This is Sparta!!!
Sparta was one of the most important of the Ancient Greek City (Hellenic) states and was a harsh militaristic society that due to its intense use of drills and training from early manhood, enabled it to become one of the most feared military forces in the Greek world.
Lycurgus – Spartan Fitness Reformer
Much of why Sparta was so successful was as a result of its citizen’s mentality. The iconic Spartan martial lifestyle was the idea of the legendary lawgiver Lycurgus, who described Sparta as a city that needed no walls for protection, instead, it would have “a wall of men, instead of bricks.”
Lycurgus developed a number of reforms that helped elevate Sparta into military dominance throughout the Greek peninsula and enabled its name to be feared far and wide. One of these reforms involved Spartan male youths (at the age of seven) being required to enter a rigorous state-sponsored education, military training and socialisation program, known as the Agoge.
The Agoge – High-Intensity Training that never ends…
The aim of the Agoge system was to produce strong and capable warriors to serve within the Spartan army. The Agoge thrived on conflict, with even younger children being encouraged to fight as often as they could. It was not unusual for senior Spartan’s to intentionally create conflicts between younger Spartans to instil a warlike mentality and warrior readiness into them!
Even the practice sessions of the Agoge were brutal. It was a no holds barred affair with frequent incapacitating injuries and the occasional death thrown in for good measure! Note: Cowards were not treated kindly in Sparta. They would have to give up their seats to non-cowards and often would not be able to find a woman to marry!
The Spartans believed that uncompromising lifestyles made their youths hardened for war whilst preparing their endurance levels so they could endure in all manner of climates. Furthermore, the youths were intentionally underfed so they would be in a permanent state of hunger! The youths were then encouraged to go out and steal their own food to survive (and here is the twist) with severe punishments for getting caught!! Steal? Fine. Get caught, not acceptable!
The End Result?…
This brutal regime helped turn what might be an ordinary army into arguably the special forces of their day. Sparta developed a hardened and professional hoplite army capable of undertaking highly disciplined and advanced battle manoeuvres.
Although they did not introduce any real innovations to battlefield tactics and strategy, their constant training and discipline made them far better than the part-time soldiers and militia found elsewhere. This allowed them for a long time to wipe the floor with other city-states within the Peloponnese and beyond.
So as you can see growing up in Sparta must have been an interesting experience. Can’t all have been bad, can it? Well actually, the ‘Spartiates’ or ‘Homoioi’ (Top of Spartan Food chain) were the ‘lucky’ ones, the further down the food chain you go the tougher life became!! The lowest class ‘Helots’ (basically slaves!) did not have a good time at all, but that is another story.
Add that to all the other factors that made Sparta a touch backwater (religious superstition, an elitist class system, slavery, state-sponsored terrorism, xenophobia, the eugenics program (seriously!)) Basically, if you made it in Sparta at all you had to be the elite of the elite, it was a tough tough existence.
The Spartans in Mainstream Culture
Sparta has in recent times, become popular in mainstream culture due to a film centring on the tale of a Spartan cadre of 300 Soldiers who led the vastly outnumbered Greek City States in a defiant defence from attack from a vastly numerically superior Persian army.
The film portrays the Spartans with fantastic physiques, which probably wasn’t far wrong given a Spartans dedication to training and warfare and the historical story that Spartans ridiculed any of their compatriots who looked fat or out of shape! As such ‘300’ workouts aimed at recreating that Spartan look are very popular!! A Spartan workout consists of wait for it….300 exercises (to honour the stand of the 300 Spartans).
I have created a few of my own ‘300’ style routines (outlined below). The exercises in these workouts can be performed in any order but must be to completion. You can break down the exercises in any order (for example, if you have 50 squats and 50 Burpees: break the routine down into a 25 squat, 25 burpees, 25 squats, 25 burpee split, or just simply undertake 50 squats and 50 burpees) the choice is yours.
The importance is on getting the session complete and undertaking ALL exercises with NO (or little) rest. This workout builds strength, power, endurance and aerobic fitness, basically everything a Spartan warrior would need to hold formation whilst in a phalanx and utilising all the muscle groups to land a successful attack with their spear or sword.
