bodybuilding.com how to seriesHow To Perform Dips Presented By: BodyBuilding.com 

Obstacle Race training requires more than just running ability. It requires a well balanced amount of upper body strength as well. Continuing to build up our repertoire of exercises that can be used in building the muscles necessary to complete obstacles, today we will learn the proper form for dips. By working on a variety of exercises we become stronger, and as we become stronger a majority of the obstacles will inherently become easier. Having trouble pushing yourself up and over the wall climbs? Do your arms get tired while crawling through the barbed wire? Performing dips is a fantastic way to develop your tricep muscles and help you to conquer these obstacles.

Bodybuilding.com How to Perform Dips Spartan Race

Whichever obstacle it is that gets the best of you, know that by working on building the strength to complete them is half the battle. The other half is practice. Incorporate dips into your everyday training and soon enough you’ll develop what we like to call “obstacle immunity.” Once you develop “obstacle immunity” any obstacle you face whether it be in a Spartan Race or in your everyday life, will become easier. Things will begin to just work and you’ll no longer fear the unknown. It’s not that they’ll just become easier, it’s more that you’ll become better at handling them. Work hard enough and you just might earn yourself a burpee free race. So get to work, do some dips, and we’ll see you at the finish line. Get after it Spartan! AROO!!!

 

 

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bodybuilding.com how to seriesHow-To Perform a Pull-Up Presented By: BodyBuilding.com

When training for the many obstacles that present themselves at a Spartan Race there are a myriad of exercises that can help you to overcome them. Today we will be looking at the Pull-Up, a commonly difficult exercise that proves extraordinarily crucial in developing obstacle immunity. Working at building the proper muscles for each obstacle will help you in achieving a burpee free race! If you find it difficult to climb over the six, seven, or eight foot falls, or perhaps the Hercules Hoist is just too darn heavy to hoist to the top, it’s time to start doing more pull-ups.

pull-up exercise how to bodybuilding.com spartan race obstacle immunity

The pull-up exercise will help you to develop your back and arm muscles, specifically your latissimus dorsi, biceps and shoulder muscles. These muscles in turn will help you to conquer not only the wall climbs and the Hercules Hoist, but also the monkey bars, the traverse wall, the rope climb, the tire drag, the sandbag, Atlas, and bucket carries, as well as the slippery wall. As you can tell the pull-up and the muscles it focuses on strengthening are essential in conquering most of the obstacles at a Spartan Race.

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The pull-up is just one of many exercises that will lead you to obstacle immunity. Get to work and incorporate pull-ups into your workout regimen. If you have trouble doing one, start off doing them assisted and work up from there. Your goal should be to continuously improve. Remember, always stay hungry and strive to do more in each set. Now get after it Spartan! AROO!! Click here to view video tutorial.

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Spartan Pro Teamer Isiah Vidal takes us through how to complete the inverted walls and gives tips and coaching advice for how to prepare for them.

Beat the obstacle and avoid the burpees!!

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We’ve all been there. You duck under that first length of barbed wire and after having moved what feels like 20 yards, you look up and realize it’s closer to 2 or 3 feet. You take a peek over the wire and it seems like this crawl spans all the way into the next state.

Pro Team member Chris Rutz knows how you feel and as such, has helped with another episode of Buck Furpees and will now give you some pointers regarding how to train for and then beat the barbed wire crawl.

Don’t forget to check out the previous episodes of Buck Furpees on our Youtube Channel (link) and brush up on other videos including the Traverse Wall, The Atlas Carry, Rope Climb and the dreaded Spearman Throw.

See you at the finish line!

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If you’re struggling with the J-Hook, here’s another way you can conquer the rope climb and avoid those penalty burpees!

Remember that using your feet and legs will always help you. You legs are generally stronger than your arms, so let’s make use of them! “Standing” on the rope is so much easier than hanging from it!


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One thing we see again and again at Spartan Race is people failing the Traverse Wall. In this edition of “How To”, Corinne Kohlen guides us through the basic skills and shows us how, as an elite racer, she prefers to see off this obstacle with the minimum of fuss. 

In addition to this, we would also advise those that have difficulty with the Traverse Wall to experiment with Bouldering and indoor rock climbing. This sport generates great coordination and improves strength in the muscles needed for this obstacle, as well as improving strength in grip.

