terms of movement and they showcase martial artists who sport top level physiques. This movie in particular is worth watching for the now classic scenario where a hero has to go through a series of training obstacles to achieve mastery. Boot camp Shaolin style – bring it on!

wesley snipes jessica biel ryan reynolds blade trinity training
Blade – Trinity
First things first – this is the third installment of the series and as such is the worst one of the three Blade movies. In all three of them Wesley Snipes is in fantastic shape. The first movies is a good one overall, while the second one benefits from the gloomy imagery that only comes with a Guillermo del Toro flick. I chose the third movie because in addition to the bad ass Blade it has a (almost) no more wimpy looking Ryan Reynolds and a buff and sexy Jessica Biel. So there – style over substance lol.

Brotherhood of the Wolf
I can’t recommend this movie enough. First, Mark Dacascos gets to show off his fantastic fighting skills and top physique. Second, the movie is the perfect adventure story, if you happen to like these kinds of stories like I do. Third, but definitely not last, there are two VERY cute ladies right there – Émilie Dequenne and Monica Bellucci. Can’t lose with this flick.

Drunken Master 2
Even if you are not into martial arts movies, you’ve got to give it up to Jackie Chan. In his movies he demonstrates two things. The first one is how much abuse the human body can take. He does pretty much all of his stunts. The other thing is what fantastic feats and acrobatic a trained martial artist of this caliber is capable of.

jennifer garner electra hot babe
Most comic book movies turn out lame or corny, but I keep on watching them any way lol. This one is no exception (as in it is quite lame unfortunately). It made the list however, because it has a uber athletic looking Jennifer Gardner.

Fist of Legend
Jet Li, a martial artist, is surprisingly also a solid all around actor. He never got a big break in an English speaking movie. Unleashed (also known as Danny the Dog) is one of his best. Fist of Legend however is worth just for the martial arts – no acting accolades here. The action sequences, choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping, are so spectacular that they inspired the Wachowski brothers, to hire Yuen so he can bring this level of movie awesomeness to the Matrix series. Of course, Jet Li does it better than the white boys. Note that Fist of Legend is a remake of Bruce Lee’s hard hitting classic Chinese Connection.

arnold schwarzenegger commando training
A typical high-body count 80’s action extravaganza. Plus, can’t deny the fact Arnold’s arms look damn good while he harvests through wave after wave of baddies as if he was playing a video game. Gotta love the 80’s lol.

Batman Begins
Christian bale is in quite a muscular state in this one. Well, when you play a super hero, I guess it’s a must to look the part. The remarkable thing is that prior to filming this movie, Christian Bale worked on another movie – The Machinist. For that one he purposefully lost a whopping 63 lbs by starving himself on a diet of a can of tuna and an apple a day. After the movie, he hired a UK celebrity trainer and quickly regained the lost muscle. Note that we are talking about muscle memory here. This means regaining your muscle mass as opposed to building size from scratch.

denzel washington hurricane boxer training
The Hurricane
This is the captivating story of the wrongfully accused boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter. I feature it here for two reasons. First, this movie is the perfect example of the get in shape behind bars movie. Denzel is ripped. Second, this movie talks about one of my favorite concepts – inner strength. The Hurricane turns into a warrior/scholar in prison. He studies law books and trains like a madman for his fight outside.

I’ve got another boxing heavy weight of a movie right here. Prepping for the role, Will Smith decided not to try to look like a boxer, but to become a boxer. He ran the distances that Ali ran and sparred with hard hitting real boxers to bring believability to director Michael Mann’s movie. Incidentally, Robert De Niro also underwent real life boxing training for his award winning performance in raging bull some 20 years earlier.

hilary swank million dollar baby training
Million Dollar Baby
These boxing movies just keep on coming. A fine, fine flick from another one of my favorite directors – Clint Eastwood. As an actor, he has a powerful and charismatic don’t-mess-with-me-punk presence. As a director he shines even more. In this movie Hilary Swank not only learned to move and box like a real fighter, but also dramatically altered her physique by adding significant muscle bulk via weight training and a protein rich diet. And, she got her Oscar.

