The hour's approaching, to give it your best You've got to reach your prime. That's when you need to put yourself to the test And show us a passage of time We're going to need a montage (montage!) Ooh it takes a montage (montage!)
A variant of the Hard Work Montage in which a character builds themselves up over time in preparation for a battle. Usually accompanied by uplifting music. If it's supposed to be taken seriously, they'll use something original, or just appropriate. If they're going for a full-on parody, it'll be one of the most well-recognised montage songs, or something reminiscent. If "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky can't be used, then Joe Esposito's "You're the Best" or Survivor's immortal "Eye Of The Tiger" makes for a good substitute.
Closely related to the Lock and Load Montage. See also Workout Fanservice.
Episode 2 of Kaleido Star uses this when Sora preps herself to duplicate the "Golden Phoenix", a favorite trick of Layla Hamilton, one of her idols. She comes oh-so-close to pulling it off, perfecting the spin technique but missing the opposite trapeze bar by thatmuch. Layla, who normally Suffers Newbies Poorly, is impressed enough to allow Sora to stay with the Kaleido Stage crew.
Notable because the episode was produced about four years before the original Dance Dance Revolution was introduced. Watch it today and you're liable to think that the bit was inspired by DDR.
In fact, considering how monumentally popular Eva was in Japan, the reverse may be true...
Subverted in Excel♥Saga, when Excel has to win a bowling competition and runs into Nabeshin in a restroom, who reveals he is a legendary bowling coach and offers to train her. The show then skips directly to the END of the training montage with the two of them watching the sunset on a beach Karate-Kid style and Nabeshin saying "I've taught you all I know." Excel then reveals that the reason we didn't see any training is because there wasn't any; all they did was go look at a sunset.
Pedro, however, plays it straight (Rocky parodies aside), when he is training to fight Gomez.
Blue Gender (an atrociously foreshortened compilation of the series) contains the world's bare minimum elements for a training montage: a total zero at the start—>someone correcting how he holds a gun—>some guy going "hey kid, you've got a knack for this!"—>and suddenly, Yuji being ready to go into battle.
Used in Ayanes High Kick when the eponymous hero is training for (what she believes to be) her first Pro-wrestling/Kickboxing mixed martial arts match. The montage includes her practicing punches and kicks near the road by car-light, getting in the stomach by her trainer with a medicine ball while doing sit-ups, doing pull-ups while wearing a weight-suit, and of course jogging up stairs. All set to an upbeat rock tune, as one would expect.
THE iDOLM@STER - Several throughout the showing, the first one being along the ending sequence on the first episode.
Samurai Champloo. In the Baseball Episode, Manzou the Saw is narrating events, including scenes in which our heroes are learning the mysterious art of baseball in a single night. "At this point things get rather boring, so I'll skip the details."
Haruka of Kotoura-san goes through one in episode 5, as the local Cute Clumsy Girl was assigned to race in the inter-class relay... and that doesn't work. She still tripped on her feet.
Episode 17 of Space Dandy has a hilariously on-point parody of all the examples above it on this page, and then some - complete with an 80's-tastic Hot-Blooded training montage song.
The main character of Persepolissings along to her "Eye of the Tiger" montage near the end of the film. Considering that she is an Iranian who almost exclusively speaks Persian and French, that she tackles the song in its native English, and she's not actually very good at singing in any case, the results are...amusing.
In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Tiger, the Cowardly Lion of the series, has a montage while training to be like a dog so he can help Wiley Burp and Fievel take on Cat R. Waul. The montage includes Tiger doing push-ups, walking through tires, beating up a Cat R. Waul dummy, and fetching a bone.
Films — Live-Action
Rocky series, obviously, although it's a bit different in every movie:
In the second, it's a remixed Gonna Fly Now, only with kids added in to show how much everybody loves Rocky.
Prior to that there is a training montage set to the "Going the Distance" music from the first movie.
In the third, Eye of the Tiger comes into play.
In the fourth, we have both a regular training music montage and Hearts on Fire.
In the fifth, the featured song is Go For It! (Heart and Fire).
The final movie saw a rousing return of Gonna Fly Now.
The Karate Kid spoofs this, by showing the training without uplifting music and Daniel resenting the training, since he hasn't been told of its purpose - he thinks it's simple household chores. Later used straight.
