Back in late 2006, Gerard Butler starred in the film “300” that was based on the famous graphic novel that retold the story of the Battle of Thermopylae during the Persian Wars. The film would go on to gross more than $450 million at the box office worldwide, and was talked about for months. One talking point was the physique of the actors, who had to train tirelessly to look like Spartan warriors.

The movie not only spawned a workout plan to look like the actors in the film, but it also spawned an obstacle course race. We’re going to take a look at both of them to see if it’s the right workout plan for you. This isn’t one of those quick weight loss workouts where you try to drop one size in a week or two, but instead focuses on overall strength and endurance. To sum it up, this program is not for the faint of heart.

Spartan Race and Training

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We already took a glance at the Tough Mudder race, and the Spartan Race is very similar. The Spartan Race is a series of courses that range from three miles to more than 26 miles, introducing obstacles along the way for participants to get through. The race was developed by Joe De Sena, Julian Kopald and Andy Weinberg shortly after the release of “300”, and has become one of the most popular brands in competitive racing since then.

The different types of Spartan Races include the Sprint (three miles), the Super Spartan (eight miles), the Spartan Beast (13 miles) and the Ultra Beast (26 miles). Many of the obstacles are the same and include crawling through mud, jumping over walls and more. There is a lot of training that goes into getting ready for a Spartan Race, which includes a lot of burpees, because you have to do 30 of them if you can’t get through an obstacle.

A lot of people assume that since they can run a 5k (3.1 miles) in a decent time of under 30 minutes, they will be able to do a Spartan Race in about the same amount of time. It can actually take an additional 15 to 20 minutes to get through the obstacles, meaning that there is a lot more endurance needed for a Spartan Race than a standard 5k. So how do you train for a Spartan Race? Here is a simple plan that should get you through the course if you aren’t worried about your time:

Monday

  • 10 Push-Ups
  • 15 Box Jumps
  • Pull-ups Until Failure
  • Eight Step-ups
  • 30 Second Plank Crawls
  • 10 Kettlebell Clean and Presses
  • 10 Cable Chops
  • 15 Kettlebell Swings
  • 10 Hanging Leg Raises
  • Stretching

Tuesday

  • Hill Workout (Carrying Sandbags Up a Hill While Sprinting)

Wednesday

  • Rest

Thursday

  • Sprint Intervals (30 second bursts of sprinting then 90 seconds of jogging)

Friday

  • 10 Push-Ups
  • 15 Box Jumps
  • Pull-ups Until Failure
  • Eight Step-ups
  • 30 Second Plank Crawls
  • 10 Kettlebell Clean and Presses
  • 10 Cable Chops
  • 15 Kettlebell Swings
  • 10 Hanging Leg Raises
  • Stretching

Saturday

  • Running (At least 30 minutes, increased each week until you can run six miles)

Sunday

  • Rest

This workout plan can be a bit difficult for a beginner, especially when it comes to the strength training. However, it will get easier as time goes on, and the program should take a total of four to six weeks. This plan is designed for people who will be running their first Spartan Race, and the difficulty can be cranked up if you are looking to improve on your time.

DailyBurn (which we have also reviewed) has a training program to get you ready for a Spartan Race. However, that’s for people that don’t mind paying a monthly fee for access to on-demand workout programs. The plan above is one that you want to follow if you’re looking for some free advice. Either plan is going to get you results in your overall endurance and improve your physique at the same time. There are also classes at local gyms designed to get you ready, in addition to daily workouts that are sent via e-mail sign-up.

The 300 Workout

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If getting through an obstacle course isn’t your thing and you just want to look like the actors from “300”, then there is a workout that’s also designed for you. The plan was created shortly after the movie came out by Mark Twight, who actually trained the cast to get their look. Twight had worked as a writer and trainer beforehand, and was most known for mountain climbing while getting NFL players into shape.

People were dying to know how Twight was able to get the actors ready for the film, and he was willing to release the plan. There are three different plans with the 300 Workout, including the original, intermediate and beginner plans. Let’s take a look at all three of them.

Original

  • 25 Pull-ups
  • 50 Push-ups
  • 50 Barbell Deadlifts (135 Pounds)
  • 50 Floor Wipers
  • 50 Box Jumps (24 Inches)
  • 25 Pull-ups (Again)
  • 50 Single Arm Clean and Presses (36 Pound Kettlebell)

Intermediate

  • 25 Pull-ups
  • 50 Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • 50 Push-ups
  • 50 Squat Jumps
  • 50 V-ups
  • 50 Dumbbell Push Presses
  • 25 Pull-ups

Beginner

  • 15 Bodyweight Rows
  • 25 Bodyweight Squats
  • 15 Push-ups
  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • 20 Mountain Climbers
  • 10 Close-grip Push-ups
  • 15 Bodyweight Rows

Now, you should not be doing this workout everyday as it can be rather challenging and you can burn out pretty quickly. It’s suggested that you at least have one day of rest or low impact exercise in between doing the 300 workout. If you’re just starting out, aim at doing the beginner’s version of the 300 workout once or twice per week before you build up to being able to get through the workout comfortably.

Nutrition on the 300 Workout

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Just working out alone is going to build your endurance to get through a Spartan Race, but it won’t necessarily get you the physique that you are looking for. You also have to be eating the right foods to cut fat and build muscle, which is probably what you were looking for in the first place. There isn’t really a suggested eating plan while on the race, they just say that you should be taking in enough calories to get through your training and also a lot of protein.

If you are working up to do a race for the first time (or just want to do the workout without the race) and want to lose weight. You should be eating around 1,500 calories per day since your body will be burning so many. Eating 1,200 like most diets suggest might not be enough. Here is what a sample menu should look like while getting started:

Day One

Breakfast

  • 1 Cup of Shredded Wheat Cereal
  • 2 Tablespoons of Almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons of Dried Fruit
  • ⅔ Cup of Whole Milk

Lunch

  • 1 Whole Wheat Bagel
  • 3 Slices of Tomato
  • 1 Slice of Red Onion
  • 2 Ounces of Lowfat Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Coleslaw

Dinner

  • 5 Ounces of Grilled Halibut
  • ½ Lemon
  • Black Pepper
  • ½ Cup of Salsa
  • ⅔ Cup of Brown Rice

Snacks

  • 20 Baby Carrots
  • 2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter
  • 6 Apple Slices

Day Two

Breakfast

  • 1 Granola Bar
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Bowl of Oatmeal

Lunch

  • 5 Ounces of Grilled Chicken Breast
  • ½ Cup of Green Beans
  • 6 Strawberries

Dinner

  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 1 Tin of Tuna
  • 1 Tablespoon of Pesto
  • 1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
  • 50 Grams of Mozzarella Cheese

Snacks

  • Strawberry Banana Smoothie
  • ½ Cup of Honeydew or Cantaloupe

Summing it Up

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Granted, not everyone is going to have the same fitness goals in mind, but either form of Spartan Training is going to do some wonders for your body. If you want to focus on endurance and overall weight loss, train and eat as if you were preparing for one of the Spartan Races. If you want to focus more on building muscle (which adds mass), then you should be doing the 300 workout with less cardio.

The only real negative is that there is no set eating plan like you would find with other workout programs. Instead, they just suggest that you aim for a certain number of calories and make sure to increase protein while not overdoing it with carbs. That’s pretty vague, so there is plenty of research that you would have to do to make sure you’re eating the right foods to lose weight.

If you can combine a popular diet that you like with training from the Spartan world, then you could see some fantastic results. It’s not going to be an overnight transformation into an action movie star, but you have probably realized at this point that it takes time to change your body. Still, these workouts will have huge benefits in the long run.

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