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How did the Spartans really train?

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posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 04:09 PM
OK, we all saw "300", and know the Spartan males lived pretty frugal lives, eating pork blood soup.

But many conflate body-building, or a type of athleticism with being "Spartan".
Although Greek cities had their athletes, it appears that for the general army, athleticism was frowned upon.
Much more important were qualities like overcoming hunger and cold.

So, if the Spartans weren't heaving muscle men, how did they train?

Anyone's guess, but it's intimated that they danced and wrestled a lot.
(Mostly very sober, drunkenness was associated with the "Helots", or slaves.)

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 04:28 PM
a reply to: halfoldman
Are you asking how the Spartan military trained? Its pretty available. Entry into Agoge education at 7, stressing discipline, endurance, self control. At 13 they entered
Crypeia education and training in subterfuge and assasination, practiced upon the Healot slave population.

By 20 they began full time as soldiers with constant training in the Phalynx, which was the backbone of infantry for the time and region.

It was constant, for 40, no time to brag with non important athletic events, when real life was there for perfecting. Truly a part of stoicism practiced in Sparta, which stressed self discipline and austerity.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 04:37 PM
a reply to: BlueJacket

Yip, also in my clip.

I more wanted to know exactly which exercise and how many reps.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 04:41 PM
Since growing "bigger" wasn't really their concern, what was it then?

There is actually a martial art called Pankration, which is supposedly partly based on the Spartans.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 04:47 PM

originally posted by: halfoldman
a reply to: BlueJacket

Yip, also in my clip.

I more wanted to know exactly which exercise and how many reps.

Haha sorry, I forgot to mention your link is I took a shot.

But I'll tell you what, I practiced on the rifle drill team in military academy and drilling was constant for a couple hours with 9.5lbs. Springfield 1908s...I assure you, we were well muscled.

In most martial arts swords weigh damn near 6.5 to 9lbs that I remember and youve never seen forearms so thick.

Spears, ash staves, Bronze spearheads, Heavy leather, wood, or bronze shields...practiced all day, every day, for 40 years?...

There were more "reps" with shield, sword and spear whilst marching cadence over 40 years than any body builder...

I suspect they were in insanely good physical shape.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 04:54 PM
a reply to: BlueJacket

Apparently the shield alone weighed 10 kilos.

And that shield had to be up all the time.

Dropping it was a social death sentence, since your shield protected the men around you.

And let me tell you that might not sound like much, but I dare most men today to hold up 10 kilos for 5 minutes.

So that tells me there was some weight training.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 05:19 PM
a reply to: halfoldman
Totally agree. Theres more than a few guys in a recruit platoon that cant hold their left arm out to their side for "dress left."

There are a number of Qi Gong postures (again, with no weight) and other Martial Art stances like the "Tree, or "horse stance" that require no reps, but will make you insanely powerful.

Being lean, flexible, strong with endurance is vastly superior to mass. Modern lifting as training, combined with excessive caloric intake doesnt bode for a 40 year career, just ask American football.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 05:21 PM
On the "Hoplon", or Spartan shield:

Known as a hoplon—from which is derived the name of its bearer, the hoplite—the shield was, together with the spear, the most important weapon of the Spartan warrior. Each shield was circular and convex, weighed more than 15 pounds, and measured three feet in diameter. Shields were specially made out of layers of wood that had been rounded off and glued together. The exterior was covered with a fine layer of bronze, whose surface, glinting in the sun and replicated across the formation, would present a daunting spectacle to an enemy. The Spartan hoplites organized themselves into a tight-packed phalanx that then relentlessly pushed forward behind this wall of bronze.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 05:33 PM
Although the infantry probably trained on a need to-do basis.
That is, once you could hold your shield up for a certain amount of time, there was no point going heavier and heavier.
That was then likely considered a waste of energy.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 06:00 PM
Well, they wouldn't be like well fed gladiators, since body fat acted like armor, protecting vitals, and wouldn't bleed out as easy.

Id say the Spartans were probably on the leaner side, with a training emphasizing on a lot natural strength an endurance to keep up a phalanx. They probably weren't very agile though unlike gladiators possibly, but were meant to hold their position for extended periods of time.
edit on 28-9-2020 by Specimen88 because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 06:07 PM
To get an idea of how muscular Spartans were, go check out real gladiator armor. At the Pompeii exhibit the shoulder armor they had on display was large enough for me to wear as a helmet. The average Spartan trained in a way that was similar to Roman gladiators. From my understanding from Classical History classes:
As a Spartan;
You wake up and go to the gym to train until failure. Training started by bare wrestling, weight training using physical resistance training (ie another human pushing or pulling to create the resistance), then weapon training.

