It’s obstacle race season, and if it’s on your bucket list or you’re a veteran, you’ll still appreciate these tips from adventure racer and running coach Max DeLacy, who’s affiliated with Spartan Race.
1. NOSE FOR BREATHING, MOUTH FOR EATING
Obstacle races require you to run, climb, balance, jump and swing. To do this effectively you must breathe efficiently. Nasal breathing promotes breathing from the diaphragm, which in turn means you draw more air into your lungs — and nasal breathing also reduces fatigue in your upper chest and shoulder muscles.
2. ONE LEG IS BETTER THAN TWO
Single-leg exercises like lunges and step-ups not only balance your leg strength but engage ankle, hip and knee stabilizers. If one side feels weaker, start and finish on that side.
3. SLOW IS SMOOTH AND SMOOTH IS FAST
If you feel more unstable on one side, slow the exercise down and focus on smooth movement.
4. GET A GRIP
Obstacles like monkey bars, rope climbs, farmer’s walks and Hercules hoists all require a strong grip. Practice a farmer’s walk holding dumbbells or kettlebells with a standing hold to failure on the final set. Time yourself and see the gains!
5. LOVE YOUR BURPEES
Add them between strength or cardio sets. Begin with 10 reps and build up to 30 per set. Ensure chest to ground at the bottom and a jump with overhead clap at the top. One hundred burpees at the end of a hard session done in sets of 10, with 10 seconds’ rest will add physical – and mental – strength.
6. TRAIN WITH FRIENDS
The Spartan warriors of ancient Greece fought first and foremost for each other. Train as a team to keep each other motivated and accountable.
7. LEARN TO CLIMB A ROPE
It’s the obstacle most racers struggle with, but the right technique and 15 minutes’ practice will have you up a rope without relying on upper body strength. Your local gym can help, or you can find tutorial videos on YouTube.
8. COLD-WATER DOUSING
Cold-water showers will condition you to cold water that you may need to negotiate during the race.
9. BUNNY HELL
Powerful glutes will have you running, climbing and jumping in mile one of the now-legendary “300” workout befitting the Spartan warriors that the actors played in the film of the same name. Bunny hops (aka frog jumps) will give you explosive strength and a great butt. Include 4 to 5 sets in your workout and increase the distance as you get stronger.
10. THINK HARD CORE
Another buzz word from 2013, but “core” (or “trunk”) work is key. Work up from a static bridge hold (hip bridge and supine bridge or plank) to spider crawls, superman, windmills and Turkish get-ups.