The Inside Guide to the Ultimate Obstacle Race
The sole mission of a Spartan is the ability to conquer challenges as they appear. From start to finish, Spartans climb over 8 foot walls, navigate a Tyrolean traverse, and crawl under barbed wire, while running over irregular and gruelingly inhospitable terrain.
– Tom McCormack,
Director of Product
How do you survive one of the toughest obstacle races in the world? You train hard. Spartan training is like triathlon meets parkour with a side dish of Crossfit thrown in. The fitness gurus at Spartan Race share some personal tips on surviving and thriving on-course.
THE SPARTAN RACERS GUIDE
To finish in the middle of the pack or better, come prepared to run at least half of your expected race distance at a strong pace. To simply survive your race, be able to run one third of the total race distance without stopping.
Terrain is perhaps the most underappreciated component to a Spartan Race. Find a steep 1-2km hike. At the base of the section find the most awkward implement you can – a large rock or a log works well. March up the terrain carrying the implement, and when you reach the top, throw it down and return to the start as fast as you can. Repeat 2-5 times.
Every obstacle failed requires a 30 Burpee penalty before proceeding, so get comfortable with doing at least that many at a clip before race day.
Cargo Net Climbs
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and work on grip strength. Try to keep your feet climbing on the horizontal sections of rope and your hands on the vertical sections. This will help you avoid getting your hands stepped on and keep you in a climbing rhythm. Bear crawls help train your body’s fluidity moving on all fours.
Work your grip through farmer’s carries and pull-ups, but really focus on your ability to externally rotate your hips and feet in a fully extended hip position. Yoga postures such as Triangle, will help you achieve flexibility, and exercises like sumo deadlifts will help you strengthen your new motion so that it sticks!
6’,7’ & 8’ Climbing Walls
Grip strength is almost always a limiter for most people, especially as conditions start to deteriorate and fatigue sets in. Focus on jumping pull-ups and varied grip push-ups.
Barbed Wire Crawl
Incorporate bear and army crawls into your training program as well as core stabilization exercises such as planks with a variety of foot and arm positions.
Hercules Hoist / Rope Climb
Jumping pull-ups really help train the grip needed for these two obstacles, but once the exercise is mastered, try wrapping a towel around or over top of the bar for a more “rope-like” feel. In addition, consider increasing the eccentric lowered on the pull up to 5-6 seconds to ensure you can control the descent of the load at the Hercules Hoist. Dropping it too quickly will earn you a 30 burpee penalty.
Incorporate single leg bounds after your warm up, jumping as far as you can forward from your left foot onto your right foot, sticking the landing for 3-4 seconds before repeating on the right.
Pick up a bucket at your local hardware store and progressively fill it with more and more sand, gravel, or rocks you find and carry it for longer and longer distances.
However you decide to train, ensure your training program broadens your comfort zone, challenges your grip, includes enough stretching, and most importantly – is FUN.