Spartan WOD for Tuesday, 10.9.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

by James Villepigue CSCS

This workout is a slow twitch extravaganza to better prepare a Spartan’s musculature, especially the core and shoulders, for many specific obstacles. Slow twitch muscle fibers and the ability to not only sustain your own weight in continuous contraction, but something else added onto it, are essential.

When was the last time you saw someone doing a full-body circuit workout that challenged everything, but added in tons of slow twitch challenge? All that’s needed for this 3 circuit timed workout is a bench, a lat pull down machine of some sort, a weight plate, a set of light dumbbells, and a medicine ball.

We’re shooting for at most a 35 minute workout that you’ll feel for days. I’ve broken everything down, with the W-T-R below.

Let’s start slow twitching…

-  3 Circuits under 11 Mins – 33-35 Min Workout Tops


Exercise 1 – 2 Minutes Non-Stop
Exercise 2- 40 Successful Passes

30 Second Rest to Get to Back Machine

Exercise 3 – 3 Sets of 20 Second Holds
Exercise 4- 2 Minutes

30 Seconds Rest – Active recovery

Exercise 5- 2 Minutes, 1 Min per Arm


1) Power Up 45lb Plate Press into Alternating Lunges w/ Twist: This is one of those exercises where we put the body through a metabolic mini-course. The list of muscles being worked is a mile long, and it’s going to loosen up everything. It’s imperative to keep your head up and straight, aligning the kinetic chain through everything. We’re after powerful movements with speed, and control.

Start by sitting on a bench holding a 25lb plate for the ladies, or a 45lb for the guys (generally speaking of course!). You’re going to perform a quick half squat and press it above your head. Don’t yank your shoulders out of their sockets, but give it some heat on the way up!

Next, bring the plate down, tuck it up close to your sternum, and do a front lunge. As you lunge out, push the weight directly out from the chest and keep your arms straight. Before returning to a standing position, while still holding your arms straight, perform a twisting motion to one side, and then the other. Then return to standing position, and sit back down. Now that’s an exercise! It’s hitting fast and slow twitch muscles, and prepping the musculature for pure obstacle punishment.

Like in the picture, you can keep the arms outstretched above your head as well, and then bring it down for the twist. This will add more intensity to the core rather than the arms.

Alternate the lunges, and add some heat to the torso twists. Just be careful, and controlled. Suspend the weight, and feel your arms and shoulders burn! Once the two minutes are up, set down the plate and grab your medicine ball.


2) MB Fly Tosses: This is actually one of the best workouts for the chest and inner shoulders, but it’s very rare to see people doing them. This kind of movement builds dexterity in the upper limbs, increases body control, and reinforces the mind to muscle connection.

All of these are crucial when it comes to such a high impact sport like Obstacle Coursing.

You’re going to grab a moderate weight Medicine Ball, but nothing too heavy. This is more of a muscle endurance workout, and it would be dangerous with anything heavy. 10-15lbs should be more than adequate for anyone.

Now lay down on a bench nice and flat. Begin by putting the ball in one hand and extending your arm out into a fly stance. Feel the awkwardness of it, and mentally zone in on your brain controlling and balancing the weight. You should begin to feel the tension in your pecks immediately. This is because the weight isn’t static like it would be with a dumbbell or barbell.

Then you bring the ball up while keeping your arm relatively straight and pass it into your other hand. Let the other arm do a fly motion, and then bring it back up for another toss. Back and forth, while controlling the weight and not dropping it or tossing it on the guy next to you benching 250.

3) Back Muscle Holds: You can use really anything for this, from a machine to a basic lat pull down bar, or even cables while sitting on a Physioball. What matters is that you can choose a manageable weight, which you can safely hold for 20 seconds.

It shouldn’t be an easy hold either, but one that causes you to grunt, and feel an intense burn throughout your upper body and even your abdomen.

For this description I’ll use a basic lat pull down bar. Sit up straight, keep your chin up, and grab the bar with a wide grip. Simply pull it down to your shoulders and keep it there for twenty seconds. Do not arch your back, instead engage your abs and clench them hard.

Make sure to breathe! No holding your breath. This increases the dynamic of the workout. There will come times when you need to be sustaining muscle contraction for a longer period of time than normal. Controlled breathing is key. Focus on the strain in your back, arms, abs, hands, shoulders, and neck muscles, but keep your form picture perfect.

Finally, no cheating by putting your feet under something. Ideally you should do this without being anchored down by your knees either. Choose a weight that’s right at the cusp of bringing your butt off the seat, but you can control it. This increases the intensity tenfold.

4) Spider Walks: These are a bit more complicated than bear crawls. They basically work the same muscles, but there’s far more brain and ab work. It would take up a fair amount of space for me to accurately describe every movement to you.

There are a lot of them that engage pretty much every slow twitch muscle group in the body, especially the core. I’ll give it a brief rundown, but for a great in-depth article with pictures check out this Spider Walk description from

You get down on your hands and toes as close to the ground as possible with a wide leg and arm stance like a spider. With the head tilted up mimic a spider crawl; slowly, and with creepy determination. As one leg moves up, so does the opposing arm to the point that your knees and elbows touch! Unlike bear crawls where you can keep your butt in the air, these crawls are meant to sustain a close proximity to the ground from head to toe.

Once these are mastered to where you can completely handle your own body weight close to the ground, moving quickly, these can shave off tons of time on crawling obstacles.

5) Dumbbell Shoulder Circles: This is another exercise that’s going to engage the slow twitch muscle fibers throughout the upper body and core. It’s easy to switch them around so you do some with the wrists pointed out, and some with them pointed at the body.

The very best thing I can use to describe the motion you’ll be doing in both instances, is the infamous “wax on, wax off” motion from the first Karate Kid movie. I apologize if that was before your time. While keeping the biceps engaged, make a circle motion in front of the body. You can move your arm with either a clockwise (wax on), or counter clockwise (wax off) motion.

Pay close attention to your shoulder joints, and make a conscious effort to keep your glutes and core engaged to protect the lower back. It should be a fluid motion. This exercise effectively trains all the upper body muscles that are called upon on the wall traverse obstacles.

Keep Going!

James Villepigue CSCS

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One Response

  1. avatar

    How many reps for the back muscle holds? I see I an to hold each rep for twenty seconds. But how many reps in a set?

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