If there’s one silver lining about being in lockdown it’s that there’s extra time. There’s time to develop new routines and carving out a part of your day for exercise is a great habit to add into your schedule. If you’re someone who prefers to work out at home you can still push yourself in the same way that you would in the gym and there’s the opportunity to get creative with how you train and push yourself to the limit like the Ancient Spartans did.
The stuff of legend, Spartan soldiers were known for their resiliency and bravery. They trained under extreme conditions and turned themselves into the ultimate warriors. So, what went into Spartan training and how can you embody it in a lockdown workout?
- Spartan culture emphasised a dedication to health and inner strength.
- Spartan citizens were all expected to train, including Spartan women, who were treated as equals and regularly competed in athletic competitions to prove their valour.
- Spartan children entered into an intensive training system called Agoge at a young age.
The realities of Spartan training
In truth, we know very little about Spartan culture because the Spartans chose not to write it down. Much of what we do know comes from the writing of the Greek philosopher Xenophon in his Constitution of the Lacedaemonians,which was written at the height of Spartan supremacy in the period between 387 and 375BC.
Painting a vivid picture, Xenophon recorded the details of how Spartan children were raised under the leadership of Lycurgus. The training was brutal.
“Rather than letting boys’ feet grow soft in shoes, he (Lycurgus) told them emphatically to make them strong by not wearing shoes, in the belief that this practice should enable them to walk uphill with greater ease and come down in greater safety, while the boy who is accustomed to having no shoes on his feet should jump and bound and run faster than the one with shoes. And instead of their clothes serving to make them delicate, he required them to become used to a single garment all the year round, the idea being that thereby they would be better prepared for both cold and heat.” – Xenophon
This description highlights the practices that were a part of Agoge. Spartan boys joined the curriculum from the age of seven and were expected to train barefoot by the age of 12. They were also given a single piece of clothing to wear in all weather conditions, as it was meant to promote hardiness.
At the age of eighteen, the trainees became reserve infantry and then foot soldiers at the age of twenty. By the time they reached thirty, men became full citizens and lived and breathed the three Spartan principles: military fitness, austerity and equality among citizens.
Training like a Spartan
I’m not suggesting that you run barefoot up a mountain in the dead of winter, but there’s a tenacity in the Spartan way that can be applied to your lockdown workout. For example, there are certain benefits associated with training barefoot, which include strengthening your feet, improving balance and increasing overall stability.
Gerard Butler definitely embraced his inner Spartan for 300, taking his body to the extreme to become the legendary king Leonidas. Butler’s 300 routine is a workout that’s worthy of the Agoge and we’ve broken it down for you to do at home:
- Pull-ups – 25 reps
- Deadlifts with 135lbs – 50 reps
- Push-ups – 50 reps
- 24” box jumps – 50 reps
- Floor wipers – 50 reps
- Clean-and-press with 36lbs kettlebells – 50 reps
- Pull-ups – 25 reps
Please note that this routine should be done with the proper equipment and that it’s done without any scheduled rest between the moves. It’s the kind of routine that would suit someone who wants to take on an advanced home workout challenge.
No matter how you choose to train in lockdown, mentality is as important as movement. The Spartans encouraged discipline and that is the kind of mindset that makes a home workout both rewarding and enjoyable.
A superhero who embraces a positive mindset in everything she does is Wonder Woman and her compassion is her greatest strength. Learn why this Greek powerhouse would make an excellent mental health first aider.