You don't need to break the bank on gear to be a good Obstacle Course Racing athlete. In fact, OCR boils down to a few pretty simple skill sets which means you can train very well for OCR without needing a lot of equipment. Running is the main skill, but we aren't going to cover shoes and heart rate monitors in this article. Grip strength, athletic movement/coordination, and the ability to carry heavier objects are the other main skills you need. So here is training equipment that addresses those skill sets!
1: Climbing Rope ($35 - $60)
In obstacle course racing, grip strength and the ability to hold yourself up off the ground are essential skills. Holding a rope using grip strength only is an extremely valuable skill because it takes a significant amount of grip strength which makes all of the other grip obstacles like monkey bars, rings, and so on much much easier. If you can climb a rope using your arms only, it's very unlikely (barring extreme weather conditions) that you won't complete a traditional rig. I highly recommend purchasing a rope to climb, and practicing using your grip only. It may take you time to work up to, and you can use your feet to assist in the meantime, but keep working at it. I'm telling you, if you can climb a rope with your hands only, you will be able to complete 90%+ of all other grip obstacles.
2: Heavy Bucket ($5 - $20)
I want to put a sand bag here, but sandbag are expensive in comparison, and building your own, though doable, can be a bit complicated just because they have the propensity to fall apart. A heavy bucket will allow you to train for most of the carries at most races. All you need to do is buy a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot or Lowes, fill it with sand, rock, gravel, or whatever, and put the lid on. Very easy. You can carry it in front of your body, on your shoulder, or on either side.
3: Battle Ropes ($40 - $80)
Battle Ropes (BR) are on this list because they can help develop greater athleticism and coordination. There are so many exercises, and exercise combinations, that can be used with battle ropes to improve endurance while developing movement skills. A list of these exercises, though not exhaustive, is as follows:
BR Windmill Slams
BR Jumping Jacks
BR Rotational Slams
BR Alternating Waves + Alternating Reverse Lunges
BR Jump Slams
BR Alternating Waves + Air Squats
BR Single Waves
BR Lateral Waves + Isometric Squat
The list goes on. Never underestimate the importance of coordination and the capability to move through many different ranges of motion. It will make you a much better athlete overall.
Get out and get after it! Hopefully we'll see you at an OCR soon!
20 Grip Training Workouts
This “Grip Gains” program was created for one reason: to give you the grip strength and skills required to ensure 100% obstacle completion. No more burpees, bands cut, or obstacles skipped!