Spartan Coaching:  Spartans Run Hills – Part II

by Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, Director of Spartan Coaching

In my last blog I discussed the importance of hill training. Today I want to address the technique of running hills. Running efficiently during your Spartan race will be crucial to energy management. You only have so much gas in the tank, follow these guidelines and you will leave enough gas in the tank for a strong finish.

Uphill Running

Uphill running changes the dynamic of the interaction of the foot with the ground. Even the most hardcore heel-strikers cannot help but run on the ball of their foot on hills. In fact, on very steep terrain, it will be impossible.

-        Maintain a high cadence by taking small steps

-        Do no lean forward into the hill. Leaning forward will stress the hamstrings and lower back.

-        Lift and drive the knee up hill.

-        Use the elastic energy stored in your calf muscles and Achilles tendon to help propel you forward.

-        Minimize ground contact time, this will help keep the cadence quick and prevent the loss of the stored elastic energy.

-        Avoid large steps and trying to muscle your way up the hill.

-        If you are running a rocky trail, scan the trail ahead and choose the path of least resistance.  Avoid jumping from rock to rock, or jumping over rocks, that will require more energy.


Downhill Running

Here is where most people make mistakes. They bound downhill, taking large steps causing the quadriceps and hip flexors to absorb the energy of the ground reaction forces. Practice “letting go” and use gravity to propel the body forward rather than the muscles.

-        Keep the cadence high.

-        Take small steps and keep the feet in line with or behind the hips. If the feet land in front of the hips the legs will act like a brake.

-        Stay light on the balls of your feet.

-        If you find your foot striking the ground hard, then you are taking to large op steps

-        Take small quick steps; use your energy to pick the feet up and put them down, not to propel the body forward.

-        If you are running on rocky terrain, rock hoping can be fun and efficient as long as you remember to land with your foot under your hips not in front of them

-        Build courage. Running downhill fast is scary. But with practice you will master speed and control.

To master these techniques, it takes practice. Do your hill training and concentrate on form.  Leave the headphones at home, think about efficient movement, and eliminate other distractions. In time, you will master the hills; the movement will be natural and fluid and won’t require much thought.

Learn more about Spartan Coaching.

Are you getting your Spartan WODs in your inbox?

Registered for an event near you?

Tags: ,

Spartan Coaching:  Spartans Run Hills

by Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, Director of Spartan Coaching

The beauty of obstacle racing is that it exposes your weakest link. Lack upper body strength? You will pay for it on the 8 foot wall. Lack balance? You will pay for it on the log hops. Lack hill climbing endurance? You will pay for it all-day. Spartan Race is well known for its lung crushing climbs, and quad destroying descents. Listen to enough veterans and they’ll tell you about Tri-State, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Monterey, Utah… “the number of climbs is ridiculous”, as was once overheard.

The only way to beat the hill is to embrace it. Hill running increases oxygen consumption considerably. For example, an athlete running at an easy 10 min/mile pace has an estimated oxygen consumption of 36 mlO2/kg/min, where running the same speed on a 10% grade (a grade of 100% = 45 degree angle) increases oxygen consumption to 50 mlO2/kg/min. That’s almost a 40% increase in energy expenditure! Running on a flat surface, a runner only needs to produce energy for horizontal work. The extra energy needed to lift the body vertically against gravity accounts for this extra energy expenditure.

Running at an oxygen consumption of 50 mlO2/kg/min will be close to many athletes maximal oxygen consumption and certainly above the lactate threshold for all but the elite runners. This will result in an increase in muscle acidosis and increased rate of glycogen utilization. The end result is fatigue and possible glycogen depletion.

Although training will improve VO2 max and running efficiency, it will not be enough offset the increased metabolic demand of steep uphill running. The best solution is to adjust the pace or speed so the energy expenditure remains the same. For most, that will mean walking uphill at a much slower pace. This will prevent fatigue and spare glycogen and prevent bonking. Pace yourself on the hill climbs.

Spartans Run Hills
Walking or running uphill places unique stress on the locomotive muscles when compared to walking or running on flat ground. The change in slope puts the foot into severe dorsi flexion, stressing the gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantar fascia. The trunk also leans forward, placing more stress on the hamstrings and back extensors. A couple of small hills won’t negatively impact these muscle groups, but in the longer events where there will be 3,000 – 5,000 ft of climbing, there can be major damage to these muscles, especially in athletes who have not prepared on hills.