With practice, you need never do burpees at this obstacle again.

Sign up at spartanrace.com and see how you do!

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In this installment of “How To”, Elite Pro Team athlete Miguel Medina shows us how to get past the Atlas carry without too much worry.

With each person comes different skill, strength and technique levels. Just bear in mind that simple golden rule: lift with your legs, not your back!

Use this technique at your next Spartan Race and we’ll see you at the finish line!

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How many times have you stared longingly at those people at Spartan Races that effortlessly scamper up those climbing ropes and ring the cowbell with effortless ease?

There you are, hugging that rope with your hands clenched around that knot, hoping that if you can get just above the one in front of you, you’re part of the way there. Then what happens? You slide back into that muddy water and curse the whole thing to Hades.

How do they do it? It looks so easy when they do it!

Never fear – the Spartan Race Pro Team are here!

In this episode of “How to…” the Barbed Wire Queen of Green, Andi Hardy, is going to show you how to employ the “J-Hook” technique when climbing a rope. Gone are those frustrating times of shaking an angry fist at that cowbell you can’t reach.

Just watch this tutorial video made on course at a Spartan Race and all will be revealed!

Learn the technique and sign up without fear of failing it again!

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Growing up as a boy in Germany, I was always fascinated by the endless pine forests that seemed to go on forever. I’d see men with forearms like Popeye and chests like barrels quaffing beers and throwing axes at logs in almost nonchalant disdain. The way the wood would explode into halves as the blade shot through it was almost hypnotic. The action, the smell and of course, that glorious sound made everything so delicious. It remained with me throughout my life and now, finally, not only do I have an excuse to chop, but it contains benefits that I embrace with the same arms that swing those axes.

Why would anyone want to chop wood, though? It’s actually very simple. It’s good for you.

Chopping wood is, simply put, one of the best workouts you can give your body. Let’s think about this. First of all, you need a good solid stance, right? Making sure the feet part at a comfortable distance, usually about shoulder width, in order to have a good solid base, you are prepping for action. Doing this means your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and gluteal muscles are all in use and are tense and braced. Going on from there, you have the swing itself. This is generated in the latissimus dorsi, the lower and middle trapezius, the deltoids, obliques and the pectorals. Completing the swing, you will use smaller muscles in order to stabilize it. It’s one of the few motions, not unlike swimming, that uses a whole range of motions and muscles in order to complete one action.

Best of all for folks that hate doing floor exercises, but still want to try and work those abs, is that this action is basically like doing crunches, only you’re standing up and aren’t getting bored to tears. Crunches are boring. There, I said it.

But it doesn’t end there. Because wood chopping is considered a low-intensity workout, it can improve cardiovascular endurance when you perform is slowly and steadily for a protracted amount of time. With practice, the constant repetition of the swing of the axe will build precise form. This form will raise your heart rate, burn calories and improve your circulation.

Additionally, the motion of the swing – which should be smooth and fluid-like with practice – will not adversely affect your joints, because this exercise is effectively not a weight-bearing one. If you chop wood, say, twice or perhaps three times a week, it will help build aerobic fitness and as we all know, this is what you need in order to efficiently take in oxygen while you perform not just exercise, but any kind of physical activity.

As with any physical activity that requires certain amounts of exertion, you’ll be releasing both endorphins and adrenaline. These are both feel-good chemicals produced naturally within the body.

So chopping wood is in that bizarre situation of being both creative and destructive at the same time. Chopping wood is so rewarding and from personal experience, way more rewarding than any clinical workout in any gym or Crossfit box. You’ve achieved something and have actually something to show for it. You can feel all the muscles working and best of all, that satisfying ache of a job well done. Not to mention the fact that chopping is a confidence booster. Add that final element of problem solving when you come across that one particularly knotty and stubborn piece of wood that just doesn’t want to be split and you have what could be argued as the perfect workout.

As any Spartan Death Racer will tell you, log chopping is a staple part of the Death Race as it’s the perfect workout. Perhaps going back to basics is sometimes the best approach to go forward. So get chopping and sign up for your next race now.

