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3 Unconventional Obstacle Race Training Drills

April 26, 2013 | Rob DeCillis | Featured in the Summer 2013 Issue

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If you have an upcoming Spartan Race, no doubt the extreme obstacles are already haunting your dreams. Crawling under barbed wire, climbing a slippery wall and jumping over fire will push your body and mind to the limit. Worse, if you fail one of these challenges, you will have to do 30 Burpees. (Try this obstacle-course race workout plan.)

To conquer every obstacle—and avoid penalties—you must take your training outside the box. Traditional training methods, like strength training and trail running, are beneficial. But you need to incorporate unconventional methods for an unconventional race.

Think of it as "sport-specific" training. If you play football, you probably perform speed drills that mimic the running routes or footwork patterns of your position. Race training is similar. You will have to carry awkward objects, climb over rough terrain and run past gladiators who are trying to knock you down with pugil sticks. So your training must mimic these demands. (Follow these tips to survive a race.)

Try these three unconventional drills to prepare for your next spartan race. They may not look like traditional exercises, but they will get you in shape for the extreme nature of the race. The last thing you want is a surprise that your body can't handle.

Bucket Burpees

Many spartan races require you to carry a five-gallon bucket filled with rocks up a hill. To prepare, pick up two five-gallon buckets and head over to your local high school track. This session is a mile long, but the time it takes depends on how fast you can finish.

Perform each drill for 400 meters. Do 30 Burpees any time you have to place the bucket down.

Set 1: Take a bucket three-fourths filled with rocks and hold it in front of you in a bear hug position.
Set 2: Using the same bucket, carry it on either shoulder. Switch shoulders at any time.
Set 3: Carry one bucket like a suitcase. Switch hands at any time.
Set 4: Grab both buckets and do Farmer's Walks.

Rock and Roll

Place five moderately-heavy to heavy rocks at the bottom of a hill. Perform 10 Burpees, then pick up a rock and run to the top of the hill as fast as possible. Set the rock down and run down the hill. Repeat for each rock. Once all five rocks are at the top, bring them down. Perform 10 Burpees before picking up a rock.

Cinder Block Drag

Every spartan race has a cinder block drag. So get a cinder block and a seven- to eight-foot chain or heavy rope and tie it to the block. Do 30 Burpees and drag the cinder block across a field for 100 yards. Repeat this sequence five to seven times.

Photo: Spartan Race

Rob DeCillis
- Rob DeCillis got his start in the strength and conditioning world in 2006, when he had the opportunity to train an IFL heavyweight fighter. After...
Rob DeCillis
- Rob DeCillis got his start in the strength and conditioning world in 2006, when he had the opportunity to train an IFL heavyweight fighter. After...
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