January 18, 2016
Ever heard of the ancient Spartan Agoge?
If you haven't heard of it, and you have a deep-rooted desire to become the strongest physical and mental version of yourself that you can possibly be, then I'd highly recommend that you keep reading.
The Agoge was the rigorous education and training regimen mandated for all male Spartan citizens (except the firstborn son of ruling houses). The training involved learning stealth, extreme loyalty, military and combat training, pain tolerance training, hunting skills, survival training and social communication preparation.
The aim of the system was to produce hardcore physically, mentally and morally strong males capable to serve in the Spartan army. Because Sparta was the only Greek city with no defensive walls, these men would become the “walls of Sparta”.
The Agoge was legendary and prestigious throughout the Greek world, and many aristocratic families from other cities vied to send their sons to Sparta to participate in the Agoge. The Spartans were extremely selective in which young men they would permit to enroll, and such honors were usually awarded to the honored citizens of Sparta in other cities and to just a few other families of supreme ancestry and importance.
In other words, the Spartans wanted to produce the strongest and most mentally tough citizens on earth, and to do this, they used the Agoge, a system of training that became the envy of the known world.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because now you too can become one of the strongest and most mentally tough citizens on earth. The biggest, baddest, toughest, most mentally resilient, loyal, moral, competitive and extreme version of you.
Sound like a worthy goal? Sound like something you'd like to slap on your resume? Sounds like something that will make you feel unstoppable, bulletproof and capable of handling anything life throws at you?
Then keep reading.
The New Spartan Agoge
The ancient Spartans may be long gone, but a modern version of their Agoge is back.
The new Spartan Agoge, which was recently announced by the Spartan Race organization, will be held in Pittsfield, Vermont, on the famous “farm” of Spartan founder Joe DeSena, twice a year, once in summer and once in winter – and the first ever Agoge begins this February.
Here's just a taste of what to expect:
To complete the Agoge, you must commit to a 60-hour Agoge when you register, with an option to complete your training at 24- and 48-hour marks (just in case 60 hours turns out to be too big of a bite for you to chew). If you make it 24 hours, you will have completed “The Agoge 24,” and if you make it 48 hours, you will be credited with “The Agoge 48.” If you complete the Spartan Agoge in its entirety, you officially achieve “The Agoge 60.”
In the future, the Spartan will host the Agoge in historic locations across the globe and even feature longer durations for those who have already achieved the Agoge 60.
To complete the Spartan Agoge, you must overcome mental and physical obstacles that aim to develop your body, mind and spirit. Want some nitty-gritty details on what to expect? Then go listen to the Obstacle Dominator Episode 48 and Episode 50, a free two-part audio series on the Spartan Agoge.
I must emphasize that this event is not the equivalent of finally “getting your butt off the couch” to lose a few pounds. Instead, you will need to undertake months of learning, training and self-discovery to earn what will become a coveted achievement (and I've got a bunch more tips for you in just a moment – tips that will help you accelerate the process of getting ready for this thing).
To gain entry, you must apply, submit a list of references, and have successfully completed a considerable number of endurance and intellectual challenges. For example, you could have developed perseverance, camaraderie, and leadership training through the military, or by completing a good handful of difficult Spartan Races or other obstacle races, some tough Ironman triathlons, the famous Navy SEAL Kokoro camp, or anything else that really makes your bad-ass-ed-ness resume pop.
Is that even worth the trouble?
I'd say so. After all, finishers of the Agoge become innovative thinkers, prudent risk-takers, and expert decision-makers. They will embody the Spartan Code, a code of honor and respect that breeds trust and inspires action. Most importantly, they become masters of themselves. That sounds like a pretty good crowd to be a part of, and it means this isn't just a masochistic sufferfest. Instead, the promise is that you will emerge with a whole new skillset of survival that will make you one of the toughest people on the face of the planet.
Oh, and that's not all.
If you actually manage to pull off the Agoge, you become eligible to get the coveted Spartan Delta.
The Spartan Delta
And what exactly is the Spartan Delta?
Here's a video that sums it up:
In short, the Delta itself promises to be one of the most coveted and beautiful trophies in the world, and a sign to yourself and the rest of the world that you possess everything it takes to take on any challenge, period. Once you've gotten the Agoge out of the way (or saved the Agoge for later), the Delta basically involves building an unbreakable body, an unshakable mind, and a spirit forged in steel by completing the following:
-A Spartan TriFecta (Sprint, Super, and Beast spartan race)
-An Endurance TriFecta (Spartan Regular Hurricane Heat, Spartan 12 Hour Hurricane Heat, and Spartan Ultra Beast) e).
-A Spartan Training TriFecta (an SGX Spartan Coaching Class, Spartan X Online Course Completion, and, of course, the Agoge you just read about).
If half the phrases above sound like gobbledygook and you're not familiar with Spartan racing terms, you can click here to go delve into what each of the above components is.
But, in a nutshell, anybody who completes the Delta sets themselves apart in the endurance athlete, grit, military, obstacle racing, confidence, and mental toughness community. You become a leader, a model, a teacher, and a master of yourself.
How To Prepare For The Spartan Agoge
Alright, let's just say, theoretically, that you haven't yet shrunk away from your computer screen to go hunt down a kale shake and a yoga class.
Let's just say this thing intrigues you.
