Fitness & Exercise
The Rocky Workout: Get Fit Like a Champ
Gonna Fly Now
Sylvester Stallone—the actor who portrays Rocky Balboa in the “Rocky” movie series—is getting older, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. Stallone, a vocal fitness advocate, takes a method actor’s approach to his character, regularly performing workouts typical of professional boxers. Although we don’t advocate participating in the sport of boxing, boxers’ workouts are great fitness regimens.
Click through the slideshow to learn how to train like Stallone.
Old-Time Boxing Workouts
In 1899, Boxer Jim Jeffries had one goal—to beat Bob Fitzsimmons in the battle for the title of Heavyweight Champion. Jeffries ran 14 miles each morning, alternating between a steady state speed and a 100-yard dash. Afternoon activities included handball, punching the bag, jumping rope, and tossing around an 18-pound medicine ball. Jeffries achieved his goal in the 11th round.
Other boxers, such as Muhammad Ali, used similar training methods, but added abdominal exercises like the bicycle maneuver, sit ups with a medicine ball, and leg raises. While these routines might be too extreme for recreational athletes, the logic behind them still holds true. Incorporating a modified version of the typical boxing workout takes your training to the next level.
When Jeffries interspersed the 100-yard dash into his endurance run, he was practicing what exercise physiologists call “red line zone training.” This type of workout temporarily brings you to 90 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate—above the target heart rate zone identified by the American Heart Association. While you can only maintain this intensity for a very short period, adding red zone intervals trains your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are responsible for speed.
Jumping rope is an old school workout that adheres to modern fitness principles. While its aerobic and coordination benefits are obvious, less obvious are its benefits as a core training exercise.
A stable upper torso and optimal postural alignment is essential to the foot coordination necessary for jumping rope: your core muscles stabilize your spine, thereby supporting proper posture. According to the Jump Rope Institute, 10 minutes of continuous jumping rope can provide equal benefits to a 30-minute run.
Medicine Ball Training
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, people of all ages can use medicine ball training to develop agility and balance. Adding a weighted medicine ball to workouts also enhances strength, coordination, and reaction time. Try this sequence:
- Stand upright, with feet hip-width apart. Hold a 10-pound medicine ball with both hands.
- Toss the ball into the air.
- Catch it on a rebound, and land in a squat.
- Perform 12 repetitions, three times a week.
Abs and Core
The bicycle maneuver targets muscle fibers in your abdominals and core, and was a staple in Muhammad Ali’s workout. Try it:
- Lie on your back with your legs extended 45 degrees, and your hands behind your head.
- Bend your right knee and rotate your upper torso, so that your left shoulder moves toward your right hip.
- Keep your legs and torso lifted, and repeat the movement on the opposite side.
- Keep your lower back flat on the floor.
Training for Life
Training like a boxer beats boredom and workout burnout, but these advanced training methods require meticulous form. Consult your physician before starting a new exercise program and only perform as many repetitions as you can without compromising alignment.
With a little practice, you may soon find yourself feeling like you’re “gonna fly now”—just like Sylvester Stallone!