Texican Tattler links to an article on the fitness training undertaken by the actors in 300.
“To support fight preparation the training emphasized athleticism by combining compound movements, lifting, and throwing. Primitive tools – medicine balls, Kettlebells, rings – were used instead of machines. Each session was competitive, with a penalty-reward system tied to performance and results posted daily for all to see.”
Stands to reason that the 300 Spartans would use kettlebells. Primitive tools, I like that description. Sums the KB up perfectly- it's the AK-47 of the strength training world. Crude and 100% effective. Major kudos to director Zach Snyder too for partaking in the training-
Zack helped by charging the cannons himself, training with us 3-5 days a week. On those days cast and crew arrived in the gym at 8:30am to find Zack’s workout already posted on the whiteboard. Knowing he got up and had already earned his calories for the day spurred them to higher levels of effort. “Some of us wake up, others roll over ...”
And note too this telling statement-
"With fight choreography, you only have a certain amount of time for physical training because it sometimes doesn't mesh with the functional application. What Mark brought to the project was functional strength, not just sculpted biceps or ripped abs."
I used to do a lot of weight training- free weights and machines- and I saw much faster, better gains using kettlebells than I ever did with a bar bell. You don't need to worry about targeting individual muscles with a kettlebell- my biceps got a better work out (and got bigger) doing the KB routine than they ever did with preacher curls, cable curls or any other bicep specific gym workout.
In the end Vincent Regan shed 40 pounds in eight weeks, and took his deadlift from less than bodyweight (205) to more than double-bodyweight (355). He could pull 85% of 1RM blindfolded and recite Shakespeare in the midst of the toughest training session.
The basics work- if you want to develop functional strength like the 300 actors and stuntmen then grab a kettlebell (and maybe Enter The Kettlebell), or head on over to Dragon Door and check out Pavel's other work- Naked Warrior for body weight only exercises or Power to the People for old school weight lifting.
Finally here's the 300 workout, a final test for those involved in the training regime-
25x Pull-up +
50x Deadlift @ 135# +
50x Push-up +
50x Box Jump @ 24” box +
50x Floor Wiper @ 135# (one-count) +
50x KB Clean and Press @ 36# (KB must touch floor between reps) +
300 reps total