Be Strong. Be Fit.


How To Build 300 Warrior’s Body with Gym Workout

September 26th, 2007 · 36 Comments ·


Most of you have probably watched 300 movie. Many have written about this movie and some are still talking about it. Hope it is not too late for me to write about 300. Not really the review on the movie itself, but something else.

Just in case you wonder what 300 movie is about – it is actually a film adaptation of the graphic novel 300 by Frank Miller. It is about how Spartan King Leonidas and 300 Spartans fight to the last man against Persian King Xerxes and his army of over one million soldiers.


Lots of slow motion shots and gimmicky Matrix-style battle scenes. Almost all battle scene features at least one long shot that varies from super slow motion to super fast motion repeatedly. If you like Matrix with lots of blood, you will like 300.

What really impressed me is not so much on the story, but the actors’ body shapes.

Most girls may drool over the actors’ solid body shapes because this movie really shows lots of man-flesh. I almost dropped my balls after I found out about the training routine the crew has gone through. The director has successfully shown that Spartan army was not only cruel, but also ripped with muscle built from the hardships.

While surfing the Net for 300 movie posters, came to know Mark Twight with his so called 300 workout. Wonder who Mark Twight is? Mark Twight is an exercise guru and former world-class mountain climber who clings to the “no pain, no gain” mantra. 300 actors were trained by him under his brainchild program which has the same name, 300.


Gym Jones, where the crew was trained, is a no-frills gym. No funky music, no air conditioning, no mirrors and no comfortable place to sit. Twight warns that his Spartan workout is not for the faint-hearted, nor the out-of-shape.

These men were trained eight to ten weeks. One of the more interesting purposes behind this workout scheme is that the trainers did not want to turn the actors into bodybuilders. They wanted to create the conditions of the Greek warriors, shaping the modern man into a warrior look alike.


When I watched the preview of this movie, I thought the production team was relying computers alone to shape the actor’s bodies. I was wrong. These actors have shed their sweat and tears to get bodies like that. Like what Twight wrote, “The typical interviewer wants to know about the “magic” workout the cast did to make them look so good. Some were disappointed to learn that hard work is magic…”

No shortcut. Hard work and discipline instead.


King Xerxes (left) is not really that tall in real life.


“300” workout gets its name from the total number of repetitions. But, those 300 reps are not done every day. Rather, the 300 workout was the finale of months of training, a kind of graduation test, after actors had weight lifted and trained with tools such as medicine balls and Kettlebells. What they were training is to prepare for the “300” test. Here is what the regimen:

  • 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 (a weight-lifting exercise)
  • 25 more pull-ups

Add the above reps together and you will get for a total of 300 reps and do all of them in less than 20 minutes.






See the pool of sweat?




No shit. All compound exercises.

300 is a one-time test, an invitation-only challenge undertaken by those deemed ready for it. By the end of the four-month project, 17 people had done the workout. This constitutes about 50% of the cast and stunt crew. Only one actor passed the test. Andrew Pleavin, who plays Daxos, leader of the Arcadians, was the only actor to take it. He finished in 18 minutes and 11 seconds.

You may have thought they have gone through typical bodybuilding programme of progressive overload and tonnes of supplements to make those guys bulk up. Not really. 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.”


Training for the actors required 90 minutes to two hours a day, five days a week, plus the same amount of time fight training. Stuntmen trained 90 minutes to two hours, five days a week, and another four to six hours fight training.

The workouts are tough. In one interview, Gerry Butler, who plays the Spartan King Leonidas, summed up his experience when he said, “Pretty much anything Mark Twight offered up was so difficult in the kind of way where you wish you had never been born – and even more than that, wished he had never been born.”


To become King Leonidas, Butler, who by his own admission was in less- than-ideal shape when he was tapped for the starring role in 300, spent 4 months transforming both his body and his mind. He went through the intense training required to build a warrior’s physique, aesthetically and functionally and with a warrior’s mentality.

This program is not for layman like us. “To ensure that the guys would last for the entire project, we addressed recovery as well as hard work in our process: we had a massage therapist on-site every day and a kinesiologist visited twice per week to treat anyone ailing.”

Damn, can you believe that?






