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The 300 Workout: Can You Handle It?

The training regimen that whipped actors of the movie 300 into fighting shape may be too much for most of us.
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The 300 Workout

The workout gets its name from the total number of repetitions. But those 300 reps weren't done daily, as some media accounts report, Twight says. Rather, the 300 workout was the finale of months of training, a kind of graduation test, after actors had weight lifted and trained with tools such as medicine balls and Kettlebells (cast iron weights with handles).

It's daunting, and includes these weight-training moves:

  • 25 pull-ups
  • 50 deadlifts at 135 pounds
  • 50 push-ups
  • 50 box jumps with a 24-inch box
  • 50 "floor wipers" (a core and shoulders exercise at 135 pounds)
  • 50 "clean and press" at 36 pounds (a weight-lifting exercise)
  • 25 more pull-ups -- for a total of 300 reps

There's no rest between movements and the score is based on total time, Twight says.

Behind-the-Scenes Work

But before that graduation test, Twight says, there were months of work, transforming the actors and stuntmen not just physically but mentally, he notes. "Zack [Snyder, the director,] wanted the Spartans to appear as though they had been fighting together since they were children," he says.

When they arrived, the men were at various starting points, says Twight, who trained Gerard, many co-stars, and stuntmen but not the women in the film. "Guys ranged from 40 pounds overweight to being in perfect, lean, hard-fighting shape," Twight tells WebMD.

The Regimen

The regimen was varied based on the person’s starting point, Twight says.  "Some days guys did high-intensity circuit training. Some days guys lifted very heavy loads for a few reps. Some days guys did a series of miniworkouts that added up to an 'interesting' total load and volume. Some days guys did hard interval training on the Concept II rowing machine." And some days, the exercisers were asked to train for balance by doing their tasks blindfolded.

"Some days were punishment days where our intent was to break guys physically and psychologically," Twight says.

Training for the actors required 90 minutes to two hours a day, five days a week, Twight says, plus the same amount of time fight training. Stuntmen trained 90 minutes to two hours, five days a week, and another four to six hours fight training, Twight says. Everyone was given just enough food to recover from the workout, he notes.

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