See you at the finish line…

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Spartan Swimming 101

You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.
- Edwin Louis Cole

How much swimming are you incorporating into your training? Maybe it’s time to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new?

Whether you want to actively recover from your normal routine, or introduce yourself to the full-body workout that swimming can be, consider looking for a pool when at a gym or workout facility.

Regardless, of your motives, during a Spartan Race you might find a deep appreciation for your experience in the water.

LAP SWIM ETIQUETTE–FITTING IN AT THE POOL

by Erica Smith, Elite Open Water Swimmer and Coach

Swimmer here.  I’m here to break the unfortunate news to you that swimmers (as we call ourselves–those of us who have the distinction of having been competitive swimmers in high school and/or college), are holding you in judgment for the suit you wear, the goggles you wear, and the way you conduct yourself at the local YMCA or community pool. As soon as we see you coming, we’ll start sprinting butterfly or doing extra-splashy flip turns to discourage you from sharing our lane. It’s not just swimmers behaving badly–I swear runners have taunted me in similar ways when I venture out of my territory and onto land.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can work out in peace without being taunted or judged by swimmers. First off, don’t ever show up wearing a scuba mask or ancient-looking goggles. I like Blue Seventy goggles–all models make excellent open water goggles, and you can wear them to the pool. Don’t wear swim trunks or a triathlon suit–you’re going to have to get yourself a real swimsuit made for pool swimming. Now, emerge from the locker room and walk across deck with confidence. If the lap lanes have speed designations (Slow-Medium-Fast), make sure you don’t overestimate yourself. Using fins doesn’t count towards your perceived speed. It’s taboo among swimmers to wear fins for an entire workout, and everyone knows WHY you’d be doing that.

Once you choose the appropriate lane, there are a few basic but very important rules you must follow:

1. If you are joining a lane with one swimmer, you must alert that person to your presence before you begin swimming, and ask whether your new lanemate prefers to “circle swim” or “split the lane.” Using proper swimming lingo will earn you points. Circle swimming means that you will swim counterclockwise, always hugging the laneline to your right. Splitting the lane means that you and your lanemate will each choose one side of the lane, and you will hug the same laneline going up and down.

2. Never, ever, ever veer into the middle of the lane for any reason. Pay attention to where you are in the lane at all times. Now is not the time to practice eyes-closed navigation drills. No one wants to get a concussion during a swim workout.

3. If joining a lane with multiple swimmers who are already circle swimming, you need not alert anyone to your presence, but you must join the lane in a way that does not interrupt anyone else’s workout (see guidelines below). If you join a lane with two swimmers who are splitting the lane, you must ASK both swimmers whether they will circle swim to let you join, BEFORE you begin swimming in that lane.

4. Never push off the wall right in front of a swimmer who is approaching the wall to make a turn. This is exactly the same as if you were running on a narrow track, and a slower runner stepped in front of you and forced you to stop.

5. Never push off the wall RIGHT on the feet of the swimmer right ahead of you. Always wait at least five seconds or until the swimmer ahead is past the flags.

6. Never touch the feet of the swimmer in front of you for any reason. It’s your fault for either pushing off the wall too soon, or not choosing the right lane. If you are doing a faster workout, you’re going to have to stop at the wall, wait until there’s enough space in between the two of you, and then start again. No one is looking for a negotiation about accommodating your workout.

7. If you do accidentally make contact while swimming, pick your head up to apologize. Or wait to apologize at the wall, whenever both of you stop.

8. If you are stopped at the wall to rest, make sure that you stay off to the side so that the end of the lane is clear for other swimmers to make turns. If you are blocking the wall with your body, don’t be surprised if a swimmer flip turns and their feet fly mere centimeters from your face. You’re not supposed to be there.

9. Hand paddles can be helpful for learning proper catch position in freestyle, but you should avoid using them in a crowded lap swim lane because of the likelihood of contact with other swimmers. It IS possible to break fingers or cause bloody gashes through contact with hand paddles.

Following these guidelines should ensure that you have a pleasant and fruitful experience at your local pool. Your new swimmer friends will appreciate your efforts!

 

Erica Smith was a NCAA All-American swimmer and is now an open water swimmer, writer, and professional swim coach specializing in open water training and racing.  She can be contacted at smitheureka@gmail.com.

 

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