Compared to other obstacle course runs, Tough Mudder is relatively easier, considering you’re not alone. However, that doesn’t entitle you to show up without proper preparation and expect to finish the run with flying colors. A combination of cardio training and exercises to target certain muscle groups will take you a long way. It’ll also make you much less likely to get injured on race day.
Exercises to prepare you for conquering the trail
Inside your training plan, try to achieve a sense of balance. If you’re a runner or cyclist, include a good amount of weight training and grip training, since you probably already have decent cardio fitness. On the other hand, if you frequent the weights room, you’ll need to train your stamina. Not sure where to begin? Here’s some exercises to prepare you for what’s to come on the trail:
The plank is a simple but significant muscular endurance exercise. Even just a one-minute plank per day can make a huge difference in your core strength. On top of that, planking is also great for strengthening your mental endurance. The focus and determination it takes to push through with a plank for a full minute or more, will give you a big advantage in the obstacles.
Like the plank, the squat is simple but significant, and should be made a part of your OCR training workout. Practice good form, even when you get tired, to reap the full benefits of your squats. To expand even more on these benefits, use weights. If you don’t feel very confident about weights yet, you can just continue to use your own bodyweight, or start easy with only the rack bar. Set high goals, but as you do, go at a safe, comfortable pace.
Tough Mudder will have you running through mud, and possibly water and ropes. High knees will make these feats a bit easier, and give you a good cardio workout at the same time. To do high knees, stand with your feet hip-width apart and lift your right knee up – higher than you would if you were taking a jog. Drop it down on the ground fast then do the same with your left knee. Keep on alternating, and you’re good to go. While your feet are working, you can stretch your arms straight out to the side at shoulder height.
Spider lunge (walk or crawl)
With all the hype surrounding upper body strength, be sure not to neglect your lower body training. Doing spider lunges will help you go against aerial obstacles. Unlike other lunges, the spider lunge doesn’t call for straightening up until you’re done. Get down on all fours, as low to the ground as you can, and spread out your arms and legs. You can simply crawl forward, but if you’re feeling confident, you can pick up the speed. The more you practice, the faster you can go. Speed counts for a lot, especially on obstacles like the barbed wire crawl.
Another important component of Tough Mudder training is agility. This means being able to make smooth movements and change direction quickly. It’s a combination of using your eyes and your limbs, so coordination plays a big role here. One exercise for improving agility is ladder drills. Ladder drills can be pretty straightforward, going from one end to the other quickly without tripping or stepping outside the ladder. To make it more challenging, add boxes you can step onto while doing the drills. This will help you max out your agility.
Aim for an intense but safe Tough Mudder experience
Exercises for flexibility, agility, and physical and mental strength are just as important as exercises for cardio. Creating a robust training plan will give you an advantage when it comes to the real thing, and it will give you some extra protection from cramps and injuries. Your body needs to be fully engaged to make it through the trials of Tough Mudder, and you can achieve this with a strategic variety of exercises.