Have you ever thought that you would want to train like a Spartan warrior?
Maybe you just watched the movie 300, and you are intrigued by their chiseled physique.
Holy abs! You are thinking, “Let’s grab a sword and go to battle!” Hold on there a minute. It’s 2021, not Sparta in Ancient Greece around 400 b.c.e.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t become a spartan warrior with an intense training program. If you thought history was boring, you haven’t read about the Spartans.
They were the Navy Seals of their time. Have you seen GI Jane? You have so many movies to watch! Before you do, sit back, grab your protein shake, and read all about the Spartans.
Who were the Spartan Warriors?
Like we mentioned before, the Spartan warriors were like the Navy Seals in Ancient Greece.
The Spartan city state conducted military training in the most brutal way.
In fact, dying in battle was the most respectful way one could die. These soldiers were loyal to the state and military above all else.
Leaving their homes at the young age of seven or eight, young men were brought to barracks to undergo intense training and instruction known as the agoge.
In the agoge, they were supervised by recruits not much older than they were. It was found that the young boys took instruction better from a slightly older peer than a full-grown adult Spartan warrior.
Think about your favorite camp counselor and how much you liked them. See? It’s true. You liked them better than the adults.
These young Spartan warriors were given very little to eat to teach them self-discipline and self-control–two highly revered qualities of a Spartan warrior.
In addition to these qualities, it also meant they would stay lean.
In fact, young Spartan warriors were encouraged to steal to teach them stealth, self-reliance, and slyness. PSA: Kids, don’t steal.
It’s not a good quality to have, and it’s illegal. Unfortunately for the young warriors, if they were caught stealing, they were flogged.
What is happening? How were they encouraged to steal and then punished for it? If you were caught, you weren’t stealthy enough, resulting in capture during a battle.
Plus, flogging was actually part of the young Spartan warrior’s training to pay homage to the god of war, Artemis.
Spartan warriors took hard-core to another level, ya’ll.
Ladies of Sparta, Hear us Roar
Don’t worry, ladies. Spartan women were important to the community as well.
Spartan women were loyal to the state, and because of that, they were encouraged to exercise to ensure they would birth strong children.
Since they weren’t in battle, they didn’t need to train like the young Spartan warriors.
Instead, the Spartan women managed the village and were taught practical things like how to own and manage the property. They practiced javelin throwing, wrestling, singing, and dancing to be more attractive to the Spartan warriors.
They left the home-making skills to the lower class helots (slaves of the state). The women were also the caretakers of the young children.
If your child just said “Mom” for the one-hundredth time today, you might realize that times have not changed that much.
How did King Leonidas Train?
The Spartans trained hard. In fact, it was so hard it was considered brutal.
Perhaps this is why it is said that King Leonidas was able to defend Greece against the Persian army in the Battle of Thermopylae with only 300 Spartan warriors–hence the movie 300.
While it is thought that 7,000 Greek soldiers also accompanied King Leonidas, many of those soldiers were thought to have fled while the Spartans remained in the fight holding the Persians off for three days.
Let’s take a minute to ponder just how strong and vigilant the Spartan warriors had to be to hold off thousands of Persian soldiers for three days.
We bet they could do a lot of push-ups.
No Shoes, No Clothes, No Problem
Training as a young Spartan warrior meant wearing little to no clothing.
In the agoge, they were encouraged to play in the nude no matter the weather conditions.
When they were about twelve, the Spartan warriors could then wear a single garment for summer and winter.
The very little clothing hardened and weathered the skin to ensure they were always ready for battle conditions.
Even the adult Spartan warriors only wore a standard wool cloak which set them apart from the rest of the community.
Similarly, the young Spartan warriors trained barefoot. Again, the idea of weathering one’s feet was considered crucial for a battle.
We can relate to this based on the callouses you might get on your feet from exercise. It toughens up your feet to avoid blisters.
In the same way, the Spartan warriors needed tough skin as they might be on their feet for many days at a time, fighting the enemy. B
eing barefoot also allowed them to anchor themselves better and provided extra flexibility in their movements.
Physical Training Meant Agility
While little is known about exactly what was done to achieve ultimate physical fitness, the Spartan warriors likely focused on drills that practiced strength, agility, and building stamina.
Drills like marching extremely long distances, wrestling, and even dancing built stamina and agility required for long battles.
Think about how American football players are so agile on their feet to enhance quick movements.
The Spartan warriors needed to move in the same way in battles.
Since they always needed to be ready to go to battle, the Spartan warriors needed epic strength that was likely built through numerous, functional, laborious activities and learning to fight in hand to hand combat.
Did They Go to School?
In addition to their physical training, the Spartan warriors were taught intellectually as well.
They needed to learn about domestic affairs and always to put the state first.
They needed to learn caution in foreign affairs. Being able to learn and understand the enemy was important in battle.
They learned to be calm in the face of adversity. Spartan warriors were known to be slow to attack but vigilant until the very end once they did.
Their schooling taught them the importance of mindset as well. Ready to go to battle at any time and never take a day off despite exhaustion, were some of the concepts that were preached often.
With that training came a mindset of determination and high-level discipline.
Ready to get a Body Like a Spartan Warrior?
That history lesson was super fun, am I right?
Now it’s time to step up to the mat and decide if you are ready to train like a Spartan warrior and get the results to show it.
We aren’t going to ask you to go to battle for three days, barefoot with just a cloak on your back.
We’ll leave that kind of training to the Ancient Greeks. Let’s figure out what you need to do to train like a Spartan warrior in modern times.
To train like a Spartan warrior, you need to be mentally ready for what is to come.
The Spartan training program is extremely intense, and if you are a beginner, you need to take it slow.
