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 Beginner Challenge: 1.1

 

Very often we need a little nudge to get started.  Maybe a kick in the @ss, sometimes, too!  Take on this Spartan Beginner Challenge as the first step in getting to the starting line of your first Spartan Race.

If you’ve been looking to start doing the Spartan WOD, here’s your chance. Commit to doing this workout as the beginning of a 4-week challenge.

Did you know that all Spartan WODs are beginner friendly?  No matter your level, click here to learn how to utilize our Spartan WOD straight off the couch.

Kickoff your Spartan training with this 4-week Beginner Challenge.

 

 

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8 Reasons Warming Up is Vital

by Robert DeCillis

 

Warming-up is one of those aspects in a training session that people either do on a consistent basis or do minimal movements or none at all. Many people feel as though they warm-up effectively but many actually do not do what is necessary to get the body ready for the work that is about to take place. How many times have you seen an athlete just go through the motions of a warm-up?

Warm-ups have improved over the years. I remember a time when you would do a couple of stretches, some would pretend to actually stretch, run a few laps around a track and get into whatever practice or training you needed to do. Still today you will see many gym goers do some quick stretches before they are off to the races.

If you are going to compete or even if you are just doing a Spartan Race for fun you will need to warm-up.

The main reason we warm-up is to prevent injury. Now many of you are thinking, I never get injured. Most people think of injury as something big, even if you get a small tweak in a hamstring during training you have injured yourself. These small injuries are usually overlooked until they become bigger problems down the road.

Warming-up properly will ensure that you are ready to go not only before your training session but also prior to your races. Besides the prevention of injury, the warm-up can serve several different purposes. These are in no specific order but are of importance nonetheless.

The purpose of the Warm-Up:

1. To Increase Core Temperature: Getting a little sweat going in the warm-up is a great way to start off a training session. Most times people train cold. A warm-up will get the muscle ready for the work to come.  Muscles will fire or contract much quicker when they are at a higher temperature. This obviously leads to a better training session or competition.

2. Increase Heart Rate: When performing a warm-up it is key to get your heart rate up. I have completed warm-ups where my heart rate has been between 130-150 BPM. You will see in the warm-up below how fast we can get your heart rate going and waking up your body. Here is a piece of advice that will help tremendously with your training, go out and buy yourself a heart rate monitor. Your heart rate will be your guide to how well you are progressing especially in your conditioning.

3. Introduction to New Movements: This warm-up may introduce you to new movements that you may not have performed before. As part of a warm-up I have included movements that will target weak area in many people. These movements will allow the athlete to improve on their weaknesses, which will help reduce nagging injuries later.

4. Increase Strength: Not only will the inclusion of new movements improve your weak areas, but you will also have the great side effect of training, which would be getting stronger in many areas.

5. Increase Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity: Once you get the movements down of the warm-up presented here you will see how you will begin to flow from one to the other. This will allow you to increase your heart rate that will also help increase your aerobic capacity. The sprinting at the end of the warm-up will also get you anaerobic capacity fired up.

6. Become More Flexible, Mobile and Stable: Our bodies are meant to be flexible in certain areas, mobile in other and stable in yet others. But as time goes on our bodies seem to lack all of the qualities above. A lack in these qualities will eventually lead to an injury. During the warm-up you will be able to see where your weaknesses are. The different ranges of motion performed in the movements will allow your body to improve on its mobility, stability and flexibility. By performing the warm-up you will see how all the qualities will improve and you will become a better athlete.

7. Improve the Function of the Central Nervous System (CNS): The warm-up acts as a wakeup call for the CNS. The connection between the CNS and the muscles become strengthened during the warm-up. If you are doing the movements the right way each and every repetition you will see how easy it will be to acquire new skills as well as become more coordinated with the skills you already possess. If your CNS is firing on all cylinders you will be that much more prepared to perform well in the training sessions or the race that follows.

