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Get a Grip on Obstacle Race Training

30 Aug 2012

This is a guest post by Joe Vennare, co-founder of The Hybrid Athlete and co-creator of Race Day Domination

Training for an obstacle course race?  Awesome! I am sure you have already begun training or have at least thought about how you are going to structure your workouts.  While both running and lifting should be included in your training program, don’t forget to address the race specific skills that will be called upon during the race.  In this case, I am referring to grip strength.

Think about it.  Almost any race you enter will feature some element of the monkey bars, cargo net, rope climb, barrier wall, mud pit, or low crawl.  And the common skill required to conquer these obstacles?  That’s right, grip strength.

Having a strong grip is about more than just hand strength, it includes all of the muscles from the elbow to the fingertips. A strong grip means you can lift heavier weight, do more pull-ups, climb a rope or scale a wall.
Use these training techniques and workout to get build that vice grip that will have you locked on to every challenge on race day.

Grip Training

  • Towel pull-ups: loop a towel over a pull-up bar and perform pull-ups gripping the towel.  The same method can be used with a rope.
  • Rope climb: Train pulling strength, as well as grip, forearm, and core strength for a challenge likely to be encountered during your race.
  • Farmer’s walk:  Gripping a dumbbell, kettlebell, or plate in each hand, retract your shoulders back and down, then walk in a straight line or zig-zag pattern for 25-50 yards. You will feel the burn in your hands, but you will also be training anaerobic capacity, upper back, traps and oblique strength.
  • Kettlebells:  Maintaining your grip of a kettlebell during dynamic, swinging movements will improve hand, wrist, and forearm strength.  You can also use the towel or rope from pull-ups around the handle of the kettlebell to do swings.

Obstacle Race Workout

Jog@ 2-5 minutes
Lunge @25 yards
Reverse Lunge @ 25 yards
Broad Jump @ 25 yards

Push-ups 20-2 by 2
Pull-ups or Inverted Row 10-1 by 1

Perform 20 push-ups, then 10 pull-ups/rows
18 push-ups and 9 pull-ups/rows
2 push-ups and 1 pull-up/row

5 Rounds @ 50 yards each movement
Bear Crawl
Farmer’s Walk
Rope Climb or Overhand Sled/Weight Pull (attach a rope to a weight and pull, hand over hand)
Farmer’s Walk
Walking Lunge holding a weight, sandbag or barbell overhead


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