For weeks, you have been undergoing intense training sessions for your upcoming obstacle race. Day after day, you hit the trail, pound the pavement or move heavy weight in order to better prepare your mind and body for competition. You are becoming more confident in your abilities and overall fitness, but can’t shake that feeling in the pit of your stomach; the one trying to reveal what you have been missing. What could it be? You run, lift, and even do CrossFit, but there is still room to improve.
Remove all doubt and prepare to dominate every obstacle. Dedicate yourself to improving the exact skills you will need to successfully navigate the challenges encountered throughout the race.
Take a moment and imagine yourself as a triathlete. Going into a race you know you will be expected to swim, bike, and run a predetermined distance. The swim is in a lake, so it will be necessary to practice swimming in open water. The bike course is over rolling hills on a paved road. To prepare you will need to get off of the stationary bike and get out on the road to become proficient at climbing in big gears. Finally, you will have to ready your legs to run off of the bike to power through the final leg of the race.
Now, keeping this type of specialized training in mind, identify the types of challenges you are likely to be confronted with during an obstacle course race. It is reasonable to assume that, while racing, you will come upon a set of monkey bars, cargo net, rope climb, barrier wall, mud pit, or low crawl. You may be expected to transport an awkward object or load. While, still other impediments will require an ability to climb, jump, land, or throw. To successfully manage each obstruction you will need to call upon precise skills, skills honed during training sessions focused on improving these unique abilities:
Grip Strength: includes hand strength, as well as all of the muscles from the elbow to the fingertips. A strong grip enables you to lift heavier weights, perform more repetitions, and carry or transport heavy or oddly shaped objects.
- Towel pull-ups: Loop a towel over a pull-up bar and perform pull-ups gripping the towel. Apply the towel to a dumbbell or kettlebell and perform rows, swings, or curls. The same method can be used with a rope.
- Rope climb: Train pulling strength, as well as grip, forearm, and core strength for a challenge likely to be encountered during your race.
- Farmers walk: Gripping a dumbbell, kettlebell, or plate in each hand, retract your shoulders back and down, then walk in a straight line or zig-zag pattern for 25-50 yards. You will feel the burn in your hands, but you will also be training anaerobic capacity, upper back, traps and oblique strength.
- Kettlebells: Maintaining your grip of a kettlebell during dynamic, swinging movements will improve hand, wrist, and forearm strength.
Agility and Balance: Train dynamic and athletic movements that promote biomechanical efficiency while running, climbing, jumping, and landing.
- Jumping, hopping, or bounding for distance or height
- Box jumps and step-ups
- Jump squats, jump lunges, and burpees
- Medicine ball tosses and slams
- Jump rope and agility latter drills
Unilateral strength: To protect the knees and strengthen the glutes, hips, core, and low back include single leg and lateral movements.
- Lateral step-ups and box jumps
- Single leg squats and split squats
- Lunges and lateral lunges
- Lateral squats with a resistance band around ankles
- Hip and glute bridges
- Single-leg deadlift
Transport an awkward load or object: Build true functional strength that is nearly impossible to train through traditional weight training techniques.
- Weighted vest: perform runs, sprints, hikes, or hill climbs with a weighted vest or backpack
- Tire flip: take a large heavy equipment tire and flip it end over end
- Sled pulling or pushing: move a heavy object by pulling/pushing/dragging for a specific distance or time
- Sandbag, keg, or stone loading and carrying: pick up a heavy object and put it on a raised platform, lift it overhead, or carry for a designated time/distance