If one is out-of-shape person, he will not survive under 300 training, even on the first day. One could probably only benefit from the Gym Jones workout is the person who already has a foundation in working out. So, no, not for a beginner. The entire regimen is too intense for the average person, but, do not be surprised if a modified version of the 300 workout appears at your local gym club. If US, Australia and Singapore can accommodate pole dancing after Demi Moore popularized it in the movie of Striptease, it is definitely possible to see a scale down version of 300 is introduced.



I like what Mark said, “…If you decide to do any of the workouts, take responsibility for your decisions and for the load you use. You make your own bed. Be willing to lie in it.”

So, ladies, if you have not watched 300 yet, go watch it now and it will better prepare you for a naughty night dream. As for guys, feel free to be jealous, but, don’t hate.  And all for gym goers, watch the movie and go whack the irons today!


You may be interested in getting some of these 300 stuffs from Amazon:



Category: Weight Training

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36 responses so far ↓
  • ShadowFox // Sep 26, 2007 at 12:28 AM

    The most important element left out, the DIET.. What were they eating ??!!

  • Mun // Sep 26, 2007 at 12:39 AM

    According to Mark Twight, he did not overfeed to make the guys look huge. He took the opposite route of calorie restriction to make them look like they lived in the wild. Ripped and toned. In short, the diet was just adequate to fuel effort and recovery. Unfortunately, he did not disclose what diet menu he used.

  • Angie Tan // Sep 26, 2007 at 11:40 AM


    Hmmmm… Expected that their diet to be kind of frugal if they want to mimic the body conditions of the Spartan warrior of those times.

    Besides, if you look at Spartan history, they train all their life from childhood right up to retirement/death.

  • Mike Pedersen Golf // Sep 30, 2007 at 9:14 PM

    This is my all time favorite movie. The dedication of these guys from a fitness standpoint is admirable. I don’t know if another movie can top this one for me.

  • Andy P // Oct 14, 2007 at 11:20 PM

    The results the actors got for the movie is truly remarkable, and much credit belongs to their trainer, Mark Twight, for getting the job done. However, to write he is “a self-taught exercise guru” or imply that the it was “his” training style / exercise programming he used in getting those results is simply flat out wrong. Twight’s programming is an EXACT replica of the training that CrossFit has been doing for years prior to even the idea for the movie “300”. In fact, Twight used to be affiliated with CrossFit, having attended multiple seminars and learned all that he could from it’s remarkable system, until, that is, he decided to completely break all ties, and claim that EVERYTHING he did for 300 was his own invention.

  • Jannie Brooks // Nov 10, 2007 at 1:15 PM

    Is there anyway to get the die that the actors used to get trhe lean look.

  • MS // Nov 16, 2007 at 11:59 AM

    My guess is that you should try either something like the Zone or a Paleo diet of Meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. That coupled with some calorie restriction and consistent Crossfit workouts should get you there…Not easy but fun.

  • Csaba_KB_Exp // Dec 11, 2007 at 2:57 PM

    On one of the black and white picture an actor working out with a kettlebell.
    I have two of those at home and in my opinion, it’s a simple but very effective exercise tool for extreme all-round fitness. You can do a full body workout combined with cardiovascular training at the same time and get very fast results in fat loss, strength gains and endurance.

  • Sam // Mar 5, 2008 at 12:35 PM

    so, what are “floor wipers”

  • leyton // Mar 14, 2008 at 7:48 PM

    I question why no individual has mentioned the role lighting and make-up played in the way the guys bodies looked.In one of the above pictures the you can clearly see what i mean.Not to take anything away from them….the cross fit style workout is hard and rigorous but it would be a shame if any young people new to training were not given all the facts.

  • Former Fat Guy // Mar 20, 2008 at 3:42 PM

    Nice post, well written.

    I’m in the middle of an interview with Craig Ballantyne, author of Turbulence Training and the guy who created the 300 workout video for Mens Health.

    But that’s not why I’m here.

    Stumbled Upon your post as anything 300 related always catches my attention. As I said, nicely worded post.

  • Plumley // Mar 25, 2008 at 5:17 AM

    This is a gd workout for me right now i’m at the point now where i am goign to be doign this workout for 2 weeks straight 6 days a week, i can get it done just under 23 mintes:) hopfully by the end i can get it done around 15 min I’m only 18 200 lbs been working out for just over a year but am super hardcore:) Rugby ftw!!

