Whether you’re planning on tackling a Tough Mudder or simply thinking about switching up your workouts this summer, obstacle-course-style training can offer a whole new way to hone your strength, power, balance, coordination and strategy.
Because the physicality required to navigate obstacle courses mimics functional, whole-body movements of our ancestors and presents complex challenges, the focus shifts from being the best athlete to becoming the most well-rounded one.
The upside of all this work? Workouts are full of fun and variety, both your mind and body become more adaptable and, as a result, you get into kick-ass shape.
Of course, if you have a particular event in mind, you’ll want to choose a race-specific training program that mimics the actual physical demands of the race. But if you’re looking to just dip your toes into the obstacle course waters, here’s an ideal workout to help you get going.
Start with one session per week with the exercises below, and gradually work your way up to two sessions. Adjust the distance of the runs based on your conditioning level and the length of your race.
Need more of a challenge? Feel free to swap some of the exercises below into the strength-training portion — or change up your exercises during each of the different sets, which will create an even more well-rounded workout.
- Walking lunges
- Front and/or side planks
- Squat jumps (or box jumps)
- Mountain climbers
- Push presses
- Body-weight rows
- Weighted carries
- Crawling (hands/knees, hands/feet, or army)
If that’s still too easy, consider implementing some different types of workouts into your weekly training regimen to help develop the skills needed to excel at obstacle-based events. This could include, but certainly isn’t limited to:
- Trail running: To simulate the muddy, rocky, hilly terrain of an obstacle race
- Hill repeats: To build endurance and strength
- Cross country races: To test your race-day skills on both trails and hills
- Fartleks: To get used to changing gears and running at different speeds
- Parkour: To practice balance and agility for challenging movements
You don’t have to be a super-human athlete to complete, compete or even train for these types of events; all that’s required is an open mind, a positive attitude and the willingness to identify and work on your potential areas of weakness.
Now, go forth and dominate!
I have only done an obstacle course race once and I ended up injured by twisting my knee. I decided it wasn’t worth the injury and not being able to do what I love, so I won’t do another obstacle course race. To me, it isn’t worth the potential for injury.
I totally agree – I’ve never done one (for that exact reason – I’m pretty sure I’d end up hurting myself), so I stick to using the principles in workouts where I can A) control the variables, B) go at my own pace, and C) not have to do it in a stampede of people!
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I agree!! Those principles fit my style as well 😉