You need to be willing to fight through the pain no matter what you are going through physically or mentally. There will always be an excuse not to workout, but you can’t allow excuses to win.
Remember, you have to think like a true Spartan warrior, which means you are always ready for battle.
The battle is with yourself, and everything life tries to throw at you. Day after day, you have to show up, push yourself harder, forget the pain, and endure above all else.
Write down your training program and stick to it. Are we feeling motivated yet?
The Ultimate Spartan Training Schedule
Remember that training program we told you to write down? Are you wondering exactly what it should look like?
When doing a Spartan workout, you need to build strength and endurance, speed, and variety.
A sample schedule might look something like this.
- Day 1 – Strength training
- Day 2 – Speed training
- Day 3 – Variety training
- Day 4 – Strength training
- Day 5 – Endurance training
- Day 6 – Speed training
- Day 7 – Variety training
As you can see, there is no rest for the weary.
Every day you will be met with a different and difficult challenge no matter what training you are doing.
Should we break down what each warrior training should be? Of course, we should! We always have your back.
Strength Training for Spartans
We know you want to reach for those weights, but Spartans trained for full-body strength at all times.
Spartans need to build lean muscle mass while strengthening the entire body.
The way to do that is not by just picking up some dumbbells and working your biceps.
Things like jump squats, burpees (everyone’s favorite), push-up claps (push-up and propel your body up with the intent of clapping before hitting the floor), jump lunges, and planks are going to kick your body into gear.
Repetition is the word of the day.
If you are just starting with a Spartan training program, try 10 reps for each.
Build up your reps gradually over time to avoid injury.
Speed Training for Spartans
Don’t just start sprinting for the hills! Remember, Spartans were built to outlast all of the rest.
You need to build up to the sprint, and you need to repeat it several times.
We are thinking stamina here, people. Here is an easy guideline to follow for speed training.
- Start with a 30-second brisk walk
- Kick it up a notch with a 30-second jog
- Sprint for 10-15 seconds
- Lather, rinse, repeat–Do it all again until you have reached 5 minutes
- Take a break. (Are you singing Hamilton? We are too.) 2-minute break to rehydrate
- Repeat the whole thing about four more times or until you have reached 20 minutes
Endurance training sessions are all about never giving up, pushing through the lactic acid, and maintaining speed.
A Spartan is built to endure, and so you must.
One of the recommended exercises is running. Run like Forrest Gump.
Run until you literally have nothing left in the tank. Walk for a bit. Then get back to running.
Start at 20 minutes per day and work your way up to one hour. Can you feel that Spartan warrior building inside of you? We can too.
If running isn’t your thing, try swimming, biking, rowing, playing tennis, or stair sprints. Any of those workouts will work for your endurance training.
We told you there were no days off, and we meant it.
However, your variety day is all about keeping your mindset. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
We have to keep going because that’s what a Spartan would do.
While rest days are important, doing absolutely nothing doesn’t actually help your muscles recover.
You need to keep things lighter, but keep moving. Get the blood flowing to initiate muscle recovery with some yoga or a slow swim.
Go for a gentle jog or a walk. Whatever keeps you motivated, do it.
The Spartan 300 Workout
You’ve seen the movie 300, or maybe you will now since we keep mentioning it.
Either way, the Spartan 300 workout was the training used to get the actors and stuntmen in Spartan warrior shape for the movie.
Developed by Mark Twight, a self-taught exercise guru and world-class mountain climber, he put the actors through a hard-core workout regimen that ended with the Spartan 300 workout.
The actors trained for 8-10 weeks on average.
However, King Leonides (actor Gerald Butler) trained for 12 weeks. Twight had them training for 90 to 120 minutes per day, 5 days per week, doing everything from high-intensity circuit training to training for balance by being blindfolded.
He tried to break them both mentally and physically to get them ready to play the original Spartan warriors.
In the end, only one actor from the movie was actually able to get through the Spartan 300 workout.
Below is the list of exercises that are done without rest.
- 25 pull-ups
- 50 deadlifts at 135 pounds
- 50 push-ups
- 50 box jumps with a 24-inch box
- 50 floor (lie on your back holding 135 pounds on a barbell and slowly lift the legs up to your right hand, lower and then lift to the left hand)
- 50 clean and press at 36 pounds (hold barbell and push up overhead from shoulders)
- 25 more pull-ups
How long should you train before attempting this workout?
Are you having heart palpitations after seeing that workout?
Chill! You got this. Well, if you are just starting, you need to progress slowly.
Remember, the people who were doing the movie took 10 weeks or more to get there, and they were working out for over 2 hours per day.
If you have that kind of time and commitment, it’s possible that you can be there in that amount of time as well.
However, a study on the Spartan 300 workout on WebMD cautioned that attempting the 300 workout was not smart without a slow progression, especially for a beginner.
A beginner’s recommendation was to get a certified trainer to walk you through the correct way to attempt the weight training exercises to avoid injury or, worse, kidney issues due to the severe breakdown of muscle fibers.
Can the Average Person be a Spartan Warrior?
The answer to this question is yes.
Do you have to complete the Spartan 300 workout to be a Spartan warrior?
From the best-selling author of Spartan Up! a complete 30-day workout and diet plan to help you reach peak performance.
Spartan enthusiast, Joe de Sena, wrote a book called Spartan Fit, and it’s all about how you can integrate Spartan fitness into your everyday life.
He tells you how to get healthy using Spartan workouts and eating healthy.
Joe even got his seven-year-old to run a marathon with designated pizza and bagel stops in 5 hours. He also does 300 burpees per day. We are not sure he is human.
Anyway, he preaches about how your fitness is attainable, but it is up to you to leap.
Want to be a Spartan warrior? You are the only one who can hold yourself back. Get out there and show them how it’s done!
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.