  • helena // Apr 4, 2008 at 7:28 AM

    OMG I loved that movie but I want to know y king xerxes has so many piercings I’ve tried to look it up all over history and the internet and it doesn’t say anything about it can you tell me why he does and for what purpose?

  • Three Hunzx // Jun 10, 2008 at 12:05 AM

    Great movie, really gives you motivation to get to the gym and train.

    I do conventional weight training, the 300 routine would be great for switching things up. Not only is it muscular, but endurance as well.

  • chirag // Jun 23, 2008 at 11:26 PM

    They worked very hard and we can see that in the movie. I also do regular exercises and more interested in building bigger muscles. After seeing this movie, I have been motivated and now I can do exercises with more intensity. Great movie!!!!

  • Slz // Jul 29, 2008 at 8:03 PM

    haha, reminds of the time i went for muay thai training,
    morning: 5-6km jog/run
    light strecthing
    footwork, 15 mins skiprope, pad punches and kicks

    evening:200 punches, 200 kicks
    200 crunches, 200 pushups and above
    2×500 sprints, uphill and downhill.
    light stretching

    result: loss of 10kgs, more muscle definition, improved heart and stamina rate

  • rick // Nov 13, 2008 at 6:04 AM

    although they worked hard and got in good shape alote of there body defanation is with the help of computer and visual effects.

  • rio // Feb 12, 2009 at 8:48 PM

    Cool movie, always wondered if the bodies were hard or handed?

  • otm // Mar 5, 2009 at 11:59 PM

    Compound exercise with freeweights baby. Everything else is bullsh$t. (the internet makes me opinionated for some reason.) All these fancy gyms are such a joke. Go home and deadlift something heavy once or twice a week. Play some fun sports to get your heart rate up.
    Gyms are such a joke for the average person. While a real bodybuilder might need all that equipment, a normal person only needs a few compound exercises.
    Nothing’s more ridiculous than watching some out of shape old lady spending a half hour isolating her biceps on a big fancy machine. You could not pick a better way to make someone hate exercise than this.

  • ASD // Mar 21, 2009 at 2:26 PM

    Why they are half naked ?Why they are not like Roman Warriors ?

  • Robert Troch // May 12, 2009 at 1:53 AM

    While this kind of workout is a great test it should not be confused with doing it as a regular workout. Training is cumulative and the accumulation of many workouts will allow a person to eventually do this kind of “benchmark” session.

    I would also question something like 50 deadlifts in the middle of that kind of workout. Not saying there aren’t people who could accomplish it, because I know that wise, progressive training COULD make it possible. Just saying that there are some people who for whatever reason (biomechanical differences), old injuries, poor conditioning etc) probably shouldn’t and instead should substitute another exercise. Maybe deck squats? Anyway, compound, full body exercises are the best anyone can do. Time efficient, results oriented and just plain, flat out strength, stamina, flexibility and cardio makers!

  • Spartans-Heart // May 31, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    You want to get a body like that, just join the Marine Core. That’s what I did. I’m only a nineteen year old dude and I look just as good. You might be a little skinny after basic, but who’s to say that you can’t find time to hit the gym and bulk up. Plus you will develope displine and begin to love pain and exercise. You only get one shot in this life, you might as well give it your all. Only then will you know what it truly feels like to be alive.

  • lucas // Aug 15, 2009 at 6:57 AM

    The “300” workout is based off of a fitness program called Crossfit. Its a pretty cool concept. I’ve been training traditionally (strength split with cardio separate,) for the last 5 years and just decided to make the switch to Crossfit. You can head over to the website to find everything (including diet) laid out for you. It seems like a pretty logical and revolutionary training regimen. If you are interested in getting in awesome shape (all around shape [the website will explain more]) give it a look.

  • Cam // Nov 15, 2009 at 6:23 PM

    I hate crossfit, looking from a kinesiological stand point it looks way better then it really is. time you hit your late 20’s early 30’s you’ll be visiting your near by physical therapist!!!! go pick up a exercise physiology book if you want to learn what works!!!!!!!

