How to Exercise Like You’re in a Training Montage

Posted by Margaret Dunham

It's World Health Day, and even though we're #stayinghome to help flatten the curve, we can still exercise! Are you excited to start training like a soon-to-be-action star? Of course you are! And like any would-be hero/ine, you know exactly how to get there: an epic montage.

But what really goes into a great montage, and what do you need to know to get started? With these simple steps, you’ll be the best around in no time.

Special Trainer’s Note: Absolutely train like you’re in a montage, but always remember to stay safe, rest, and refuel/rehydrate as you do. These scenes are generally cut from the final montages, but they are crucial to succeeding in the long run and improving a little more every day.




Before You Get Started

Before you start your montage, you have to line up a few important details and resources. Once you have these set up, you’re ready to start training and improving just a little more every time the camera cuts to you!


Identify a Montage Goal

Daniel wanted to stand up to that bully from Cobra Kai. Rocky told us he only fought because he couldn't “sing or dance,” but we all know he wanted to win that belt. What is it that you want to achieve? It could be anything from completing your first pull up to running your first ultra marathon. Get an idea of where you want to go, and then start figuring out how to get there.


Find a Begrudging Mentor

While technically optional, a lot of the best montages include a specific mentor. Generally they’re older, often a little grumpy, and sometimes reticent to be coaching at all. Do you know anyone like that already? Don’t forget to google the janitor in your local training facility or the super of your apartment building. There’s a chance they’re actually a secret superstar who fell from grace decades ago, and have been waiting for a worthy pupil like you to find them.

Plus, since everyone is home, chances are they're looking for an outlet, too. Why not set up a Zoom or Skype call?


Start Out by Not Being Very Good at It

If you want a truly great montage, then you have to start out with a lot of drive and very little skill. Maybe the highly trained rival teenagers at your new school have been roughing you up. Maybe you have a once in a lifetime shot to win the title. Maybe everything you’ve ever wanted hinges on accomplishing a single, one-time feat of excellence! Okay, that last one is a little unlikely, but the most important part is knowing where you’re at now skillwise, and where you want to go. And the farther the distance between those two points, the better the training montage.


Add Signature Montage Music

Fast paced, straightforward lyrics, with a beat that makes you want to #work, montage music is absolutely crucial to the process. What music gets you keyed up and ready to train hard? The tone of this anthem will likely be the thing you remember the most, so choose carefully – and feel free to try out lots of different options. And remember – always fade out in a montage, so it seems like more time is passing.




Design Your Montage

Your montage workout will require the following components. Since you get to choose your own action adventure, you get to decide which movements you use to build your workout! Just make sure to get each of these bases covered.


Genuinely Difficult Bodyweight Movements

Here’s where you’re likely to see strong improvement…after a few weeks of hard work. Pull ups. Push ups. Balance drills. Plyometric alternating one handed push ups. These movements should be really tough, especially when you’re working to nail them for the first time. If you want to train even harder, pick a few movements in this category and rotate between them!


Painfully Boring Repetitive Movements

In Rocky, it’s running the stairs and punching. In The Karate Kid, it’s painting fences and waxing cars. These are the movements you will cut back to again and again. Sometimes it’ll be in your training facility. Sometimes it’ll be elsewhere. Ideally, at least once or twice you’ll catch yourself doing them in an odd or even inappropriate location. The goal with these movements is to build rote memorization and that magical thing called muscle memory. Like learning to ride a bike, it’ll be a struggle till you get it, and then you’ll get much better in short order!


(Somewhat Baffling) Equipment-Based Movements

Ever chased a chicken? Stood on a pole on the beach? Punched a side of beef? If not, now’s the time! (Just remember to social distance and go where you're safe and able. For now, that probably means sticking to the comfort of your own home!) A classic element of the montage is using equipment in your training—often equipment that’s weird or unconventional. Sure, exercises with actual tools like jump ropes or punching bags is important, but it’s the strange equipment choices that add the real fun and flavor to your personal work out montage. Look around. What items could you work into your routine to make your exercises more challenging?


Simulated Montage Goal Completion

Want to swim the channel? You’ve got to swim in open water. Want to win a fight? You’ve got to spar in the ring. All the preparation in the world doesn’t help you much if you don’t train your body’s reflexes to respond the way you need them to in the final scene!

Now repeat these workout elements again and again until, bam, you’re ready for your epic climactic triumph!


Special Bonus Montage: Montage Goal!

Sometimes, the climax of achieving your goal is a montage in itself! This was true for Daniel Larusso’s first karate tournament, and it could be true for you, too. Will you be competing against others in a final display of skill? Working your way through a series of challenges that culminates in a big, high-stakes spectacle? Then congratulations—your montage goal is itself a montage!

Need an example of a perfect montage goal? Check out this sequence from the final scenes leading to the climax of The Karate Kid.