Not only am I participating, but I convinced a few good friends and my husband to join in as well…
I decided to create a program that we could all do as a team and it follows the #1 fitness rule everyone should know…
Here it is:
Your body performs familiar movements (as in movements it’s experiences over and over again) quickly and more efficiently than movements it’s never experienced.
In other words, if you’re not mimicking similar movements to rope climbs, ladder hangs, leaping (because there might be fire), hill training and in some events swimming and balancing (such as walking across a log balance beam). Then you’re not ever going to be fabulous at obstacle races.. in fact, you could hurt yourself as your body is unprepared to contract muscles and move in ways it’s never experienced.
I wanted to share this information with you and give you 2 helpful sections to so you can train for your obstacle race safely, effectively and moreover, successfully. Here’s what it entails:
1. The steps to prepare a fitness resistance program for your obstacle event: This doesn’t include run training. For that I suggest you treat your run training as a completely separate entity. At least for your first event. For amazing FREE run programs I use coolrunning.com . While they do offer 2 or 3 day running programs, some plans have you running 4-6 days. Whatever the run program you choose, make sure you have enough time and energy for at least 3 days of obstacle/adventure race resistance training.
2. I’ve also included a Spartan workout (since this is the event I’m partaking in)… Most adventure races still have similar elements of push, pull, leap and crawl, so feel free to use it, and add in other movements that The Spartan Race doesn’t include.
So, Let’s begin:
1. Step by step guide to prepare for an obstacle race:
Watch and Write:
Whether you decide to watch your friends participate or simply look up your particular obstacle race on YouTube, look up as much as you possibly can about each and every obstacle.
It’s important to see the different movements your race requires so that you know which moves to mimic. While you’re watching write it all down, every wall climb, rope swing and burpee you see. This begins the creation of your very own obstacle plan.
Group the obstacle activities together: Once you’ve written down as many obstacles as you’ve researched write a new list that groups the activities into the similar movement patterns and make a side note of any equipment that might help with this.
Here is an example of the spartan race movements:
- Monkey bar movements (moving yourself from one monkey bar ring to anther as you hang in an extended arm pull up position), ladder climbs, climbing up rings, steel ladders or roped ladders all count as similar movements… the equipment: children’s jungle gym in your local park.
- Crawling through mud, sliding through mud, swimming through mud: These all count as resistance exercises where an extra weight could be applied to your body to mimic mud and water resistance. Also, use your own body weight… the equipment: weight vests, own body weight only.
- Pulling tires, lifting logs over your head, flipping tires, holding fire rods (Wow I feel really crazy writing some of these.. but if the obstacle race has it.. well….. ) .. They require secondary weight such as barbells, heavy logs, and perhaps (advanced only and experienced.. a car to push.. yes, I said it). Also a waist harness to attach and pull weight (optional).
- Log balancing beam, standing on the top of a wall to jump over .. they require exceptional balance. While trying these exact exercises at home is contraindicated, the best piece of exercise equipment you can use to practice this is the parking lot stop barriers that look like this. A bench also works , but the width makes balancing easier and doesn’t mimic the actual width of the balance devices you’ll need to use. And remember the number one rule is to be able to mimic the movements needed for your obstacle race as much as possible.
- Hill climbing, hill running.. you’ll need a steep hill
- Jumping over fire, hopping, burpees, leaping over unsteady ground, pulling your foot out of mud. They all require powerful lower body leg force that pulls the body/leg up vertically. You’ll need your own body weight, and possible weight vest or resistance against your own body weight to increase leg power.
Create a chart:
|Equipment you’ll need:||Movements that go with equipment|
Split the workout moves into three days:
The most efficient way to train for an obstacle race is to train full body so make sure each day has a variety of exercises that will work your entire body.
If you’re new to obstacle training, do one hard exercise followed by an easier exercise. one example could be, do a monkey bar swing followed by a walk across the parking lot stop (for balance) 15 times. The easier exercise that is focused purely on balance instead of strength allows adequate time for the body to recuperate, yet keeps you moving much like you’ll need to do in your obstacle race.
Whether or not you’re experienced, you’ll also need to keep in mind that the equipment required for each exercise needs to be accessible on the same day.
Since hills and jungle gyms are two unmovable pieces of equipment (and they aren’t usually placed close to each other) I suggest you split these two workouts in half.
Personally this is how I am splitting our workouts:
Full body 3 days a week:
Day 1 : Monkey bar swings, pull ups and climbs (all with children’s play area and upper body strength), crawling(core and leg coordination) and jumping(leg power and velocity).
Day 2: Pulling weights and lifting weights over your head (upper body strength and endurance), balance (full body coordination), hills (leg velocity and power).
Day 3:(things that need improvement) Monkey bars, pull ups and climbs (Upper body are usually the hardest activities for people to master. Therefore they should be done at least 2 times a week. If pull ups aren’t your hardest activity and hills are more challenging, choose them instead. The point is day 3 should be filled with the exercises you need a bit more work on). Overhead lifting and pulling, jumping.