Have fun with the workouts below….actually….don’t…Spartans are not meant to have fun!!
“Come and take [them]” expression of defiance by King Leonidas to Xerxes the Persian King when asked to surrender the weapons of his Spartans.
The Spartan ‘300’ Workouts
‘300’ Bodyweight Exercises
- 80 bodyweight squats
- 70 crunches
- 60 press ups
- 30 box jumps
- 30 v-sits
- 20 pull-ups
- 10 burpees
The “Original” 300 Workout
- Barbell deadlift – 50 reps.
- Pushups (any variation) – 50 reps.
- Box jumps – 50 reps.
- Abdominal floor cleaners – 50 reps.
- Single arm clean and press (kettlebell or dumbbell) – 50 reps.
- Alternate lunges with rotation – 25 reps each leg.
The Kettlebell ‘300’ Workout
- Kettlebell swings and burpees- 25 reps
- Single kettlebell deadlift – 50 reps
- Kettlebell pushup and row – 50 reps (25 each side)
- Double kettlebell overhead squats – 50 reps
- Kettlebell plank drag through’s – 50 reps
- Cossack squats – 10 reps. 5 each Side.
- Turkish Get Ups- 10 reps. 5 each Side.
- Double kettlebell push press- 50 reps
- Kettlebell swings and burpees – 5 reps.
“Come back with your shield… or on it” (Plutarch)
Apparently the parting cry of mothers to their sons before they headed off to war. Mothers whose sons died in battle openly rejoiced, mothers whose sons survived hung their heads in shame.
The ‘300’ Punchbag Workout
- Superman punches- 50 reps (25 each side).
- Bosu Ball ‘Shield’ Push-ups. – 50 reps.
- Teep ‘Sparta’ kicks – 50 reps (25 each side).
- Plate ‘Shield’ press and lunge – 50 reps (25 each side).
- Knee thrusts – 50 reps (25 each side).
- Ground and Pound Floor bag – 50 reps (25 each side).
Dynamic Bodyweight ‘300’ Workout
- Abdominals – In and outs – 25 reps.
- Jump squats – 50 reps.
- Pike push ups – 25 reps.
- Burpees – 50 reps.
- Reverse crunches – 50 reps.
- Plyometric push-ups – 50 reps.
- Mountain climbers – 50 reps.
Resistance Kettlebell/Dumbbell ‘300’ Workout
- Kettlebell Goblet squats – 60 reps.
- Double kettlebell clean and press – 60 reps (30 each side).
- Kettlebell snatch – 60 reps (30 each side).
- KB/DB swings – 50 reps.
- Kettlebell halos – 20 reps (10 each side).
- KB/DB windmills – 20 reps (10 each side).
- KB/DB overhead lunges – 30 reps (15 each side).
Barbell ‘300’ Workout
- Deadlifts with barbell – 50 reps.
- Barbell squats – 50 reps.
- Military presses – 25 reps.
- Triceps dips – 25 reps.
- Hollow rocks – 50 reps.
- Barbell chest press – 50 reps.
- Dumbbell jump squats. – 50 reps.
Next Level ‘300’ Workout
- One arm kettlebell swings – 40 reps (20 swings each side).
- KB clean and press – 40 reps (20 each side).
- Pull-ups – 10 reps.
- T-Press ups – 10 reps.
- Tire flips – 20 reps.
- Weighted side lunges – 30 reps (15 each side).
- Mountain climbers (Both sides = 1 rep) 50 reps.
- KB/DB windmills – 40 reps (20 each side).
- Medicine ball slams – 40 reps.
- One legged burpee 20 reps (10 each side).
Quick and brutal workouts, that should encompass all the main muscle groups whilst providing adequate aerobic sessions (the key is being brutal with your self, aim for no rest unless you really have to and even then keep it minimal. The rest is an alternate muscle group being worked!!
Whichever workout you undertake
Remember to cool down and drink water!