9 Movies That Will Inspire You to Hit the Gym


Screenshot of Arnold Schwarzenegger posing from Pumping Iron
Screenshot: Pumping Iron/Lionsgate (Fair Use)

Sometimes when we’re sweating away in the gym, our goals can seem quite far away. That’s why it can be so inspiring to watch other athletes who are at the top of their game—they all had to start somewhere, after all. Here are some of our favorite documentary movies and series about real-life people performing incredible feats of strength that will push you to meet your own workout goals.

Beth is Lifehacker's Senior Health Editor. She has written about health and science for over a decade, including two books: Outbreak! and Genetics 101. Her best deadlift is 315 pounds.

This miniseries from Rogue (makers of fitness equipment) documents the traditions of stone lifting in three different countries. Fullsterkur takes us to Iceland, Stoneland to Scotland, and Levantadores to the Basque country of Spain. Until I saw that last one, I had no idea a human being could lift 329 kilograms (over 700 pounds) to their shoulder, but you learn something new every day.

Where to stream: YouTube

This film takes us behind the scenes of the 2015 Crossfit Games, showing the incredible strength, fitness, and dedication of some of the sport’s top athletes. We follow Katrin Davidsdottir, Tia-Clair Toomey, Sara Sigmundsdottir, Ben Smith, and Mat Fraser as they vie for the title.

Where to stream: Plex, Prime Video,

This 1977 narrative documentary classic shows us a young Arnold Schwarzenegger as he prepares to take the Mr. Olympia title, competing alongside Lou Ferrigno, who later became famous for his role as the Incredible Hulk. After you watch this, look up Raw Iron, a movie about the making of Pumping Iron, released 25 years later.

Tragically, the sequel about women’s bodybuilding, Pumping Iron II: The Women, is not available on any of the streaming services.

Where to stream: Plex, Prime Video, Vudu

“Unless somebody tells me to stop, or I actually die, I will be World’s Strongest Man,” Eddie Hall says in this movie. He achieved that title just two years after Eddie: Strongman was released. We see Eddie training, eating, competing, and grappling with the threat of injury and the financial side of being a “professional” strongman.

Where to stream: Netflix

Watching elite athletes is always special, because they do things that most of us could never dream of. Paralympic athletes take that to the next level, excelling in their sports while competing with disabilities. The movie gets its name from amputee fencer Bebe Vio’s nickname for herself, and along the way we see archers, swimmers, rugby players, track and field athletes, powerlifters, and more.

Where to stream: Netflix

Westside Barbell is a legendary powerlifting gym in Ohio, and this movie traces its history through interviews with coach and owner Louie Simmons and an assortment of athletes who have trained there.

Where to stream: Fubo

This miniseries focuses each episode on a strongman or strongwoman of history, featuring photographs of their feats and interviews with historians who tell their life stories. The series begins with Eugen Sandow, the 19th century showman now regarded as one of the first professional bodybuilders, and goes on to include Louis Appollon, George Hackenschmidt, Katie “Sandwina” Brumbach, and Arthur Saxon.

Where to stream: YouTube

Home Game details little-known traditional sports from different areas of the world—like Strongland, but for sports other than just picking up huge rocks. They include the Highland games and two different types of wrestling in India and the Congo, to name a few.

Where to stream: Netflix

In this... let’s call it a historical reality show, four rival strongmen (Nick Best, Eddie Hall, Robert Oberst, Brian Show) recreate legendary lifts from history. They try to carry the Dinnie Stones across Potarch Bridge like Donald Dinnie, lift a carousel full of people like Paul Anderson, leg press a car like Monte Saldo, and more.

Where to stream: The History Channel, YouTube, Hulu

Beth is Lifehacker's Senior Health Editor. She has written about health and science for over a decade, including two books: Outbreak! and Genetics 101. Her best deadlift is 315 pounds.


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Screenshot of Arnold Schwarzenegger posing from Pumping Iron
Screenshot: Pumping Iron/Lionsgate (Fair Use)

Sometimes when we’re sweating away in the gym, our goals can seem quite far away. That’s why it can be so inspiring to watch other athletes who are at the top of their game—they all had to start somewhere, after all. Here are some of our favorite documentary movies and series about real-life people performing incredible feats of strength that will push you to meet your own workout goals.

Beth is Lifehacker's Senior Health Editor. She has written about health and science for over a decade, including two books: Outbreak! and Genetics 101. Her best deadlift is 315 pounds.

This miniseries from Rogue (makers of fitness equipment) documents the traditions of stone lifting in three different countries. Fullsterkur takes us to Iceland, Stoneland to Scotland, and Levantadores to the Basque country of Spain. Until I saw that last one, I had no idea a human being could lift 329 kilograms (over 700 pounds) to their shoulder, but you learn something new every day.

Where to stream: YouTube

This film takes us behind the scenes of the 2015 Crossfit Games, showing the incredible strength, fitness, and dedication of some of the sport’s top athletes. We follow Katrin Davidsdottir, Tia-Clair Toomey, Sara Sigmundsdottir, Ben Smith, and Mat Fraser as they vie for the title.

Where to stream: Plex, Prime Video,

This 1977 narrative documentary classic shows us a young Arnold Schwarzenegger as he prepares to take the Mr. Olympia title, competing alongside Lou Ferrigno, who later became famous for his role as the Incredible Hulk. After you watch this, look up Raw Iron, a movie about the making of Pumping Iron, released 25 years later.

Tragically, the sequel about women’s bodybuilding, Pumping Iron II: The Women, is not available on any of the streaming services.

Where to stream: Plex, Prime Video, Vudu

“Unless somebody tells me to stop, or I actually die, I will be World’s Strongest Man,” Eddie Hall says in this movie. He achieved that title just two years after Eddie: Strongman was released. We see Eddie training, eating, competing, and grappling with the threat of injury and the financial side of being a “professional” strongman.

Where to stream: Netflix

Watching elite athletes is always special, because they do things that most of us could never dream of. Paralympic athletes take that to the next level, excelling in their sports while competing with disabilities. The movie gets its name from amputee fencer Bebe Vio’s nickname for herself, and along the way we see archers, swimmers, rugby players, track and field athletes, powerlifters, and more.

Where to stream: Netflix

Westside Barbell is a legendary powerlifting gym in Ohio, and this movie traces its history through interviews with coach and owner Louie Simmons and an assortment of athletes who have trained there.

Where to stream: Fubo

This miniseries focuses each episode on a strongman or strongwoman of history, featuring photographs of their feats and interviews with historians who tell their life stories. The series begins with Eugen Sandow, the 19th century showman now regarded as one of the first professional bodybuilders, and goes on to include Louis Appollon, George Hackenschmidt, Katie “Sandwina” Brumbach, and Arthur Saxon.

Where to stream: YouTube

Home Game details little-known traditional sports from different areas of the world—like Strongland, but for sports other than just picking up huge rocks. They include the Highland games and two different types of wrestling in India and the Congo, to name a few.

Where to stream: Netflix

In this... let’s call it a historical reality show, four rival strongmen (Nick Best, Eddie Hall, Robert Oberst, Brian Show) recreate legendary lifts from history. They try to carry the Dinnie Stones across Potarch Bridge like Donald Dinnie, lift a carousel full of people like Paul Anderson, leg press a car like Monte Saldo, and more.

Where to stream: The History Channel, YouTube, Hulu

Beth is Lifehacker's Senior Health Editor. She has written about health and science for over a decade, including two books: Outbreak! and Genetics 101. Her best deadlift is 315 pounds.