Spoofed in Adam Carolla's The Hammer. Jerry shuts off his alarm at 6:00 AM to the opening strains of Survivor's Eye of the Tiger. And again at 6:09. And again at 6:18, and again and again until he finally gets up around 11:00 to actually start training.
Bruce Wayne's training with the League of Shadows in Batman Begins is mostly shown via montage. The accompanying music is more brooding than uplifting, as befits the idea that it's a Batman movie and they're planning to use him to destroy Gotham.
A short one appears in the Dark Knight Rises, with Bruce getting back in shape while in the Pit.
A training montage also appears in Disney's previous film, Hercules, with the titular/clumsy demigod doing hero-training while the coach sings "One Last Hope".
Played relatively straight in Bring It On with the cheerleader training montage after the Toros bought routine is disqualified.
Parodied in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, where the villagers Robin Hood is training routinely fail at basic training, and at one point lose in jousting training to inanimate dummies.
In Shooter FBI Rookie Nick Memphis is trained by ex-marine sniper Bobby Lee Swagger over the course of few days on effective sharpshooting, military tactics and advanced camouflage.
It Happened Here (1966). Used to show the protagonist falling under the sway of the fascist Immediate Action Organisation. At the beginning of the montage the IAO nurses flinch when firing a Webley revolver; by the end all of them are coldly blazing away at their targets.
Chak De! India: Kabir Khan finally convinces his team that he's the best coach ever: cue title song (literally named "GO INDIA!") and montage of the girls training.
Kill Bill volume 2. The Bride learns kung fu under Pai Mei, most notably how to punch through a wooden board from only an inch away, which helps her later when she's in a coffin buried alive.
The Brucesploitation film Clones of Bruce Lee goes so far as to rip off "Gonna Fly Now" in it's training montage.
Chuck E. Cheese in the Galaxy 5000 has this when Chuckie crashes into a Hermit's house (who may or may not be Pasqualli). This moment is probably the only decent musical number in the film.
Soul Surfer: "I don't need easy...I just need possible"
In the 2011 film Warrior: The training montage for both brothers, overlaid with commentary and Beethoven (Brendan's leitmotif).
The King's Speech: Here the sport is public speaking, and there are two such montages here. However, the first such sequence may be an Anti-training montage; Albert goes through a ton of humiliating exercises, juxtaposed with his latest speech in which he still sounds horrid. That's exactly what Lionel wants, since his point is that mechanics alone won't fix Albert.
Chariots of Fire shows Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell training for the Olympics, with Abrahams doing runs on a track in Cambridge and Liddell running through the highlands of Scotland.
The Mechanic (2011). Bishop and McKenna using a variety of automatic weapons and a Barrett fifty-calibre rifle on an improvised firing range are alternated with scenes of McKenna's daily routine with his Precious Puppy, which is meant to set up the interest of McKenna's first target.
Attempting to fit Ender’s Game into a 2-hour film, many of the Battle Room battles and fleet simulations given more detail in the book are shown as brief montages. In the first case, the montage makes it a point to show Ender's army's standing rising from the lowest to number one. Why bother showing how brilliant Ender is when you can say it?
Subverted in The Amateur, a 1981 film about a codebreaker who blackmails the CIA into letting him go into Czechoslovakia and kill the terrorists who killed his fiancee. To buy time while they find the secrets he's stolen (files on CIA black ops) they send him to "The Farm" for training in assassination techniques. At the end of the appropriate montage between the CIA searching everyone he might have hidden the files, and the protagonist training, he tells the CIA to stop screwing around and send him in as he's never going to pass the course anyway.
In The Color of Money, Eddie's recovery from his Heroic BSOD is a montage of activities to rebuild his skills, including swimming, being fitted for new eyeglasses, and lots of games of pool.
Subverted in Captain America: The First Avenger. Before Steve Rogers takes the Super Serum, there's a training montage of him on a military obstacle course that shows just how hopeless he is. After taking the serum he becomes the buff and famous Captain America, but is stuck on the propaganda circuit convincing people to buy war bonds. As per this trope he's shown as awkwardly reading his lines at the start, gets better and more confident as the montage continues, only for it to suddenly end with him being mocked by unimpressed frontline soldiers in Italy.
