Updated: Sep 22
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Inspiration for this kettlebell session was taken from the original Spartan 300 Workout – which features in the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits Volume 2. The original workout was developed to sculpt the uber-muscled physiques of the actors that starred in the film 300 – a quasi-historical flick that attempted to chronicle the Battle of Thermopylae.
This kettlebell 300 workout remains faithful to the original. However, instead of using a barbell for the resistance stations this version includes more kettlebells (as you’d expect).
Bodyweight and cardio exercises have also been included. The variety of exercises and training methods ensure that all the major muscle groups and body systems are engaged.
While I can’t promise that the workout will transform you into a super-shredded Spartan warrior, I can assure you that it confers an impressive array of health and fitness benefits.
Related: The ultimate Competition Kettlebell >
Kettlebell 300 Workout benefits
You’ll notice that the session plan transitions through three distinct training phases – cardio, endurance, and strength. Each phase targets and thus develops a specific component of fitness. We’ll briefly review the respective health and fitness outcomes of each component.
Cardio kicks the workout into touch. Of the nine recognised components of fitness, cardio promotes some of the most important health and fitness outcomes. Daniel Liberman identifies aerobic exercise as the most effective method for burning fat, managing body weight, and beating obesity. These conditions are not to be taken lightly. According to a 2023 UK Government blog, ‘Obesity costs the NHS around £6.5 billion a year and is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer.’
But cardio can do a lot more than banish the blob. In an extensive overview of the various benefits associated with regular cardio training, Liberman peppers his panegyric with a plethora of highly advantageous physiological adaptations. These include:
Increasing the strength of the heart
Enhanced efficiency of the vascular system
More capacious chambers
Increased cardiac output
Reduced ‘viscosity so the heart can increase blood plasma’
There are loads more! (Benefits of cardiovascular training >)
Improved muscle endurance and strength
Concluding the cardio bout, it’s time to do battle with your body weight. Bodyweight movements emphasise muscle endurance – defined as the ability to exercise for protracted periods before succumbing to fatigue. Bodyweight movements also enhance ‘real-world’ physical functionality.
You know what’s coming next. That’s right, time to break out the big guns. The kettlebell has been enlisted to cultivate strength (and explosive power). An indispensable physical attribute, strength training promotes a staggering range of health and fitness outcomes.
For example, in a Harvard Health report, we are informed that ‘A recent meta-analysis found that people who do muscle-strength workouts are less likely to die prematurely than those who don’t.’ And that’s literally the cherry on top of the iced bun of benefits.
If you dig a little deeper, the author of the article goes on to say that other studies found that a mere 30 to 60 minutes of weekly strength training was enough to reduce cancer and heart disease risk by as much as 20%.
Don’t leave yet, there’s more.
Strength training slow ageing
A National Institute of Ageing (NIA) article cites contemporary research showing that strength training can slow age-related muscle loss (technically referred to as sarcopenia). This triggers a cascade of contributory benefits.
For example, maintaining muscular mass and strength into our advanced years can improve our quality of life. As the NIA article notes, ‘About 30% of adults over the age of 70 have trouble with walking, getting out of a chair, or climbing the stairs.’ These seemingly innocuous mobility limitations, the author goes on to say, make everyday tasks difficult while also increasing the risk of falls, chronic disease, the need for secondary care, and, ultimately, premature mortality.
Though age-related muscle decline cannot be prevented (there’s no way to ‘stop the clock’), ‘it’s possible for many older adults to increase muscle strength with exercise, which can help maintain mobility and independence into later life.’
Other benefits of strength
I recognise that I’m taking up a lot of your time here. But I simply can’t resist sharing these fascinating insights. Here are a few more benefits that are associated with strength training.
We’ve considered the physiological and epistemological benefits of building strength. Anita Bean, in her book The Complete Guide to Strength Training, brings our attention to some psychological positives. ‘Consistent strength training,’ Bean maintains, ‘helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.’ Furthermore, keeping consistent with your resistance workouts can ‘uplift your mood, and promote more restful sleep.’
Finally, pressing barbells, snatching dumbbells, and swinging kettlebells have also been shown to promote ‘neurogenesis’ (the process by which the brain ‘births’ new neurons). Recent studies have demonstrated that resistance training can result in morphological – or cytoarchitectonic – changes in certain brain regions. That is, pumping iron can increase neural density as well as muscle fibre density. But don’t worry, this won’t make your head heavier. However, researchers from the University of Sydney did discover that lifting weights can improve cognitive function as well as helping ‘protect brain areas [that are] especially vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease.'
Taken as a whole, this Kettlebell 300 Workout packs a powerful health and fitness punch. All that’s left now is to find out how it works and give it a whirl.
How to do this kettlebell 300 workout
Legend has it that Spartans prepared for battle by platting their hair and lathering themselves in olive oil. They would also play the pipes, sing, dance, and frolic. To avoid a slip hazard (gripping your kettlebell with greasy hands would be nigh on impossible), you’re going to prepare for this physical fistfight with a 10-minute progressive-intensity warm-up.
