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How To Upgrade Your Spartan Race Training

photo of me shooting photo on an early morning Tahoe World Championship. [photo credit: Ross Johnson]

photo of me shooting photo on an early morning Tahoe World Championship. [photo credit: Ross Johnson]

THE OBSTACLE COURSE RACE IS A NEW BREED OF SPORT. AN OCR REQUIRES ITS PARTICIPANTS TO BE A JACK OF ALL TRADES. IF YOU WANT TO EXCEL IN THE OCR WORLD, OR JUST GET READY FOR YOUR FIRST RACE, IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER INCLUDING SOME EFFECTIVE TOOLS IN YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM. RUNNING IS A BIG PART OF THE GAME, BUT IT WILL ONLY GET YOU SO FAR IF YOU WANT TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE COURSE. HERE IS A LIST OF SOME OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE TOOLS YOU CAN USE TO UPGRADE YOUR OBSTACLE COURSE TRAINING, AND GET YOU READY TO NAIL IT COME RACE DAY.

KETTLEBELLS

The kettlebell is essentially a cannonball with a handle attached to it. The “kb” has been used as a dynamic tool to develop strength and endurance in Russia, and is one of the more universally used tools in the strength and conditioning world. Many trainers and athletes use the kettlebell for ballistic movements (like a kettlebell swing) but with a little innovation the heavy ball of iron can be used to develop strength, flexibility, balance, and a bunch of different aspects of athletic performance. When it comes to running an OCR, you need to have explosive power to jump over hurdles and across mud pits. Using a kettlebell is a text book way to build that power, and intensify your obstacle course training game.

SANDBAGS

You can expect to see something heavy on the course. In fact expect to carry something heavy. One of the most challenging obstacles that come up in the race is the heavy carry. You can have the endurance of a marathon runner, but if you expect to fly through the course like it’s a Thanksgiving day turkey trot, think again…you most likely are going to pick up something heavy along the way. Using a Sandbag for short sprints, 200m carries, and sets of lunges are great ways to develop strength, and if used in interval training, it can elevate your endurance as well. That is why they are a staple in elite athlete’s obstacle course training programs.

BATTLE ROPES

Battle ropes are another time tested strength and conditioning tool. In fact if you were to stumble into a NFL training facility, you would be sure to see them lined up on the turf. However you do not have to be a pro athlete to take advantage of the hardcore conditioning tool. Battle ropes can be used to develop grip strength, power, speed, endurance, and the many other aspects of physical capacity you will need when running an obstacle race. One of my favorite ways of using battle ropes is with a Tabata- 20 seconds on of wave squats followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes, and you will feel like you just finished a 5k.

WEIGHTED VEST

When it comes to training, intensity really is the magic ingredient, and one of the most effective  ways to increase your intensity is with a weight vest. By adding a weight vest to your training, you can exponentially accelerate your gains in strength, endurance, and power depending on how you use the tool. One of my favorite ways to use a weighted vest is stair sprints and body weight training. If you thought climbing stairs or doing a set of push ups was easy, try strapping on a vest.

PULLUP BAR

What would an OCR be without something to climb over….boring, that’s what! Developing your upper body strength is a must for OCR athletes. If you want to make it through the course, you are going to have to pull yourself over something. There certainly is a bunch of fancy ways to go about training upper body strength but the good old fashion pull up is still one of the most effective ways to get you ready to climb over those walls. I personally have one set up in my office. Every time I walk by it, I bang out three pull ups.