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Training for an Obstacle Course Challenge

Because of their excitement and thrill levels, obstacle course challenges are gaining in popularity among active individuals and enticing those who may not take part in regular physical activity. But if an athlete is not familiar with these types of events, finding the right training program can be daunting.

One of the best parts of these challenges is the chance to individualize your training. The most important part, however, is to have fun. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind during your preparations so you can safely enjoy these events.

Know the Environment

The first step to successfully completing an obstacle course challenge is to know what you are getting into. Events are held across the country, and the courses can vary greatly due to local terrain. An event held in Arizona will be significantly flatter and hotter than an event held in Pennsylvania.

Most events will publish a course map that will give you a better idea of the distances covered and what to expect. This will give you a good starting point for your training. Some key characteristics to consider include:

  • Total distance of the race
  • Types and numbers of obstacles included
  • Distance between the obstacles
  • Local terrain and climate
  • Potential number of participants on the course at any given time
  • Types of conditioning

Every event is different, and so is every participant. Some events might require more aerobic conditioning, since many courses can cover up to 10 to 12 miles.

Military-style events are considerably shorter, but have a higher number of obstacles packed into that shorter distance. This requires considerable strength, agility, balance, and coordination. The demands that are placed on the aerobic and anaerobic systems are very different, and will affect neuromuscular control. Obstacles that are close together require more coordination than those that are spread out over greater distances.

Interval Training

Obstacle course challenges are mainly run as interval challenges. For this reason, inclusion of interval training is very important as you prepare for an event. There is a high degree of variability, which can easily keep runners from getting bored in their training, and may also help to decrease their risk of overuse injuries.

A period of high-intensity work followed by a period of lower-intensity work, or rest, is recommended. In this case, navigating an obstacle is the high-intensity work, and moving from obstacle to obstacle is the rest period. An individual should use a multi-step approach to training and not keep a rigid program as the only option.

Body-Weight Exercises

Obstacle course challenges involve a lot of body-weight tasks. For this reason, it is very important to include body-weight exercises, such as:

  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Dips and curls
  • Hanging knee raises
  • Box jumps
  • Lunges

Exercises like these help to enhance mobility and coordination. In addition, athletes should try to focus on upper body strength and flexibility. Many obstacles require a great amount of upper body strength, and others require a good amount of flexibility. Following these tips can help make your next (or first) obstacle course challenge safe and successful. 

Remember to consult your doctor before starting any type of exercise regimen. To learn more about how we can help you improve performance and avoid injury, call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

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