Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to get a 300 warrior body



Time to wake up the warrior within you



They say that there is a warrior hiding in every man. It is only a matter of time or an occasion till he hears the call of the warrior that resides within him. One of the best ways to awaken that warrior within you is to watch a movie that sets your Testosterone levels through the roof and makes you want to get in a warrior's shape. One such movie happens to be 300! Check out the trailer below to see what the movie is all about.




It is said that the strong and fit actors in the movie charge men up to head for the gym, and sets the hearts of women racing. So did the video charge you up? Should have, if not then watch the whole movie and you surely will be. And if you happen to be a man, whom even the full movie failed to motivate to work out hard, then I guess you are on the wrong site and should check out the ones teaching Pilates, ha ha.

This movie is not just special for movie lovers, but also has a great deal of significance on the physical culture world too. For starters it has made a huge impact on how we see strength and fitness. Before this movie a lot of us would equate big biceps and huge chests with strength and fitness. However after watching this movie most are not just obsessed with the look of our bodies but also the functional aspect. Trainees are no longer just happy with another inch on their biceps if they do not feel functionally strong outside the gym. This movie also helped promote the demand for a lean and ripped physique over the big and bulky bodies like that of bodybuilders. After all the ancient warriors were not using steroids to go around with 20 inch arms, they were lean, mean and ripped to the bone.


Needless to say that trainees from all over the world were then searching for ways to turn themselves form couch potatoes to guys with the warrior body. So then who created those fabulous bodies that we saw onscreen and what methods were adopted by them? The answer would be a guy called Mark Twight. Mark happens to be former world class mountain climber, fitness expert and one of those old school coaches with the "no pain, no gain" mindset. He trained the actors and stuntmen at Gym Jones, which happens to be a training facility with no music, no air conditioning, and no comfortable place to sit. Now that surely was the most appropriate place to train for the crew, after all can you imagine the Spartans training in a fancy, delicate to touch spa surrounding?

The methods used by Mark were extreme too. He put them through tough workouts to get them in shape for such physically demanding roles. The training was done for a period of 8-10 weeks and it was ensured that the trainees did not turn into bodybuilder lookalikes. This is what Mark Twight has to to say about the whole experience:

"The first misconception is that we used a bodybuilding-type program of progressive overload and over-feeding with the goal of making the guys look huge. We took the opposite route of calorie restriction to make them look like they lived off the land, in the wild, all sinewy and ripped. The diet was adequate to fuel effort and recovery, barely. And we prescribed random physical challenges to keep them off balance, to ensure they never knew what was coming, to cause a stress-reaction, to break them, to make them look bad in front of each other, which eventually led them to trust one another. Trust made them willing to go all the way to the edge in each other's company because that's what the film was about: laying it on the line. Because fight training and conditioning and eating took place in the same facility - essentially in the same room - the actors and the stunt crew did everything under the watchful eyes of everyone else. Dietary slip-ups were noted, nods given when a particularly hard effort put forth, and general awe expressed when complex choreography was executed without flaw."



Why 300 is not a workout


The warriors getting ready


To complete the training for the movie Mark came up with a test that he called "300". This was a workout that asked for a total of 300 reps to be completed by performing various exercises. Here is what the exact workout was:

  • 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 kettlebell (kb must touch floor between reps)
  • 25 more pull-ups
300 reps total to be done in less than 20 minutes

Of course as it always happens that when something is in demand there will always be corrupt individuals who will make huge profits selling fake products. The same happened with the "300 workout" too. Clever trainers started making a name for themselves by promising trainees to help them get in shape with the 300 workout. Many others came up with their own version of a 300 workout format. Some of them were good while some were too demanding. 

You see the problem is that the 300 workout was not really intended to be a regular workout, it was a one time only test. In the words of its creator, Mark:

"The second misconception surrounds the idea of the Spartan workout, aka "300", how frequently it was done or who actually finished it. "300" is a one-time test, an invitation-only challenge undertaken by those deemed ready for it. By the end of our four-month project 17 people had done the workout (Logan and I were two of them). This constitutes about 50% of the cast and stunt crew. We supervised every test, evaluated each rep for quality and only counted those that achieved our standards for form and range of motion. Like many workouts "300" is not hard once you've done it but the apprehension built up ahead of it - something we encouraged - was enough to make some guys fear it to the degree that performance was compromised. This workout was a crucible that some passed through and others still have hanging over them."

