The new series of Spartacus is coming soon. It is called War of the Damned and features Gannicus, who first appeared in Gods of the Arena. Gannicus is played by Dustin Clare. Like Andy Whitfield, who famously played Spartacus in the first series, Dustin Clare is an Australian.
Dustin was born on 2nd January 1982 and studied acting at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Perth and graduated in 2004. His first major role was in McLeod’s Daughters, in which he appeared in 48 episodes between 2006 and 2007. For this he won a Logie Award (Australian television industry awards) for the Most Popular New Male Talent. His first globally recognised acting role was as Gannicus. But enough about his career, how did he get in such great shape for Gods of the Arena?
Weight Training 3 Times Per Week
Dustin Clare is 5′ 8″ tall and weighed around 163 lbs when he first played Gannicus. He was already in good shape according to Allan Poppleton, the stunt fight choreographer for the Spartacus series. This was simply from regular weight training and cardio workouts. Dustin generally does 3 weight training sessions each week and he also enjoys swimming and surfing, which provide him with all the cardio he really needs to stay in relatively good shape.
Dustin Clare worked out in pretty much the same way as his predecessor, the late Andy Whitfield. They both have a similar physique, with a well toned upper body and signs of a 6-pack, but with a thin layer of fat. Like Andy, Dustin is not “ripped”, but he is in excellent shape. He has a slightly more powerful back and a better developed chest.
Four Week Boot Camp
To get in real fighting shape he just needed to increase intensity a little and strip off some extra fat, and for this he did the 4week boot camp that Poppleton devised for the original series. Boot camp covers a combination of fight training, weapons training, circuit training routines, cardio, plus a lot of weight lifting. Training starts at 8am and finishes around 1pm, just in time for lunch and some rest – or some light cardio.
Poppleton told Mens Fitness magazine that to ensure that Dustin revealed his abs, he had to do a lot of cardio. He had the strength to cope with the weight training well, and the muscular endurance for the weapons training, but the sticking point was excess fat. For this, cardio really does work best – when it is combined with resistance training.
Circle of Death – 4 Hours a Day
Every day Dustin would be guided through 4 hours of intensive workouts, which usually consisted of a 30-40 minute session followed by a short break of around 5 minutes. The Circle of Death refers to the warmup (a workout in itself) where the whole team throw medicine balls and heavy sandbags to each other. This gets the blood flowing and thoroughly warms up the arms, shoulders and back, ready for some serious training.
MMA Inspired Fitness Circuits
MMA training has inspired the workouts that Poppleton arranges for the cast. There is a lot of work on building muscular endurance and power by using exercise tools such as sled pulls, shaking ropes, kettlebell swings, sledgehammer strikes and tractor-tire flips. It’s all about moving a lot of weight many times. More movement equals more work. These MMA circuits, which are actually very similar at times to CrossFit circuits, last for about half an hour at a time, sometimes a little more.
Staying in Shape
His own personal training regime plus boot camp got him in shape for the start of his role as Gannicus. After this he just had to maintain his body, and to do this he performed weight training once a week and then the rest of the time performed circuits with kettlebells, ropes, sandbags and a Swiss ball.
Diet and Nutrition
Dustin had to cut out a lot of high GI food from his diet and eat more lean meats, fruits and vegetables – so a low GI diet was consumed, most of the time. Dustin had an advantage in that all his meals were prepared by his personal trainer, and temptations were not in sight.
The key to success is consistency. The actors would have to follow their strict diets the entire time that they are in filming, and this means over 6 months of careful eating.
“We follow very strict diets during the six or seven months that we’re filming” – Dustin Ckare speaking to Steve Eramo.
So, if you want to look like a gladiator, you need to work out a lot. Dustin and his co-stars would go through 5 hours of fitness training a day for 3 weeks. A relatively short period of very intensive exercise really can lead to some remarkable changes. The hardest part is sticking to the plan – always easier when you have a personal trainer telling you what to do, and a financial incentive.
Further Information and Resources
MF Guy: Dustin Clare – The Australian Spartacus star tells us how he built a gladiator body – Mens Fitness (Accessed 20/12/12)
Dustin Clare Returns as Gannicus in Spartacus: Vengeance by Steve Eramo – The Morton Report
Dustin Clare Makes His Mark In The Arena – WAAPA News (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts ezine)
Starz.com Spartacus pages - includes videos, photos, trailers, and Battle for Nuceria, a game with exclusive video content.