The Dresden Files novel Cold Days opens with one of these, with much Lampshade Hanging. And since it's Mab who's doing the training, it's equal parts physical therapy and attempts to murder Harry.
Live Action TV
Buffy. Lampshaded in the Musical Episode "Once More, With Feeling". The influence of a demon keeps making the residents of Sunnydale break out into song and dance. Buffy is doing weapons training with Giles.
Buffy: I'm worried our training's gonna turn into a montage from an '80s movie.
Giles: If we start to hear inspirational power chords, we'll just lie down until it goes away.
Though Angel played it perfectly straight when Angel gets ready to hunt down Darla and Drusilla.
Spoofed in an episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie. Babar is walking down the street reading a book of Curling rules and regulations. He proceeds to walk past people playing various other sports and up a flight of stairs, then turns around and holds the book in the air. Oh yea, and an oddly played version of Gonna Fly Now is indeed playing.
Parodied in the subplot to the Married... with Children 3-parter "Breaking Up Is Easy To Do", where Kelly trains for a brawl with a rival actress over a movie role. It begins with her trying to drink raw eggs while they're still in their shells.
The Colbert Report featured a spooferific training montage in the first episode of the revamped web-animated cartoon Tek Jansen. The background music was clearly a parody of "You're the Best" by Joe Esposito.
The 4/11/12 episode has Stephen giving a Marine civilian job training... as a television pundit, with a training montage of practicing which camera to talk at, jumping for the microphone, beating strawmen, and wearing a suit, accompanied by a trumpet version of the theme.
The Daily Show had their version. During their coverage of the 2010 World Cup, British correspondent John Oliver trained to Gonna Fly Now, drinking Heineken and running up the steps - in order to be a more obnoxious soccer fan.
Parodied in The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon and Raj intently study a whiteboard...complete with fast cuts and "Eye of the Tiger" playing in the background. Twice.
Parodied on Even Stevens: Louis, having learned that 97-pound-weakling Tom is actually a black belt, asks Tom to "teach me your ways." A montage then depicts Louis failing at preposterously easy tasks (like punching through a celery stalk). He is dismayed to learn that it takes nine years to learn Tom's "ways".
Also parodied in Bargearse (a Gag Dub of Australian cop show Bluey) where the overweight cop tries jogging to "Gonna Fly Now", only to end up Letting the Air out of the Band when he has a heart attack.
"It was your fault for playing that Rocky theme!"
Duncan and Richie have one in Highlander "Eye for an Eye". A portion of the franchise's Queen "Princes of the Universe" theme played with it.
Parodied in The Middle, when Sue and Brad are training for a square dance competition. There's even a square dance version of "Eye of the Tiger" playing during the scene.
Michael Bluth goes through one in the Arrested Development episode "Notapusy" courtesy of his nephew, Steve Holt.
One appears in My Heart is Beating to represent the months the water polo team is practicing for the school championships.
Parodied in Adventures in Odyssey's "Fifteen Minutes", where Alex trains to perfect his mini-golf skills under the ex-champion, Bart Rathbone. Somehow, despite the appropriate music (and a spot where he waxes Bart's car for no discernible purpose), this causes him to do much worse the second time around.
In Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals, Larry attempts to get in shape on a series of exercise machines while a pastiche of "Gonna Fly Now" plays in the background.
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!!! features a memorable training sequence between circuits where Little Mac dons a pink tracksuit and runs behind Doc Louis riding a bike. This is expanded upon in the Wii version to create a full-on training montage.
Little Mac does this again in the intro to his trailer for when he becomes playable in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS. It concludes with him knocking a Sandbag out of the window of the gym.
No More Heroes has a remix of "Eye of the Tiger" playing in the background in the gym.
In Knights of the Old Republic, the series of clips demonstrating your Jedi training might count (though there isn't any music, just Master Zhar narrating).0
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria features three of these during a quest chain where the Player Character learns martial arts from the Hidden Master. The first montage is played straight, then the second plays it for laughs: as the Hidden Master throws eggs at the player to test their concentration, the giant bird they stole one of the eggs from comes to attack him from behind.
