Is there a better Arnold Schwarzenegger film than Commando? Well, yes, obviously: Predator, the first two Terminators, Total Recall, and maybe True Lies if you really like Jamie Lee Curtis. Let’s rephrase: is there a more quintessentially Arnie film than Commando? I submit to you that there is not: the story of John Matrix, a man defined by his love for his daughter and his expertise in killing, is the most ‘Arnie’ of all Arnie films, two hours of flexing and murder backed by a rocking saxophone soundtrack. Endlessly rewatchable, gloriously quotable, it’s the film that gave us the line ‘Why don’t they just call him Girl George?’ and invented the idea of ripping out a car seat as a way of hiding in a convertible. You should probably watch it again.
You should also, of course, do some pressups. And that’s where the ‘Arnie Day’ comes in.
Invented by my good friends Adam Smith and Mark Omfalos, the concept of the Arnie Day is simple: you watch Commando and work out. More specifically, you treat it like a drinking game, with pre-set exercises for everything that Arnold does. You can do this with other Arnie films – believe me, we’ve tried – but nothing works as well as Commando. Here’s how to do it:
- Recruit some friends
Doing an Arnie Day alone is possible, but dispiriting. Get some likeminded friends along, and promise beer. If one or two don’t want to get involved, that’s fine: just make sure you’ve got a 2:1 ratio of exercisers to non-exercisers, which will give you a good chance of shaming the reluctant ones into it.
- Find a venue
All you really need is a room with enough space for a few people to exercise (you can always take turns, but you don’t want to get too backed up) and a massive TV.
- Get some kit together
Yes, you can do a kit-free Arnie Day, but having options at your disposal will widen the variety of moves available and make things more fun. Bare minimum I’d suggest a set of hand-grippers (preferably a Captains Of Crush, not the Argos sort), an ab wheel, a resistance band and as many dumbbells as you can wrangle. Kettlebells and a pullup bar might also work, but be wary of anything that gets dangerous when you’re drunk or takes you too far from the TV.
- Decide on the exercises
This takes experience, and depends on the participants’ fitness level, aggression, and the kit available. You want to make it challenging but not unpleasant, and bear in mind that the bodycount in Commando ratchets up to an insane degree in the final act of the film. This is personal preference, but you might also want to focus on upper-body vanity moves – there’s something very ‘Arnie’ about curls that no amount of bodyweight squats or burpees will replicate. Remember: this is about fun, not long-term training. Save the mobility work for the gym.
From long experience, this is the ‘Recommended’ difficulty level:
Death (gun): 5 pressups
Death (explosion): 5 shoulder presses (dumbbell)
Death (other): 10 biceps curls (each arm)
One-liner: 5 hand-gripper closes (assuming strong enough handgripper)
Nudity (per nipple): Ab wheel rollout
Needless flexing/showing off: 5 dips (or 10 chair dips)
Tender moment between Matrix and Jenny: Hold plank for duration
It’ll make the final M60 spree more manageable.
This starts laughably easy (apart from, no spoilers, one early montage), but gets very, very challenging by the end. Also, something about sporadically doing curls and pressups for two hours will also give you an insane pump for about 48 hours afterwards, so it’s a good one to do before you go on a first date. It’s also a great reminder that exercise does not always have to be to-the-death, go-hard-or-go-home, serious business: it can be a social event, something to enjoy with some friends and a beer, and a thing to look forward to.
Also, it’s a good excuse to rewatch Commando, one of the greatest films of all time. Because if you aren’t inspired to work out by a man who’d rather rip a car seat than slide slightly over in his seat, I’d question why you’re even in the gym in the first place. Live Hard!