Spartacus: Blood and Sand was an historical drama on cable channel Starz on Friday nights that featured the late Australian actor Andy Whitfield, along with Jai Courtney, Peter Mensah and Erin Cummings.
At first glance the series was very much in the style of 300, i.e. scantily clad men, with muscles oiled, wielding swords and generally putting their testosterone to good use with snarling, shouting, fighting and plenty more action on top of that.
As with the film 300, the lead characters were very well toned, with strong athletic muscle on show. Luckily we had the chance to take a peek at a behind the scenes training workout for the actors working on the series.
Andy Whitfield Spartacus Workout
The workouts to prepare for the role of Spartacus are very much gladiator inspired workouts, using bodyweight exercises and free weights. If you have ever done any martial arts training or been along to a Cross Fit class then you will be familiar with the sort of workouts that Andy Whitfield endured for the role.
Andy’s main tips for getting in shape are incredibly simple: “Train more and Eat Less”
These are the key elements to his workouts:
- Acrobatics – jumps, dives, rolls etc. to help compliment fight training
- Gymnastics – to learn to tumble
- Fighting techniques – specific weapons training plus martial arts exercises to condition and tone the fighting muscles
- Focus on compound exercises
This form of training is very intensive. Simply throwing your body around (in a controlled way!) requires a lot of energy and therefore helps to burn a lot of calories. It also works the whole body. Unlike weight training which moves muscles in a very linear way, acrobatics, gymnastics and fight training works the supporting muscles and improves functional strength. However, weight training still formed a vital part of the training.
Spartacus Weight Training Routine
The actors were sent to “Gladiator Boot Camp” 2 weeks before filming started to get them extra toned and ready for filming. Peter Mensah, who worked on 300 and also has extensive martial arts training, said that he did more training in preparation for Spartacus than he did in his competition days! They would train for four hours every morning.
- Bent Over Rows
- Press Ups with side planks
- Kettlebell Raises
- Pull Ups
- Bicep Curls
You can find instructions for these exercises on our article on Beginning Weight Training.
The Men’s Health Spartacus Workout
This video by Nat Jones shows the routine that was put together by Men’s Health. A list of the exercises is below the video. These are basic circuit training exercises with bodyweight, kettlebells and dumbbells.
- Goblet Squat – hold a weight (e.g. kettlebell) to your chest and deep squat
- Mountain Climbers – classic mountain climbers, palms on floor, arms straight, knees to chest.
- Single Arm Swing – Use uettlebell or dumbbell. Squat deep and power with the hips to swing the weight forwards and up.
- T-Push-up – You need square / hex shaped dumbbels. Hold them while performing a push up, then lift one above your body
- Split Jump – / Jump Squat From a lunge, jump up and switch legs in mid-air, land in lunge. Repeat
- Dumbbell Row – bend forward with straight back, using dumbbells, row to upper chest
- Side Lunge and Touch – Side lunge with dumbbells – place them on the floor at the end of each lunge
- Push-up Position Row – Push up with dumbbells, row one dumbbell after each push up. Do not twist.
- Dumbbell Lunge & Rotation – With weight held to mid-chest, lunge forward and twist toward the leading knee.
- Dumbbell Push Press – Start with weights at shoulder height, do a half squat and as your raise push the dumbbells up. The idea is that you use a heavier weight and use body momentum to power the weight upwards.
Spartacus Cardio Training Routine
Cardio is also essential, even with intensive bodyweight workouts and weight training. Improving your cardiovascular fitness allows you to work at a greater intensity. It also burns a lot of fat. Typical cardio drills should include:
- Rowing machine – also works upper body
- Shuttle Runs
- Medicine Ball throws
- Mountain Climbers
All of these also provide functional strength training as well.
Without a strict diet all the fitness training can quickly go to waste. Even with regular intensive workouts a poor diet can prevent significant fat loss and impair fitness progress. As muscle growth was a key goal their diets consisted of a lot of protein.
- The actors consumed 4 energy/protein shakes per day to help fuel and build muscle.
- Calories were reduced to help with fat loss
When following such an intensive fitness routine and diet you will obviously feel exhausted and hungry at times – this is when you have to be strongest to avoid sneaking in snacks!