Classical Greek art is full of seriously muscular dudes. Wildly curly hair, massive arms and shoulders, sweeping quads, and (literally) chiseled abs. Looking for the body of a Greek god? They wrote down the recipe (and the principles actually stand up to modern-day science).
Were the ancient Greeks actually all jacked? I’m no historian, but I can only assume that at least one or two of them were. The sculptures and statues have to be based on something, right? Regardless of the historical accuracy of their art, the ancient Greeks really did know a thing or two about physical fitness.
The Legend of Milo
The story of Milo is an ancient Greek tale about a wrestler named Milo of Croton who lived in the 6th century BC. According to the story, Milo started his strength training by carrying a calf to and from the market every day. As the calf grew, so did Milo's strength. Day by day, month by month, year by year, Milo grew bigger and stronger. The calf grew into a bull, and Milo grew into an Olympic wrestling champion.
This simple legend illustrates the basis of all strength training: Progressive Overload. In order to grow in strength and muscularity, one must overload the muscles in a progressive fashion. What is difficult today will be easy tomorrow, so the exercise will need to get more difficult over time. Like a growing calf, little by little, the challenge gets harder and you get stronger.
Some important things to note with progressive overload:
Here’s a quick look at some of the other factors that the Ancient Greeks addressed.
Lessons in Fitness from the Ancient Greeks
The ancient Greeks believed that physical fitness could be achieved through a combination of exercise, diet, and rest. They developed various forms of exercise, including gymnastics, running, and wrestling, and many events still included in the Olympic Games.
However, physical fitness was not just for athletes. It was seen as a fundamental aspect of citizenship and education, and young men were encouraged to participate in athletic training to build strength, discipline, and character.
The Greeks recognized the importance of rest and recovery in physical fitness, and incorporated rest periods into their training programs.
Additionally, they placed a great emphasis on proper nutrition, with athletes being advised to follow a diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
Can you build the body of a Greek God?
Absolutely. The recipe is simple: strength training with progressive overload, proper nutrition, adequate rest, and lots of time. Just like Milo, legends are made every day. Be the hero of your own story.
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