What goes up must come down! Running downhill would seem to be easier, and we think that we should  be able to make up for lost time during the climb. But, don’t fool yourself, the average speed of running uphill and then downhill for 3 miles will always be slower than running 3 miles flat. Running downhill requires control. No matter how much we think we are “letting go”, there is a natural “braking” action by the anterior tibialis on the lower leg, and the quadriceps on the thigh. This braking action is caused by eccentric muscle contractions; the muscles are developing tension and lengthening at the same time. Eccentric muscle actions cause muscle damage and are the cause of post exercise muscle soreness. If your muscles aren’t prepared for downhill running, the muscle damage will be accelerated and will result in premature muscle soreness, decreased muscle power output, and fatigue.

The good news is that this can be prevented with proper training. Yes, embrace the hills. Find the biggest, baddest hills in your area and run intervals up and down them. Do this twice a week. This will cause significant soreness initially, but over time your muscles will adapt to the eccentric contractions, muscle damage is reduced, and you will be able to tolerate longer bouts of downhill running. Training uphill will also stress the gastrocnemius, plantar fascia, hamstrings, and back extensions in a way that they will be used during a Spartan Race, thus minimizing the damage to those tissues as well. The reality is that running uphill will always be metabolically demanding and fatiguing not matter how hard you train. However, training with hill intervals, will improve your maximal oxygen consumption, increase your tolerance to acidosis, and improve your ability to utilize fat as a fuel, thus improve your hill running performance. Hill sprints suck as bad as Burpees, probably even more so, but if you embrace the hill training your body will thank you at your next Super Spartan or Beast.

Exercise Physiology 101 – During any activity that lasts longer than 3 minutes we rely primarily on the aerobic energy system. Aerobic means that we produce energy with oxygen. The more intense the exercise, the higher the rate of oxygen utilization. Oxygen utilization is typically expressed as milliliters of oxygen consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute (mlO2/kg/min). Oxygen consumption can also be expressed as energy expenditure or Calories per minute (kcal/min). The higher the rate of oxygen consumption, the higher the rate of energy expenditure. For example a 180 lb male running a 10 minute mile consumes 36 mlO2/kg/min or expends about 14.5 kcal/min. The same man running the same speed at 10% grade consumes 50 mlO2/kg/min or 20.5 kcal/min.


Jeff  received his Doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Connecticut and is certified by ACSM, NSCA, and ISSN.  He is currently Chair of the Departmental of Exercise and Sport Science at Fitchburg State University and the Director of Spartan Coaching.

Tags: , , , ,

Dr. Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, & Spartan Coach

What if there was a disease that afflicted 36% of the population in the United States of America, roughly about 78 million people? What if this disease was strongly related to other debilitating and life-halting diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes? Which Hollywood celebrity would start a foundation to crush this horrible disease?

The disease is obesity. On June 18th, 2013 the American Medical Association officially declared obesity a disease. This means that it will become a physician’s professional obligation to treat patients with obesity, the same way they would treat other diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. The optimist in me says that this will create a healthy discussion between the patient and physician on the health implications of obesity and physicians will prescribe a healthy diet and exercise as the primary mode of treatment. The cynic in me says that treatment will include prescriptive medications instead of encouraging preventative measures.

Why is it so hard to talk to people about obesity? Every time I teach it in class, I have to walk on egg shells. Even in the professional setting, if you tell someone they are obese they react as if it was a racial slur. I was called by an irate mother that accused me of ruining her daughter’s self-esteem by noting that her BMI and body fat percentage placed her in the obese category. Hopefully, classifying obesity as a disease will eliminate some of the awkwardness that comes with discussing it. It will be seen for what it is… a clinical diagnosis, not a personal attack. No one gets their feelings hurt when the doctor tells them that the hideous mole on their back should be removed and biopsied to see if it is cancerous. I understand that obesity is more than simply a physical problem, but until it can be discussed openly, and attacked vigorously, it will always remain as the elephant in the room and we will never make progress towards finding obesity’s root cause.

