The above clip is an iconic moment in cinema, a stirring scene of loyalty and courage. This captivating demonstration of brotherhood speaks to a selflessness we all wished we possessed.
But what does it have to do with fitness?
Spend enough time in a gym, and you will find yourself bored with your cardio routine. Knocking out thirty minutes on a treadmill or an elliptical machine is a convenient way to burn calories, but these exercises turn monotonous in short order. To vary your cardiovascular work and to tone up while your heart races master than a horse-drawn chariot in a Roman Coliseum, we recommend the Spartacus Workout.
Adam Campbell and Rachel Cosgrove of Men’s Health developed this intense circuit routine for the actors in the 2010 remake of Spartacus. They were charged with turning actors into Adonises, and if you have seen the film, you’d have to agree they succeeded. There have been a few different incantations of the Spartacus Workout since the original, but this is the one we do. We are discussing trying the newer versions; check this blog for our experiences with those routines.
Here are some tips and expectations for people who have never done the Spartacus Workout.
If you have never tried the Spartacus Workout, we recommend easing into it. Go through the circuit once and see how you feel. Truth be told, this workout requires that you be in pretty good shape already. If you are heading to the gym for the first time in several months, performing this circuit three times will be asking a lot of your body.
Use light weights. You are doing each exercise for a minute, with the goal of doing as many reps as you can. You are shooting for volume, not weight. I made this mistake the first time I did the Spartacus Workout, and I quickly found myself switching to lighter dumbbells.
Don’t be afraid to modify the workout. This is sound advice for any routine, especially one as physically demanding as the Spartacus Workout. For example, instead of doing T-pushups, Liz does knee pushups. Neither of us felt we were getting much from the dumbbell side lunge and touch, so we replaced it with a minute of single leg straight leg deadlift, alternating legs each rep.
Give yourself plenty of time to rest between circuits. We take 2-3 minutes between circuits to drink water and let our heart rates drop back down to Earth. If you do not allow your body to recuperate, you may find yourself unable to finish the next circuit.
Expect your last circuit to be sloppy. We do the Spartacus Workout about once a week, and we still struggle during the third circuit. Your mountain climbers will be slower, you won’t catch as much air on your split jump, and your arms will shake like a frightened rabbit during your last round of dumbbell push press. Don’t quit. Exercise a warrior’s will and push through to the finish.
The Spartacus Workout is a superb switch-up to standard cardio training. After you finish all three circuits, you will feel strong and satisfied, super-human enough to stand and declare “I am Spartacus!”