The Spartacus workout is one of the most popular features in Men’s Health and at least once a year, the magazine scratches its readers’ gladiator-themed circuit training itch. We always look forward to the new Spartacus workouts because they deliver marathon intensity in 40-yard dash doses. You can burn a lot of calories and build a lot of muscle in very little time.
MH unveiled the latest version of this warrior’s routine in their January/February 2013 issue. We’ve sweat through the newest Spartacus workout in our gym a few times now, and here is the run down.
Unlike the previous Sparties, which move from exercise to exercise in normal circuit fashion, the newest incantation features triple sets. A triple set is a three move series that you repeat before moving to the next triple set. You perform each exercise for 40 seconds and rest for 20.
MH instructs you to rest one minute before each individual triple set, but to kick into a higher gear, we kept up the 40-20 ratio for each round of the trio of exercises and only rested before changing triple sets.
Without further ado and explanation, let’s answer the big question: What are the exercises?
Triple Set A: Plank with Single Leg Lift, Woodchopper, Alternating Lunges
Triple Set B: Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts, Push Press, Goblet Squat
Triple Set C:Alternating Dumbbell Row, Dumbbell Side Lunge, Dumbbell Deadlift
You actually lose an exercise here—all the previous Spartacai featured ten moves—but that loss comes with a psychic gain. No, you won’t be able to go all Miss Cleo and see the future, but after each exercise in this new Spartacus routine, the light at the end of the workout seems closer, and in terms of time it is.This workout will take you about 20 minutes, a full ten minutes less than the older versions of this MH staple.
If you are thinking, “Holy Spartacus, that’s a ton of legs,” then your reaction mirrors mine. Even if you use light dumbbells—I use 20s or 25s, Liz uses 10s or 15s—your legs will feel hollow at the end of the workout. Your quads will burn like you just biked up a mountain with a full-grown chimp on your back, and your glutes will feel like they are made of bricks. Not saying this is a bad thing, just something you need to be prepared for.
This workout is no picnic on your arms either. The combination of pushes and pulls will make you go noodle-y and wonder how 40 seconds can feel longer than Django Unchained. This is especially true if you sprinkle in some bicep-building add-ons. We piled on a pulse to the bottom of the goblet squat and a hammer curl to the top of the side lunge for a little upper-body pop.
The new Spartacus workout will test your muscles, but the intensity is underwhelming compared to its predecessors. It just doesn’t get your heart racing as quickly as the lung-burning Spartacus circuits that came before it. What this routine could use is a good jump squat or squat thrust to challenge your ticker to pump harder and faster. Add some to the beginning and end of the workout to push your heart rate into the Spartacus stratosphere we have come to expect.