As you can see that not only was it a test instead of a workout, it also happened to be a test which 50% of the cast and crew had failed to clear. So which means that a majority of them never actually did the workout or failed to complete it. So the next time a trainer asks you to do this workout for every session you should know that you need to find another trainer!


The 300 warrior body solution

In this post I will not try to teach you how you should train to clear the "300 test". If that is your goal then train in the specific exercises and you will get there ultimately. In this post I would like to share with you how you can train to get the 300 warrior body.

For starters here is what I believe a warrior's body should be like:

  • muscularly strong
  • lean
  • cardio conditioned
  • flexible
  • fast
  • atheltic
If you fail to posses any of the above qualities then I do not think that you can be a complete warrior. Look at the modern warriors in the form of various top martial artists today and you will see what I am talking about. So lets move onto how you can transform yourself to have the warrior physique.


1) Martial arts- One of the first things I feel you should do if you wish to be like a warrior is to practice some form of martial arts. All the training and conditioning will somehow fail to develop a warrior's athleticism if you do not train in any form of martial arts. No, you do not have to train for a black belt (wont hurt either though), but you would want to practice a few kicks, punches, throws, falls, etc to learn to move like a warrior. The best option is of course to join a martial arts class for 2-3 sessions a week. If you cannot then dont worry, you can train some of the stuff in your own home. It wont be the same in terms of self defense but you will atleast be able to improve your athleticism like that of a warrior. For your purpose 2-3 sessions of 20-30 minutes of practicing various martial arts moves should be good enough.

2) Strength training- yep, no warrior can survive if he is weak! Hard to believe that till sometime back we used to have these "masters" of the martial arts who taught how it was unimportant to be strong if you had good technique. Can you really imagine a weak Spartan warrior, or for that a weak warrior in any other culture who was weak and had no strength? It is important that you do not neglect the strength aspect in your training, and go for all those "metabolic conditioning" sessions only.

You will need the strength to lift both heavy objects as well as your own bodyweight, just as an elite warrior in the Spartan army could. That means you need a healthy mix of lifting weights and lifting your bodyweight. And yes, you would need to keep it to compound exercises for the most part. Some good choices would include:

Weights:

  • squats
  • clean and press
  • snatches
  • overhead presses
  • deadlift
  • rows
  • lunges
  • Turkish get up

Bodyweight
  • pull ups
  • handstand push ups
  • 1 leg squats
  • 1 hand push ups
  • rope climbing

3) Conditioning- to be a warrior it is not good enough to be only strong, but is also required to have great conditioning. Ever seen a warrior who huffs and puffs after climbing two floors, I am sure not. Now before you tie the laces on those running shoes, let me inform you that slow, aerobic workouts are not acceptable. 

To understand the conditioning for a Spartan warrior, imagine for a moment you are one and are in a battle. Ready? Okay here goes, you are surrounded by enemies who are swinging their swords at you at a rate that is faster than bullets and you are being attacked from all angles possible. You are constantly moving around to dodge the swords, and moving your shield to protect yourself. You too are also swinging your own sword (which is heavy) to kill and destroy those who oppose you. You are sprinting towards your enemy and chasing them when they retreat. 

Dream sequence over, back to reality. Now where in that dream sequence did you find a moment where you could relax and let your breathing get to normal? If you imagined it correctly then you would have realized that during a war a warrior's heartbeat is NEVER normal and he is moving at great speeds all throughout without slowing down ever, that is unless he wants to be killed. Do you think it is possible to survive such a situation if one were to train for it slowly by jogging? Of course not! You need tough and challenging conditioning workouts. 