The best treatment for obesity is a Spartan Lifestyle, one that is founded on a healthy diet and loaded with physical activity. The Spartan Lifestyle includes a diet that is mostly plant based, that includes an abundance of vegetables and fruits, very moderate in grains and animal food products. It is a diet that eliminates processed foods, added sugars, and trans fats. A Spartan Lifestyle includes meals that are prepared from fresh foods, not ones that come from a box. For fluid, Spartans drink water, not sugary, over caffeinated beverages. You can get access to healthy and nutritious recipes by subscribing to our daily “Food of the Day” emails. They are FREE and provide recipes to help get you started and keep you fueled in a healthy way. Subscribe HERE.

Physical activity doesn’t require a fancy gym, or shiny plates, or cardio equipment. It does require a commitment of 60 minutes a day, which still leaves 1,380 minutes to sleep, work, and relax. It starts with motivation, if a BMI of 30 and all the excess baggage associated with it isn’t enough motivation; there are 1,000,000 trainers and coaches out there that are willing to help the right person find it.  Similar to our Food of the Day (FOD), Spartan Race offers FREE workouts WODs each day to keep you moving and active, and to prepare you for your Spartan Races.  Subscribe HERE

Spartan Race wants to lead the charge in crushing obesity. Do we really need a physician to treat obesity? Why not nip it in the bud before it gets to that point? Let’s rip 78 million people off of their couches and get them to follow the Spartan Lifestyle!

Who wants to join us in this crusade?

Tags: , , , , , ,

Grit or Grits?

by Dr. Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, and director of Spartan Coaching


Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake.

- William James, American Philosopher and Psychologist


According to Webster’s dictionary ‘grit’ is defined as a hard, sharp granule, an abrasive particle. Webster’s also says that grits are a coarsely ground hulled grain, usually corn.

One is used to smooth out rough, uneven surfaces through persistence and repetition, the other is an overly processed porridge that is energy dense and nutrient poor. One is unyielding and resolute the other is smooth and gelatinous.  If you get a little grit in your sneaker you end up with bleeding blisters, get some cooked grits in your sneaker and you might enjoy it. In terms of hardness, they are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Among other things, Spartans are gritty. Through persistence of effort they accomplish their goals. Physical fitness and good health isn’t accomplished with a single, monumental effort. They are attained by consistent, focused, strenuous effort .  Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has conducted research on high achievers and has determined that the human attribute of grit predicts success better than any other personality trait such as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Duckworth says that grit is even a better predictor of success than intelligence (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelly, 2007) .

Duckworth studied West Point candidates using multiple personality tests and intelligence scores and found that that freshman candidates that scored the highest on grit had a higher probability of surviving the first summer of training. Grit predicted success even better than West Point’s  Whole Candidate Score that is used to select candidates for enrollment (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelly, 2007).  Duckworth also studied National Spelling Bee candidates and again grit was an important predictor for advancement into the final round. Duckworth noted that the grittier candidates put more time into studying vocabulary (harder workers) and performed better that some of their more intelligent peers (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelly, 2007).

I can think of more than a handful of individuals that had great talent in their sport yet never attained the pinnacle of success in their career. Conversely, there were those that had modest talent, yet worked on their skills and honed their talent through daily vigorous practice, over a long period of time, and became extremely successful. The former had grits for breakfast and the latter had a big bowl of grit.

Grit isn’t a short term phenomena. A conscientious, persistent athlete can achieve short-term goals such as improved fitness and weight loss. But grit is much more than that. According to Duckwork “Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.” (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelly, 2007. p. 1087-1088)

Can a leopard change its spots? Can a human change their personality and become gritty? Generally personality is stable over time as indicated by research conducted at the University of California (Nave, Sherman, Funder, Hampson, and Goldberg, 2010).  But it is important to understand that our behaviors can be influenced by the environment. We may not be able to change our biology but we do have the capacity to change our behaviors.  We do have free will. In similar vein, someone may have a genetic predisposition to develop heart disease, but if that person makes the conscience choice to eat healthy, be physically active, and not smoke then the manifestation of heart disease is less likely.

For some becoming gritty may be an easy transition. For others it may require more conscious effort. Do you want more grit? Start here:

1)     Write out your plan for success – establish your baseline, set a goal, define a clear path towards that goal.

2)     Eliminate distracters – What are your barriers? Is it TV, internet, video games?

3)     Keep a journal – Journal your successes and failures. Contemplate them; monitor your feelings and emotions. Work on solutions.

4)     Share the plan – Share your plan with someone that is supportive yet can offer constructive criticism when needed. Hire a coach.

5)     Keep track of your successes – Remember the days when you would receive a gold star for exceptional performance in grade school? Give yourself a gold star for every success you have during the day.

