Build Muscle With High-Intensity 300-Rep Spartan Workout

Only the hard and strong may call themselves Spartans. Some men were born to be Spartans. They are willing to work to the end of their endurance, overcome all obstacles and sacrifice the easy life to mold their bodies into solid masses of steel and granite. The road to a “tough-as-iron” Spartan body is not easy and is paved in sweat, blood and toil. The rewards are great, because it will give you a lean, cut, healthy looking body that sets you apart from other men. The “300” Workout Challenge will show you the way.

This workout was inspired by the film “300” that described the Battle of Thermopylae in which 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas fought to their death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army in 480 B.C. The battle poised 7,000 Greeks against more than 250,000 Persians. After three days, the majority of the Greek army had left the field, leaving only 300 Spartans to fight the invading horde. The 300 Spartans perished in the battle, but Xerxes lost 10,000 men. Thermopylae set the stage for Greek victories at Salami and Plataea that prevented a Persian takeover of Greece and the rest of Europe. Now available in 4K Ultra HD, Zack Snyder’s take on history’s most famous underdog story, the film “300” – originally released in theaters in 2007 and the inspiration behind the 300 Workout fitness craze – is more visually stunning than ever!  CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE!

The heroic battle is legendary nearly 2,500 years later. More important, it immortalized the fitness and physical toughness of the Spartans. The film captured the imagination of people around the world by depicting the Spartans as athletic, fit and cut. The Spartans were self-disciplined and hard as nails. They demolished their enemies through perseverance, superior fitness, discipline and hard work. They dedicated their lives to physical conditioning and excellence, which paid off magnificently in a battle that immortalized the Spartan way of life.

The actors, extras and stuntmen who played in the movie underwent an intense training program involving a series of whole-body functional training exercises that emphasized high-repetition overload with minimal rest. The most fit among them capped off their training program with a grueling test of fitness and stamina called the 300 Workout Challenge.

This program involves a series of simple exercises arranged in a circuit that includes three levels of increasing difficulty: the Barbarian Horde, Greek Hoplite and Elysian Fields levels. Like the Spartans of old, you must prove your mettle and worthiness at each stage before moving to the next. Only when you have endured and conquered the grueling Elysian Fields level may you attempt the 300 Workout Challenge. Then, you can go tell the Spartans that you are one of them and worthy of their company.

300 Workout Challenge

The 300 Workout Challenge involves a series of whole-body functional training exercises. They are simple, require little or no equipment, but are extremely taxing and demanding. Unlike most gym workouts that isolate specific joints and muscle groups, the levels of the 300 Workout Challenge develop functional fitness through a series of coordinated movements that involve many joints and muscle groups working together smoothly and efficiently.

The Barbarian Horde, Greek Hoplite and Elysian Fields circuits include seven exercises. Each circuit becomes increasingly difficult by including more repetitions and less rest. For example, you rest one minute between exercises during the Barbarian Horde circuit, but only 15 seconds during the Elysian Fields circuit. Do not move to the more difficult circuits until you can complete the preceding one with relative ease. Take the 300 Workout Challenge when you can complete the Elysian Field circuit.

The 300 Workout Challenge is an exhausting, nonstop 300-rep workout with no rest between exercises. It is not for the timid, unfit or faint of heart. Your goal is to finish the workout as quickly as possible. Only a few of the actors, extras and stuntmen in the film “300” were able to complete this grueling task. Are you up to the challenge? Do you have what it takes to be a Spartan elite?

The Science Behind the 300 Workout Challenge

Good power, muscle endurance and strength separate the truly fit person from the hoi polloi. The functional training exercises used build strength, power and endurance, train the nerves and muscles to react quickly and develop whole-body fitness that make movements smooth and coordinated.

Functional fitness improves the ability to produce force rapidly. It builds fitness that improves performance in almost any sport. It will help you hit the ball harder in sports like softball, move faster when playing basketball or volleyball and turn more precisely during downhill skiing. Functional fitness also helps you move faster and longer during distance running, cycling, swimming and cross-country skiing. Functional fitness improves neuromuscular control and helps you move more efficiently.

