The WOD, short for Workout of the Day, is a staple in obstacle race training. If you’ve read my Top 12 for obstacle race training post, you’d see that the WOD ranks high on my list in training for a challenge like the Tough Mudder or Spartan Race.
Thanks to CrossFit, the Spartan Race’s WOD newsletter, and many other sources, there’s a good pool of WOD ideas.
These 13 are some of my favorites for Tough Mudder and other obstacle race training.
They’re in no particular order and the utility for each one varies: some will help you build strength, some will improve your running time, some will boost your endurance, and some may address a little bit of everything.
The Barn Workout is a great WOD to build strength and endurance. This workout is better suited for intermediate-advanced exercisers.
Inspired by the Spartan blog WOD newsletter, I condensed the warm-up originally appearing on the blog in case you, like many of us, are short on time.
Easy jog for ½- 1 mile (or as much distance as you can cover in 5 minutes)
Stretch for 5 minutes, focusing on major muscle groups:
1. 30 Burpees
2. 30 Burpee/Pullups
3. 30 Pullups
4. 30 Box jumps
5. 30 Medicine Ball Squat Throws
6. 100 Jumping Jacks
7. 300 crunches
8. 30 body weight squats
9. 30 side kicks (each side)
10. 30 jumping lunges
11. 30 curls
12. 30 Tricep overhead presses
13. 30 frog jumps
14. 30 squat jumps
15. 3 x rope climbs
Stretch major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
2. 300 Burpee Challenge
The 300-burpee WOD is best for all fitness levels. If you’re a beginner, you can break down the challenge into smaller tasks like 6-10 burpees at a time followed by a 1-2 minute rest break. If you’re of intermediate or advanced fitness level, you could probably crank out twice as many (maybe more) before taking a short break and getting right back into it.
The other good thing about this workout is that you can split up the challenge throughout the day. It’s a good one to include in your arsenal for days when you may not be able to allocate a complete hour to work out. You can work in bouts of burpees throughout the day.
Be sure to warm-up for your first segment of the day with bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, lunges, and stretches.
3. Deck of Cards
I first heard of this WOD from rosstraining.com. The Deck of Cards WOD is a good total body circuit that will add variety and intensity to your training. You may also find it kind of fun, too.
Although it’s ideal for advanced fitness levels, it can also be customized for beginners.
How it Works
Colors and/or shapes represent an exercise. You can pick what exercise each represents. Examples:
Clubs: Push-Ups or Burpees
Spades: Pull-Ups or Rows
Hearts: Squats, Lunges, or Deadlifts
Diamonds: Ab exercise of choice
Ab exercise suggestions for intermediate-advanced exercisers: KTA bar, Hanging Knee Tucks, V sit-ups, etc. Ab exercise suggestion for beginners: crunches on stability ball or floor.
The numerical and face cards denote the number of reps you do per exercise. Jacks, kings, & queens = 10 reps; aces = 11; jokers can be thrown out or designated to represent another rep number.
Go through the entire deck and perform the exercises for the specified number of reps. If you’re a monster-advanced exerciser, you can even try going through the deck twice!
The Deck of Cards WOD can be adjusted for beginners so that you complete half the deck only or complete the deck without the face cards.
4. The Time Saver
I originally heard of this one from the Spartan Race WOD newsletter and made some modifications.
Jog 5-10 minutes
Stretch large muscle groups
2-3x if beginner
1. 30x Push Ups
Beginners: do modified push-ups or break into three sets of 10 per circuit.
2. 20x Squats
3. 15x Burpee – Pull-Ups
4. 20x Box Jumps or Tuck Jumps
5. 100 jumping jacks
6. 100 crunches or variation
Stretch large muscle groups: hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds each.
5. The Long Run
This one is pretty simple. Warm-up and try to run as far as you can at a comfortable pace.
6. Tempo Run: Intermediate to Advanced
Tempo runs are helpful to improve your running time. Even though slosh and sludge may slow you down, tempo runs can still help you improve your pace.
This workout idea was derived from active.com.
Jog/easy run and stretch for 10-12 minutes
After warming up, run at a slightly slower than race pace (30-45 seconds slower) for 5 minutes. Follow with 5 minutes at a slower pace.
Continue for your goal number of miles, which should be less than your race distance (so if you are doing a 5 miler, the “tempo run” part of this workout should be about 3 miles).
Jog/easy run and stretch for 10-12 minutes
7. Beginner Intervals: Walk-Jog or Jog-Run
If you’re new to running, intervals can help you work up to running your goal number of miles consecutively, water-break free.
Alternate walking-jogging or jogging-running for predetermined ratios for 3 miles. If you’re new to running, you may do a walk:jog ratio of 2 minutes:1 minute.
If you have some experience running, but can’t run your goal number of miles without stopping for a rest, you may try a jog:run ratio or 2 minutes:4 minutes. You can also do a variation of something in between 2:1 and 2:4 ratios.
The key to this WOD is to push yourself and make yourself devote a greater portion of your session to running or jogging each time and less to the “recovery” bout of your training.
Cool down by stretching for 8-10 minutes, focusing on lower body stretches.
8. Beyond Square One Run + Strength Circuit
Since an obstacle race tests both your running endurance and strength, it’s a good idea to include training sessions that combine both of these aspects.
If you’re a beginner, I have a beginner and intermediate-level workout that combines running and strength training. These workout with 5-7 minutes of running interspersed with strength exercises.
9. Outdoor WOD I
The source for this outdoor-friendly WOD is the Spartan Race WOD newsletter. If your local park has a pull-up bar and running trail, this may be a good one to complete outdoors. If not, you can also do this at your gym.
Jump rope or do an easy jog for a few minutes.
Do 10 burpees to warm-up your upper body
1. Push-ups till failure
2. Run 1-3 miles
3. Pull-ups till failure
4. Run 1-3 miles
5. 20-100 burpees
6. 20-100 crunches
(Feel free to do multiple sets of any of the strength exercises.)
Cool down with a good stretch.
10. Outdoor WOD II
Here’s an alternate to the previous outdoor workout. This also combines running endurance and strength training.
Run ½ miles
1. 100 traveling lunges
2. Run a ¼ mile
3. pull-ups to failure,
4. Run a ¼ mile
5. 100 push ups
6. Run a ¼ mile
7. 50 squats, 50 squat jumps
8. Run a ¼ mile
9. 2-5 mile run
Stretch for 8-10 minutes
11. Recovery: Fun
WOD’s can take their toll, so it’s good to work in an easier workout once a week if you are training everyday. Pick a weekend day to participate in a fun moderately intense activity for 1-2 hours.
12. Recovery: Stretch & Mobility
When you don’t have time for an hour or two of fun, less intensive activity to recover from your tough obstacle race training workouts, another active recovery session is a must.
An active recovery session with stretching and mobility exercises such as static stretches and dynamic flexibility exercises will help keep your body flexible and even minimize tightness.
13. Foam Roll
It may seem like a waste of time, but an hour devoted to foam rolling once a month during the rigorous training bouts of your season will go a long way helping your hard-working muscles recover. You’ll keep them loose and limber as well as prevent injuries.
So those are my picks integrating strength, running, and endurance.
What are some of your favorite WODs?
© 2009-2015 Melissa Rodriguez
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