YOUR OB­STA­CLE COURSE OF AC­TION

Want more strength and agility? Want to bust out of a work­out rut? Train for an ob­sta­cle course race.

Men's Health (Singapore) - - FITNESS -

First you’re zip­ping across mon­key bars; then you could be leap­ing over a pit of fire. Get used to tests like these if you ever en­ter a Spar­tan Race, Tough Mud­der, or Rugged Ma­niac--all ob­sta­cle course races (OCRs) that re­quire agility, power, and strength. With the right train­ing, your body can han­dle it all. These tech­niques will help–or at least spice up your gym grind.

FORGE REAL-WORLD STRENGTH

Your 5K en­durance means noth­ing when you tackle the bucket carry, com­mon in a Spar­tan Race. You fill a 20-litre bucket with rocks, sand, or wa­ter, and then tote this un­gainly load around a track–or worse, up­hill. You’ll need lower-back strength, grip strength, and grit. “Bear hug the bucket as tight as you can and in­ter­lock your fin­gers around it,” ad­vises Isa­iah Vi­dal, who’s won mul­ti­ple Spar­tan Races. When rac­ing, “the faster you can get this one done, the bet­ter.”

TRAIN FOR IT Ei­ther fill a bag with rocks or grab a heavy medicine ball. Pick it up, hug it, and walk for time. Do 2 or 3 rounds of this a few times a week, work­ing to in­crease your to­tal walk time in each ses­sion.

BOOST FLEX­I­BIL­ITY AND AGILITY

Crawl­ing un­der some­thing– barbed wire, wood beams–is vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed in an OCR. That will chal­lenge your hips and core, so work on mo­bil­ity, flex­i­bil­ity, and bal­ance. Spar­tan Race 2015 world cham­pion Robert Kil­lian rec­om­mends ham­string stretches to avoid cramp­ing. Bonus: They’ll help your run­ning form.

TRAIN FOR IT Kil­lian’s go-to stretch is ba­sic: Stand tall, then bend to touch your toes. Don’t round your back as your hands near the ground. For bal­ance: Stand on one leg, ex­tend your arms fully, and toss a 15-pound medicine ball, slam ball, or sand­bag in the air; do 2 sets of 10 reps per leg a few days a week.

UP­GRADE YOUR GRIP

Rope climbs and mon­key bars are child’s play com­pared to the cage­like OCR rigs that have you swing­ing from end to end, grab­bing ev­ery­thing from gym­nas­tics rings to hang­ing base­balls. To pre­pare, you’ll need to work on both your crush grip (squeez­ing some­thing be­tween your fin­gers and palm) and your sup­port grip (hold­ing on for long pe­ri­ods of time).

TRAIN FOR IT Kil­lian works his crush grip by ty­ing a weight to a fat bar, grasp­ing the bar with both hands, and rolling the weight to the top of the bar. For sup­port grip, hang from a pull-up bar for as long as you can, says Vi­dal. Do this

4 times a week.

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