Spartan Habit #1: Exercise Daily

 

Spartans trained every single day.

It started at age 7 when they were taken from their families and placed in the AgogeFor the next 13 years these boys became men, and some of the finest warriors that ever lived.

They didn't have a choice, this was their culture. 

Spartans Trained for Battle

Despite what some people suspect, It is highly unlikely that Spartans had the "big beach muscles" that a power lifter might have. That wasn't what they trained for, In order to be big like that, you have to eat big and lift heavy.

spartan helmet3d.png

The Spartans didn't eat big, in fact, we know this because youth were starved on purpose so that they could learn to steal food, practicing cunning and skill. If they were caught, they were beaten. Not because they stole food but because they got caught.

We also know that Spartans trained for combat by doing foot races and competing in the Olympic games. Being clunky and heavy in battle was not seen as a good thing.

However, Spartan warriors had to wear helmets, breastplates, carry a shield (aspis) on the left arm and a spear (doru) in the right hand.

The breastplate or body armor was approximately 70 pounds and the shield was roughly 16 pounds.

That's roughly, 86 extra pounds a Spartan soldier was carrying around.

If you carry around an extra 40-45% of your body-weight all the time, you are going to be bigger (not huge), stronger and faster than most people. The Spartans trained and exercised even during peacetime, so that they always had a strong army. They stayed a part of the army until the age of 40-60 depending on their combat experience and prowess in battle.

 
A city is well-fortified which has a wall of men instead of brick
— Lycurgus
 

What Kind of exercises did they do?

The truth is, we don't really know.

But we can speculate.

One of the most common workouts around is the 300 workout. While it might get you to look like the men in the movie "300". It's not a guarantee that this is the exact workout that actual Spartan soldiers did.

300 Workout (For Time) Do:

  • Pull-ups – 25 reps
  • Dead-lifts with 135 lbs – 50 reps
  • Push-ups – 50 reps
  • 24-inch Box jumps – 50 reps
  • Floor wipers – 50 reps
  • Single-arm Clean-and-Press with 36# Kettle-bell – 50 reps
  • Pull-ups – 25 reps

The best way to emulate a spartan workout though is to remain active doing the things that most people don't do regularly or ever. Doing a daily combination of the below activities is sure to get you close:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Hiking
  • Wrestling or martial Arts
  • Hunting
  • Throwing a Spear
  • Sword Fighting

Any sort of workout with a weighted vest, moving objects, running and jumping is going to help you get to where you are in Spartan shape. Don't take the easy way out.

One of the questions that I asked Paul Cartledge was:

Q. What were some of the weapons training or combat training, do you know how they practiced?

A.**** We have very limited information in detail about this. We do know of one team exercise between rival youths - the aim of the game was for one team to shove the other back into the River Eurotas. The relevance of this to Hoplite (heavy infantry phalanx) fighting is that the shove ('othismos') was a crucial part of Hoplite battle after the initial shock of encounter.

How do you train for that initial shock or battle?

The principal Weapons of a Hoplite Infantryman were a long ash wood spear (Doru) and a short sword (Xiphos).

We are a comfortable and materialistic culture. Consumption and acquiring more has become a way of life. Not only that, but there are a lot of lies that we believe and listen to.

How do you handle the bumps in your life, and what are you doing to prepare for them?

Do you think they won't come?

If we are distracted by acquiring more, or thinking that we need to have things to make us happy or fulfill some deep longing that we have. We will be lost in the sauce. Then when bad things happen, our minds and bodies will be mentally weak because we spent our time doing stuff that had no value or merit.

Train your body to endure physically and mentally challenging things. Make it a lifestyle. It is a shame to see so many people go through life and never know what their bodies and minds are capable of.

The Spartans knew, and they were confident, strong, and dangerous. 

If there is one piece of advice that I could give everyone it would be this:

  • Exercise Daily
  • Read books
  • Learn to run and swim
  • Learn a craft or skill

Focus on those things, and the rest will come.

- Stephen 

 

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