Does the 300 Workout Work?

When the movie “300” debuted with smashing success at the box-office, a hot topic became the training the actors for the film underwent. There is a video and an article, and it’s been been posted darn near everywhere. There is an actual “300 Workout”, and plenty of others have been designing their own versions of such.

For those of you who might not know, the training was administered by Mark Twight of Gym Jones. The training (not just the “300 Workout” – that was only one specific routine he put the actors through) was all anaerobic in nature, combining full body barbell exercises, kettlebell work, bodyweight calisthenics, sprinting, tire flipping, and more. As Twight put it (and I’m paraphrasing here), “We’re combining three different kinds of training – gymnastic, metabolic, and lifting or throwing things.”

300 workout picThough, according to Twight, the main goal of the training was to ready the actors for the strenuous labor that was to come with shooting the movie, what has caused so much commotion (and was another main goal of Twight’s training) was the phenomenal shape the actors were in for the movie. Some gained muscle, others lost fat, all were incredible physical specimens.

The problem that I see with Twight’s training and the success the actors had in transforming their bodies, is that too many people are now jumping on the “300” bandwagon. They think that they can do the “300” workout a few times per week, and BOOM, they are going to look like King Leonidas.

Ain’t gonna happen.

First of all, the “300” workout, as I said before, was a one-time routine. In fact, according to Gym, the actors never repeated a workout in four months’ worth of training. That leads me into my next point – this wasn’t a “magic pill” nor was it “quick & easy.” The training took four months, and was intensely hard. Nervousness before training was mentioned as being a normal occurrence because the training was so hard. Diet was strict (most were in a state of calorie restriction, and hunger was common) and everybody learned to work as a team.

See, you have to realize something – training was these actor’s jobs, and full-time jobs at that. You could liken what they went through to a boot-camp of sorts. Months of highly intense training, diet restriction, watchful supervision, with everybody training, eating, and working together. This was a highly professional atmosphere, as not only was everybody under the watchful eyes of Twight and fellow training Logan Hood, but, again, according to Gym, a massage-therapist was available everyday, and a kinesiologist came by twice per week to treat those with injuries.

The “300” training was very successful, and the improvements everybody involved made were spectacular. That goes without saying. However, don’t think that you can cherry-pick a few things (like the specific “300” workout), apply it to what you’re currently doing, and expect to have the same results.

The problem that arises when training plans like this become successful or a few people have great success (such as this case) is that people start to jump on the bandwagon. For a while, things in the S&C world were “combat” this and “combat” that. Then it was “functional.” Then it was “core.” Then it was kettlebell. Then it was clubbell. Then it was bodyweight calisthenics. Then it was complex/circuit training (a la Team Quest).

Every so often, some new training program comes to light (although it’s usually not “new,” per se, it just hasn’t been popular, so it seems “new”), and everybody everywhere starts doing it. They go hard for a couple weeks. Then life gets in the way somehow, and they don’t go as hard. Then they’re not as motivated anymore, and they stop the program altogether. Now, everybody is off the bandwagon, and though the training method has people that are using it to full capacity and taking full advantage of it, its “15 Minutes of Fame” (for lack of a better term) is over. “300” will more than likely be no different.

Now, I’m not saying that the training used is preparation for “300” isn’t valid or isn’t good. In fact, I think just the opposite – it was kick ass. Just don’t (necessarily) expect to have the exact same results that the actors who did it for a full time job did. And if you don’t, don’t abandon the program thinking that it doesn’t work, you’re “overtraining,” or that you’re a “hardgainer.”

As with all things S&C related, take a look at what it is, and see if the method(s) can help you improve your own training – not just for S&C purposes, but in the “big picture” to make you a better fighter.

Train Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard-
Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins

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