Try This Workout To Get Ready For Tough Mudder

Join us for a cold one at the finish line.

Mark Barroso |

Men’s Health staffers are gearing up for our favourite obstacle course challenge come 19 October— Tough Mudder. We’ve partnered with the global brand to bring you an obstacle course challenge all your mates can take part in and one that needs no medal – just the battle wounds to prove you were there.  It’s only the second Tough Mudder to come to SA, taking part in the beautiful Elgin, in the Western Cape. And it’s one we certainly aren’t going to miss!

Related: How Pro US Climber Kai Lightner Is Helping Vulnerable Kids In SA

But you need to be prepared. Obstacle challenges will kick your butt—especially so if you approach them like most guys do: By thinking your regular old routine of either running or lifting is enough to get you over the finish line.

And that’s just not so, says Alexander Nicholas group fitness instructor and owner and founder of Epic Hybrid Training in New York City. The key to conquering these challenges is to combine the fitness disciplines, train at the manic pace you’ll face come challenge day, and mimic many of the awkward movements you’ll do in the course, he says.

“In an obstacle [challenge], you need to ‘start and stop’ different muscle groups when transitioning through different obstacles, which leaves your entire body fatigued,” says Nicholas. In Tough Mudder, for example, you might run 800m through mud and water, then pull yourself up a massive warped wall, then climb across a cargo net before sliding 20 metres into water.

Related: 4 Prehab Hacks To Boost Your Mobility And Help You Lift Heavy

With that in mind, Nicholas designed this high-intensity interval workout to help everyone from average guys to seasoned OCR pros excel at their next race. You’ll hammer your muscles and lungs, and build the strength and mobility you need for any obstacle. He suggests the workout once a week along with your regular fitness routine.

Fair warning, says Nicholas. This workout is intense. Make sure your body has enough time to recover. The upshot: You’ll blast a ton of fat in the process, and have a serious leg up on your competition.

The Ultimate Obstacle Course Race Circuit

In this intense workout, you’ll practice the most common OCR movements that tend to throw guys off their game on race day. It’ll help you pull ahead on race day, and will also fill a ton of gaps in your overall strength and fitness.

Directions: Warm up by performing 5 reps of pushups, 5 reps of air squats, then 5 reps of situps. That’s 1 round. Do as many rounds as you can in 3 minutes.

Now move onto the workout: Perform the exercises below in the order shown for 40 seconds each. Rest 20 seconds between each exercise. Once you’ve complete the last exercise, that’s 1 round. Do 6 total rounds.

  1. Jumping pullup

Stand in front of a pullup bar, ideally one that’s 12 to 18 inches above your hands when your arms are overhead. Jump vertically and grab the bar with an overhand grip. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Continue doing pullups for the remainder of your 40 seconds.

  1. Bear crawl drag

Get on all fours—like you’re about to crawl—with a sandbag or 7 to 15KG kettlebell on the floor between your knees. Reach between your legs and pull the weight across the floor up in front of you. Now, bear crawl forward until the weight is between your legs again. Repeat.

  1. Gorilla hang pullup

Stand underneath a pullup bar so you’re perpendicular to it. Grip the bar with one hand in front and the other right behind it, like you’re gripping the handle of a baseball bat. Now pull yourself up until your right shoulder touches the bar. Slowly lower yourself. Repeat, this time touching your left shoulder to the bar. Repeat back and forth for 40 seconds.

  1. Jumping lunge jack

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step backwards with your right leg so your right knee is just above the ground, your left knee forward and bent 90 degrees. Jump as high as you can as you switch legs mid-air and land so your left knee is just above the ground and your right knee is forward and bent 90 degrees. Now do two traditional jumping jacks. Repeat the pattern for time.

  1. Plank to elbow touch

Assume a pushup position. Raise your left hand, bend your left arm, and slowly touch your left elbow to the floor. Reverse the movement, then repeat with your right arm. Continue the pattern for 40 seconds, occasionally adjusting the distance between your feet throughout.

  1. Lateral box skater

Stand with your right foot flat on a box or bench, your left foot on the ground. Jump laterally to the right so that your left foot is on the box and right foot is on the ground. Continue going back and forth for time.

About Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is a team-oriented challenge with no winner, no finisher medal, no clock to race against—just an ice cold drink and a few good scrapes from a day spent outside and free from everyday BS. There are 16 km (Full) or 8 km (Half) of mud and obstacles built to test your mental grit, camaraderie and all-around physical fitness.

Tough Mudder is for anyone who has ever followed their gut, tried to defy gravity, chosen “dare” over “truth,” taken risks, sought thrills, or is generally awesome at life. Turns out, it is everything we have been training for.


Join us for a cold one at the finish line, sign up for Tough Mudder here (or below). Also, get R100 off if you use the code MH100.


Tough Mudder

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