Once you’ve successfully organized the types of movements and the days you’ll do each activity then
Create 5-8 exercises that enhance the endurance and strength of the exercises you’ll mimic:
Pull ups are usually done perhaps a handful of times during an actual obstacle course to get you to the other side of a wall or to pull yourself up on bars, but during training you want to increase the endurance and strength of the muscles and movements used, so choose exercises such as pull ups, chin ups and simply hang on bars all in one exercise program. That way, when it comes to race day, the movements will seem simple and easy to do.
Since obstacle events are done in a circuit (one exercise followed immediately by running or another exercise) create a program using this similar circuit style.
Make sure to give yourself a day of rest in between your exercise program in order to recuperate.
2. Workout Program For the Spartan Race:
In order to show you how to successfully implement the steps above, I thought I’d show you one of the programs I’ve created for the spartan race preparation.
While weight vests, ropes and pulleys are all amazing pieces of fitness equipment, lets face it, you probably don’t have these items kicking around your home.
Since I wanted to create a fitness program that everyone can do, I’ve left out all fancy pieces of equipment. Instead you’ll need:
- Outdoor monkey bars (found at most playgrounds)
- 1 mat or a long sleeved breathable shirt (optional)
- Your own body weight
Monkey bar Hold:
Objective: To increase the endurance in your forearms and back muscles, making hanging exercises seem easy to do.
- Grip the monkey bars firmly. Arms shoulder width apart
- Gently lift your legs up. Contract your abs so you won’t swing.
- Pull your shoulder blades down your back.
- Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute
Objective: jump over fire, hay bales, rocks and even puddles by increasing the power in your legs. By doing multiple repetitions you’ll be able to jump over multiple obstacles throughout your race and still have the energy to cross the finish line.
- Face an elevated platform (usually attached to monkey bars)
- Legs shoulder width apart, abs tightly pulled in.
- Squat down (knees stay over ankles)
- Jump onto the platform
- Step back down and continue
- Do this 20 times
Moving spider crawls:
Objective: Exaggerate the movements needed to crawl under barbed wire. This strengthens core muscles that work hard to resist the pull of mud and water.
- Begin in plank position. Forearms on the ground shoulder width apart, knees up.
- Bend Your Left knee towards the outside of your left elbow.
- Simultaneously move your right forearm forward.
- As you push your left foot into the ground and straighten it, bring your right leg to the outside of your right knee and left arm forward.
- This exercise creates movement. You will inch forward.
- Do 30 repetitions (15 movements of the right side and 15 of the left. Each movement counts as 1)
Jumping pull ups:
Before doing this move ensure you have the strength and control over your muscles to do this exercise safely and effectively. This exercise is not recommended for beginners.
Objective: To gain muscular endurance in your back and abs muscles, as well as prepare you for momentum movements of hoisting yourself up and over a wall.
- Stand underneath a monkey bar. If your feet can’t touch the ground, stand on the side platform of the monkey bars
- Use your hips to swing your body forward and back while your feet are touching the ground.
- When your hips swing back, jump off the ground and pull your arms up.
- Then as you descend, straighten your arms and allow your hips to swing forward again.
- Do 20 repetitions
Tricep hold with Spider movement:
Objective: Intensify the strength of arm muscles needed to get you from lying down to standing quickly and efficiently. Also work ab muscles used during crawling motion.
- Begin in plank position (on hands instead of forearms).
- Bend your arms, elbows close to your body until your arms are at or just under 90 degrees.
- Hold your arms in this position then bring your right knee towards your right elbow (as high as you can go)
- Straighten right leg and bend left leg to left knee.
- Continue to hold arms at 90 degrees for the entire movement
- Do 20 repeptions (10 on each leg)
Monkey bar Progression:
This advanced exercise should only be done if you can successfully complete monkey bar holds exercise for at lease 30 seconds.
If you can swing from one end of the monkey bar to the other, congratulations! continue to practice this movement 3 times in a row (there and back).
For those of you just beginning monkey bar swings, this explanation is for you.
Objective: To gain muscular strength and endurance in your forearms, abs muscles and back and to gain the understanding of how to move your body during monkey bar movements.
- Begin hanging on the first monkey bar. legs elevated, shoulder blades slide down your back.
- Right hand reaches for the next bar. When you have a strong hold, bring left arm to follow.
- Gently lower yourself to the ground.
- Repeat (just one bar forward)
- Do 5 with right arm reaching forward then 5 with left.
Once your able to successfully do all 5 while lowering your body down in between each repetition, try doing 2 repetitions in a row before lowering down. Once this is mastered do 3 in a row. Follow this pattern until you can reach one end of the monkey bars without touching your feet down.
Ups (up portion of a muscle up)
Objective: Train your muscles and your brain to hoist yourself up and over a wall quickly and easily. This exercise builds strength and mind to muscle connection.
- Stand in front of an elevated monkey bar platform or the back of a bench
- Hands placed wider than shoulder width apart and elbows flared towards the sky.
- Keep your body in one straight line from knees to head. Toes are pushing down into the ground.
- Bend your elbows.
- Then straighten elbows. As you do this pull your shoulder blades down your back.
- Repeat 15 times
Disclaimer: Consult a physician before starting any exercise program. If you choose to do this or any workout without consulting your physician, you are doing so at your own risk. We claim no responsibility for any injuries you might sustain. It is your responsibility to warm up properly and cool down after your workout. Do not attempt any exercise you are not capable of performing. Stay within your fitness level.