You go and eat.

You go off and do your day to day business

through out the day you might go to the gym and repeat the morning routine again

later in the day you would eat another meal, then either hit the gym again for the same routine, or you would go and study at the temple or with a scholar

If you wanted to try this routine today:
Wake up and do a HIT styled full body exercise (about 30 minutes) Good HIT trianing for todays humans

Practice Martial Arts (about an hour)

Eat breakfast

Go about your day to day life

at the end of the day do another HIT session (I know it says once a week, but if you want a Spartan style life you'll end up doing this routine two to three times a week, and you will be doing two HIT sessions on each workout day)


A couple of things that are very important (important as in if you want to try this you will end up hurting yourself or ending up in the hospital if you don't pay attention)
Drink at least a gallon of water extra a day. it seems like a lot but it really isn't hard to do when separate that gallon over the course of a day
Get a full amount of sleep, without proper sleep you will get no benefit from doing any of this.
Eat enough calories through out the day to replace the calories your using through out the day.

I personally tried this routine when I got out of the service and gained a few pounds. I lost the weight and gained a crap load of muscle during the six months I was on this routine. The HIT routine was a little different back then, but this newer one is more accessible for most people. I ended up stopping after getting an unrelated injury, and just haven't gotten back into it. That was a couple of decades ago, but I still have that muscles I built up during that time.

So yeah go train like a Spartan for six months, you'll feel great, gain muscle mass, and end up being healthier for it. Oh and just like the Spartans men and women can do this routine too. My wife was doing this routine with me, but she stopped when she thought she was gaining too much muscle. It took ten years off her appearance.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 06:14 PM
a reply to: Guyfriday

Perhaps, but according to my OP clip, HIT (high intensity training, mainly cardio) wasn't their thing at all.
I mean not like I was there or anything - different arguments.
I mean HIT is definitely recommendable today with our sedentary lifestyles, but I think with an ancient Greek lifestyle alone (without military training) they were already quite fit and didn't need to do that. However, nowadays, if you want to be "Spartan", I would definitely include it.

In those times, they didn't make a point out of HIT.
Instead, I recall some clip I saw recently that mentioned rock climbing as part of their training.
edit on 28-9-2020 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 06:23 PM
a reply to: halfoldman

Rock climbing wasn't what the average Spartan... what I listed was what historians have learned about the daily routine of the normal Spartan citizen. If you want to know what their military did, well that's a historically gray area since we have little information on that. We have more data on what the average citizen did than their military. Let's face it though if you can't hang with their average citizen, then how do you think you'll compare to their military?

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 06:43 PM
a reply to: Guyfriday

Every male Spartan citizen (between the ages of 7-30) was conscripted into their army, and although I don't have a source right now, but I distinctly recall that rock climbing was part of their training.

Probably the other Greek city states too.
I mean you would have been pretty useless in that terrain if you couldn't go up a cliff, or navigate a bundle of rocks.

Speaking in historical context of course - I'm not saying they climbed Mount Everest or anything like that.
That would have been a waste of energy.
All those precious pork broth calories just to go mountaineering?
No, but they did train some form of "rock climbing".
edit on 28-9-2020 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 07:10 PM
We trained with wooden swords and shields. Basic boot camp to get ready for the games.

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 07:29 PM
All you need to get shredded like a Spartan is lots and lots of CGI.

They didn't wear armor because they were swole AF and could stop arrows and stuff.

They ate nothing but apples.


posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 07:45 PM

Those poor chaps, especially considering what apples must have looked like at the time.

Perhaps a fatally wounded King Leonides thought, "an apple a day keeps the Persians at bay", wasn't quite true.

The only words mama every spoke to me before the army took me, and she lied!
Women hey, never trust them ...
edit on 28-9-2020 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 07:50 PM
a reply to: halfoldman

These are APPLES!

edit on 9 28 2020 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 08:12 PM
Now I finally understand what inspired Steve Jobs ...

posted on Sep, 28 2020 @ 09:06 PM
a reply to: halfoldman

That would probably just be considered troop movements. You know march from here to there, then come back again. The movie "300" wasn't a very made movie, nor did it really follow historical information. You should do some research on the topic besides YouTube and poorly made movies.


