A lot of people these days are taking to mud holes around the country. The popularity of obstacle courses and mud runs is nearing its peak (just like every other fitness “fad” out there) but unlike bodybuilding and Cross Fit (not declining per se, but changing with the times) I do not see participation dropping anytime soon.
I think one of the main reasons these events are gaining ground is because they are “team” oriented, but still have individual components to them. Larger corporations and small businesses are putting teams together in order to build esprit de corps (morale and teamwork) in the hopes of improving unit cohesiveness and ultimately productivity. They are taking desk jockeys and turning them into weekend warriors; this eventually leads to a small % of people to continue in fitness. Some like what they see and want to continue down the fitness path.
The Trickle Down Effect:
Fitness is like water (what isn’t?). It can be hard when you fight against it, but it also helps you flow down the river of life when you learn to work with it. Bad habits tend to break (smoking, excessive drinking etc) and good ones need to take their place and fast. This is the same reason that when people quit smoking, they need something to fill the void of all the time and money they gained in their life by not having to puff away every 15 minutes or drowning the sorrows of a bad day in swill. Stopping anything suddenly leaves a person feeling overwhelmed and if they do not pick something up in a positive way, the negative destruction tends to come back even harder than it did before. Yo-Yo dieters go through the same flow, eating out of boredom is the leading cause of obesity. Instead of sitting down on the couch to self absorb some extremely stupid TV, try going to the gym or on a run. Before you know it, an hour has passed and it’s time to get ready for tomorrow.
So now, you find yourself staring at the entry form for an obstacle course. You have 8 weeks to get ready, where do you begin?
Step 1: Lose weight. As easy or hard as that sounds, it is what you make it. Losing weight means you won’t have to work as hard pulling your ass onto and over obstacles as you would have to with an extra 5, 10, 20 pounds. On the other hand, those that are already at their proper weight, you can train with a backpack to add resistance. This means you get your body ready to handle extra weight so that when do compete in the race, your body has already overcompensated for the resistance which in turn helps you move your existing weight more easily through the course.
To lose weight, you can do any of the following:
- Don’t eat as much as you normally do
- Burn more calories with the same diet
- Combine both diet change and activity level.
One of the fastest ways to lose those extra pounds is to run or walk. If you are extremely overweight, walking 30 minutes a day even with the same diet means you are burning more calories. Running while overweight tends to be pretty hard on the joints, so it is always best to start slow and long and work up to faster and longer. A sample training regimen for this would be to:
Walk everyday at lunch and as soon as you get off work. If you can walk/run around your place of business that’s even better than driving home and walking when you get there; the drive home can lead to excessive thinking and relaxing resulting in the F*ck it attitude and putting it off till the next day. It is all too easy to get home and comfortable and pour that glass of wine or open that beer.
You need to do it now, while the thought is still fresh in your mind and the motivation is there.
Moving your bodyweight through space is very important. When climbing a wall or running through the mud, you need strength, endurance and power. All of these can be trained through bodyweight exercises. Even when training a client, bodyweight movement should come first before weighted resistance training (free weights or machines). Some people will not agree with me here, and this is my opinion. If you cannot do a push up properly, how can I expect you to bench press with correct form?
Some great bodyweight exercises are pushups, pull ups, squats, mountain climbers, leg levers, flutter kicks, planks, dips, V Ups and jumping jacks. You could start with this cycle of exercises, starting with 1 set of 10 reps. Do that for a week and then add 2 sets at 10 reps. Continue on to 3 weeks with 3 sets of 10 reps.
After 3 sets of ten, you can start back over at 1 set of 20 and so on till you get 3 sets of 20.
Then increase the number or sets again.
For pull ups you can buy a door mounted pull up device. Pull ups, or even inverted rows (upside down rows) are a must for obstacle course training. You need to be able to at least pull your bodyweight up a wall or rope since you will be doing just that in your race.
Another great visual way to get a workout that will never bore you is with Fit Decks. These are great tools that when combined with multiple decks give a complete workout that changes every time you do it.
These workouts can be done 3x a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but remember that walking or running everyday is the key
If you are advanced, or have progressed enough you can start running and combining bodyweight exercises in the same workout. Once you get to a certain point, frequency and intensity are the keys to overcoming plateaus, with time and volume being the other measurements manipulated to increase progression.
Time: how long you do something
Frequency: how often you do something
Intensity: the level of speed and movement that you do something.
Volume: The amount of stuff you do within a given time frame (the faster you do something, the more you can do within a given time period)
What we in the fitness world call “progressive overload” can be broken down for everyone easily. Progressive means “changing and increasing” (time, frequency, intensity, volume,) overload means “adapting the body to do more”. A great example of this is in a push up routine.
Start with 1 set of 10, progress properly up to 3 sets of 20, and then increase resistance on the body (someone sitting on you, or putting a sandbag on your back). This progressively overloads the body to compensate for the added time and resistance, creating a bigger, faster, stronger YOU. You cannot get bigger, faster or stronger unless you give your body the proper load to adapt to.
So now you are in to running for 5 minutes as fast as you can, stop and do 20 pushups, then continue running on to the next exercise. You can get as creative as you want, however keep in mind exactly what you are training for. You might not necessarily ride a bike to be a better runner, however you could ride a bike to help drop off extra weight that lets you run faster and more nimbly. The more weight you have to carry while running or biking, the harder your body has to work at supplying oxygen to the working muscles and creating enough on demand fuel for these exercises. Got a lot of fat? Great! That is stored energy, use it!
I hope this gave a little insight in how to start training for your mud run or obstacle course. If you have anything to add, please feel free to leave it in the comments box below.
Now get out there and compete!