If you’re looking for a surefire way to mix up your fitness routine, nothing will do the trick quite like signing up for an obstacle course race like a Spartan or Tough Mudder. While not everyone trains for these races outside of doing some extra long-distance endurance running, doing so is surefire way to challenge your muscles in a new way.
While I haven’t yet participated in one of these races, I signed up for one in early September, leaving me just over a month to prepare. I took to the Spartan Race website for ideas on the best way to train. The site posts a calendar called to Couch to Sprint, a plan for training that lasts just over a month. The plan involves some typical training, which suggests building an aerobic base with trail-based runs, and building up intensity as it gets closer to race day. In addition to this, the plan suggests doing obstacle-specific practice. This includes incorporating activities like running up the stairs with a five-pound bucket and practicing the monkey bars at your local playground, which all help to mix up your fitness routines and are sure to challenge your muscles in new ways. Half way through the Couch to Sprint plan, it suggests utilizing a homemade sandbag of 15-20 pounds for various exercises to get used to moving around with weighted objects.
If you can get through the arduous task of assembling the sandbag (involving several trash bags and incredible amounts of tape) and past the idea of running around with something that looks like a giant burrito, it can be an incredibly useful training tool. Many people speculate that a weighted vest would work just as well, but the appeal of training with a sandbag is the uneven weight distribution that will undoubtedly challenge your muscles. My advice is to ease into running some short sprints with the bag to work on aerobic ability, and work in some strength moves. The Spartan schedule involves moves like sandbag squats and sandbag deadlifts. Once comfortable with these moves, I would suggest moving on to some plyometric moves such as sandbag jump squats or sandbag jump lunges, and alternating placing the sandbag on one shoulder each jump. Feel free to get creative with your training! Your muscles will appreciate the inconsistency.
Even if you choose not to participate in a race, you can still train like a Spartan!
For more information visit Spartan
Emma Ackel is a senior at Ithaca College with a major in Business Administration and a minor in Integrated Marketing Communications. She has a concentration in International Business, and loves all things travel-related. She has a passion for all things health and fitness related, and especially loves embarrassing herself trying new, out-of-the-ordinary fitness trends!
Training minds, changing bodies!
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