Fitness Lessons From Point Break, One of the Greatest Movies of All Time

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Point Break is, hands down, one of the greatest films of all time. This is not for debate. You can debate me, but you will lose, because you would be factually incorrect and your position therefore indefensible.

I know this to be true, and such is love for Point Break that I paid homage to this masterpiece when I had the chance to play Johnny Utah at Point Break Live in 2016.


This is something I did on my birthday quite eagerly, because, Point Break is, as we have established, one of the best movies ever made.

It’s paramount we establish this upfront, as everything you read hereafter hinges on it.

For those who, sadly, have never take the opportunity to enhance every facet of your existence by basking in the glory of this 1991 cinematic marvel: you have my deepest sympathy.

But! It almost doesn’t matter if you’ve seen it, for the purposes of this article. Point Break follows the model of the Hero’s Journey, making it universally accessible.

(That said, see it anyway and fix your life. Seriously.)

Let me just set the scene for you here.

The plot of Point Break centers around a group of bank robbers. Not just any old bank robbers, mind you. These are surfer bank robbers, who make extreme sports part of their motif and their schemes, usually in the getaway. Oh—and the surfer bank robbers wear rubber masks featuring the likenesses of various ex-presidents: Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter.

I mean, right there you’re already winning. Surfer ex-president bank robbers.

At this point, any sane, rational person would be thinking that there’s one thing that could make this movie any better. Yeah, that’s right: Keanu Reeves.

Well, don’t you worry, my friends, because that is exactly what you get. Reeves plays the Point Break’s heroic lead, former Ohio State QB turned FBI, Agent Johnny Utah.

Yes. That is his name. His actual name. Johnny. Goddamn. Utah.

And in a stunning display of excellent decision making, the FBI assigns Special Agent Johnny Utah the task of going undercover and infiltrating this gang of ex-president surfer bank robbers.

BOOM. Now the film is in motion.

Utah, burdened with glorious purpose, immerses himself into the culture and sets himself to the monumental task of learning to surf. His time in the water is fruitful in two regards: he does indeed become a decent surfer; but, more importantly, meets his on-screen counterpoint, Bodhi.

Masterfully played by Patrick Swayze, Bodhi is both beach bum and Buddha, equal parts Spicolli and Socrates. He is, above all, the very embodiment of 90’s surfer radness.

Their meeting sets into motion two things the heart of the movie’s plot.

More importantly, their meeting kicks off the greatest onscreen bromances in the storied history of onscreen bromances, ousting the previous title-holders Paul Newman and Robert Redford, who’d held it for 22 years owing to their turns as the titular characters in the 1969 classic, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The bond between Utah and Bodhi doesn’t just dethrone Butch and Sundance. It set the Standard. The Utah/Bodhi becomes the yardstick against which all other cinematic bromances are measured.

Bodhi teaches Utah how to live life on the edge, one with adventure and for the adrenaline rush. He takes him surfing through crazy waves, and one of the waves left Utah in awe and feeling so alive. Later on Bodhi, Utah and the rest of the surfer bank robbers go skydiving together, culminating in a free falling circle of trust, joining hands in solidarity as they plummet toward terminal velocity.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end when Utah finds out that they’re the bank robbers and Bodhi figures out that he’s an undercover FBI agent. Violence ensues and Johnny goes to rescue the girl and takes down Bodhi and his surfer gang.

I won’t say too much more without spoiling it but you’ll have to feast your eyes and be mesmerized by its greatness. It’s got everything you want in a film: an all-star cast, one-liners, great action scenes, comedy and drama that tugs on your heartstrings.

So by now you’re wondering what fitness lessons you can take from this film. If you’re starting out or want to take your fitness to the next level, you’ll have to get yourself out of your comfort zone and learn new skills and terminology. Instead of learning how to surf like Johnny Utah did, you learn the basic movements for working out: squat, push, pull and hinge.

You would have to join a gym and begin a strength training program where you get strong in all of those fundamental movement patterns. Focus on the following exercises:

Squat: Any squat variation – barbell back squat, barbell front squat, goblet squats
Push: Bench press, shoulder press, pushup and pushup variations
Pull: Chin-ups, row variations, pulldowns, pullovers
Hinge: Hip Thrusts and any deadlift variation (conventional, sumo, Romanian, snatch-grip)

If you’re in that starting out phase, I wrote an article on a beginner’s strength training program here.

