Getting ready for whatever you might encounter.

Obstacle races are becoming increasingly popular. In 2014, obstacle races made up roughly 5,000 events in over 30 countries, with nearly 10 million participants. If 2015 is your year, here are a few tips to get you ready for whatever you head into.

In an obstacle race, you need the endurance to run 10-12 miles and the intensity to overcome all the challenges in between. Obstacle races require full body strength and cardiovascular endurance. Pushing, pulling, crawling, and jumping are all probable components of an obstacle race. To prepare for the unknown, you need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone because you definitely won’t be comfortable during the event.

Pushing Movements
Push-ups, bench press, chest fly, and chest press are all great movements to work your chest. The less stability the better. You want your body ready to combat obstacles, not to move in a set plane of motion like the machine at the gym. Try to stick with standing movement, cable machines, and free weights.

Pulling Movements
Pull-ups, rowing, lat pull-downs, and reverse flies cover the basics. Pull-ups are one of the most common movements in obstacle races, but if you can’t do one yet, start with assisted pull-ups and heavy lat pull-downs to work up to it. You want to be ready to pull yourself up and over anything that’s put in your way.

Crawling
This will require some core strength, which will help in every obstacle you encounter. For this, focus on both the dynamic portion and stability. Planks, military crawl, bear crawl, and inchworms will target this area. Practice hanging leg raises and knees to elbows for a bonus of core and grip strength.

Jumping
This is a speed and power movement. You want to generate as much force as possible once your event rolls around. Practice box jumps, explosive squats, jump lunges, frog jumps, power pistol squats, and burpees. These movements work your fast twitch muscle fibers and give your body the explosiveness to jump over whatever might be placed in front of you.

Everything Else
Four movement patterns may cover the basics, but you aren’t ready yet! Obstacle races are outdoors, so go outside! Trail running, hiking, swimming, rock climbing, or simply playing on a playground are all great cross-training workouts. Start early and make sure your body is ready for the physical and mental demands coming your way.

iFit Trainer
Emily Wiley