Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wanna Look Like the Warriors in 300?

300 seems to be the movie of the season. Don't really know why, but hey, I like actual dialogue in my movies. Anyway, many gym rats are interested in how they got a bunch of normal looking actors to look like [our idealization of] Spartan warriors.

First, here is the extended trailer for the movie:

The guys look pretty good. Yes?

Josh Hillis has posted info on the workouts the actors did to get in shape for the film. I believe there is also an article in the current Muscle & Fitness and/or Men's Health, as well. Here is some of the article:

Not your average workout: Tire flipping, jumping, sprints with a jumpstretch band, runs with kettlebells, turkish get ups with kettlebells, medicine ball throwing, kipping pullups, bear crawls, tuck sits on gymnastics rings, barbell thrusters. Real, oldschool, brutal - full body movements.

You'll notice they aren't doing any curls or tricep extensions, no machines, no pussy bodybuilding "watch yourself in the mirror exercises" crap. It takes real world strength to flip tires and do pullups and squats and sprints. Essentially, the actors were training for performance - and the look came with it.

The average celebrity trainer would have trained the actors to look like Spartan Warriors - Mark Twight put the actors in 300 through workouts that would create the kind of strength and power they would need to be Spartan Warriors.

And here are details on the circuit they did -- the 300 reps routine:

The now legendary "300 Reps Workout", a.k.a. "Spartans, tonight we dine in hell!"

The workout was first reported as: 25 pull ups, 50 deadlifts - 50 push ups (sometimes on gymnastics rings), 50 jumps onto a 24-inch box, 50 tire drags (dragging a huge tire attached to your waist across the room and back), 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettlebell, and another 25 pull ups.

The latest version everyone is talking about: 25 pullups, 50 deadlifts with 135 pounds, 50 pushups, 50 jumps on a 24-inch box, 50 floor wipers (like a hanging leg raise on the floor), 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettlebell, and 25 more pullups.

Mark Twight probably put them through both of these versions. And several other versions. In fact, most of the workouts were probably randomzied. They very rarely, if ever, would they do the same workout twice.

The idea is to do this workout for time - and if you did go through the hell of repeating a workout, to try and beat your time from before. Like a race. Speed, power and intensity are the keys here. Ideally you'd complete the circuits in around 20 minutes.

Sounds pretty cool to me. That's my kind of workout. I have never trained for look, only for strength and power -- the look is a nice side effect. However, if you aren't at least in some kind of shape -- and if you have never done these full-body lifts -- start with 100 reps and see how that feels.

Here's a video diary on the workouts:

Those band sprints look intense. I actually do a variation on those with a couple of my clients, although I don't have the fancy equipment (I have a huge rubber band that goes around their waist. I hold the end of it and anchor them while they sprint as fast as they can. Ideally, I let them pull me across the room, but they have to work like hell to do it. Loads of fun.)

I f you'd like a little more info on how to tailor these workouts to your fitness level, check out Josh Hillis' follow up post, in which he talks about how he tailored these workouts for his clients.


MD said...


My guess as to why the film is popular is because it is a thrilling tale of heroism that, in the course of its gripping battle scenes, both at the Hot Gates as well as back in Sparta, raises for consideration profound ideas and questions.

Pretty straightforward, in that sense.

As far as dialogue, remember that Sparta is where we get the entire notion of "laconic" speech -- terse, abrupt, to the point. Which is for the most part, the kind of dialogue in the film.


Anonymous said...

That workout looks like murder on the joints (those box jumps??!!), but pull-ups are my favorite exercise, so I'm going to learn that kipping pull-up and see if it feels different from the regular kind.

Kai in NYC

william harryman said...


Yeah, I hear you. But I've never been a big fan of the action/hero type movie, at least not since I was a kid.

But I can certainly see the attraction.

I had forgotten about the Spartan speech thing -- thanks for the reminder.


william harryman said...

Hey Kai,

Box jumps aren't that bad on the joints. I have arthritis in my knees and I do them without pain.

Kipping pull ups are harder -- much bigger range of motion for the lats. I like them.

I'm going to try the 50 deadlifts with 135 on Friday. Anything over 10-12 reps feels like running a marathon to me, so I'm guessing it will be brutal.

When I've had a couple days off, I'm going to try the whole workout (as best I can in a Ballys) and see if I die. I can't do 25 straight pull ups, so that will be the toughest part for me.


Anonymous said...

Hell man,

I'm still doing the basic body for life workout, but without (unfortunately) the diet. With the diet, was great, without, and a sugar craving I've had for the last year, well, I could stand to lose 20 pounds now.

So I'm interesting in this workout - nice change. But, I've never even had a consult on a dead lift, nor done ANY box lifts, whatever the heck that is...

william harryman said...


You can find instructional videos online to learn deadlift basics, and/or ask someone at your gym who looks like they know what they're doing to check your form.

Box jumps can be done on a bench -- jump up with both feet then back down, that's one rep. If you have any leg strength, it's more cardio than strength or muscle building.

Yeah, those sugar cravings can be pesky. 5-HTP or St John's Wort can help with the cravings if you are trying to go low carb.

The last two months have been good for me, training wise, and I have lost about 15 pounds of fat and kept my muscle and strength. About 5 pounds to go.