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Obstacle Race Training: Strength

24 Apr 2012

Get the fundamentals down, and the level of everything you do will rise. – Michael Jordan

Recently, I was asked if it would be possible to include a training program that would focus on strength alone.

If you’ve been following my blog for obstacle course race training workouts, you’ve found routines to test your endurance, increase your strength, and improve your obstacle course-specific skills.

Even though I’ve always believed the best training preparation for an activity is to work the muscles and movements that parallel the activity, sometimes it’s helpful to get back to basics.

As Michael Jordan once said, “get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” This strength training workout will bring you back to fundamentals in order to increase your training performance for an obstacle race in the long run.

The exercises below will have you focus on strengthening the muscle groups you’ll need in peak form for your race. Strengthening them will complement and elevate your OCR-specific training.

Obstacle Race Training: Strength – General Instructions

  • In-season: Do 1-2x/week (your focus is on being race-ready, so most of your workouts should focus on endurance and obstacle race-specific training)
  • Do 1x a week in addition to 2 of your obstacle race-specific workouts or WODs.
  • Do 2x a week in addition to 1 of your obstacle-race specific workouts or WODs (i.e. on a lighter training week or if you’re working up to 2 obstacle race-specific workouts/week).
  • Start with 3 sets of each bout, work up to 4 sets total.
  • Unless otherwise noted, start out with 3 sets of 10-12 reps for the first couple weeks. Then progress to 4 sets of 5-8 reps.
  • This workout should take you 40-60 minutes to complete.

Obstacle Race Training: Strength – Warm Up

(5-10 minutes)

1. Cardio or light calisthenics for 5 minutes (if at home, jog in place, jumping jacks, knee ups, heismans, etc.)
2. Squats, 10x
3. Lunges, 10x
4. Supermans, 10x
5. Push-ups, 10x
6. Plank hold, 30s

Obstacle Race Training: Strength – Strength Bout

(30-40 minutes)

Chest & Abs
1. Chest Press

2. Push Ups

3. V Sit Ups (home) or Elevated Sit-Ups (gym) 3-4 x 15-20

Rest 30s


1. Bent Over Row

2. Pull-Ups (use weight assist – chair or Lifeline Revolution if needed)

3. Back Extensions (at gym — use bench, at home — use stability ball)
Rest 60s


Legs & Shoulders
1. Squats with Dumbbells (Hang Carry)

2. Squat-Press

3. Dive Bombers

Rest 60s


Obstacle Race Training: Strength – Cool Down

(5-10 minutes)

Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.

1. Hamstrings

2. Glutes

3. Quads

4. Chest

5. Back

6. Shoulders

What are some of your favorite workouts or exercises to improve strength?

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