A warm-up of an appropriate nature, the authors of the NSCA’s Guide to Strength Training tell us, is ‘especially important before high-intensity workouts.’ ‘It is dangerous practice to exercise the muscle at or near its maximum intensity without first preparing it physiologically.’ As well as reducing injury risk, a warm-up ‘also improves a muscle’s ability to produce’ which helps to enhance performance, (NSCA’s Strength & Conditioning Training).
Once warm and ready, but not before organising your equipment (a skipping rope and a pair of kettlebells), proceed to ascend the list of ten exercises. Though kettlebells make up less than a third of the stations, you will inevitably spend the majority of your time on them. It takes a lot longer to complete 30 kettlebell cleans than it does 30 double-unders.
The objective of the workout is clear cut: progress down the list of exercises in the shortest time possible. Stop the clock the moment you have polished off the final set of 30 double-unders. Record your time before taking a two-minute break. Either repeat or hit the showers.
Kettlebell 300 workout key points
Conduct a full-body, progressive-intensity warm-up for 10 minutes before tackling the exercises.
There are three levels to choose between: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
The objective of the workout is to get through the 300 reps in the shortest time possible.
Record your time before resting up for the next round.
Complete as many rounds as you have time for.
1 min mobility exercises → 1 min jogging on the spot → 3 air squats and 3 press-ups → 1 min skipping → 3 press-ups and 3 burpees → 1 min skipping → 3 burpees and 3 kettlebell swings → 1 min skipping → 3 kettlebell swings and 3 cleans → 1 min skipping → 3 cleans and 3 jerks → go Spartan!
Kettlebell 300 workout hints and tips
This workout is nothing short of war. When attacking the 300 reps, you should do so at near-maximal intensity. But training that hard alone requires Teflon-coated self-discipline. It’s just too tempting to take our foot off the peddle when no one’s looking.
A simple way to squeeze more juice out of your physiological systems is to recruit a couple of compadres to compete against for fitness fame and glory. The power of competition was identified by researchers over 100 years ago. In 1898, a small team of social psychologists reported that ‘cyclists had much better times when they competed against another cyclist than when they merely competed against the clock,’ (Mindwear: Tools For Smart Thinking).
There’s a level for beginners, intermediates, and advanced trainers. But what if you’re a proper rock-solid Spartan? Where’s the level for awesome? Well, if you identify yourself as a Spartan, you can complete all three levels in succession. That’s right: level awesome is all the other levels combined. Enjoy.
If you’re contemplating skipping this workout because you can skip, don’t! Look, a simple modification will make it accessible to you. There’s absolutely no shame in substituting an exercise that, for whatever reason, you cannot do. (And after you've mastered skipping with this Guide to Jumping Rope Like a Pro, you can come back and have a go at the original workout.)
In the meantime, swap skipping for either 300 metres of rowing or running. Actually, this alteration will make the workout harder because 300 metres of the aforementioned exercises is considerably harder than 30 double-unders. Of course, I stipulated 300m as it keeps within the theme of the workout – and there’s barely any point getting out of bed for 30 metres of rowing or running.
Enjoyed this workout
Get your hands on 80 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 3.
About Adam Priest –
A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strength training benefits: Harvard T.H. Chan online article entitled Evidence mounts on the benefits of strength training. The author writes 'A recent meta-analysis found that people who do muscle-strengthening workouts are less likely to die prematurely than those who don’t, adding to previous evidence that strength training has long-term health benefits.'
The article goes on to say that the 'study found that just 30 to 60 minutes a week of strength training may be enough. Those who worked out for this duration had a 10% to 20% lower risk of dying during the study period from all causes, and from cancer and heart disease specifically, compared to those who did no strength training.'
National Institute of Ageing (NIA) article: How can strength training build healthier bodies as we age? Not to air any personal opinions or gripes, but it’s rare to find such a comprehensive and useful resource as this one by the good people at NIA. In addition to being hugely informative, the article is literally peppered with research studies.
The content could be summed simply thus: our bodies decline as we age. This puts us at risk of immobility, physical impairment, and premature mortality. That’s a fact of life. But old age doesn’t have to be quite so miserable. The risk factors outlined can be significantly reduced by remaining physically active and engaging in regular exercise.
University of Sydney blog post: Strength training can help protect the brain from degeneration. The citation used above was lifted from the following passage: ‘Researchers have found that six months of strength training (lifting weights) can help protect brain areas especially vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease up to one year later.’ The research team conducted a range of clinical trials for people at risk of developing Alzheimer's. The participants were exhibiting mild cognitive impairment – a possible precursor of Alzheimer’s and, eventually, dementia. (‘Mild cognitive impairment,’ the author notes, ‘involves a decline in memory and other thinking skills despite generally intact daily living skills, and is one of strongest risk factors for dementia.’)
We are told that people experiencing cognitive impairment, even if it is mild, ‘are at a one-in-10 risk of developing dementia within a year.’ The study participants were randomly assigned different tasks – such as brain training and strength training activities. They participated in the tasks for one year. Concluding the study, researchers ‘found that strength training led to overall benefits to cognitive performance, benefits linked to protection from degeneration in specific subregions of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a complex structure in the brain with a major role in learning and memory.’
Start getting both physically and mentally stronger with this Strength Training Program >