Tough Mudder season is upon us so here are some of my top training tips for you if you have signed up to what’s labelled “probably the toughest event on the planet”. In 2014 I completed my first two Tough Mudder events so I know all about how to get your body in peak physical condition ahead of this tough test of endurance.
I filmed my second Tough Mudder on my GoPro, you can watch my experience here:
As a physically active guy with a regular workout routine I found these exercises really easy to incorporate into my weekly workouts and found they really helped get me ready for Tough Mudder.
If you are not aware Tough Mudder is a 13 mile obstacle course designed by American special forces! Generally held in fields and farmland to make it extra muddy, it’s designed to be a stern test of your endurance and willpower. It is also great fun with a focus on teamwork and camaraderie.
So let's get started with my tips!
Body Weight Exercises
This is my biggest tip, Tough Mudder contains on average around 20 obstacles, most of these require you to lift your own bodyweight so this training is key.
Pull Ups - These can be either wide or narrow, both will strengthen your upper body muscles including chest, upper back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. As these muscles develop you will soon gain the strength to help you over any obstacle TM throws at you. Don't worry if you can't immediately lift your own bodyweight, most gyms will have a machine where you can do all of these exercises with weighted assistance, just build up your strength over time and you will soon find yourself progressing. Another good starting point if you can't lift your weight is to just hang on the bar, this will start developing the muscles you require to lift yourself up. If you don't have access to a gym most local parks will have a play area featuring climbing frames where you can easily practice these exercises.
Squats - One of the most important exercises you can do. They are known to burn more calories than any other weight training exercise. The glutes are your biggest muscle group so you can squat much heavier weights than you would normally use for other exercises. Squats are the best exercise to tone your entire legs! Glutes, calves, hamstrings and quads are covered so building the strength in these areas is another key training tip. Remember TM is 13 miles through mud so your legs need to be strong to take the strain and demands this will bring.
Push-ups - Good old fashioned push-ups are great, they work your entire upper body and are great for core strength too. Whether you can do full push-ups or have to do them or your knees don't overlook them, sometimes with today's technology we neglect the classic exercises, there are a few variations including wide, narrow, seal, diamond etc, have a look online for videos to show you how to perform some of these and give them a try. Push-ups have been around forever and for good reason so get down and give me twenty!
Mountain Climbers - These are a great Tough Mudder specific exercise as a few of the obstacles require you to get face down in the mud and crawl. Mountain climbers will improve your core strength and help you master the movement you need to fly through the mud! Get down on the floor with your arms fully extended, shoulder width apart, feet together, back straight and bum down then just bring your knee to your elbow, go at a speed you are comfortable with, it’s as simple as that.
Build Your Endurance
Now you’re feeling strong you would be remiss to think you don't need a good level of general fitness to complete TM, trust me you do! 13 miles is half marathon distance, factor in you will be running through mud and you can see you will need good stamina and endurance. Having previously completed a half marathon I'm in a great position to tell you that you don't need to spend hours on the treadmill though, I don't believe lots of long distance running training is required for TM as you only run short distances between obstacles. My advice is to primarily focus on building your upper and lower body strength and throw in 2-3 high intensity cardio sessions a week to build your stamina and endurance.
You can run, row, bike, cross train, step etc, whatever you feel comfortable with, my best advice would be to mix it up and give them all a try. As you’re only doing 20 minute stints it's imperative you make the most of your time. That's why I recommend high intensity training, turn up the speed or resistance, get a good soundtrack in your ears and push yourself hard. You can put some intervals in there too, an example would be to run at a high speed for 1 minute then walk for 1 minute then repeat until you hit 20 minutes. Either way I want you sweating and out of breath when you finish!
One last tip I'd like to share is something that has served me well for years, it's hard and takes practice but once you master it you will never look back and your fitness will improve dramatically. Whenever I'm doing my high intensity workouts I always finish fast and strong, from minutes 15-20 I turn up my speed or resistance regularly, either every minute or every 30 seconds, you might think this is crazy as if you’re training right your probably struggling and close to your limit by minute 15 but give it a go and work at it. Training like this leads to your body building endurance that will get you through the toughest tests, once your mind and body is tuned to push when you think your fatigued you will fire like never before, you will become unstoppable! Your body truly is a remarkable machine, learn to use it to its full potential and you will amaze yourself with your results.
I hope you have found some of these tips useful. I'd love to hear your stories and get to know some of you, so comment below.
Here's to your success!
Love and Light x