Mad Monkey Kung Fu
I love martial arts movies and I couldn’t miss out on the chance to sneak in another one of those here. The spectacular thing about this movie is how the fighters flawlessly and fluidly execute the choreographed primate acrobatics. No substance here folks. Just a visual fest of the boundless potential of the human body.

tony jaa ong bak training
Ong-Bak – The Thai Warrior
Tony Jaa, a stuntman, martial arts, actor and fight scene choreographer. This is his first big movie and he shines in it. Fantastic acrobatic skills, break dancing movies used to hurt the bad guys, bone cracking Muay Thai elbow and knee strikes. The movie has it all. This guy seems to take the best action parts from Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. He still lacks Lee’s charisma but the future is ahead of him.

The ultimate story of loss and redemption. It’s us against the world, ain’t that right Rock? The movie is choc full of so many memorable moments. If you can’t be motivated by a rocky movie, better check that pulse of yours lol.

robert downey jr iron man training
Iron Man
Trainer Brad Bose got recovered addict Robert Downey Jr.’s less than trained body to an Iron Man – worthy level. Apart from this, the movie is one of the best super hero movies of all time. Just watch it for enjoyment’s sake if you haven’t done so.

Kung Fu Hustle
I have made sure that the bulk of the movies I recommend in this list are not only highly motivational, but also of high quality and plain old fun. King Fu Hustle is no exception. Stephen Chow, aged 42 in this movie, puts most 20 something’s to shame when it comes to being in shape. Add to this the fact that his comedy style will make you piss your pants. Now top that off with the fact that he is a real-life martial artist (like Wesley Snipes) so his moves are authentic. And, his Bruce Lee impersonation is impeccable. You just gotta see this one folks – a killer flick.


47 thoughts on “25 Movies That Motivate Me To Train Hard”

  1. Adam,

    Jean Claude Van Damme kicks ass in this one. Also, Bolo Yeung is there and he is SCARY.

    Another movie with both Van Damme and Bolo is Double Impact – this one is one of my favorites.

    Good stuff, buddy! Maybe I should write another top 25 list lol


  2. These are great pics. I second American Psycho, American History X, and Fight Club. Same with T2 for Linda Hamilton. HOTNESS.

    Not a movie, but Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) in Battlestar Galactica. YES.

  3. Dude!

    I say this all the time:

    “If you can’t be motivated by a rocky movie, better check that pulse of yours lol.”

    Especially the last rocky movie, the latest one, where Rocky tells his son about how he’s being a little bitch and life will beat you down only if you let it–That gets me so effing pumped it’s not funny!


    P.s. Great list – love 99% of those movies, except I haven’t seen the monkey kungfu joint or the hurricane carter one — but definitely will now!

  4. Monica

    I haven’t seen this show. Will check her out 🙂


    yeah buddy, that scene from Rocky Balboa was strong. Stallone is good as a dramatic actor – have you seen Copland?

    p.s. you won’t regret watching The Hurricane!


  5. Great post and great blog Yavor

    when it comes to movies that would motivate me to train you pretty much nailed it… check it out… I’ll just list some of my favorite movies in general

    Shawshank ( hands down the best ever )
    Good Will Hunting
    Pulp Fiction / Jackie Brown / True Romance / Reservoir Dogs
    Good Fellas / Taxi Driver / The Departed
    Office Space
    Knocked Up / SuperBad
    Fight Club
    Apocalypse Now
    Snatch / RocknRolla
    Dead Presidents
    Heat / Thief
    Something About Mary
    Big Lebowski / Fargo
    The Lookout
    Cool Hand Luke
    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
    Sling Blade
    Jerry McGuire
    Dazed and Confused
    Fast Times
    Amongst Friends
    Midnight Express

    I’m sure this isn’t what you were looking for, but hey… I’m a movie buff so I had to bust some out

  6. Chris

    That’s quire a list. Here are my thoughts.