Let's just say that you, like me, can't turn down a chance to live life the fullest and see what your body and brain are truly capable of.
If that were the case, and you're still reading, how would I propose you prepare for a challenge like this? In three steps that look, read and sound far, far easier than may appear, here are my recommendations:
Step 1: Review the best mental strength podcasts and articles I have produced. Here are the ones I recommend:
–Look, Feel and Perform Like An Ancient Spartan Warrior – How To Become An Absolute Physical Beast
–26 Mile Night Hikes, Surf Swim Torture, 450 Pound Giant Logs And More: What To Expect at SEALFit Kokoro Camp And 9 Ways To Get More Tough.
–The Iceman Returns: Wim Hof On Climbing Frigid Mountains In Underwear, Eating Only Once A Day, Activating Hormones With Breathing & More.
–Secrets Of The Navy Seals: How To Train, Eat & Think Like The World’s Toughest Fighters
–How Breath-Holding, Blood-Doping, Shark-Chasing, Free-Diving & Ketosis Can Activate Your Body’s Most Primal Reflex.
Step 2: Get the ultimate combination of strength, grit and endurance by reviewing the following resources:
–Train Like The Lone Survivor – 3 Books That Will Turn You Into A Beast.
–A Legendary Strength Coach’s Secrets to Build Mass Fast Without Destroying Your Body.
–How Underground Russian Techniques From Old Soviet Training Journals Can Turn You Into An Endurance Beast.
–Top 10 Tips To Race A Spartan Beast.
-Step 3: Make your body bulletproof to injury and overtraining by reviewing the following resources:
–Regularly do the Foam Roller Mobility Routine I describe in 5 Little-Known Ways To Biohack Your Workouts, Enhance Your Exercise Productivity & Maximize Your Fitness.
–Regularly do heat acclimation workouts like this.
-How To Turn Your Workspace Into A Calorie Decimating Standing Desk or Treadmill Workstation.
–26 Top Ways To Recover From Workouts and Injuries with Lightning Speed
–25 Ways To Know With Laser-Like Accuracy If Your Body Is Truly Recovered And Ready To Train
To put the icing on the cake, you may want to add the brand new, fully updated version of my 450 page book Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life (New, Updated Edition) to your library. And actually read it (or listen to it while you're training).
Let's face it: if you really, truly want to show up for the Spartan Agoge or complete the Spartan Delta, there is absolutely nothing that is going to replace getting out there and kicking your own ass with gritty, bonified, physically and mentally difficult workouts. So you can't just sit at your computer and listen to, read or watch the resources above. Instead, review them, avoid getting sucked down other rabbit holes or distracted by shiny internet pennies, and start practicing and implementing what you learn. I'm serious: I know my own material and I've narrowed down the best of the best for you, so you don't have to waste time hunting down other stuff.
Well, I don't know about you, but I'm certainly in.
I've got my plane tickets to Vermont and you'll see me at the Winter Agoge.
I'll also be completing the full Spartan Delta.
And here are a few final resources for you to take a deeper dive, or to put your money where your mind is and register.
–Click here to learn more about Spartan's 2016 “Year Of Resilience”
–Click here for the official Spartan Delta information and sign-up page
–Click here for the official Agoge general information page/schedule
–Click here for the official February “Winter Agoge” page
–Click here for the official June “Summer Agoge” page
So, what do you think? Do you think you could handle the Agoge? The full Delta? Do you have more training or other questions for me? Leave your questions, comments and feedback below.
13 thoughts on “Do You Have What It Takes To Be One Of The Strongest & Most Mentally Tough Citizens On Earth?”
Do you truly think this even remotely compares to a Spartan Agoge? Clicking these links, I don’t see anything remotely dealing with starving people, forcing them to sleep nude in extremely cold temperatures, provoking violent fights, etc.
Please find another term to use. The Agoge was honorable. This is not.
Former SEAL and Historian
I have read Spartan Warfare techniques, their agoge, from what part of the Sparta agoge do you mimic?
I’d recommend you click on the links to the Spartan Agoge in the post above and read their description of it. The goal is to cover most aspects of the traditional Spartan Agoge.
Ben, I wish I could find out more about the Spartan X Online Course before I spend $199. Can you give more info? Thanks.
It is a full curriculum designed to teach you life skills. I highly recommend it.
Ben, is there a specific motivation behind choosing the winter session versus the summer session? Love the podcast, great work!
Basically how it fit in my schedule!
Ben, I thought you said after the world championship obstacle race that you were dialing it back from this sort of stuff. Just had to scratch the itch?
I am dialing back on the combination of volume and intensity, which is clearly been shown to be bad for your heart. However things like hurricane heats and this agoge are more mental tests of grit and resilience than very long efforts at redlined heart rate. In addition, they have a purpose in terms of life skills, and they aren’t just purposeless wandering around a race course for ungodly periods of time. Make sense?
I have been doing a lot of research to find out what the Spartan agoge is all about. Would you say that the Ultra Beast is the most toughest when it comes to pure physical effort and that the agoge is more about mental toughness?
Please answer by e-mail, thank you.
Yes, I'd say you have gauged it correctly. Agoge is more mental, although still a pretty big physical component…
Ben, if we got your book on Kindle, will it update automatically or do we need to repurchase it?
Hmm not sure but I’ll find out. Should be automatic…