Functionally fit people make movements look easy. They exhibit an economy of effort with little wasted motion. They concentrate all their forces into movements and make sports look easy. The power produced by an NBA superstar dunking the ball, an Olympic discus thrower throwing over 220 feet, or a world-class ballet dancer jumping through the air seems beyond human capacity. These feats are possible because these athletes can precisely channel their incredible power, speed, strength and endurance into skilled movements. Functional training may not get you to the Olympics or Super Bowl, but it will improve the way you move.

Functionally fit people are less likely to sustain an injury during exercise. Whole-body movements promote good movement postures, which place much less stress on the bones, muscles and joints. They also build balanced muscle fitness that is essential for efficient, pain-free movements.

Whole-body functional fitness is essential for developing the Spartan body. Most people train on exercise machines that isolate specific muscles such as the quads, glutes, biceps or pecs. When they play sports, they expect these muscles to mesh with other muscles that may be relatively less trained and not used to whole-body movements. A critical principle of functional fitness is “train movements, not muscles.” Build the strength of major muscle groups in the chest, arms, hips and thighs, but include exercises that force muscle groups in the upper and lower bodies to work together.

The scope of functional training exercises is only limited by your imagination. The 300 Workout Challenge provides only a glimpse of this powerful training method. Examples of whole-body functional training exercises include Olympic lifts and related exercises (e.g., hang snatches, one-arm kettlebell clean and press, jerks off the rack), snatch squats, lunges combined with upper body exercises (dumbbells, medicine ball, kettlebells), gymnastics (e.g., rings, parallel bars, floor exercises, trampoline), farmer’s carries (walking carrying heavy bars or dumbbells), heavy stone exercises, chopping wood or sledgehammer exercises, exercises on functional training machines (Life Fitness, Cybex), sled pulling, tire exercises (spins and throws) and Pole-ates (resisted partner exercises using a weighted pole or bar).

The nervous system’s ability to recruit or activate motor units (composed of a motor nerve and a group of muscle fibers) is critical for forceful, efficient movements. Scientists discovered that you can only train motor units if you activate them. The large, powerful motor units are only activated during powerful whole-body functional movements. If you want to train those motor units, you have to perform vigorous, explosive movements during your exercise sessions. Intense training helps activate these large, fast, powerful motor units.

300 Workout Challenge Will Turn You Into a Fat-Burning Machine

The 300 Workout Challenge shocks your body into burning more calories and fat. It works by increasing 24-hour fat metabolism, boosting stress hormone levels (i.e., catecholamines and growth hormone) and improving blood sugar regulation. Catecholamines, such as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, promote fat loss and boost calorie and fat use for hours after exercise. Intense training also boosts growth hormone, which is a proven fat burner and important anabolic hormone. The unique structure of the 300 Workout Challenge raises catecholamines and growth hormone greater than traditional lower intensity exercise programs. It not only increases fat burning during exercise, but also elevates it for up to 24 hours later.

Pluses and Minuses of the Program

The 300 Workout Challenge is a high-rep circuit-training program that includes minimal rest. Build up gradually and you will develop high levels of muscle endurance, improve aerobic capacity and increase strength and power. It will also burn plenty of calories and increase metabolic rate so that you continue to burn more calories and fat for hours after the workout. This is an excellent program for building general fitness that will improve performance in sports such as skiing, tennis, basketball, climbing, hiking and soccer.

The program is not for everyone. The intense nature of the workout increases the risk of overtraining. For this reason, rest at least three days per week. Cut back if you develop overuse injuries in your knees, hips, back, shoulders, elbows or wrists. Take a few days off if you get overly tired or sick.

The 300 Workout Challenge builds strength, power and endurance, but it is not the best program for optimizing any of these fitness goals. The program is not for you if your goal is to increase your bench press or run a marathon. It might be a good preliminary conditioning program, but it won’t provide the type of fitness you need to achieve those goals.

