Here’s a look at the fittest movies of all time:
While training with the film’s real-life subject, Jake LaMotta, Robert De Niro so impressed the former middleweight champ that he was convinced the actor could have had a successful pro boxing career.
Brad Pitt never had trouble winning over the ladies, but to most guys, he was still a skinny pretty boy—until Fight Club. As anarchist Tyler Durden, he inspired men everywhere to start crunching. (By the way: Here are the 30 best abs exercises of all time.)
The film’s CGI backbone doesn’t tarnish the exceptional shape the actors (like Gerard Butler, above) achieved to play a fearless Spartan army. After training for three months, the cast had to complete a 300-rep fitness test, including pull-ups, deadlifts, and pushups, thereby ensuring that at least one dude in every college gym everywhere will interrupt everyone’s workout by shouting “THIS. IS. SPARTAAAA!”
THE RAMBO MOVIES
In First Blood, Sly Stallone was trained to eat things “that would make a billy goat puke.” In Rambo: First Blood Part II, he had to “become war.” Then, in 2008, Stallone returned with Rambo, proving that muscle (even in lieu of a plot) can still sell movie tickets.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
It’s got loads of former and current NFL players, like Terrell Owens, Jim Brown, and Warren Moon, plus Jaime Foxx’s absurdly ripped abs and solid gridiron action. Add Al Pacino’s famous “inches” speech, and you’re ready to run through a wall.
This is the documentary that brought bodybuilding and Arnold Schwarzenegger into the mainstream—and convinced your old man to start lifting weights. With vintage footage of Gold’s gym and the brutal workouts that forged champion bodies, Pumping Iron is a must-see for any musclehead.
THE ROCKY MOVIES
As inspiring as the story itself is Sylvester Stallone’s dedication to showing up with the best possible body for each film. He ate raw eggs, did one-armed pushups, and boxed thousands of rounds. The training montages are legendary, the other actors were jacked, too, and the theme music is a staple of workout playlists everywhere. Rocky set a new standard for movie-star muscle.
Before there was MMA, there was Bloodsport. The film that made Jean-Claude Van Damme a household name still inspires pushups during commercials and drunken backyard kumites.
ENTER THE DRAGON
In the most famous of Bruce Lee’s badly dubbed kung fu movies (c’mon, you’re not watching for the dialogue), the martial arts legend reveals one of the best physiques in the history of film—as well as awesome techniques to match.
This is the movie that kicked off the “sword and sandal” epics of the ’50s and ’60s, in which musclemen were being drafted by the dozen to play Greek and Roman heroes. Steve Reeves, the 1950 Mr. Universe, ushered in a new era of muscle on film. Sylvester Stallone and a generation of bodybuilders cite this 1950s film as an influence on their decisions to pump up.
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