8. Improve Focus: During a warm-up is a great time to get your head in the game. Obstacle course racing and training are very similar. Your head needs to be in the right place to achieve a high level in either one. The warm-up is a perfect time to begin to focus on the task at hand. During training you not only train your body but your mind as well. While warming-up, focus on positive things and leave all distractions at the door. There is no room for negativity creeping in during training or a race.

Check out our calendar.

 

Robert DeCillis is a strength and conditioning specialist and a Spartan Group X coach. He coaches athletes from different sports including those preparing for obstacle races. He operates the site http://obstaclecoursetraining.com and is the owner of Training for Warriors Long Island.

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Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frankl,”Man’s Search for Meaning

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
- YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

 

Warm-up:  Treadmill (10 minutes)

Set your speed at 4.0 and select a random/interval/hill setting which provides different inclines.  If you don’t have access to a treadmill, go for a 10 minute power walk, using a hilly terrain.

Mainset:  Strength Conditioning

20 walking dumbbell lunges
15 deadlift/overhead press
20 walking dumbbell lunges
Pullups to failure

That’s one set. Repeat 2-4 times.

Planks – 1-4 minutes for 5 sets
Birddogs – 1-4 minutes each side for 5 sets

Optional:  3-4 mile run, using negative splits, starting off 10-15 seconds slower than normal race pace and finishing at race pace or better.

Cool down:

Stretching

 

Walking dumbbell lunge:  Using a long stride to work the glutes and hamstrings, touch the back knee to the floor lightly on each rep. Repeat for 20 reps each side.

Dumbbell Turkish Get-Up: Lie on your back holding a dumbbell weight or sandbag above you in one head. Lift yourself to a standing position, keeping the dumbbell above your head throughout the movement. Lower back to the starting position, switch hands, and repeat the movement. Repeat for 10 reps each side.

Deadlift/Overhead Press:  Using proper deadlift form, lift either a weighted bar or plate up to shoulder height, then push up to an overhead press.  Lower the weight under control back to the floor. Can be done with a sandbag as well.  Repeat for 15 reps.

Birddog:  One method of performing it, called back extension involves using a roman chair to hold the feet down and hips up.

It can also be performed without equipment, in the bird dog exercise, in a prone position with arms forward. This version involves lifting one arm and the opposing leg at the same time, then releasing.

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Suffer-fest Sprint Edition

2 minutes of burpees
800 meter above lactic threshold (intensity very hard – close to maximal)
2 minutes of jump roping
800 meter run above lactic threshold (intensity very hard – close to maximal)
Recover 1-2 minutes.

Repeat

 

Suffer-fest Super Edition

5 minutes of burpees
Run 1 mile at or above lactic threshold (intensity hard – breathless)
5 minutes of jump roping
Run 1 mile at or above lactic threshold (intensity hard – breathless)

Repeat

Suffer-fest Beast Edition

Sprint Edition + Super Edition

2 minutes of burpees
800 meter above lactic threshold (intensity very hard – close to maximal)
2 minutes of jump roping
800 meter run above lactic threshold (intensity very hard – close to maximal)
Recover 1-2 minutes.

Repeat

5 minutes of burpees
Run 1 mile at or above lactic threshold (intensity hard – breathless)
5 minutes of jump roping
Run 1 mile at or above lactic threshold (intensity hard – breathless)

Repeat

Stretch <http://blog.spartanrace.com/spartan-stretch/>

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Spartan 100

By Joe De Sena

 

Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.
—Ernest Shackleton

100 meter sprint
10 push-ups
100 meter sprint
10 jumping lunges
100 meter sprint
10 pull-ups
100 meter sprint
10 burpees
100 meter sprint
10 bodyweight squats
100 meter sprint
30 crunches

A workout like this is going to sharpen your speed and power. Your recovery period should be about as long as each work period, or until you know you can proceed with good form.

