Thinking of doing an obstacle course race this year? Spartan, tough mudder, etc... Here are 3 quick things you need to know to help you prepare:


1) GRIP – No matter what obstacle course you choose, you’re going to need some good grip to get through. With everything from bucket and jug carries, monkey bars, rope climbs, and even just the simple wall, having good grip can help you breeze through the course.

  •  How to train:
    • Basic: Plate pinch: pick up a 5, 10, 25, 45 lb. plate (depending on your fitness level) and hold onto it with just your finger tips and thumb. You can do this while stationary or while walking. This is a great way to tax your grip muscles in a very controlled way, try to hold for 15-30 seconds for 4-5 sets.
    • Advanced: Dead hangs or dead lift holds. Dead hangs are pretty boring but a great way to get used to being up on a set of monkey bars. Simply get onto a pull-up bar and hang, you can increase difficulty by adding pull-ups at set intervals or holding onto a medicine ball with your feet to at weight. Dead lift holds should be done with a comfortable working weight for the exercise and only if you’re experienced with the movement of dead lifting. Bring the bar to the top of the movement and hold for 3-10 seconds before returning the bar to the ground, repeat this at your working weight rep range.
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2) ENDURANCE – all races involve some level of distance, and that distance’s impact is relative to the person attempting it. So regardless of how “long” a race is or isn’t you want to prepare your body to complete it at the pace you desire.

  • How to train:
    • Basic (Open Heat): A good way to accomplish this is to attempt the course distance at least one a week. Your body should be able to comfortably reach it in the weeks leading up to the event. So if you’re training for a Spartan Sprint (roughly 5 miles -/+) you may want to set aside the next 8 Saturdays to get a good 5 miler done either on the treadmill, road, or trails. This will help acclimate your body to the distance and help avoid strains or injury during the race.
    • Advanced (Age Group – Formerly Competitive): So you want to step your game up and try your hand in the competitive age group waves? While training will vary drastically based on the distance and terrain you should be setting aside at minimum 3 solid cardio days. Working on intervals for speed and thresholds, tempo run to really get the body used to sustained steady work, and longer easy runs to get the longevity at a soft pace.
    • Legendary (Elite/Contender) Lets chat. J

3) STRENGTH – “Runners” are finding it harder and harder to “blitz” OCR Athlete between obstacles, and the main reason for that is the increase in obstacle difficulty and technical skill required.  As the industry matured so have the complexity and sometimes brutality of the obstacles, meaning if you don’t have the strength, that 6:00min/mile pace isn’t going to be enough to make up the ground.

  • How to train:
    • Basic: Stick to them, basic compound lifts or bodyweight movements that engage multiple muscle groups all at once are a very simple way to achieve a baseline that will help you through many of the obstacles.
    • Advanced: Start super setting. No obstacle is singular in what it demands. A great example is bucket carry, the argument can be made its all grip. Wrong, it’s all grip when you’re standing still with a bucket, but add a ½ mile climb up a mountain, you’re now leaning forward, taxing your back more, and your claves and quads are soon on fire. By super setting grip work with lunges, deadlifts with pull-ups you’re able to simulate in a controlled setting the taxation you’ll experience on the course.

Now the caveat of all this is it all depends on your goal and your event. Some events such as Tough Mudder’s Toughest 8 Hour are endurance events, and depending on your level can run into 30s and 40s with regards to mileage, training for that is vastly different than if you are just attempting to walk your first Warrior Dash, or you’re trying your hand at the competitive age groups in a Spartan Sprint. Tailor your training to match you event, and your goals for it. Questions? feel free to DM member Ryan Josti on Instagram @RJosti87


Member of Fitness Concepts Health Club? Don't forget Bear Crawl Obstacle and Fitness Park is included in your membership and located in the back of Fitness Concepts! Stay tuned on an early season obstacle race that welcomes all levels of OCR fitness @ Bear Crawl Park this June!!!