How Did They Work Out in Ancient Greece?

How Did They Work Out in Ancient Greece?

Physical fitness and sports played a significant role in ancient Greek society. The Greeks understood the importance of maintaining a healthy body and mind, and they believed that physical exercise was essential for achieving this balance. Let’s explore how the ancient Greeks worked out and how their exercise routines differed from what we do today.

The Importance of Physical Fitness

The ancient Greeks valued physical fitness as a means of improving both mental and physical well-being. They believed that a healthy body was necessary for a healthy mind, and vice versa. Physical fitness was not only seen as a way to maintain good health but also as a way to develop personal discipline, endurance, and character.

Athletics in Ancient Greece

Athletics held great significance in ancient Greek culture. The most famous athletic event was the Olympic Games, which were held every four years in Olympia. These games brought together athletes from all over Greece to compete in various disciplines such as running, wrestling, discus throwing, and chariot racing.


  • The ancient Greeks considered running to be one of the most fundamental forms of exercise.
  • They participated in various types of races, including sprinting and long-distance running.
  • Running tracks were constructed across Greece, with the most famous being the stadium at Olympia.


  • Wrestling was another popular sport among the ancient Greeks.
  • Athletes would engage in hand-to-hand combat with the goal of pinning their opponent to the ground.
  • Wrestling matches were intense and required strength, agility, and strategy.

Discus Throwing:

  • Discus throwing was a test of strength and technique.
  • Athletes would throw a heavy discus as far as possible, with the longest thrower being declared the winner.
  • This sport required both upper body strength and coordination.

Training Methods

Ancient Greek athletes followed rigorous training regimens to prepare for competitions. Their training methods included:


The ancient Greeks had dedicated gymnasiums where athletes trained under the guidance of experienced coaches. These gymnasiums were equipped with various exercise equipment, such as weights and jumping pits, to aid in training. The gymnasiums also served as social gathering places where intellectuals and philosophers would engage in discussions.


Athletes followed strict diets to maintain their physical fitness. They consumed high-protein foods such as meat, fish, and eggs to build muscle mass. Fruits, vegetables, and grains provided essential nutrients for overall health.

Massage and Bathing:

Ancient Greek athletes understood the importance of rest and recovery. They would receive regular massages to relax their muscles and promote healing. Bathing in hot springs or cold water was also believed to aid in recovery after intense workouts.

The Legacy of Ancient Greek Athletics

The ancient Greeks’ emphasis on physical fitness left a lasting impact on Western civilization. The concept of the Olympic Games has been revived in modern times, promoting athletic excellence on a global scale. Additionally, the Greek philosophy that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind continues to influence our understanding of the mind-body connection.

In conclusion, physical fitness was highly valued in ancient Greece, and the Greeks had various methods to stay fit. Running, wrestling, and discus throwing were popular sports, and athletes followed strict training regimens. The legacy of ancient Greek athletics can still be seen in our modern-day approach to fitness and sports.