Beginner: 1-2 sets
Intermediate: 3-4 sets
Advanced: 3-6 sets during a run

Warm-up big time for this one. Here’s 8 reasons warming up is vital!

 

 

 

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A Multi-sport WOD for July 31, 2013

All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.
- Bruce Lee

Triathletes might have the right idea by cramming three sports into one event. Why settle for one mode of exercise a day when you can maximize your fitness and athletic adaptability in the broadest sense by combining three distinct disciplines together into your own fitness routine?
Tomorrow, try to participate in three different activities, all with varying skills sets and muscle groups worked. This will be a challenge – but the results are big. Who knows what might be around the corner at your next Spartan Race? Be prepared for everything by being ready for anything.

Plan your own triathlon for your workout(s). This could be done back to back to back in one long session, like a triathlon event, or you can try three separate workouts in one day, each with a different sport at its center.

Swim, road bike, run?
Mountain bike, canoe, burpees?
Rock carrying, tire flipping, truck pulling?

What will your 3-some be? Be creative to maximize fun and fitness.

Read more on our blog: Obstacle Racing vs Triathlon – Understanding Multi-Sport Fitness

 

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Spartan Street Team WOD for July 26, 2013

by JJ Romero, SLC, Utah

 

It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.

—Confucius

 

Dynamic warm-up
1-2 mile jog.

Main set:
200-meter sprint
10-30 Jumping Jacks
10-20 Frankenstein Kicks
10-20 Lunges
200-meter sprint
10-30 Burpees
10-30 Mountain Climbers
10-30 Bicycle kicks
1 minute plank.

Repeat 2-6 times.

50 Sit-ups.

Spartan stretching

JJ Romero is currently a student working towards a degree in Exercise and Sports Sciences. He’s run 3 half marathons, 6 full marathons, Spartan Beast, and many more, and will be running till the day he dies. He’s also an avid hiker.

Join the Spartan Street Team.

Get your Spartan WOD published!

Strength – 4
Endurance – 3
Speed -1

 

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Spartan Fartlek

 

Happiness is the interval between periods of unhappiness.

–Don Marquis

 

Earn your recovery interval!

On a 2-5 mile easy run, perform 1-3 of the following 10-minute strength intervals written out for time and a 2:1 work-to-recovery ratio.

Strength Training Interval:

1 minute of burpees

.5 minutes of easy jog

2 minutes of burpees

1 minute of easy jog

3 minutes of burpees

1.5 minutes of burpees

x1 = Sprint Distance Training

x2 = Super Distance Training

x3 = Beast mode

Beginners keep it simple. Just do a total of 6 minutes of burpees, as fast as is comfortable for you, during a run.

Intermediate athletes try and put two burpee sets into your run. Try and run at race pace in between.

Advanced athletes should be trying to do this workout for both time, and cumulative burpee counts, doing all three sets.

Fartlek – (“speed play” in Swedish) a training method that combines aerobic training (continuous efforts) with anaerobic training (interval efforts). Traditionally it is associated with running, but it can be integrated into any style of training and geared toward strength, endurance, or speed conditioning. The reference to ‘play’ indicates that these types of workouts can be tailored uniquely to the athlete in a way much less structure that traditional interval training. Read more here.

Strength – 4 of 5
Endurance – 4 of 5
Speed – 4 of 5

 

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The Spartan Ab 300

Jeff Godin, Ph.D. CSCS, director of Spartan Coaches

 

The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.

– Swami Vivekananda

 

Whether running, clearing an 8-foot wall, or doing burpees, much of your strength comes from having a strong core.

15 crunches
30 bicycles
30 back-scratchers
30 rotating crunches
15 leg-lowers
30 scissor-kick
30 side-crunches
30 bicycles
15 crunches
30 back scratchers
15 leg lowers
30 side-crunches

WTF is a back-scratcher, a bicycle?

This Spartan WOD comes from Jeff Godin, Ph.D. CSCS, director of Spartan Coaches.

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