One of the best times to do your conditioning training is after your strength training session. You need to spend about 10-20 minutes only to get the results that you seek if you train intensely. Some good choices for conditioning training include:

  • high rep bodyweight exercises- push ups, squats, burpees, etc
  • sprinting
  • high rep weight training- kettlebell swings, snatches, barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell complexes, etc
  • rapid rope skipping
  • heavy bag kickboxing
  • jumping exercises
  • strongman training

4) Flexibility and joint mobility- to be in the best shape that you can be you must include flexibility and joint mobility work in your training. The best time to do flexibility training is post workout when it helps you to relax and calm down. And for joint mobility work it is best to be done early in the morning or before training. How long should you spend will of course depend on your levels of flexibility and joint mobility. In general I would say that 10-20 minutes of joint mobility work 4-7 times a week and 10-20 minutes of stretching 4-7 times a week would be good enough.


Putting it altogether 


Okay so you have a  life that does not involve fighting the Persian army, and neither can you train 6-8 hours a day like the actors in the movie did. So how to put it altogether into an effective weekly training program? To begin with you need to know that you will need atleast 4 days a week to get in shape to be a warrior. The more time you can devote to each of the requirements the better it is for you. In this post however I will try to share a 4 day minimalist program that can fit into the lives of busy individuals. Here it is:

Monday
Clean and press- 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps
Squats- 4 sets of 6 reps
Rows- 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Weighted Russian twist- 2 sets of 8-10 reps each side
Rest 1-3 minutes between sets

Heavy bag striking- 15-20 minutes



Wednesday
Handstand push up/pull ups- 5 sets of as many reps as possible
1 leg squats- 5 sets of 5 reps each side (add weights later)

Rest 1-3 minutes between sets

Heavy bag striking- 20 minutes


Thursday
Sprinting- 8-15 sprints of 50/75/100 meters with 2-3 minutes walking recovery in between
Burpees- 10 sets of 5-10 reps with 30-60 seconds rest


Saturday
Deadlift- 3 sets of 3-5 reps
Rest 1-3 minutes between sets

Circuit:
Push ups- 10 reps
Bodyweight squats- 15-20 reps
Pull ups or inverted row-6-8 reps
Situps- 10-15 reps
Bodyweight lunges- 8-10 reps each side
Kettlebell swings- 15-20 reps
Repeat the above circuit for 3-5 rounds and rest 2-3 minutes between rounds

Rapid rope skipping- 10 rounds of 1.5-2 minutes with 1 minute rest in between rounds



Eating to be a 300 warrior




An important part of becoming a warrior is to eat like one. As Mark Twight said "We took the opposite route of calorie restriction to make them look like they lived off the land, in the wild, all sinewy and ripped. The diet was adequate to fuel effort and recovery, barely". I do have to agree with Mark on this issue of eating lesser, not just to look great but also to be able to instill the warrior spirit. You see warriors of the past and today are often trained to control hunger and at times are deliberately underfed since in a war there can be a situation where they can go without food for sometime. Great warriors had total self control over their hunger and could fight at their best even when hungry for days.

You of course do not need to starve for days, but will do well to limit your food intake to 3 meals a day. After all a warrior would spend his day training and practicing combat instead of taking a food break every 2 hours. Some level of calorie restriction will also be needed to get that lean look. Do not however go so low that your work and workouts start to suffer. Here is a sample meal plan to get you started:

Breakfast
Oatmeal
Banana
Whole eggs
Almonds

Lunch
Chicken or fish
Broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower
Brown rice

Dinner
Red meat
Pasta
Cottage cheese
Green leafy veggies

And of course lots of water throughout the day to keep the engine running. The amount for each individual food in the plan will depend on the size of your body. If you are a huge guy then you need bigger servings and if you are a smaller guy then you need smaller servings. You need to experiment for yourself to find out exactly how much you need.

So there you have a plan that will fit into your daily life and help you get you started to become the warrior that you wish to be. Just one last thing though, please do remember that becoming a warrior is not for the faint of heart or for those who give up easily. You had to and still have to earn the right to look like one by going through intense physical and mental tests via intense workouts and disciplined eating methods. So go get ready, you have a war to win against physical and mental weaknesses and all those factors that stop you from achieving greatness.


Image sources-http://littledailyprophet.wordpress.com/2007/03/22/300-the-most-graphic-epic-and-emotional-movie-ive-ever-seen/
http://wall.alphacoders.com/wallpaper.php?i=2828
http://www.movieworkouts.com/300-workout/

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