How did ancient athletes prepare for the Olympics?

Unlike today, there was no prize for coming second in the Ancient Greek Olympics.

How did ancient athletes prepare for the Olympics? © Wikimedia Commons

Winning was everything, so athletes went to great efforts to achieve success, starting with arriving a month before the games so they could train and check out the opposition.


They not only had to master their own moves, but make sure they stay on the right side of the officials. Referees at ancient Olympic wrestling could whip competitors to make them stop an illegal move.

Housed away from society, much like a modern Olympic Village, Greek sportsmen were subjected to a punishing exercise regime in order to be at the peak of both physical fitness and beauty – they wanted to look good if they were going to compete naked.

Diets were strictly controlled and competitors were expected to abstain from any pleasures, such as sex, which may physically weaken them.


This content was first published in the April 2016 issue of History Revealed and answered by one of our Q&A experts, Miles Russell