Either way, it's the reason Butler enlisted the help of Mark Twight, a former world-class mountain climber who, based on personal experience, believes in training as if your life depends on it. In fact, Twight would argue that a good workout should make you feel almost queasy upon hearing what lies ahead. For example, to hasten Butler's mind-body transformation, he created what he calls the "300-rep Spartan workout." (Trust us, 100 reps is plenty hard.) (*2) It goes like this: Without resting between exercises, Butler performs 25 pullups, 50 deadlifts with 135 pounds, 50 pushups, 50 jumps on a 24-inch box, 50 floor wipers (*3), 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettle bell, and 25 more pullups. All this, in addition to utilizing other unconventional yet equally taxing training methods, such as tire flipping and gymnastics-style ring training. Sound like hell? It is. In fact, upon receiving his marching orders for a Spartan workout, one of Butler's costars told Twight, "It feels like you just killed my dog."
1. Never Say Die
It was history's staunchest goal-line stand: 300 Spartan warriors fending off a million-man Persian army in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC to save Greece, and perhaps even the seeds of democracy. Comic-book legend Frank Miller (Sin City) depicted the battle in a graphic novel, which hooked director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead). "This is an incredible story to begin with," says Butler, "but Frank took it and turned it into a brilliant book. And Zack turned it into this masterpiece."
2. Train For Victory
Start off by doing 100 reps using four to six different exercises, 10 to 25 reps per exercise. Build up from there until you can do 300 without rest. Feel free to swap in exercises such as jumping jacks, dumbbell curls, and Swiss-ball crunches, says Butler's current trainer, Manhattan-based Joe Dowdell, C.S.C.S.
3. Learn A New Move
"Lie on the floor holding a 135-pound bar straight overhead," says Twight. "Keeping his legs straight, Butler touches his feet to one plate, lowers them to the floor in the center, and then raises them up to touch the other plate." That's one repetition. Try it yourself, but with an empty bar first, raising your feet until they're about 8 inches away from the bar (since there's no weight plate to touch).
4. Recover Faster
To determine whether you're pushing too hard, begin measuring your heart rate upon waking. When your reading is three to five beats above normal, your ability to recover is compromised, says Bill Hartman, P.T., C.S.C.S. Downshift your training -- and try to sleep more -- until your heart rate returns to normal.
5. Stop Smoking
Rather than having lights flashed into your eyeballs to quit the lung darts, you should start wearing the nicotine patch 2 weeks before your quit date -- one study shows that this ups the success rate significantly. Wear the patch on your arm, rather than on your back or stomach, to improve absorption.
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