The Spartacus workout was developed by Men’s Health Magazine to prepare actors Liam McIntyre and Andy Whitfield for the Starz series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand.” The workout would go on to become the most popular routine created by Men’s Health. The magazine gives credit to Rachel Cosgrove for designing the said workout.
McIntyre played the lead role of Spartacus in the series, a Thracian warrior who was forced in to slavery. He later became a gladiator who would free slaves and score victories over Roman generals in the battle field.
The workout is designed to be performed three days per week, allocating a day of rest in between sessions. For each exercise, you will need to do as many reps as you can in 40 seconds. Then give yourself just 20 seconds of rest.
There are three sets in this workout. Perform one set of each exercise in each succession. Once you are done with a set, rest for 60 seconds before you proceed to the next set.
The first set begins with the plank with left lift. To begin this exercise, put your hands firmly on the ground and the toes into the floor to stabilize your lower torso. Brace your abs, tighten the glutes, and maintain a straight body from head to toe.
Then raise your right leg, holding the said position for one second. Slowly lower it then raise the other leg. Continue alternating the legs.
After 40 seconds, give yourself 20 second of rest before proceeding to the next exercise which is the dumbbell chop. You will need a dumbbell that is challenging enough for you to perform at least 10 repetitions. Hold the dumbbell with a hand-over-hand grip, slightly above the right shoulder.
Your arms should be kept straight, while you bend your hips and pivot your feet. Then rotate your torso to the left, drawing your arms down and across the body. Move as if you are chopping wood. Once your hands reach the outside of the left knee, stop and switch the move to go back to the starting position.
After the brief rest, you will have to do the dumbbell lunge. Hold a pair of dumbbells, and stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with the left leg, and gradually lower your body until the left knee is twisted at 90 degrees, and the right knee nearly touching the floor.
Step back to the original position and repeat the move, but this time bending your right leg. Continue alternating legs.
Set two consists of three exercises—dumbbell single leg, straight-leg deadlift, dumbbell push press, and goblet squat.
To perform the first set, hold a pair of dumbbells using an overhand grip. The dumbbells should be kept at arm’s length and in front of your thighs. Stand with the left knees slightly bent, and the right foot off the ground.
Lower your torso until it is nearly parallel to the ground, while keeping your right leg in line with the torso. Pause then go back to the original position. Switch legs after 20 seconds.
Next up is the dumbbell push press. Begin by holding a pair of dumbbells while standing, with the palms facing each other. Dip the knees then push them up explosively, relying on your lower body power so that you can press the dumbbells overhead. Then lower the weights and repeat.
Then perform the goblet squat. Hold a dumbbell and stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Clasp one end of the dumbbell with both hands, holding it vertically in front of the chest and with your elbows pointing to the ground.
Push your hips back, then bend your knees and lower your body until the upper part of your thighs are parallel to the ground. Pause for a second or so then go back to the starting position. Your back should be naturally arched while you do this exercise.
The third set consists of three exercises—dumbbell alternating row, dumbbell side lunge and touch, and dumbbell deadlift.
For the first exercise, grab a pair of dumbbells and hold it at arm’s length, with your palms facing back. Bend at the hips and lower your torso until it is close to being parallel to the floor. Row the weight in your right hand without moving the torso, and raising the upper arm, bending the elbow, and pressing your shoulder blade towards the spine. Lower the dumbbell then repeat with the left arm.
In the dumbbell side lunge and touch, grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them next to your sides. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
Take a step with your left leg, then lower your body by pushing the hips backward even as you bend your left knee. Bend forward at the hips and touch the dumbbells to the ground. Step back to the original position then repeat this, this time with the right leg.
To perform the dumbbell deadlift, hold a dumbbell in each hand and at arm’s length while you stand and the feet shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering the dumbbells as far as you can.
Pause then push yourself back up. You can spread your feet to twice the shoulder width if you feel any discomfort.