High-rep circuit training is grueling. If you have trouble sticking with an exercise program, then you probably won’t continue with a workout that makes you sick three or four times a week. This is not an appropriate workout for sedentary people or for those with significant health problems or muscle and joint injuries because it is too vigorous. The 300 Workout Challenge is for you if you want to get in top shape, look great and develop a functional, well-rounded fitness.


The 300 Workout Challenge

This circuit training workout program includes three levels of difficulty: The Barbarian Horde level, The Greek Hoplite level and The Elysian Fields level. Each level includes more repetitions and less rest. Complete the required repetitions for an exercise before moving to the next exercise – even if you have to rest. For example, if you can’t do the required number of pull-ups, do as many as you can, rest and then attempt to complete the remainder of the reps (you might have to rest several times during the exercise). Take the 300 Workout Challenge after you successfully completed the Elysian Fields level.


Level 1: The Barbarian Horde Workout

Do this circuit two times, resting one minute between exercises. Move to the next level (Greek Hoplite level) when you can complete the Barbarian Horde circuit with relative ease. Do this program three days per week until you are ready to move to the next level. For best results, also do aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging or cycling three to five days per week.

1. Pull-ups, 5 repetitions

Rest 1 minute

2. Deadlifts with 135 pounds, 10 repetitions

Rest 1 minute

3. Push-ups, 10 repetitions

Rest 1 minute

4. Box jumps (24-inch), 10 repetitions

Rest 1 minute

5. Floor wipers, 10 repetitions

Rest 1 minute

6. Single-arm kettlebell (35 pounds) clean and press, 10 repetitions each arm

Rest 1 minute

7. Pull-ups, 5 repetitions

Rest 1 minute

Repeat circuit (repeat exercises one to seven)


Level 2: The Greek Hoplite Workout

Do the Greek Hoplite circuit two times, resting 30 seconds between exercises. Move to the next level (Elysian Fields level) when you can complete the Greek Hoplite circuit with relative ease. Do this program three days per week until you are ready to move to the next level. For best results, also do aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging, or cycling three to five days per week.

1. Pull-ups, 10 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds

2. Deadlifts with 135 pounds, 20 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds

3. Push-ups, 20 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds

4. Box jumps (24-inch), 20 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds

5. Floor wipers, 20 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds

6. Single-arm kettlebell (35 pounds) clean and press, 20 repetitions (each arm)

Rest 30 seconds

7. Pull-ups, 10 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds

Repeat circuit (repeat exercises one to seven)


Level 3: The Elysian Fields Workout

Do the following circuit two times, resting 15 seconds between exercises. Take the 300 Workout Challenge when you can complete the Elysian Fields circuit on two separate days. Do the Elysian Fields Workout program three days per week until you are ready for the ultimate test. For best results, also do aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging, or cycling three to five days per week.

1. Pull-ups, 15 repetitions

Rest 15 seconds

2. Deadlifts with 135 pounds, 30 repetitions

Rest 15 seconds

3. Push-ups, 30 repetitions

Rest 15 seconds

4. Box jumps (24-inch), 30 repetitions

Rest 15 seconds

5. Floor wipers, 30 repetitions

Rest 15 seconds

6. Single-arm kettlebell (35 pounds) clean and press, 30 repetitions (each arm)

Rest 15 seconds

7. Pull-ups, 30 repetitions

Rest 15 seconds

Repeat circuit (repeat exercises one to seven)


The 300 Workout Challenge

If you made it this far, you may soon be ready to stand beside King Leonidas at Thermopylae – if you can pass this final test. Do the following circuit one time as fast as you can and attempt to take no rest between exercises. Do all the required repetitions for each exercise before moving to the next – even if you have to rest to complete the exercise (such as during the pull-ups). The workout includes 300 repetitions to commemorate the 300 Spartans. The best performance on the circuit by an actor from the movie was 18 minutes.

