This past weekend I dusted off another of my old favorite workouts. Like most guys back in 2007, when I watched the movie 300 in theaters I immediately set out to get in shape and make myself look like the actors that starred in that movie. Now with the rise of Obstacle races and themed events like Spartan Race everyone is looking for the best, way to get “Spartan Tough.” I suppose I could point out that what made the original Spartans so tough was a life spent in military training each and every day starting at the age of seven. I guess I could also point out that these men lived in a constant state of war and preparation for it and their fitness was about a lifestyle not a weekend hobby. I’ll save that for another soapbox though.
Before and during the filming of “300” Gerard Butler and the other Spartans followed a workout program that has become legendary in the years since the movies release. It utilized methods that were cutting edge for its time; a brutal high rep circuit with full body explosive movements. Today these workouts are a dime a dozen even so the “300 Workout” still stands as one of the all time greats. I have modified this routine by adding a few additional moves but still incorporated the heart of the original workout. It should be noted that while not listed below or in the literature about this workout, the crew also utilized tractor tire flips and sledge hammer strikes in their original routine. If you have access to one I suggest you give it a go. Some large truck and tractor tires can weigh in at 300lbs or more so use common sense and pick one you can manage.
This workout is a straight circuit. You start with one move and complete all the reps in that move before moving on to the next. You may need to pause during a movement to catch your breath but that’s okay just keep moving and do what you can eventually as your strength and stamina improves you will be able to complete more without stopping. As always use a weight you can manage and maintain good form with. This workout is intended for experienced lifters but can be adapted to any fitness level by substituting movements and weight size. Enjoy the workout and get busy.
1. Pullups (25 reps) Do as many pull-ups as you can at one time until you reach 25 total. If you want more of a challenge add weight!
2. Barbell Deadlift (50 reps) This is a gut check moment. I usually break mine down into five sets of ten with maximum weight. You can also use dumbbells or a Heavy Kettleball
3. Push-ups (50 reps) You can substitute Heavy Bench presses here for more weight but doing slow controlled pushups is just as effective. How many can you do at once?
4. Body Weight Box Jumps/Jump Squats/barbell Squats (50 reps) Pick your poison. The point is to build explosive leg power. At first I thought box jumps would be easy considering how much weight I can squat but after about rep number 25 my legs were on fire!
5. Bent Over Barbell Rows (25 reps) This is my first addition to the routine. I included it to help provide more focus to the upper and middle back besides just pull-ups. When doing Bent over rows, be sure to keep your abs braced and clenched and back straight to prevent injury.
6. V-ups (50 reps) This is another move that seems simple until around rep number 25. The original workout uses Barbell floor wipers. Lay on your back holding a loaded barbell overhead as if you were going to do floor bench presses. Instead of lowering the bar though kick your legs up and bring them to the bar. Its leg lifts with a heavy twist. Choose a manageable weight you can hold up for a minute or two.
7. Barbell Push Press (50 reps) You can use heavy dumbbells or even kettleballs for this move if you like just be sure to use good form, squeezing your deltoids and traps at the top each time. Also use a weight that will challenge you but not tip you over at the top. Trust me you’ll understand what I mean at around rep number 12.
8. Pullups (25 reps) We finish the original routine just as we started with good ole’ pull-ups.
9. Pushups (50 reps) I added another set for good measure in my workouts.
10. Burpees (25 reps) These are just good moves for conditioning and will provide a good aerobic twist to the end of the workout.
11. Dumbbell/Kettleball Hip Swings ( 50 reps) This is the last move in my workout and targets the shoulders, hips, glutes, hamstrings, abs, and arms. It’s a good way to wind down and hit those tired leg muscles one more time. I normally use a weight somewhere around 25-35lbs, not too heavy but still enough to make you sweat.
This workout combines the heart of the original routine with just a few added moves to target some popular areas. You can use this circuit as a heavy weight routine or as a cardio fat burning routine repeated several times with light weight. It’s very adaptable and will have you looking like a Spartan in no time if you stick with it, follow through, and try to improve each time.