The 300 Workout: Proceed With Caution

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Getting Ripped Like a Warrior

Watch the movie “300” and you will be struck by a few things: stunning cinematography, crazy special effects, and perfectly chiseled abs.

Since the film’s release, there’s been a lot of internet buzz about the 300 workout, the strict fitness regimen that the film’s actors followed to get in shape.

What is the 300 workout?

The 300 workout isn’t really a fitness plan. Rather, it’s a sort of graduation test designed by Mark Twight, the self-taught fitness guru who trained the film’s cast. Working with 300 director Zack Snyder, Twight created a punishing workout regimen designed to whip actors and stuntmen into shape not only physically but mentally.

The film’s cast trained for 10 weeks in Twight’s Salt Lake City, Utah gym—a room with no AC and no mirrors. Their workouts were designed to build muscle, increase endurance, and melt fat fast. The men did high-intensity circuit training, lifted very heavy weights at low reps, and did cardio on a rowing machine. Some days the men were asked to complete their workouts blindfolded to improve balance.

Intending to break the men mentally, Twight trained the cast for 90 minutes to two hours five days a week on top of keeping them in fight training for two to six hours a day. Twight controlled the cast’s diet as well, giving the men only enough food to recover from their workouts.

Each man in the cast started training at a different fitness level but Twight trained them to work up the strength and stamina to be able to complete a final fitness test which has come to be called the 300 workout. The 300 workout consists of the following 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” (a weight-lifting exercise performed with 36 pound kettlebells)

25 more pull-ups – for a total of 300 reps

Add up the number of reps in the test, and they total (of course) 300.

Of the 36 actors and stuntmen Twight trained, only 18 took the final test. Andrew Pleavin, who played Daxos in the film, was the only actor to take the test. He finished in a little over 18 minutes.

The Light 300 Workout

Exercise physiologists caution that Twight is not a certified personal trainer, and his 300 workout is too grueling for the average guy. Only a very physically fit person could complete the test. In fact, you could seriously injure yourself trying the 300 workout.

While the 300 workout is not a viable starting point for most people, beginners can work up to the workout just as the film’s cast did. Exercise physiologists recommend starting out slowly, working with a certified personal trainer to learn proper weight training.

If you really want to try Twight’s fitness test, Men’s Health magazine recommends an amended version of the 300 workout for men in moderate physical shape. Their adapted version involves dropping the amount of reps to 150 and substituting certain exercises:

15 bodyweight rows

25 bodyweight squats

15 pushups

50 jumping jacks

20 mountain climbers

10 close grip pushups

15 bodyweight rows