Why Don’t We Train Like Spartans?

“He who sweats more in training, bleeds less in war” 

-Spartan Ethos

Spartans are some of the most bada** warriors of all time, with legendary fighting ability that has reached into mythology. From ancient texts we know they had some intense training regimens. So why don’t we train like them? They all had 6 packs right? 

Well let’s clarify how did the Spartans train? Reports of the battle of Thermopaly (the movie 300 was based on), states that the soldiers were performing gymnastics & stretching before the battle. Military documents articulated common training maneuvers that required fully geared hoplites sprinting across fields, going on extended marches and combat specific training. Calisthenics, endurance training, high intensity training, wrestling, strength training, combat drills are all tools that the military still uses. So in many ways we still do train like Spartans. 

Hoplites were also often equipped with heavy armor, sword, shield and pike, totaling 70 pounds. For many soldiers that was half their body weight. The weight is comparable to modern military and firefighting equipment.The overall demand on their bodies was tremendous from muscular to cardiovascular, if you are going to fight with that much strain and live your fitness needs to be dialed in. 

So if there are so many good things about Spartan training, why don’t we copy it? 

Well Jalen Hurts squats 500 pounds so why don’t all Eagles fans squat 500? Kidding, but purpose is important. What is your purpose in life? What is the purpose of training? 

  • Muscular imbalances-Even as recently as the middle ages we have found archaeological evidence that archers spines have a scoliotic curve to them, because the force and strength it takes to draw a bow thousands of times created muscular imbalances that shifted the spine. For spartans it wouldn’t be ridiculous to guess that if you carried a 30-40 pound bronze shield for a couple decades your back and shoulders might hurt all the dang time. 
  • Your not training to fight the Persians, your training to do the things you like (unless you are training to fight) 
  • After 2,500 years we have learned a thing or two about exercise and preventing injuries
  • Wrestling and combat training is awesome and fun, but has a higher likelihood of injury due to its intensity, which isn’t right for everyone or even most folks 
  • Longevity-Spartan warriors served for 40 years (20-60 years of age), not a whole lot of them made it to retirement. Folks live a lot longer now and as most military veterans and blue collar workers can tell you high intensity training/work for years and even decades can wreck your body. So options that promote strength, range of motion and stability might be better as you age. 

“The daughters of Sparta are never at home! They train with the men in wrestling matches” 

– Euripides

What can we take from the Spartans?  

  • Discipline and consistency over decades promotes mastery and performance
  • Comradery and community is important for physical health as well as mental
  • Full body movements and training help you perform on the battlefield and in life
  • Train for something outside the gym
  • Train like your life depends on it

Thank you for reading!

If you enjoyed this article please send it to someone else who might enjoy it, follow us on social media or send me an email to continue the conversation! 

[email protected]

Ian Smith

Owner, Lead Trainer Mountain Speed Strength & Fitness

Evergreen, CO


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