Yesterday I did a 300 workout. Remember the movie, 300? The one full of buff, shirtless Spartans in leather undies, waving swords around and showing off their gleaming bronzed flesh? Nah, I never saw it either... but ever since it was released back in 2007, the training regime that got the actors into tip-top physical condition for their roles has been very popular.
It's a very simple (note: I said simple, not easy) resistance training program, where the basic idea is to do a total of 300 reps in your workout. The original program that the actors apparently followed can be found here and includes pull ups, box jumps and floor wipers, none of which I'm about to attempt with my various dodgy body parts. But that's OK, because you can do any combination of exercises you like, and break them down into however many sets it takes to get it done.
My task was to perform six exercises, which had to include:
- One whole-body exercise, preferably using weights
- Two upper body exercises
- Two lower body exercises
- One abdominal exercise
AND to complete 50 reps of each in a total time of between 20 and 60 minutes.
The first one took a bit of thought. Things like burpee pushups were out, because of my stupid shoulder. Can't do a single pushup at the moment. Push-press? Nup. Can't do any overhead presses, or actually any push movements at all with my upper body. *sigh* Eventually, I came up with a solution: kettlebell swings! So this was my plan:
1. Kettlebell swings: 25/15/10
2. Dumbbell squat: 25/15/10
3. Inverted row: 25/15/10
4. Stiff-legged deadlift: 25/15/10
5. Triceps pushdown: 25/15/10
6. Plank with lateral "walk": 25/15/10
Ideally, I'd have put a chest and a back exercise in there, rather than back and triceps, but you have to work with what you've got and my anterior delts are pretty well cactus at the moment, so there's no chest anything in my repertoire right now. Except stretches - and even those are incredibly painful. I'm working on it, but it's slow...
The kettlebell swings were fine. Not easy, but fine. The squats? No problem, apart from burning quads and glutes. I ripped through my first two exercises pretty quickly and started to think I was going to be done in twenty minutes....
Then about five reps into my inverted rows, I started wondering what the HELL I was thinking? My upper body strength is way under par, thanks to a prolonged period of basically not being able to anything much at all. I persevered, although I had to break the 50 reps down into six sets to get through it. Sheesh. The deadlifts went OK, as I knew they would - I do those pretty regularly, after all. Triceps pushdowns? I'd tested out a couple of different weights: one was too easy, the next increment I thought might be a bit tough, but I settled on it anyway. Turns out, I was right and again, I had to break my reps down into six sets, with the last one being a measly three reps. Almost there. I was sweating, my heart was racing and my arms and shoulders were letting me know they were NOT happy.
I thought the plank walks would be no big deal. Um, I forgot to take into account my banged-up left elbow, which doesn't like any weight on it at all, and the painful burn on my right forearm. Yeah, that was a really smart choice of exercise... But once I start something, I refuse to quit, so I adjusted my arm position as best I could, gritted my teeth and just did it anyway. When I was finished, I realised I could have done them with my hands on the floor and arms extended. D'oh!
The whole thing ended up taking me 44 minutes, thanks to the longish rests and multiple sets on my upper body exercises, but I got through it.
My verdict? It was an awesome resistance training workout, and thanks to the high reps and reasonably rapid speed required, I'm betting it got my metabolism pumping and burned significant calories. Would I do it again? Absolutely - only I'd choose my exercises a bit more carefully, and I think I'll wait for this burn to heal before trying any kind of plank again.
I may even make this a weekly "thing".
Having looked up the movie on Wikipedia just now to get the link, I'm reminded that Gerard Butler stars in it. And I discovered that Dominic West (of The Wire and The Hour fame) and one of my all-time favourite Aussie actors, David Wenham, are also in it. I may just have to get hold of a copy and watch it. Purely for research purposes, of course. You know, to assess the actors' physiques and judge whether or not the training program really did the job. Nothing at all pervey about it....
Have you ever tried a 300 workout? How did you find it?