I read the other day about the making of a Spartan, where Chris at Strength News pointed out some articles about how the actors trained for the movie 300. This morning, Alwyn Cosgrove wrote about the 300 Workout, which is relevant as he was one of the trainers.

“The second misconception surrounds the idea of the Spartan workout, aka “300” [or the 300 workout], how frequently it was done or who actually finished it. “300” is a one-time test, an invitation-only challenge undertaken by those deemed ready for it. By the end of our four-month project 17 people had done the workout (Logan and I were two of them). This constitutes about 50% of the cast and stunt crew. We supervised every test, evaluated each rep for quality and only counted those that achieved our standards for form and range of motion. Like many workouts “300” is not hard once you’ve done it but the apprehension built up ahead of it – something we encouraged – was enough to make some guys fear it to the degree that performance was compromised. This workout was a crucible that some passed through and others still have hanging over them.

“300 Spartan Workout”

25x Pull-up +
50x Deadlift @ 135lbs +
50x Push-up +
50x Box Jump @ 24” box +
50x Floor Wiper @ 135lbs (one-count) +
50x KB Clean and Press @ 36lbs (KB must touch floor between reps) +
25x Pull-up
300 reps total”

(The actors and stunt men performed the workout against the clock).

That’s a helluva workout, and I doubt that I would ever bother myself to do it. I can understand how some of the actors built up a certain apprehension before attempting it.

That being said, the interesting part about Alwyn Cosgrove’s article was the methodology that they went to in order to get the cut look that the actors in the movie had. They did not give the actors a diet and work out regimen that they thought would lead to an aesthetically pleasing appearance; they gave them a diet and regimen that would get them strong and fit and let their bodies figure out what to do in terms of appearance. They wanted the actors to be able to perform great athletic feats, and not just look like they should be able to.

It is a great lesson, and even though most of us will probably never get paid nearly as much money to get into shape, we can still do our best to better our abilities. Skip the bicep curls the next time you are at the gym, and throw in an extra set or three of squats or deadlifts. They will give you more functional strength, if you manage to keep that up long enough will lead to having a better looking body anyway.

And don’t forget to check out Alwyn Cosgrove’s article if you are interested in seeing a before and after comparison of one of the actors.