Ancient Greek Bodybuilding

Ancient Greek Culture

The Ancient Greeks perfected sculpting the male body. Many of the sports we play today were created by the Greeks. Just look at the Olympics, the greatest competition of physical fitness on the planet. Ancient Greek bodybuilding was the earliest form of competition for sport and not for war. These Athletes were chiseled to perfection and had extremely well defined muscles.

Ancient Greek Bodybuilding – Gymnasium

Even the name of the place we work out it an ancient Greek word, gymnasium. Gymnasium is where the Greeks would train, it meant naked place.

Where one had nothing but what the gods had given him, stripped of weapons and armor, he had to rely solely on the strength of his mind and body.

The Greek civilizations created the Olympics as a way to test their bodies against one and other. In fact, this is the first instance in history we see people training their bodies purely for sport and not for a larger purpose such as; combat or general survival purposes.


Ancient Greek Bodybuilding – Strength Training

The Greeks did not initially train their bodies for looks. Instead, the training was for purely athletic purposes. Evidence of Greek strength training can be found in ancient Greek mythology.

Ancient Greek Bodybuilding -Milo

For example, the story of Milo of Croton. Milo was an unbeatable wrestler (510 B.C.), as well as, a soldier.

Milo was said to have one six Olympic tournaments. Milo’s training would be considered a bit out dated, even more so than Rocky Balboas training in the Italian meat market.

Milo found a young calf and carried the calf on his back every day. As the calf grew it got heavier, as it got heavier, Milo got stronger.

This story may be fact or fiction, but that is beside the point. Here we see evidence of endurance training. We rarely see evidence that suggests increasing weight and training overtime in ancient cultures.

For example, the Spartans threw their young out into the wilderness; a sink or swim approach.


Ancient Greek Bodybuilding -Ancient Greek Diet

The Greeks also shifted their diets for body building purposes. While the Greeks did not have the scientific knowledge we have today, they still knew which foods they had to eat more of to get the desired effects while in the gym.

Most people would eat bread fish and vegetables, but ancient Greek bodybuilding would add more meat into their diet to raise the protein they would intake. Greek bodybuilders would also avoid bread before a competition and ate figs to build stamina.


Ancient Greek Bodybuilding -Ancient Spartan Exercises

The Spartans were particularly devoted to training their bodies. At the age of seven a boy would stand the tests of becoming a man and training for combat.

Since weight lifting machines did not exist, much of the training was through using body weight; pushups and pullups. However, some resistance training was used such as lifting and pushing heavy rocks and stones.

The popularity of the movie 300 has caused “The Spartan Workout” to become very popular. It is based of off exercises historians believe the Spartans used. “The Spartan Workout” does not involve any machines or technology the Spartans did not have available in their time.

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