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How To Train For Obstacle Course Races

Updated: Mar 20

One of the more searched topics for obstacle course racing is HOW to train for these events. Searches like, "How to train for a Spartan Race" or "How to train for a Tough Mudder" get a lot of hits, and for good reason. We've broken this down for you as simply as possible. Really, it's just 3 things you need to do.

NOTE: Keep an eye out in a few weeks for a VERY detailed article on OCR training called, "How to Train For Obstacle Course Races - All The Details" where we will dive into the MICRO version of training and play out some training scenarios.

Firstly: Run

I know, everyone is saying "Duh" right now, but guess what, based on average finisher times at events, this is far from a "duh". You might know it, but so many don't actually implement it. Here are some tips to start:

  • Start slow and build up to faster work gradually over time (weeks to months)

  • Start with short distances/durations and gradually build up to longer ones over time (also weeks to months)

Unless you are trying to race in the Competitive waves, doing this consistently will be enough to drastically improve your fitness for obstacle course races.


Don't know how to program your obstacle course training or where to start? Visit our OCR Programs Page. We design customized programs for athletes of all levels to match your abilities, goals, time, resources, and every other detail you can imagine.


Secondly: Build your upper body & Grip strength

The cool thing about building grip strength is that it can be done at the same time as when you are building upper body strength. Exercises like Pullups, Chinups, Dead Hangs, Monkey Bars, Pushups, Inverted Rows, TRX Row Variations, Dumbbell or Barbell Rows, etc. are great ways to build upper body strength and grip strength. If you can't complete all of the obstacles right now, there is no reason why you can't in the future.

Finally: Simulate Races

You don't need a full obstacle course race to be set up for this, though that would obviously be great training. If you have regular gym access you can set up a workout where you go from running on the Treadmill for a few minutes into Pullups, back to running, into Farmer's Carries, back to the Treadmill, into a Rope Climb, and so on and so on. It's not hard, and it doesn't have to be perfect. Simulating a race gets you a much better feel for your fitness and develops your fitness for the specific type of event for which you are training. I don't recommend simulating races a ton, but once or twice a month will go a long way.

That's it. It really is that simple. Now that you know how simple it is (and really, it could be broken down into just the first two steps if you wanted it completely bare-bones) it's time to implement training. Some athletes struggle with the details programming: How long should I run? How far should I run? How should my run lengths progress? What can I do if I can't do Pullups? How much weight should I be doing on Farmer's Carries? How many sets? If you have those questions and need programming, visit our OCR Programs Page and we'll take care of all of the details.

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