6)     Last but not least, don’t give up. Success is a marathon…ultramarathon, not a sprint. There will be peaks and valleys. Expect failure, but don’t accept it. Learn from it and keep moving forward. You must remain passionate about your goals.

7)     All of this is work, hard work. Expect it, and embrace it. I looked for some research that supported the idea that success was the result of sleeping more, day dreaming, and quip facebook posts, but I couldn’t find any.

What is your next meal, grit or grits?



Duckworth, A., Peterson, C., Matthews, M., and Kelly, D.  (2007).  Grit: Perserverance and passion    for long term-goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; (92), 1087-1101.

Nave, C., Sherman, R., Funder, D., Hampson, S., and Goldberg, L. (2010). On the contextual independence of personality: Teachers’ assessments predict directly observed behavior after four decades.  Social Psychology and Personality Science; (1), 327 – 334.

Tags: ,

The Top Three Body Weight Exercises for Female Obstacle Racers:  Part 2 of 3 – Reverse Bear Crawl  

by Joe DiStefano, co-founder of Spartan Coaching

Click here for Part I:  Bowler Squat

Because what woman doesn’t want a stronger upper body and tighter core!?

Regardless of your own gender, you may have noticed that when compared to men, women have several distinct differences in the ways their bodies are designed. The largest differences clearly relate to pregnancy and child birth and include a larger percentage of body mass being carried below the midsection and the increased Q-angles and anterior (forward leaning) pelvic tilt discussed in my previous post. Last time, we also discussed a propensity for females to do more things, like wearing high heels, which tend to exacerbate these genetic disadvantages even further. For these reasons, women typically need to focus a lot more on upper body strength and core stabilization and when it comes to training for a Spartan Race, cranking out sit ups and triceps pushdowns are not going to cut it.

Holding a stable, quadruped “Bear” position requires both upper body strength and core stabilization in itself, throw in moving backwards and a need for significantly more dynamic neuromuscular control and strength is added to the exercise. In addition, the Reverse Bear Crawl also works the type of contralataral coordination (moving the opposing leg and arm in a unison) necessary for more efficient running, confidently climbing cargo nets, and effortlessly crawling under barbed wire.

The Reverse Bear Crawl requires alternating “shoulder presses” over an active and reflexively stabilized core. During this exercise, the hips and core are continuously alternating between stabilizing one hip while mobilizing on the other, exactly the way they do in sprinting, hiking, throwing, or most other athletic maneuvers. This type of function and reflex is what we need most in obstacle racing and is something a habitual reliance on traditional standing, or [worse] a seated overhead shoulder press simply does not give you. I should mention that I am by no means saying “Old school” shoulder pressing does not have it’s place or is something we want to eliminate entirely, however, substituting or adding reverse bear crawls into a program that does not currently have them is going to add significant benefit to your “injury-proofing” and overall Spartan Race performance.

Finally, the Reverse Bear Crawl allows you to give your body a break from constant straight bar or dumbbell training, which is going to lower the risk of rotator cuff issues. The Reverse Bear Crawl is going to change the angle of the “press” to a more advantageous one relative to training proper scapular upward rotation, something many of us lack due to our widespread degrees of keyboard crunching postures. For more information on dysfunctional shoulders and assessing their risk for injury, check out my third installment of the “Top 5 Benefits of Alternative Locomotion” found here.

Tags: ,

The Top 5 benefits of Alternative Locomotion Movements (aka Animal Movements):  Part II

by Joe Di Stefano of Spartan Coaching

click here for Part I

Eliciting a more balanced training effect.

“Body weight training” not so long ago was synonymous with doing a whole bunch of push ups and sit ups each night in front of the TV. Occasionally including chin ups for some but let’s face it most either did not have access to a chin up bar, did an entirely imbalanced ratio of push ups and sit ups to chin ups, or simply couldn’t do a single chin up so focused on the other two…as for legs, they either got the total shaft or were taken care of by “running”. Today “Body Weight” training for most has evolved, improved, and got a little more balanced but still many people do not balance the program anatomically. There are those that do of course, but sometimes only after incorporating outside equipment such as suspension trainers or other implements that continue to isolate specific movements or combinations.