In the Team Fortress 2 supplemental materials, Scout has had some luck with "tramps", but is ultimately hopeless when it comes to "ladies", like the team's secretary/assistant/cleaner Miss Pauling, a woman who reads and always has her classes on a little crooked. All of his attempts to woo her are either ultimately shut down, or end in awkward stammering. In the 15-minute short Expiration Date, he eventually comes to Spy, admitting that Spy's better with women than he is. Spy attempts to educate Scout on the art of seduction, dinner, dancing, etc., but Scout doesn't seem to get it. Ultimately, it seems to have been a test of Scout's will, as he finally impresses Spy by just showing Pauling he cares for her, looking out for her, and asking her out upfront. He ultimately doesn't get the girl, but it seems to be mostly because their boss gives her zero time off.
Vince McMahon had a hilarious training montage in 1999 when he was preparing to enter the Royal Rumble, being coached by his son Shane and being made to chase a chicken and drink raw eggs, among other things.
And another one in the summer of 2009, when he and D-Generation X teamed up to battle The Legacy. Triple H was holding a paddle up for Vince to punch when Carlito came into Vince's office and started complaining about something trivial. Hilariously, Triple H held the paddle in front of Carlito's face and then yanked it away at the last second, causing Carlito to get punched out!
In sbemail 117, Strong Bad is asked to "creat a montage". The third one he creates has the subject, a Wagon Fulla Pancakes, training for the championship.
Guts, guts and might Liftin' weights and feelin' alright It's a showdown, goin' downtown you're gonna mess around Showdown, put your nose down, showdown!
The "Showdown" music (without Strong Bad's vocals) is reprised with Homestar's training montage for the animated version of "Strongest Man in the World".
Bowser's Kingdom Episode 7 had one of these, but it was cut out because of lazy animators. Hal and Jeff have an Oh Crap reaction when they find out and come to the conclusion that they didn't train at all.
Downplayed in Ears for Elves when Luero is describing what Guardianship training will be like for Tanna. One panel on that page has a few doodles of a miniature Tanna training and learning archery, as well as serving and obeying her superiors — specifically Luero himself, much to his great glee.
Spoofed in Drawn Together in the episode "Spelling Applebee's", when Foxxy was training for a Spelling Bee. After asking if they could use the "Rocky song", the reply she received was "only... if we can afford it." The scene then cut to Foxxy punching a punching bag to the beat of a barely-audible, poorly-rendered version of "Gonna Fly Now". The training sequence was then abandoned altogether as "it doesn't work without the real song."
Parodied, steps and all, in Hey Arnold! in the episode "Old Iron Man", where Arnold's grandpa competes against an old rival in a senior athletic competition.
Inverted in the Daffy Duck cartoon, "Holiday for Drumsticks". To "save" Tom, a turkey destined for Thanksgiving dinner, Daffy coaches him through an exercise regimen to help him lose weight — while packing away all the food (and the pounds) the farmers have set out to fatten him up. The training montage is on a split screen, with Tom working himself rail-thin in one half, and Daffy stuffing his beak in the other, with the opposite effect on his physique. In the end, Daffy is the one thrown inside the oven. (As Garfield once said about getting in shape, "I AM in shape! Round is a shape!")
Spoofed in the World of Warcraft episode, when the boys are training their characters up to defeat the Internet Troll who has been ruining the game for everyone; whilst the in-game shots shows their characters gradually improving, as they are are spending all their time eating junk food in front of computers the out-game shots of the montage show the boys gradually getting fatter, spottier and further out of shape over time.
The song that plays in the background during this scene is "Live to Win" by Paul Stanley, one of the members of KISS. Funnily enough, the episode with the song was released before Paul's album.
Also brilliantly spoofed/lampshaded in "Asspen", and then in an identical fashion in the movie Team America: textbook-perfect training montages are accompanied by the song 'Montage,' which helpfully notes that "In anything, if you want to go / From just a beginner to a pro / You need a montage." This is also something of a subversion because Stan still skis like a beginner after the montage.
And then there is the episode "The Losing Edge" where Randy goes through a training montage training to beat the other fathers at Stan's baseball games set to the song You're The Best Around. He even sings it in a high-pitched voice when he's fighting the father he's been training the hardest against. Sort of. "You're the best...Around! Yamma-damma-damma-damma-hey!"
In "Up the Down Steroid", Cartman trains himself to fake mental retardation so he can get into the Special Olympics (he figures he can easily beat the others since they are mentally handicapped and he is not; he's wrong) to the tune of Paul Engemann's "Push It to the Limit" from Scarface.
