The Rocky Road


No humans can watch a Rocky movie training sequence and not be instantly pumped to hit the gym and train. Maybe it’s the music or the raw feel to the workouts, but more likely it’s a covetous evaluation of Sly Stallone’s trim physique that inspires the masses to go all beast mode. Try watching HBO’s 24/7 or Showtime’s All Access ahead of a big fight and you’ll find similar motivation. That’s because the training that fighters endure in preparation for a bout leaves them lethally lean, muscular and powerful. And it’s not just about the miles they log each morning. Here are some ways you can implement fight training into your existing workouts to build a combat-ready bod. Ding, ding! 

Simple enough, right? For less than $100, you can find yourself a decent heavy bag to go to town on. Use hand and wrist protection — simple wraps and training gloves will suffice — to practice various combinations of punches. Move around the bag between combos to simulate a real fight and to turn it into a full-body workout. To get the 1,000-calories-per-hour promise of most local boxing gyms, hit the bag for three minutes and perform active rest — such as push-ups, squats and full sit-ups — for a minute between rounds. Aim for eight to 10 rounds total.

Incorporating elements of a deadlift, barbell curl, thruster and a bench press, this wind-sapping activity will have you thrashed after five flips. Tires can be found for free at many junkyards or for a few dollars online. For a strength-building yet metabolically charged workout, choose a tire that is two to three times your deadlift max and go for three to four sets of five to 10 flips with a minute or more of rest between sets. You can go lighter for more reps if you’re looking to increase muscular endurance or burn more fat. 

For less than $40, you can pick up a sledgehammer and go to town on the aforementioned tire in any number of ways. Sledgehammer swings increase core strength, build rotational power and help you get generally ripped. Overhead swings will tax your rectus abdomnis more, while swings to the side of the tire will recruit more of your obliques. Try working up to a minute with each version. 

You don’t have to do double-unders or crisscross skips like Rocky — just keeping the rope moving under your feet successfully for any amount of time is a good place to start. A rope, which can be had for $10 to $15, is a piece of equipment that you can take and use almost anywhere. If you’re new to the rope, work on your rhythm with three one-minute rounds and build your way to five rounds of three minutes apiece. For an extra challenge, add five seconds to your round time for every missed pass with the rope.

You’ve probably heard us say before that bands are a great tool to keep in the gym because they provide a unique type of resistance called linear variable resistance. You can put this resistance to pugilistic use by wrapping a band, or resistance tubing, around a heavy bag or a pole and grabbing the ends. (Bands with handles are ideal.) Making sure the band length is even on each side, take a fighter’s stance and, with a slight forward lean, simply punch forward as fast as you can in alternating fashion for one full minute. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat for three total rounds. This drill taxes your shoulders, chest and deep muscles of your core.