1. Pull-ups, 25 repetitions

2. Deadlifts with 135 pounds, 50 repetitions

3. Push-ups, 50 repetitions

4. Box jumps (24-inch), 50 repetitions

5. Floor wipers (135 pounds), 50 repetitions

6. Single-arm kettlebell (35 pound) clean-and-press, 50 repetitions (with each arm)

7. Pull-ups, 25 repetitions


Description of the Exercises

Pull-Ups: Grasp the bar with a pronated grip (palms away from your body), hands placed shoulder-width apart and hang with elbows fully extended. Pull your body up until your collarbone reaches the bar. Return to the starting position and repeat. Use a spotter or assist machine if you have trouble doing this exercise.

Deadlifts: Stand with feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Squat down and grasp the bar using either a deadlift (right palm one way, left palm the other) or pronated (palms toward body) grip. Keep back flat, hips flexed (butt back), chest up and out, arms straight and eyes focused ahead. Lift the bar by extending the knees and hips. During the lift, maintain a flat back and straight arms and keep the weight close to the body. Pull up the weight to a standing position. Slowly return the weight to the starting position, taking great care to keep your back straight.

Push-Ups: Start in the push-up position with your body supported by your hands and feet with your back and legs straight. Your arms and your back should be straight and your fingers pointed forward. Lower your chest to the floor with your back straight and then return to the starting position.

Box Jumps (24-inch box): Stand facing a 24-inch plyo box. You could also use a 2-foot high bench or step. Jump onto the box and then back to the starting position. Do this movement as quickly as you can, while maintaining control.

Floor Wipers (Olympic bar, 135 pounds): Lie on your back on the floor holding an Olympic bar with arms fully extended (the starting position of a bench press). To complete one repetition, raise your legs until your feet touch the plate on your left; return to the starting position and raise your legs until your feet touch the plate on your right.

Single-Arm Kettlebell (35 pounds) Clean-and-Press: Begin with the kettlebell between your legs. Squat down and grasp the handle of the kettlebell with your right hand, keeping your back flat, hips flexed (butt back), chest up and out, arms straight and eyes focused ahead. Clean the kettlebell to your chest so that the handle is higher than the ball of the kettlebell. Press the kettlebell overhead and then return it to the starting position. Repeat using the other arm. You have completed one repetition when you have done the exercise with the right and left arms.

Whole-Body Functional Training

Circuit training – doing a series of exercises in rapid succession – and whole-body functional training are not new. These methods were popular in the United States in the 1960s and were practiced in the United States and Europe before World War I. While Eastern European athletes never stopped using these methods, fitness experts such as Pavel Tsatsouline (strongfirst.com), Dan John (danjohn.net) and Mark Twight (gymjones.com) resurrected them in the United States. Twight, the founder of Gym Jones, trained the actors and stuntmen for the movie “300” and originated the 300 challenge. The cast of “300” did a wide variety of exercises while preparing for the movie. The 300 challenge was only a small sample of the kinds of exercises they did. Literally hundreds of examples of this kind of training are shown on the websites above and on YouTube.

We interviewed strength coach Dan John, a world-class masters discus thrower and Highland Games athlete who developed innovated functional training exercises involving carrying heavy objects in one or both hands, sled pulling and load carrying. Dan and Mark Twight have consulted with the United States military on fitness and strength-training methods. Their basic philosophy is to do exercises that work and discard the rest. They bombard the body with a series of stressful, but functional exercises that prepare people for unpredictable situations that often arise on the battlefield. They found that athletes and fitness enthusiasts respond quickly to this kind of training and it allows them to push their bodies to higher levels than they thought possible. It builds fitness you can use. Dan John’s website danjohnuniversity.com is a treasure trove of information on exercise, weight training, Olympic weightlifting and track and field. Whole-body functional training is an alternative to machine-based isolation exercises practiced in most gyms.



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