Mud run or army crawl, here are moves to train your way to your next obstacle race.
With obstacle races more popular than ever, maybe you’ve considered joining the fun. Try these exercises to improve your flexibility, power, stability and grip strength before the big race, so you don’t fall flat.
1. Yoga for flexibility
Flexibility is key when it comes to obstacle races, which is why yoga is the perfect training regimen. There are dozens of yoga poses you can try, from beginner-level poses to more advances ones, to improve your flexibility.
If you are new to yoga, you should start by incorporating a few, simple poses into your daily workout routine. Yoga can be done almost anywhere — at home, at the gym, outside in the park, you name it. Try these essential six to get started.
Of course, downward-facing dog is one of the most recognizable yoga stretches and is known to boost flexibility.
- Begin on the floor on your hands and knees, with your knees under your hips and your hands spread out your palms slightly in front of your shoulders.
- Rise by exhaling and lifting your knees away from your yoga mat, while keeping them slightly bent and your heels lifted from your mat.
- Lengthen your tailbone from the pelvis and push your sit bones up to the ceiling. It’s normal to feel resistance here.
- Exhale and stretch your heels down to the floor. Do not lock them, but straighten your knees. Keep your shoulder blades pressed in your back and hold your head steady. Do not let your head hang. Hold the pose, or slightly bend each knee to “walk out the dog.”
Don’t be intimidated by yoga if you’re new to the practice. Take a class and ask the instructor for a little help.
2. Box jumps for power
Plyometric exercises, like box jumps, can give you the power to finish your obstacle race strong. When performed correctly, box jumps build up your power, increase your agility and speed up your heart rate. A plyo box, soft box or sturdy surface is all you need to get started.
- Stand in front of your box with your feet at shoulder-width apart.
- Jump up and toward the box, landing with a slight bend in your knees.
- Step back down off of the box and repeat. If you’re searching for a way to make box jumps more difficult, jump back down from the box, absorbing the shock of the jump, and then jump immediately back onto the box.
- Be sure to use your arms for momentum and keep your chest up.
This rest-free exercise really gets your heart rate going. You can also consider using a taller box to increase the difficulty.
3. Stability ball for agility
Without agility you’ll probably end up in the mud or the water hazards at your obstacle race. To become more agile on the course, balance and stability exercises should be implemented into your training routine. A great place to start is with ball lunges with a stability ball.
- Begin in a standing position and place the ball behind you, putting one foot on top of the stability ball.
- Step your opposite foot out, around six inches, and bend both of your knees in a deep lunge. Make sure the knee of your front foot does not go over your toes for good form.
- Keep your shoulders over your hips, chest up and push into your front heel. Repeat on the other side.
Start with eight to 10 reps, but if you’re comfortable with this move, go for as many as you can on each side with proper form. If you’re still getting the hang of it or consider yourself stability-challenged, use a chair or rail to keep your balance.
4. Hand grippers for grip strength
Don’t forget about grip strength during your training sessions. This is essential when it comes to your obstacle race, as well as your training in general because grip strength helps with your weight-lifting form. A good grip comes in handy while you’re scaling towers, walls and ropes. Grab a set of stainless steel hand grippers and get to work. Most hand grippers start with a 60-pound tension, but you can find some that go up to 365 pounds.
- Begin with a lighter gripper and work up your resistance as you master your form.
- Start with your hand gripper in one hand and squeeze the hand gripper closed.
- If you don’t feel enough resistance, adjust accordingly.
- Complete two to four sets of eight to 10 reps.
With these four practices, you’ll be fit for the course in no time. Enjoy!