Are You Strong Enough For An Obstacle Course Race?

Obstacle Race Prep

Strength training is just as important as cardio for obstacle races

Sometimes it may look too wacky or fun to be an adventure race but make no mistake about it, an Obstacle Course is a tough way to test your fitness.

An Obstacle Course race is not just about endurance.

It will test your strength, agility, balance and overall conditioning.

With objects to carry, mud to sludge through, walls to climb and natural formations to overcome, an Obstacle Course race may resemble more of a functional challenge than an Adventure Run.

This is a race whereby the ability to run long distances will not guarantee you a top placing.

Have you ever seen an Obstacle Course race? Many of the participants are toned, fit and muscular.

If you want to perform well, your training has to extend beyond road work and the treadmill.

You should not abandon your cardiovascular training regimen; instead you should include 3-4 days per week training for strength.

Key Areas For Strength Development

1. Grip/ Forearm Strength

The obstacles you face will vary on the type of course you are challenging. But for sure it will feature obstacles that will test your grip strength.

You could find yourself hanging on your hands, rope climbing over walls or pulling heavy loads.

The weight may not be a factor but performing tasks that require grip and forearm strength will be very taxing.

Recommended exercises:

2.   Hip And Leg Strength

You will need strong and stable hips and legs to maintain balance, agility and mobility.

You could be climbing walls or military nets or you could be pulling heavy objects up a steep climb.

Balancing on rocks, logs and slippery surfaces will be quite a challenge. All of these activities require strong and stable hips and legs.

You need your legs to initiate the first pull then the hips come in when your knees are about to extend.

Recommended exercises:

3. Functional Strength

When doing an Obstacle Course, expect your body to perform functional movements in many of the challenges.

These activities include crawling, jumping, pushing off the ground, squatting and sitting up off the floor.

You should be able to direct your body where it has to go when you want it to. Functional strength means having total command on how your body moves.

Recommended exercises:

Strength Training Workout Schedule For Obstacle Course Race

In this schedule, you will be training for strength 3 days a week. The days for resistance training will be spaced 3 days apart to allow you time for proper recovery.

Your day for functional training will be sandwiched between 2 distance run days.

You still have to get in at least 3 days of long distance runs because cardiovascular fitness remains an important component of the Obstacle Course.

A few notes on some of the exercises listed below:

Dead Hang – This is great way to develop grip strength and to stretch out the shoulders, back and arms.

Obstacle Race

Core strength is crucial for maximum performance in obstacle racing

Take a shoulder wide grip on a pull up bar, keep your legs together and your feet straight down. Hold on for as long as you can. The standard should at least be 30 seconds.

Grip Holds – Grip a heavy dumbbell in one hand and hold it for as long as you can then switch hands. If you want a tougher workout, grip a barbell instead of a dumbbell.

Use weights that are realistically heavy enough to give you a good workout. For example, for Low Bar Squat and Sumo Deadlift, use a weight that you can perform 6-7 reps in good form.

A good idea to better prepare you for the unpredictable conditions during an Obstacle Course race would be to wear a weight vest while doing Functional Training.

Strength Workout A

Strength Workout B

Warm Up: 3 minutes Double Unders + Air Squats x 20 reps
Guidelines: For Time; 4 to 8 Intervals, 2 minutes rest between intervals

Strength Workout C

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Workout “A” Easy 30 minute run Workout “B” Easy 45 minute run Workout “C” Moderate Run: 15 minutes easy, 30 minutes hard, 15 minutes easy Rest

Always record your numbers and performances in a log book.

This is the best way to assess whether adjustments or changes in the workout have to be made.

Use this workout at least 6 weeks before your Obstacle Course race and you should expect to get a leg up on your competition!