Weight training became popular long before there were dumbbells, barbells and exercise machines. The ancient Greeks weight trained with activities such as stone lifting, stone throwing, wrestling and rope climbing. Training in ancient Greece, particularly for the Spartans, was structured and extremely intense.
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Spartan Training History
Spartan training began for men at a very young age. At seven years old, Spartan males were sent to military and athletic training school where they were taught toughness, discipline, pain endurance and survival skills. The Spartan life centered around military training and toughness. Spartan males were soldiers from the age of 13 to 60, and even the women were taught physical and gymnastics training.
Spartan Training Methods
The Ancient Greeks did not have exercise machines to improve their physical fitness, so they had to use whatever was available. They used body weight exercises such as pushups or pullups. The Ancient Greeks would use resistance in their strength training methods by using stones, logs, animals or each other to help increase their strength.
Modern Day Spartan Training
Fancy equipment is not necessary to get in peak physical condition. Use pushups and pullups in your routines to help build upper body strength. Chopping or splitting logs and log throwing is also an effective way to train the entire body. Tire flipping, deadlifting, car pushing or carrying heavy objects to a predetermined destination are all examples of modern day Ancient Greece weight training. Individuals who prefer to train in a gym can still do intense weight training similar to the Ancient Greeks by using mostly free weights and incorporating Olympic and power lifts in your training such as power cleans, hang cleans, snatch, squats, deadlifts and bench press.
The “300” Workout
The “300” workout was designed to get the actors in shape in preparation for filming the movie “300." The actors trained for four months using similar training intensities that would have been used during the times of the Spartans -- including plyometrics, sprinting and intense weight training. They used such equipment as barbells, kettlebells and medicine balls. At the end of the four months of training, the actors where invited to complete the “300” graduation workout which involved performing the following exercises in sequential order: 25 pullups, 50 deadlifts at 135 lbs., 50 pushups, 50 box jumps onto a 24 inch box, 50 floor wipers at 135 lbs., 50 kettlebell clean and presses at 36 lbs. and 25 pullups. The combination of all repetitions for all of the exercises totals 300 repetitions.