Game Changer; Race Specific Skills


Game Changer; Race Specific Skills

Baseline fitness will carry you to an obstacle. But it’s the race-specific skills that will take you over, around, or through them.  Training specific energy systems, movement patterns and athletic skills tested as part of an obstacle race will transfer to successful execution of challenges encountered on the course. 

First, think about the typical obstacles featured as part of a race; monkey bars, cargo net, rope climb, barrier wall, mud pit, or low crawl.  Then, structure your training program around the exercises and movements that adapt the body to these disciplines.

Get Specific

  • Strength relative to body weight
  • Grip strength
  • Core strength/stability
  • Dynamic, explosive, athletic movements
  • Carry, pick-up, drag a heavy or awkward load

Try This

Grip Strength:  A strong grip enables you to lift heavier weights, perform more repetitions, and carry or transport heavy or oddly shaped objects.

  • Towel pull-ups: loop a towel over a pull-up bar and perform pull-ups gripping the towel.  The same method can be used with a rope.
  • Farmers walk:  Gripping a dumbbell, kettlebell, or  plate in each hand, retract your shoulders back and down, then walk in a straight line or zig-zag pattern for 25-50 yards. You will feel the burn in your hands, but you will also be training anaerobic capacity, upper back, traps and oblique strength.

Agility and Balance: Train dynamic and athletic movements that promote biomechanical efficiency while running, climbing, jumping and landing.

  • Jumping, hopping, or bounding for distance or height
  •  Box jumps and step-ups
  • Jump squats, jump lunges, and burpees
  • Medicine ball tosses and slams
  • Jump rope and agility latter drills

Unilateral strength:  To protect the knees and strengthen the glutes, hips, core, and low back include single leg and lateral movements.

  • Lateral step-ups and box jumps
  • Single leg squats and split squats
  • Lunges and lateral lunges

Transport an awkward load or object: Build true functional strength that is nearly impossible to train through traditional weight training techniques.

  • Weighted vest: hike or hill climbs with a weighted vest or backpack
  • Tire flip: Take a large heavy equipment tire and flip it end over end
  • Sled pulling or pushing: Move a heavy object by pulling/pushing/dragging for a specific distance or time.
  • Sandbag, keg, or stone loading and carrying: Pick up a heavy object and put it on a raised platform, lift it overhead, or carry for a designated time / distance.
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Joe Vennare

Joe Vennare is an accomplished fitness entrepreneur who develops, instructs and writes about innovative fitness programs. He is the co-founder of Hybrid Athlete, Kettlebell Cardio, and Race Day Domination.

When he is not working, Joe is a sponsored multi-sport athlete training for or competing in triathlons, ultra-marathons and obstacle course races.


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