Thursday, March 8

Obstacle Course Race Training Ideas

There are so many great race events out there involving obstacles. There are fun ones, tough ones, long ones, extreme seems like there's something for everyone. What everyone needs to know is that these races will challenge you, so you'd better prepare!

Overall 'fitness' may not be enough. Obstacle courses will challenge muscles that you may not be used to using, and test your endurance in ways that you haven't been tested. To prepare effectively, get the body used to cardiovascular output while using your muscles. Crawling, pulling, pushing, and running are all components that you're likely to face. If you have the luxury of access to climbing cargo nets, scaling walls, and borrowing through pipes, then use it! If not, then the following obstacle course training ideas will help to get you physically prepared to take on your race, and mentally prepared to know what you can expect.

Ultimate Bootcamper Diane crawling under barbed wire
Train for Crawling
You may be familiar with Bear Crawls, Spider Crawls, Crab Walks...all sorts of ways to build strength while moving across the ground. Get down on all fours and, keeping your hips low to the ground, 'walk' a distance of 20-50 yards, depending on your fitness ability. Repeat 2-3 times.

Pulling out All the Stops
Find a pull-up bar or chin-up bar, and haul yourself up off the ground. Varying your hand positions will help to broaden the base of muscle strength; face palms away for a set, then towards you for a set. Aim to get to the point of being able to complete a set in the double digits, and repeat it 3 times. If you don't have access to a bar, use the Lat-Pull machine or weight stack at the gym. You can also add in some back flies: take a weight in each hand (dumbbell, can of beans, etc), bend forward from the hips until your back is parallel with the ground and your arms are hanging towards the ground, and slowly lift your arms out to the side (skyward), and lower back down. Aim to bring the shoulder blades around your spine, and keep your neck relaxed.

Pushing for Chest Strength
Most pushing motions require chest strength, including crawling on all fours. Push-ups are an extremely effective way to train, so get plenty of them into your workout immediately. Mix it up - hands close and below your shoulders, hands wide, outside your shoulders, decline with your feet on a bench, incline with your hands on a bench. Aim for 3-4 sets, with 15-20 reps in each set.

Running for Obstacle Course Races
The thing about running during an obstacle race is that you don't just ...well...get to run. You have to make it through/over/under obstacles too! So - in between all of the sets above, run. Mix the running up; choose a short distance and run it fast, or a little slower over a longer distance. Mix lower body exercises in there to increase leg strength and stamina; lunges, squats, and step-ups are all terrific ways to strengthen your lower body. Here's an example of a set you might try:

12 Push-ups;
Bear Crawl 20 yards;
Sprint 100 yards;
12 Back Flies;
10 Squats;

Run back to your start point, and repeat.

Core strength is vital to a strong gait, so be sure to add in ab exercises whenever possible. Holding a 30-60 second plank is a great way to hit a lot of muscle groups at once - core, upper, and lower body.

This type of workout can commonly be found at Ultimate Bootcamp's outdoor fitness programs, where a four-week span will also give you the momentum you're looking for to improve and grow. Whether you're looking to complete your first obstacle race, or you're aiming to smoke your previous best time, having the guidance of an expert Trainer in a results-driven environment is what you can expect, in the one-hour boot camp workouts.

As with any workout, be sure to warm up and stretch first. Your Number 1 goal on race day is to be healthy and injury-free. Jog or run for about 8-10 minutes, and stretch all of the muscles you're planning on using that day. Take the time to do so; your body will thank you!

Have fun out there!

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