6 of the best movie training montages

Don't let those muscles atrophy while you're self-isolating at home. If you're looking for motivation beyond the daily commute to the kettle and back, we've got the answer in the form of our training montage list.

Each of the characters in the following movies faced their own uphill struggle to get into shape, and now they can inspire you to get fit while you're indoors. Eat it, Joe Wicks.

1. Rocky IV (1985)

We get not one, not two, but three training montages in Sylvester Stallone's fourth dose of pugilistic action. This time, Stallone's title character faces the might of communist Russia, embodied by the monolithic Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago.

It's ridiculous anti-commie propaganda, unbearably '80s – and we love it to bits. The moment everyone remembers is where Rocky decamps to Russia to hack down trees and slog through the snow. Plus, there's an Inception-style moment where Rocky ruminates on his past montages from the earlier movies. Now, that's cool.

2. Bloodsport (1988)

Don't think that Rocky held sway over the mid-80s training montage. This was also the time when Belgium's Jean-Claude Van Damme was starting out in Hollywood. Did you know that he originally modelled the Predator in the 1987 Arnie classic? Of course, that didn't work out, but we did get Bloodsport as compensation.

In truth, the story is little more than an excuse to show off JCVD's abilities. But what abilities they are, as his American soldier (yes, he plays a Yank in this) heads to Hong Kong to participate in a mixed martial arts tournament. The prep scene, which involves destroying lots of bamboo canes, radiates testosterone.

3. Mulan (1998)

While we await the live-action remake, it's time to return to the animated Mulan movie to revisit the best (and, we think, only) training montage in Disney history. Ming-Na Wen's title character has disguised herself as a man to serve in the Chinese army and help battle the huns – but she's going to need some help along the way.

The montage sequence is accompanied by hit song 'I'll Make A Man Out Of You', although, as with everything in this subversive Mouse House pic, it's also a sly commentary on gender roles. In truth, Mulan demonstrates more tenacity and resourcefulness than the man training her, frequently shirtless commander Li Shang (BD Wong). And before you ask, no, Li Shang is not appearing in the reboot.

4. Team America: World Police (2004)

The guys behind South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, aren't interested in your conventional training montage sequence. Instead, they brilliantly lampoon the entire conceit as part of their riotously rude puppet action-comedy, Team America.

Our title characters are basically marionette Avengers, who travel the world sticking it to the bad guys. But when a North Korean conspiracy rears its head, incorporating the machinations of Alec Baldwin and other key Hollywood players, the race is on to save the day. The hilarious moment where down-and-out team member Gary is coaxed back into action with a self-referential montage is a workout for the ribs, as well as the muscles.

5. Batman Begins (2005)

Rome wasn't built in a day, and Batman wasn't born overnight. Even billionaire Bruce Wayne needed some expert training to become the Dark Knight, and that's what Christopher Nolan's triumphant Batman origin story depicts.

As played by Christian Bale, Wayne is a troubled loner who, after the death of his parents, seeks to become the embodiment of fear itself. To that end, he enlists the help of Liam Neeson's Ra's al Ghul, a shadowy mentor whose ultimate motivations remain in doubt. To show that he's not messing around, Ra's al Ghul has Wayne engage in swordfight training on a frozen lake – such a test of reflexes, endurance and skill is what ultimately leads to the creation of a comic book legend.

6. Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

Doug Liman's smart time travel/action movie, based on the graphic novel 'All You Need Is Kill', sends up Tom Cruise's screen image. For a start, The Cruiser begins the movie as a weaselly bureaucrat who's badly out of his depth when called to engage with a deadly alien invasion. But upon dying, Major William Cage finds himself in a Groundhog Day-style scenario, compelled to relive his death over and over again until he locates the enemy's weakness.

Those who've desired to see Cruise bite it on the big screen get their money's worth here, as the scenario spins out to blackly comic effect. And Cruise's character isn't in the driving seat: he's being coaxed along the way by Emily Blunt's badass Sergeant Rita Vrataski, who is often responsible for executing Cage herself in order to reset the clock.

What classic training montages have we left off our list? Let us know @Cineworld.