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GRIP GAINS for Obstacle Course Racing

Updated: Nov 8, 2021


My favorite thing about Obstacle Course Racing is... well... the Obstacles! Yes, I also love the amazing scenery, especially during mountain races, and being outdoors overall but I really enjoy having to use strength and technique to make it through all the obstacles. Not all obstacles seem like they require a lot of technique, but if you want to make it through them in the fastest/most efficient way possible, then it's definitely worth it to put in some solid obstacle training rather than just "getting through it".

The majority of obstacles require a decent amount of grip/upper body strength and the ability to use that strength in a functional way. GO muscle VS. SHOW muscle. Someone who is a body builder will be extremely strong for lifting heavy weights but have very little ability to use that strength for obstacles like Spartan Race's Twister. To get 100% obstacle completion you need functional strength that can be used while swinging and twisting through the air in awkward positions. Another aspect you need to focus on is being able to use that functional grip strength while you are out of breath and your heart rate is high. It's one thing to be able to do obstacles isolated but a whole different world when you add in several miles of rough terrain running, wet/muddy hands, and other obstacles.

If you've been participating in OCRs for a while, you've noticed that events like Spartan Race have moderately difficult obstacles, but nothing too extreme while Savage Race definitely has a higher level of difficulty. The OCR World Championship event brings together obstacles from several companies, which creates a blend of the most challenging and unique obstacles in all of OCR.

Try out these 6 exercises to help improve your functional grip strength! The exercises are organized from a beginner level to advanced and will be most beneficial when combined with some type of cardiovascular exercise, like running intervals, to mimic what OCR events are like.


Inverted Rows - In this video we use a set of rings but you can also use a stationary bar or a suspension trainer like a TRX. Adjust the difficulty of your inverted row by moving your feet forward. The closer to parallel with the ground that your body is, the more difficult this exercise will be.

Dead Hang - These are a great way to build up your grip strength and also get use to having your feet completely off the ground while using your grip. You'll get a solid grip/core base to build off of.


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!



Hanging Hand Releases - With just about every obstacle, you are going to end up having to support yourself with one arm even if it's just for a second. These are a great way to build up single arm grip strength while also strengthen your core more dynamically.

Hanging Shuffles - Now we are getting some solid lateral motion while really challenging the grip and core functionally. These will also really toughen up the hands to help prevent issues with skin ripping during obstacles.


Hanging Jump Switches - You can do these with staggered bars (more challenging) like seen in this video, or with stacked bars (less challenging) but either way if you become efficient at doing several of these in a row, then you should be able to crush the majority of obstacles out there.

Double Hanging Towel Slides - If you can hold onto two separtate towels to support your body weight while sliding side to side on a bar, then if you fail an obstacle, it's most likely going to be because of lack of focus. These take a huge amount of grip/upper/core strength to be able to do smoothly.

Contact us if you have any questions about how to do these exercises or how to implement them into a workout.

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