Review: Men’s Health’s Spartacus 2.0

This workout is intensive, as fun as a workout can be, challenging, and unique. It will build your cardiovascular and muscle strength simultaneously. It's one of my favorite workouts I've ever done. Photo from menshealth.com

Last year, Men’s Health helped facilitate the creation of an intensive weight-cardio combo workout for the actors on Starz’s one-stop sex and fightin’ shop Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The show…good??…, but the Spartacus workout was awesome. The goal of the workout was to provide a full-body workout the actors could fit into their shooting schedules that would shred their abs and keep them toned.

The workout was 10 different, complex exercises that you completed in a circuit. Each exercise took one minute (reps weren’t the important unit of measurement)–you completed the circuit three times. While you never did an isolated abs exercise, each exercise worked your abs (via planks, twists, and stabilization). I used the workout quite a bit and thought it a good compliment to my triathlon training.

Rachel Cosgrove, a trainer in Santa Clarita, Calif., and Adam Campbell, a Men’s Health editor, worked together on the Spartacus workout, and this year, the duo released a follow up: Spartacus 2.0.  It’s definitely as good as the first, and I think I like it better.

Unlike the first Spartacus, this version has you complete a circuit of five, four times (40 seconds instead of one minute, and with a two-minute break between circuits 2 and 3 ). Then, you move on to a different circuit of five. Like the first workout, you’re going to feel an extensive burn in your shoulders from all the plank positions required. This version works your glutes and hamstrings more than the first version, however, which helped rate this higher for me. I also felt more out of breath, which is a testament to its complexity, as well as it brevity of breaks.

I’m having hard time putting into words why I like this particular version better than the first, but I do. It definitely has a lot to do with what I wrote above. But I think I like the tempo as well. Plus, you start a whole new set of exercises half way through, which keeps antsy people like myself interested throughout.

Cosgrove, along with Men's Health writer Adam Campbell (who wrote Men's Health's Big Book of Exercises, and also received a degree from my alma mater) created this workout. If someone who looks like this created this beast, and also says it "kicked her ass," then I'll trust this workout to help me achieve my supreme fitness goal. Photo from figureathlete.t-nation.com

I like this workout so much, I’ve decided to alter my current workout schedule to do this more often. When you’re done, you’re done. Your whole body has been targeted, your heart is thumping, and your lungs hurting. All this is good if you’re honestly attempting to get into shape.

It should be noted this workout won’t pack on pounds of muscle. It will definitely put on some, but it will create lean muscle and burn fat like a champ. So if you’re looking to add lots of strength and size, this workout isn’t for you. If you’re looking to sharpen the edges and add moderate strength and size, start this immediately.

Another negative (for some people) is this exercise doesn’t really do a lot for your biceps. I would say they are the least targeted muscle in this workout. Personally, this isn’t a problem. For whatever reason, my typically hard-to-add-muscle body does not have problems growing biceps. If I work them out too hard, I get self conscience that I look out of proportion. This is doubly true given my calves are probably my hardest muscle to grow.

One challenge of this workout is knowing what weight to use. I’ve done this a few times, and for me, 25 lbs dumbbells worked on all the weighted exercises, minus the Rotational Dumbbell Straight-Leg Deadlift, which I used a 10 lbs dumbbell.

This workout will challenge your core, balance and stamina, but will also cut up your fat. Give it a shot and stick with it.

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