Ancient Sparta is one of the most well-known cities in Classical Greece. The Spartan society was known for its highly-skilled warriors, elitist administrators, and its reverence for stoicism, people today still look to the Spartans as model citizens in an idealist ancient society.

Yet, as is often the case, many of the perceptions we have of classical Sparta are based on over-glorified and exaggerated stories. But it was still an important part of the ancient world that is worth studying and understanding.

Great historic information about Sparta in that site.


"At seven a Spartan boy was taken from his mother and raised in barracks, beneath the eyes of older boys," writes University of Virginia professor J.E. Lendon in his book "Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity" (Yale University Press, 2005). "Boys were whipped to inculcate respect (aidos) and obedience; they went ill clad to make them tough; and they were starved to make them resistant to hunger ..."

If they got too hungry, the boys were encouraged to try stealing (as a way of improving their stealth) but were punished if they got caught.

The Spartans trained rigorously and progressed through this training system until the age of 20 when they were allowed to join a communal mess and hence become a full citizen of the community. Each member of the mess was expected to provide a certain amount of foodstuffs and to keep training rigorously.

Girls, while not trained militarily, were expected to train physically. "Physical fitness was considered to be as important for females as it was for males, and girls took part in races and trials of strength," writes Sue Blundell in her book "Women in Ancient Greece" (Harvard University Press, 1995). This included running, wrestling, discus and javelin throwing. "They also learned how to manage horses; they drove carriages in processions and at the Hyacinthia, a festival of Apollo and Hyacinthus, they raced in two-horse chariots."

Spartan woman even competed in the Olympic games, at least in the chariot racing competition, according to ancient writers. In the fifth century B.C., a Spartan princess named Cynisca (also spelled Kyniska) became the first woman to win at the Olympic games.


Like all Greek societies Sparta was dominated by male citizens and the most powerful of those came from a select group of families. These were the landed aristocracy, and following reforms credited to Lycurgus in the 6th century BCE (or even earlier), citizens could not indulge in agricultural activities - this was the lot of the helots - but they had to devote themselves to athletic and military training and politics. Helots could not own property and so could not rise to become full-citizens, and this lack of social mobility would come back to haunt Sparta in later centuries. Reduced by constant wars in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, the Spartan hoplites (homoioi) became dangerously small in number (8,000 in 490 BCE to 700 in 371 BCE), so much so, that non-Spartiate soldiers had to be enlisted and their loyalty and interest in Sparta’s ambitions was questionable.

Women in Sparta had a better lot than in other Greek city-states. In Sparta they could own property which they often gained through dowries and inheritances. In fact, women became amongst the richest members of society, as their men were killed in the many wars, and eventually controlled 2/5th of Spartan land. In addition, Spartan women could also move around with reasonable freedom, they could enjoy athletics (done in the nude like men), and even drink wine. All of these freedoms would have been unacceptable in other Greek poleis.


In addition to foot races and wrestling, their sports included a particularly brutal contest in which two teams would try to drive each other off an island by pushing, kicking, biting and gouging their opponents, according to Kyle’s book.

To make life even tougher, Spartan boys were fed a meager diet. Xenophon, a philosopher and historian who lived from the late 400s to mid-300s B.C., noted that one purpose was to keep them slim, which Lycurgus, the founder of the Spartan system, believed would make them grow taller. But the boys’ hunger was also intended to embolden them to steal food from gardens and other places “in order to make the boys more resourceful in getting supplies, and better fighting men,” Xenophon wrote. But to make sure they learned cunning, boys who were caught stealing were whipped.


As soldiers, they lived in barracks with their fellow soldiers and they ate communal meals in mess halls called syssition. Since they were supposed to focus on military training and avoid distractions, they were not allowed to accumulate wealth or live luxuriously which included not wearing garments with expensive dyes or engaging in recreational activities. An example of this is given by Plutarch in describing a Spartan camp where they had no performers or dancing girls to entertain the troops. In their spare time, the soldiers would practice and hone their fighting skills. For the same reason, Spartan warriors were not allowed to marry until the age of thirty and had to live with their fellow soldiers. By the age of thirty, Spartan soldiers would be seasoned veterans. They were finally allowed to marry and assumed more responsibilities. They could not retire until the age of sixty.

There is much more to Sparta than just these bits though, and the non military citizen had a very interesting life as well. I hope that the links I provided help you understand the life of a standard Spartan was more then just fighting though. The fitness routine that they did I would expect no modern human to be able to do for a long time safely, but the routine I posted above in my other post, is a pretty good facsimile to what a modern person could do with great results.

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