  • sharkzooka // Dec 14, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    To Spartans-Heart i’m in the marine corps also
    dont spell it wrong dumbass.

  • Grizzly // Jan 16, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    The guys had good bodies, no questions… however they also had an effect done by make up artists called “shading” in this method they use shading effects (make up applied) to create more structure to the muscle or create muscle that is not always there. These guys obviously have muscle however the crevasses and grooves in the body are shaded to create more distinct size and definition, you can see it in the pic behind the scenes face on off gerard butler, again not taking anything away from these guys. good bodies but Hollywood always has some extra effects

  • TomGreenwald // Jan 25, 2010 at 5:33 AM

    I love this film and the training seems to be really hard core. Somebody already mentioned that the training routine for this film was based on CrossFit principles. I’m not a crossfiter myself but I have incorporated Steve Maxwell’s Spartan 300 workout in my own training schedule. It’s quite challenging and intensive, however there is no weight lifting – only bodyweight exercises. It’s perfect for someone who likes to work out at home.

  • Muhammad Umar Farooq // Aug 3, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    I am so like this movie and I am so love it it is so great and how wonderful. I like it so much for its hero mean ,Builder.I love ………..

  • John // Sep 15, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    My sister is a professional make up artist she has confirmed from the colour actor photos its make up Their abs are drawn on and the chest and bicep muslces have shadow lines. Also it is widely believed that the spartens like the roman gladiators would have been vegeterian with oats being their staple diet same as the gladiators which would make sense sins are packed with protein and very good for you.

  • Aditya // Oct 1, 2010 at 3:40 AM

    haha look Gerard butler looks like Osama bin laden

  • Martin // Oct 1, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    John, i would like to disagree with your statement about their diet… in actuality, stories tell that spartan cooks were forbidden from cooking anything but meat. Here’s a link that i believe you might find useful if you are really so interested in ancient greece and sparta in particular:

  • John // Jan 21, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Hey Martin Cheers for the link i will defo have a look. Too bad about the makeup, the black and white images are aces though.

  • Trudy the Diet Tea Gal // Feb 10, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    Okay so the spartan diet goes something like this – It’s called black broth and it consists of fine delicacies such as pig blood, vinegar, and salt. The movie shows off a lot of masculine abs but the spartans problably had their abs covered in battle since it’s one of the most vulnerable parts of the body.
    This post made me want to check out the movie again though!

  • wkendwarrior.jin // Feb 19, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Nice article.

    I, myself do a 300 overall rep workout with a kettlebell, as a supplement for my BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) training. Great overall workout which carries over to your chosen sport.

  • Oliver // Feb 24, 2011 at 4:21 AM

    Oh great. A hord of crossfit spammers. No this isn’t your program, like your program, or inspired by it and no, Greeks weren’t on paleo diets, we’re not talking 100.000BC here. Not one single exercise here resembles what you do, unless you invented deadlifts or pull ups. The only thing this has in common is short rest periods. You guys use cheat form on every exercise, and every session is totally random, there’s no program at all. You are never going to get very strong emphasising quantity over quality of exercises. No one that only does crossfit looks anything like the 300 guys, or even halfway strong. You’re just training fitness endurance, not strength and the proof is what folks look like and how advanced a beginner to the mantra needs to be. You guys overemphasise training the ability to exercise at random, and this totally neglects training actual strength which needs a focussed program not chaos, and good form not swings and whatever-works-momentum. Only good thing is the diet plan, but it is a little off on fat, which even with extra “blocks”, isn’t enough. I would only consider the work out as an alternative to cardio on a treadmill, never a work out in itself for strength. Anyone who uses the word “toned” in a sentence that’s not chastising its usage should be shot.

  • Jules // Mar 31, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    I wish the cross fitters (AndyP)would stop moaning about how Mark Twight stole your system. MT in interviews acknowledges and credits CF. He also states that from a performance point of view he felt overtime it degraded his sport specific performance. So he refined and a developed a system to suit performance goals. I am 42 and we performed circuits at school which involved bodyweight exercises, weights and gymnastic style moves, so you can’t say CF invented this form of exercise . By the way I have no affiliation to Gym Jones or Mark Twight these are purely personal comments.

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