    Shawshank – yup fantastic. Also a very good one is The Green Mile.
    Good Will Hunting – yup.
    Pulp Fiction / Jackie Brown / True Romance / Reservoir Dogs – I enjoy Tarantino too. In fact True Romance was my fave movie for quite some time. I also like Kill Bill.
    Good Fellas / Taxi Driver / The Departed – classics. Just a note here – I’ve seen the original Hong Kong movie that The Departed is based on and it’s a winner.
    Office Space – haven’t seen this one yet
    Knocked Up / SuperBad – those were hilarious.
    Apocalypse Now – shame, haven’t seen this one either!
    Snatch / RocknRolla – o yeah, glad Guy Ritchie came to his senses. Revolver was incomprehensible to me.
    Dead Presidents – another one I am yet to see
    Heat / Thief – Heat is great. Haven’t even heard of Thief!
    Something About Mary – This one was so funny!
    Big Lebowski / Fargo – really enjoyed Lebowski. Yet to see Fargo. And Not Country for Old Men too…
    The Lookout – no idea what this is about.
    Scarface – super classic! Say hello to my little friend, hehe.
    Cool Hand Luke – no idea here either.
    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot – Clint Eastwood is the man! I’ve seen many of his flicks, but the guys is so PROLIFIC that I’ve got a big stack of DVDs yet to watch!
    Sling Blade – fantastic acting by Angelina Jolie’s former husband. And quite a heavy movie too.
    Jerry McGuire – I remember this one had my so pumped!
    Dazed and Confused – I don’t know if you are into Linklater, but he is one of my fave directors. Almost can’t lose with this guy!
    Fast Times – no idea here dude!
    Amongst Friends – here neither.
    Midnight Express – shame on me – another classic I haven’t seen.

    Wow, what a list. Thanks for suggesting those flicks, Chris!


  7. Damn dude,

    can’t believe I forgot

    Boogie Nights ( as well as the rest of the PT Anderson classics)

    Short Cuts ( by Robert Altman)

    To Live and Die in LA

    there’s so many good ones man

  8. Boogie Nights ( as well as the rest of the PT Anderson classics) -haven’t seen it
    Short Cuts ( by Robert Altman)- nope
    To Live and Die in LA – still no

    Damn, I need to brush up on my movies lol. Been meaning to watch Boogie Nights as well as that Larry Flint flick for a while. Heard Mark Wahlberg was very good in Boogie Nights


  9. Great post! a good idea too. haven’t seen many motivational movies posts on other fitness blogs. personally the biggest motivational movie to me was 300. the movie in itself shows men in the shape i’m sure many of us want to be in. i can’t watch the whole movie without wanting to hit the gym myself! Apparently they had to bust their ass’s for awhile to get in that shape, but that makes it all the more realistic to get in shape if you have the determination and motivation!

  10. Kash,

    you are right, the guys in 300 were ripped. They mostly did strength training, circuits, sprints, etc.

    Gerard Buttler also finished his training off with some work with a pro body builder so he could look even bigger.


  11. Xenomorph

    Can’t go wrong with Van Damme…

    [Van Damme was one of my favorite actors growing up in the early nineties… I remember watching his Double Impact dozens of times on our newly bought VCR – it was my fave flick…]

  12. It’s for real! It’s one of those 80’s flicks, about a wrestler.

    It’s actually become somewhat of a cultish type flick, with a very specific following. At least that how the people I’ve seen commenting about it come across.

    Great movie though! Must see!

    BTW, Great stuff! Love the site, and shall return for more.

  13. Miami Joe,

    thanks for recommending it man! I will try to find it and watch it. Contributions from people like you make maintaining this site rewarding – so a big thanks!


