Race like a Spartan!

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So You Want to Do a Spartan Race?

If you’re thinking about doing a Spartan Race, now is the time to stop thinking and start training. I’m going to lay out six common race obstacles that you’ll encounter and then provide exercises that you can do to be able to master the obstacles!

NUMBER 1: The Wall Jump

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What you’ll need:

  • Leg strength
  • Upper body strength
  • Core strength

How to Train for it:

Pull-ups: Pull-ups develop your back strength, most specifically your lats (latissimus dorsi) but also help develop arm strength and both are key to this obstacle. You’ll need that strength to pull yourself up and over the top.

Box Jumps: Momentum can be a huge help when facing obstacles. If you have good lower body strength and can get a jumping start, less upper body strength will be needed and you’ll get over the way much faster.

Plank: Having core strength will aid in overall body control as you get up and over the wall. It will help you lift your legs and manipulate your body as needed to climb over the top of the wall. The plank is a great exercise for building all-round core strength.

NUMBER 2: The Tire (or sled) Drag

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What you’ll need:

  • Back Strength
  • Arm Strength
  • Core Strength
  • Leg Strength

How to Train for it:

Seated (or standing) Cable Rows: This exercise develops some arm strength but is extremely good for building back strength. Whether you perform this activity seated or standing, the cable row is almost an identical motion to the sled/tire drag. If you train for it standing up however, you will build more core strength than if you do the seated version.

Bicep Hammer Curls: The sled/tire pull involves biceps and forearm strength. While a regular biceps curl will help you build bicep strength, a hammer curl will develop both bicep and forearm strength.

Lower Back Extension: You may think that this should fall under back exercises, and it could, but for this specific obstacle I am placing it under core. If you are already doing the plank exercise listed above, that’s fantastic. However, the plank works more on your front core muscles (your abdominals) then it does on your lower back strength. Adding lower back extensions to your routine will help solidify your overall core strength.

Squats: Squats are probably the best exercise you can perform for overall leg strength development. The sled/tire drag isn’t going to require a ton of leg strength, but you will need it!

NUMBER 3: The Hercules Hoist

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What you’ll need:

  • Back strength
  • Bicep\forearms strength

How to Train for it:

Lat. Pull-down: Lat pull-downs are great for building back strength. The focus is placed on the lats with this exercise and the pulling angle is extremely similar to that of the Hercules Hoist. Keep in mind that the bag that men hoist is between 80-100lbs and for women it’s between 40-60lbs. If you’re able to reach those numbers or higher in your workout, you’ll have a strong chance when you face the obstacle!

Reverse Barbell Curl: This exercise is the ‘double whammy’ for building both biceps and forearm strength. Each muscle group plays a huge part in the pulling process for the Hercules Hoist.

NUMBER 4: The Bucket Brigade

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What you’ll need:

  • Grip strength
  • Endurance (carrying weight)

How to Train for it:

Farmer’s Walk: This obstacle requires you to carry a lot of weight and will test your grip. Farmer’s Walks are great for developing both of these. When you’re holding the dumbbells focus on keeping your shoulders at the same level they are normally. Don’t let the weight pull them down. This will help develop your traps and as you hold the dumbbells you’ll feel your grip weakening; keep on going as long as you can without dropping them.

Weighted ball step-ups: Shoot for a 15lb ball if you’re able to use that much weight safely. Hold the ball out in front of you at stomach height and try not to hold it against your stomach as you do it. This is going to build arm strength, leg strength, and endurance.

NUMBER 5: The Atlas Carry

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What you’ll need:

  • Lifting strength

How to Train for it:

Deadlift: The ‘atlas’ is a very heavy round stone. The men have to lift a heavier one then the women, but both a still very heavy. You will need to develop your lifting strength and practice good form to prevent injury by doing deadlifts in the gym. Remember that proper form is extremely important when performing any exercise, and especially when doing deadlifts.

Cardiovascular Training: A Spartan Sprint ranges from 3-5 miles in length. That’s a lot of feet. If you never do any running, you will struggle physically to complete the race and all of the obstacles. Adding 20-30 minutes of cardio (specifically jogging for a Spartan Race) will help you on race day. Ideally you should be hit the 30 minutes mark 3 times a week. If you can go longer or run 4 days each week, go for it! It isn’t going to do anything but improve your ability to crush the Spartan Sprint!

Sample Circuit Workout:

(do each grouping 3x through with 1 minute rest after each circuit)

Circuit #1 (Lower Body)

Deadlift: 15 reps

Weighted Ball Step Ups: 20 reps each leg

Jump Squats: 35 reps

Circuit #2 (Upper Body)

Pull Ups: as many as possible

Seated Cable Row: 15 reps

Reverse Barbbell Curl: 15 reps

Circuit #3 (Core)

Plank: As long as possible

Side Plank: As long as possible

Lower Back Extensions: 15 reps

Closing Thoughts: Spartan Races will test your limits! But, if you are properly trained, then you will be able to defeat every obstacle! Start training now so that when you cross that finish line, you cross with pride and satisfaction that you are now a Spartan Warrior!

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