Fitness / Lifestyle

How to train for an obstacle race

obstacle raceHere’s the thing. Your friends have roped you into doing Tough Mudder. You’ve got your orange headband and a fighting spirit. But how are you actually going to tackle those obstacles?

A smile, a can-do attitude and a gaggle of teammates will get you across the finish line, sure. But it’s not about limping to the end. You want to blaze through with ninja speed and warrior-like power, right? So, to make sure you’re not the one crying face down in the mud while the other competitors leap over your sorry ass, you’ll need to prep with a special kind of training.

It’s no good just being fast or strong or agile – you need to be an all-rounder, and prepared for anything those crazy organisers might throw at you. (Metaphorically speaking. I’m yet to come across an obstacle race where they actually throw things at you.) One minute you might be scrambling up a muddy hill, then you could be swinging along some monkey bars, hauling a chunk of wood across a waterlogged field, leaping into a pool of ice-cold water or steaming up a travelator.

These races are full of unpredictable challenges that will shock your body. Sometimes literally. One of Tough Mudder’s most notorious obstacles is a gauntlet of hanging electric wires, and this year they’ve introduced a field of tear gas. (Yes.) I can’t help you prepare for that, but for everything else you need to work on these three key areas of fitness:


Run a lot, ideally on trails and up hills. Bonus points for carrying heavy things.


Practise pull ups, press ups, squats, bear crawls and holding a plank.


Do dynamic stretches, flexibility exercises and plyometrics, like burpees, squat jumps and box jumps.

Here’s a handy infographic with a circuit to get you started. And if you’re looking for an obstacle race to sign up for, then check out – you’re sure to find one you like the look of!

Obstacle Course Training Guide


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