Training for the The MEN’S FITNESS Miami City Challenge Obstacle Race need not require building 8-foot walls in your backyard or jumping over your own vehicles.
Instead, it’s possible to mimic these obstacles and others with standard equipment in the gym or outdoors with things you’re likely to find in any park or playground.
Obstacle races require both strength and cardiovascular endurance. Since many recreational athletes fall into two camps — distance-running enthusiasts and the anaerobic strength-training gym crowd — they sometimes lack the integrated fitness to navigate an obstacle course without walking parts of it.
Instead of training by breaking workouts into separate strength and cardio days, think of obstacle training in terms of integrated workouts that also provide some obstacle-specific training. That way you’ll be prepared to fly through the The MEN’S FITNESS Miami City Challenge Obstacle Race. We’ll take a look first at some typical obstacles and how to train for them and then see how they fit together for four weekly workouts that include two gym sessions and two outdoor options.
Whether you’re hauling sandbags, water jugs, tires, logs, or five-gallon buckets of gravel, the challenge is to carry weight over distance as fast as possible.
KEY MOVEMENTS/MUSCLES – There’s a tendency to look at this as an upper body strength exercise, but it’s really about the hips and glutes. More often than not, the sandbag, tire, or log is resting on your shoulder or around your neck and it’s the lower body carrying the burden.
STRATEGY – Train for this by doing walking lunges with dumbbells. Or do the farmer’s carry, grabbing a pair of weight plates or kettle bells and walking around the gym. Prepare for some funny looks. Either move will help you grow accustomed to walking with heavy weight and make carrying a larger object less awkward. On race day, go as fast as possible. Just because everyone else is going at a slow pace doesn’t mean you need to.
The MEN’S FITNESS Miami City Challenge Obstacle Race, like most obstacle races, offers a number of walls of various sizes for you to overcome.
KEY MOVEMENTS/MUSCLES – These are full-body movements that require explosiveness to grab the top of the wall, strength to pull yourself up, and hip mobility to get your legs over.
STRATEGY – No need to practice on actual walls, though it certainly helps. Most everything in your training will contribute to your proficiency in this, from pull-ups and box jumps to squats, lunges, and any stretching or mobility exercises that open the hips. Get a good running start, as the initial catch is the most challenging part. Once you’re stabilized, it’s easier to pull yourself over.
These come in two categories. There are obstacles with cargo nets positioned as walls and obstacles where you must use a hanging rope to get over a wooden wall. The cargo net walls are not especially difficult; the challenge is not to lose your footing. The hanging rope obstacles come in varying degrees of difficulty, from the fairly easy (climbing up a ramp) to the moderately difficult (navigating a wall with plenty of foot placements) to the more difficult (climbing a rope hanging vertically to ring a bell or touch a bar.)
KEY MOVEMENTS/MUSCLES –Upper body strength is important but your lower body flexibility often can play just as vital a role in leveraging you up the obstacle.
STRATEGY – Take a quick look at the pegs, ledges, and other footholds before beginning your ascent. There’s likely a path of least resistance. If all you have is a rope hanging down the wall, the key is to position your feet almost perpendicular to the wall and use your hands to climb up the rope.
You’ll see all forms of tunnels in obstacle races. Some will be tall enough to go through with your head down, but most require bear crawling. Others are narrow and dark, requiring a forearm commando crawl.
KEY MOVEMENTS/MUSCLES – The core is key here since it’s the shoulders and hips that propel you through tunnels as you move from a mostly horizontal position.
STRATEGY – Move quickly, but be sure not to bang your head or other body parts against the roof of the tunnel.
This isn’t a specific obstacle but the actual tempo of the race presents a challenge for many. Many people walk from obstacle to obstacle or at least walk a bit after each obstacle. Instead, you want to treat an obstacle race like a steeplechase or cross-country run, never breaking stride.
>Farmer’s Carry (Carry dumbbells or kettlebells 10 yards, turn, and come back. Increase time/distance as you progress) >Dips (10 or more as you progress. These help with getting over walls) >Box Jumps (10 or more, start with low box and progress to higher) >BOSU Pull-Ups (10 or as many as you can.) >Squat Jumps (10) >Burpees (10)
Workout 2 (Outdoors in park): >Interval running (18 minutes, see previous slide) >Park Bench Routine (Do 10 pushups pressed against a park bench at a 45-degree angle. Reverse and do 10 dips. Repeat twice) >Mountain climbers (30) >Push-ups (20) >Monkey Bars (If your park has a playground with monkey bars, practice going across. Most of us haven’t done this in years. Better to reacquaint yourself before the race!)