Want To Optimize Your Spartan Race Training?
Completing a Spartan Race provides a feeling of accomplishment unlike any personal best in the gym or weight you may see on the scales.
The Spartan Race, Tough Mudder and any other variation of mud or obstacle course race is designed to BREAK you.
Steep climbs while carrying heavy barrels, jumping over fire pits, climbing ropes, launching over A frames – in order to complete a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder with a competitive time you have to be well-rounded.
You can’t just have a ton of strength and muscle mass and neglect your cardio, you’ll gas out on the hill climbs and sprinting sections.
At the same time, you can’t just be a slender endurance athlete as you’ll struggle to conquer the ropes and frames that require a relative amount of upper body strength.
Having completed a number of these events now I’ve been able to optimize my training in the lead up to these races to ensure I’m performing my best come race day.
Yes, there’s already a ton of Spartan Race training plans and workouts out there however I’m yet to find one that incorporates movements for everything you’re going to encounter in these races…
Below are the key exercises and movements I recommend focusing on 12~ weeks out from your race.
5 Exercises To Include In Your Spartan Race Training
As I mentioned above, hitting both your aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (resistance) exercises are key to conquering these races with a competitive time.
Sufficient strength to blast through all obstacles while maintaining the cardio capacity to speed through all sprint sections without raising your heart rate too high.
With obstacles typically being 300m – 1KM apart you’re never going to be running miles at a time without a break, as such I find interval sprints to be the best way to replicate the start stop style running pace during your Spartan Race training.
Mix up your interval timings:
- 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off
- 10 seconds on, 1- secpmnds off
- Tabata (8 rounds of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
Hit some deadmills too.
The majority of the obstacles you encounter such as the A frame, cargo net climb and suspended rope climb require pulling your body up and over – the weighted pull-up is without a doubt the best way to train for these obstacles.
This is where most people struggle – they speed way past other competitors then spend twice as long at the obstacle trying to muster up the strength to make it to the top.
When you’re able to do a few sets of weighted pull-ups with +45lbs you’re going to find these obstacles a walk in the park.
Building immense pulling strength takes time though, so start with your bodyweight until you can consistently hit 10 reps, then it’s time to throw on the weight belt and add some additional resistance, when you’re covered in mud and soaking wet your obstacle climbs will make it feel as if you’ve almost got an additional 45lbs hanging off you!
Including box jumps in your training will place you at a huge advantage when it comes to jumping over fire pits, logs and barriers.
Hit your box jumps once or twice a week, either on the day you train legs or on a seperate cardio day.
Aim to be able to comfortably box jump a box at a similiar height to your waist (you won’t have to jump anything quite this high during your race but once again, you’re going to come in ready for any and all obstacles).
The jump rope is my #1 tool for cardio conditioning.
Interval sprints are great for replicating the style of cardio you’re going to be doing during your race but the jump rope when used correctly will take your cardio conditioning to another level.
Check out my jump rope workout here.
During your race you’re going to have to do at least one farmers carry, possibly two or three depending on the race.
I recommend practising multiple variations of the farmers walk to ensure your grip strength, forearm strength and core strength are on point.
Here’s the 3 variations of farmers walk I recommend training:
One hand carry
Carry a pair of dumbbells or pinch a weight plate in each hand, carry up and down the gym for time (1 minute rounds).
Two hand carry (infront)
Carry a heavy dumbbell or atlas stone infront of you, gripping with both hands. Carry up and down the gym for time (1 minute rounds).
Carry a barrel or barbell directly overhead (this’ll test and build your core strength!). Carry up and down the gym for time (1 minute rounds).
If you’re struggling with the shoulder mobility to actually get the object directly overhead I recommend performing this shoulder mobility drill.
My Tips For Race Day
Got your Spartan Race training sorted? Now it’s time to think about race day…
Don’t Wear Cotton
You’re probably going to get submerged in ice water on your first or second obstacle and you’ll spend the rest of the race soaking wet and covered in mud, this is the WORST time to be wearing anything cotton.
Wear Quick-Dry Everything
Compression tops, pants and quick dry running shorts are key – you’ll stay light and dryer than those that decided to wear cotton.
Shoes Make A Big Difference
Your shoes are going to get wrecked, but don’t skimp out…
Wearing old shoes with no traction will make several obstacles extremely difficult, not to mention the muddy sprinting sections.
Wear training running shoes.
Go All Out On The Sprints
Unless you’re coming in first place in the very first wave of your race you’re going to waiting for your turn on the majority of the obstacles – this is your recovery time.
Go all out on the sprints, provided you’ve trained correctly and placed emphasis on your interval sprints and jump rope your heart rate should be dropping down pretty quick while you wait for your turn to scale the rope or A frame, as soon as you hit the ground on the other side you should be recovered and ready to race once again.
Warm Up Your Hip Flexors
Sit in a few deep squats and rotate your ankles around, do some walking lunges and hold a few deep lunges – your hip flexors are #1 when it comes to stretching out before the race.
Emphasize dynamic stretching as static stretching has been proven to reduce performance and increase risk of injury.
Time Your Pre-Race Meal Correctly
I love hitting the gym fasted as well as my interval sprints, but when it comes to obstacle course races you’re going to need to eat beforehand otherwise you’ll find yourself fading partway through the race.
A couple of hours beforehand I recommend consuming both carbs and protein.
My meal of choice?
Check out my diverse mix of protein oats recipes here.
Half an hour before my race I also prepare my home made pre-workout supplement which aids both my focus and endurance.