If you’re more advanced, you can progress to learning the following:

Olympic lifts – Power clean, clean & jerk, snatches
Gymnastics ring exercises –dips, chin-ups, muscle-ups
Plyometrics – Box jumps, broad jumps, plyo, and clapping pushups

Here’s an advanced workout for you to try out:

Day 1:
A. Power Clean – 5x3
B1. Sumo Deadlift – 4x6
B2. Weighted Chinup – 4x6
C1. Dumbbell Row – 3x10 each arm
C2. Bulgarian Split Squat – 3x10 each leg
D. Kettlebell Swings – 4x25

Day 2:
A1. Box Jumps – 3x5
A2. Plyo Pushups – 3x5
B1. Incline Barbell Bench – 4x6
B2. T-Bar Rows – 4x6
C1. Ring Muscle-Ups – 4x6
C2. Ring Chinups – 4x6
D. 500m Row

Day 3:
A. Power Snatch – 5x3
B1. Barbell Behind-the-Neck Press – 3x6-8
B2. Chinup – 3x8-10
C1. High Incline DB Bench Press – 3x10-12
C2. Wide Grip Cable Row - 3x15
D1. Rear Delt Swings – 3x35
D2. DB Lateral Raise – 3x12-15

Day 4:
A. Dumbbell Jump Squats – 3x5
B1. Barbell Front Squat – 4x5
B2.  Barbell Push Press – 4x5
C1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift – 3x10
C2. Walking Lunges – 3x10 each leg
D. Battle Ropes – 4x30 seconds

Instead of learning how to skydive and jump out of a plane, you jump straight ahead into changing your eating habits. In the beginning you may just be eating whatever fits your mood, but you can start off tracking your calories and macros. After that, you level up your culinary skills by learning how to meal prep and figure out your portion sizes so you can lose the fat and build some muscle. If you’re unsure how to track your food, I wrote an article on it here.

To eat healthy to get to your goals, we want to make it as simple as possible. Each meal should have at least one portion size of protein and veggie of your choice. Here’s what a sample day would look like:

3 egg omelet with bell peppers
1 cup of coffee

4 oz chicken thigh
1 cup of broccoli
1 sweet potato

1 cup of Greek yogurt with berries
Beef jerky

1-2 scoops of whey protein with water

4 oz baked salmon
1 cup of rice
1 cup of spinach

At the end of the movie there is a complete transformation from Johnny Utah. He’s grown his hair out, shed his clean-cut look and seems like a totally different person. That’s what usually happens when someone embarks on a fitness journey. They go through a metamorphosis by shedding their old lifestyle, adopt new habits and learn new skills.

Their diet gets cleaned up, they know a ton of different ways to exercise, get in really good shape. People who undergo big fitness transformations become more confident--and that carries over into them improving other aspects of their life. They’re more productive, their dating life improves, they have more energy, and have a better outlook on life.

But the thing is many people fear starting. They fear failure and not knowing what to do. It seems daunting to completely overhaul your lifestyle, especially if fitness hasn’t been a big part of your life. That is intimidating and people don’t even want to try because of it.

Recently, Diamond Dallas Page was a guest on the Joe Rogan Podcast. During the course of the interview, DDP shared that he’d suggested Tito Ortiz, a professional MMA fighter, to try his yoga workout. After trying it once, he quit because he said it was too hard. If a guy who beats people up for a living finds new things too hard and doesn’t want to try again, I can imagine everyday normal folks having an even harder time.

I can totally relate. I grew up overweight and was a Speech & Debate nerd throughout high school and I remember my first time working out. I had no idea what I was doing, I was just lifting weights in multiple directions and trying things out. I was sore as hell the next day. I could barely straighten my arms and my legs were so wrecked that I could barely walk. After that I knew that I needed to learn how to do things properly. I also needed to know what to eat and how to eat for my goals.

After researching and going through a lot of trial and error, I figured out what works for me. You, too can do the same thing. All you have to do is start taking action and get the ball rolling.

Start with small actionable steps. Start with just two to three workouts per week going over all of the basic movement patterns and getting strong in them. You can start with the beginner strength training program that I wrote.

For your diet, begin making small changes. If you’re not getting enough protein, focus on eating one serving with each meal. Or maybe you’re not any eating fruits or veggies, go eat at least one serving per day. Get comfortable with mastering these habits every day before you move onto the next one to adopt. 

These are the basics that everyone should master, it’s not sexy but they work in the long run.

Maybe you need help. You can hire a coach like yours truly to help you so that you don’t waste time figuring it out and trying to manage everything on your own.

If you want to reach your fitness goals, you gotta get out of your comfort zone and learn new things. Don’t be afraid of new challenges, it helps us continue to grow in life and enrich us. Be a badass like Johnny Utah is and you too will transform yourself into something greater.

Vaya con Dios.