  14. I think I’d go with Rocky especially the one where he fights the Russian and trains hardcore in the snow and in that timber snow cabin! Rocky has to have the Best training scenes ever!!

  15. Kieran

    Rocky IV has great training sequences. In fact, I am working on a part 2 article with another 25 movies and Rocky is there 🙂

  16. wow! you do know your movies! i go for edward norton so I must second fight club. I also liked angelina jolie in tomb raider but that stick-thin figure she is sporting now doesn’t work for me. I would go for lean, natural-muscled body. makes me wanna go workout.. 🙂

  17. Carol,

    I def agree about Angelina and her stick figure in Wanted. But in Tomb Raider she trained with weights and acrobatics, etc so she looked athletic. Plus she wore breast enhancing thingies (really!) lol. Stay tuned for part two of this article!



  18. awesome list!

    A recent movie that should be added to the list is Redbelt. Although, it’s not huge on adrenaline fulled action scenes, it touches upon some foundational tenets of martial arts and training: righteous and purity of the heart and mind. It’s the old bushido code of conduct with a modern twist. It may not get you pumped up before your workout, but it sure makes you feel like a wise old sage haha..

    Additional goodies:

    1. Written and directed by David Mamet
    2. MMA and BJJ scences

  19. Alex,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’m going to see the movie and maybe add it to my new list of another 20+ awesome movies.



  20. WHAT about 300 come on far those guys have mad ass 6 packs and there training routine and them looking at the face of danger like its a training toy and them being outnumbered and still owning most of em come on that should be on the list
    makes you wana do a HIIT workout with 30kg vest!

  21. a really good that makes me wanna hit the weights has got to be “the marine” with john cena. And you cant forget about “Never Back Down”, that movie is deffinitley one of the best

  22. My favorites are all of the rocky movies! But my favorite out of them is when he has to fight the Russian guy. I think he looked the best in that one. The new one is real good to. I also like Batman Begins, I like how he wakes up, drops, does pushups and drinks his breakfast. Finally, the mask of zorro. Antonio busts out lots of conditoning work, but lots of altas pushups above fire…SWEET!

  23. Amanda,

    yeah Rain, the Korean actor was in killer shape for that movie. I actually wrote an article that I researched about his training but never got it published. Ninja Assassin will no doubt enter the next top 25.

  24. Fight Club without question! One of my favorite movies ever. Also the new series on Starz “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” is amazing Yavor. It’s like 300 meets Gladiator with all the blood you could ever ask for 🙂 Great show. Love your list, all good picks!

  25. Craig,

    I’m actually half way through the series – it’s awesome. Fantastic production values.

    Funny fact – the ‘real’ Spartacus was born here in Bulgaria 🙂


  26. What a list Yavor! I am a HUGE Rocky fan, the theme tune is even my cell ring tone. If you like Stallone check out his new movie due august (UK) called “The Expendables” featuring some top action man action, including none other than Dolph Lundgren or Ivan Drago from Rocky IV http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6RU5y2fU6s.

    Cheers for your support with my site!


  27. Ahh I hadn’t seen that post yet. In Rocky 6 I have to say that Stallone’s body looked horrific, not in terms of musculature but his veins were popping out and looked more like knotted rope than the “cables” the body building world loves. He looks much better in that photo.

  28. His veins are like this after a torn chest muscle from at least 15 years ago. In this photo he has tats covering them..

  29. Santy, good call. I’ve sen U3 and it’s bad ass. Also – anything with Michael Jay White. I actually have another list of 25+ movies…

  30. The list lacks some movies. Rocky 4 is the most inspirating movie for training hard ever made by far. What about the Rambo movies?

  31. Great list, but did anyone mention Cape Feare??? Robert De Niro looks exactly how I wanna look in that film plus it’s an amazing movie altogether! If I am not feeling motivated to work out i stick the first scene in Cape Feare on and it never fails to get me dipping and pulling!!! 🙂

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