In Gravity Falls episode "Dipper Vs Manliness", we have a twofer; a montage that mixes Dipper manliness training under the manotaurs with Mabel's attempts to make Grunkle Stan more charming and attractive. Actually lampshaded by Mabel; "This is going to take some really good training music" (Takes out a CD labeled 'Training Mix')
Never lose sight of the sights you see You gotta believe your beliefs are real Now you're drinking from a fire hydrant Teach your uncle how to wear a cummerbund Now you're gonna jump a crazy gorge Keep on shaving that hairy uncle Uh, I don't really know what's happening in this part Your heart's on fire and the fire is in your heart!
Family Guy did this in an episode, showing Brian getting ready for college finals by training on top of a mountain (explicitly spoofing the Hearts On Fire sequence from Rocky IV). Which did nothing to help him study, as he and Stewie note a few seconds later.
They did the joke again in Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, their parody of The Empire Strikes Back, with Luke Skywalker/Chris playing the part of Rocky whilst Yoda takes Paulie's role in the other training montage from Rocky IV, complete with cutting to the footage of Ivan Drago training from the movie. At the end of the montage Luke/Chris points out that "it kinda seems like the Dark Side has a better gym than us."
Chowder tears this one apart with a montage set to a song in which the last verse is just the word "Best" repeated over and over.
The Venture Bros. - Brock's secret agent license is expired, and Hank helps him train for the test in an inspiring montage, complete with cheesy '80s song penned by Doc Hammer.
Home Movies - Brendon Small struggles to improve his grades, with the help of a pump-up song "Trust Yourself", by the real Brendon Small.
When Rusty on Squidbillies was training to become a professional wrestler, he had one of these, complete with heroic background music.. only instead of training he was being injected with steroids and the scenes all had him standing in the same place, slightly more muscular each time.
In "Simpsons Bible Stories", Bart (King David) trains with a flock of sheep in preparation for his battle with Nelson (Goliath II). "Bart the General" features a Training the Peaceful Villagers montage as Bart's army prepares to fight the bullies.
In the parody vignette "Bartman Begins," Bart Simpson trains to become Bartman after his parents are murdered by Snake (who appears first as a common hood in the Joe Chill mold and later as a reptile-themed supervillain), and he does so in an "old-timey montage" on grainy film that looks like something from between the 1890s and the 1940s. (Apparently, someone forgot to tell the animators that Batman Begins, despite being set during a "depression," is supposed to be taking place in the modern day.)
Subverted in "Homer The Whopper", where his trainer wants to do a montage to "Eye of the Tiger". Homer protests "Aww, that song is a little on the nose. Can we do it to David Bowie's "Heroes?"" Eventually, they decide to just skip ahead a month.
One occurs in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Call of the Cutie'', when Rainbow Dash coaches Apple Bloom in a number of different activities, all in the hopes of helping her find the thing that will become her life calling and cause her cutie mark to appear.
Fluttershy gets on in "Hurricane Fluttershy" where her animal friends help her learn to be a stronger flier. Making it a literal example of Gonna Fly Now Montage'''
Doom gets one in The Super Hero Squad Show after a fractal-powered MODOK takes over the Legion. Complete with running up a lot of steps.
Angelica Pickles of Rugrats goes through one in order to prove that she is the best in the summer camp she got shanghaied into.
American Dad! did this when Stan helped Roger to graduate police academy.
Robot Chicken introduces Mon-tage, who has this as his superpower, solving problems by invoking these to learn skills or accomplish tasks instantly. He even weaponizes it directly near the end, invoking a montage to rapidly age an escaping thief into infirmity.
Phineas and Ferb spoofed this twice, first in "Raging Bully" and then again in "Doof Dynasty".
''You're gonna run up a ramp with two buckets of water,
Swing over mud for some reason!
At some point you'll drop to your knees while its raining, and look up into the skkkyyy!
Samurai Jack has this in spades. The pilot has is the Boot Camp Episode,with Jack living with a buttload of characters. The "Jack learns to Jump Good" episode has him training with a tribe of apes who weigh him down with stones and have him run an obstacle course. The scene works on Many Levels
There's one in The Smurfs episode "Supersmurf", as Brainy tries to make himself strong through exercise before he tires himself out.