The 300 Workout: Can You Handle It?

The training regimen that whipped actors of the movie 300 into fighting shape may be too much for most of us.

By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

At the start of the movie 300, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) bids farewell to his beautiful wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) as he heads out to lead the Battle of Thermopylae. In it, 300 Spartans fought to their death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army in 480 B.C.

In the movie scene, Butler is dressed for war, shirtless with a crimson cape flowing behind his broad, chiseled shoulders. As he looks into Gorgo's eyes, much of his sentiment unspoken, moviegoers are drawn into the dramatic, macho moment.

But anyone who has struggled to get fit or stay fit can be forgiven if they get a little distracted here, wondering as they look at Butler in those skimpy Spartan battle duds: How did he get those six-pack abs, that whittled waist, and those rock-hard thighs? Could I ever look that buff and toned?

The Secret's Out

The now not-so-secret training regimen, discussed all over the Internet in messages complete with how-to videos, is called the 300 workout. It's the brainchild of Mark Twight, a self-taught exercise guru and former world-class mountain climber who apparently still clings to the "no pain, no gain" mantra.

At Gym Jones, his invitation-only, no-frills gym in downtown Salt Lake City, where he says there's no air conditioning, no mirrors, and no place comfortable to sit, his mission was to whip the 300 actors and stuntmen into warrior-fighting shape, most of them in eight to 10 weeks. Butler trained for 12 weeks. Twight warns that his Spartan workout is not for the faint-hearted, nor the out-of-shape.