Alternative locomotion, or animal movements, allow us to utilize the entire body in an athletic, fluid manner that forces all of the muscles to work as a single system. This helps us avoid a need to work the back, the middle, the top and the bottom which tends to develop “mirror muscles” but can actually impede athleticism and coordination while increasing injury potential in unforeseen or untrained scenarios, i.e. any Spartan event.

At the start of Day 2 of a recent SGX Workshop, where Day 1 included multiple workouts using Crab Walks, Ape Walks and some Bear Crawls all the trainers could talk about was how sore their butts, inner thighs, upper and mid back muscles were. How often is that the case in bootcamp?! People are almost always universally sore in the chest, shoulders, quads and abs! This makes it clear that our effectiveness to work the “anterior” or frontside, of the body far outweighs our ability to work the “posterior” of the body. In fact, the postural adaptations discussed in the previous post along with a human body that is incredibly efficient at compensation, most of us tend to use all the same muscles in almost everything they do! Which also explains why people literally “forget” how to squat, lunge, or pick something up yet can “relearn” simply without stretching a single muscle once they switch on some of those dormant muscle groups.

Since the posterior side of the body is ultimately the side of the body whose strength and function will dictates head to toe injury potential, it is critically important to incorporate training that trains it efficiently and in synergy with the rest of the body it is designed to protect.

A Spartan WOD on Motion by Spartan Coaches Part II

All motion is cyclic. It circulates to the limits of its possibilities and then returns to its starting point.

—Robert Collier

Cover 1 mile for time carrying a sand bag, dumbbell, or Lowe’s bucket full of sand or rocks.


Crab Walk, 50 ft

Sideways Ape Walk, 50 ft (left)

Sideways Ape Walk, 50 ft (right)

Reverse Crab Walk, 50 ft

Rest 1 minute, Repeat 3-5 times, then:

Match your previous 1 mile time from the warm up.

Lateral Ape: Beginning in a bear crawl position, “push” yourself backwards until your feet are flat on the floor and you are in a deep squat and “hands free” position. Now reach both arms to one side and shift as much of your weight into them as possible. Maintain this pressure as you “hop” your legs to that side. Continue in a fluid pattern and repeat on the opposing direction.

Tags: ,

The Top 5 Benefits of Alternative Locomotion Movements aka Animal Movements

by Joe Di Stefino by Spartan Coaches

Part 1: Reacquaints your body with more evolutionary muscle activation sequences and patterns.

According to almost any source you can find, upwards of 80% of our population will have some form of back pain and/or treatment during their lifetime…with shoulders and knees lagging not too far behind. It is my contention that the vast majority of these injuries are caused by a sedentary lifestyle and are entirely avoidable, even those that are seemingly “freak” accidents, wear and tear, or even trauma.

Human beings evolved to be weight bearing and active for the majority of each and every day. This created a muscular system that fired in rhythmic and predictable patterns depending on what we asked of it. Being weight bearing also kept the joints strong and lubricated, the posture tall, and even things like digestion working properly. The less active we are and the more time we spend in a habitual position, typically seated, the more intensely all of these systems are impaired. Consider the foundational lesson of any university program on Exercise Physiology; The SAID Principle. The body essentially views everything we do on a regular basis as an “imposed demand” that it needs to “specifically adapt” to (Google search: SAID Principle). In other words, just as a professional baseball player trains their body specifically to play baseball with no regard for the influence it will have on their horseback riding, or a body builder pumps iron without worrying about the effects large muscles will have on their golf game, “practicing” sitting down for the majority of your time is literally pushing your body to get better at sitting down. If you rarely expose it to anything dramatically different, the body will willingly and intentionally sacrifice it’s ability to skip, jump, run, bend, twist, and even stand. People have trouble moving with fluidity and athleticism not because of tight hamstrings or a bad back but because they have sacrificed their innate functional abilities in training for their preferred activity, or “sport”.

This leads to the muscles that move your body into a seated, forward head, back breaking, perfect keyboard typing posture to be chronically over used and in many cases, almost permanently contracted. These chronically “tight” muscles, such as the muscles of the neck, are usually the ones that mysteriously hurt when we “sleep wrong”. They can also have a negative influence on opposing muscles which increase their injury potential. For example, if the hip flexor muscles are chronically “tight” and the gluteal muscles are dramatically underused, our risk for lower back pain or injury skyrockets…picking that pen up off the floor might be the last straw, but that was in no sense of the word an unavoidable, “freak” accident.

Most of us have joints that are literally drying up from lack of use. On top of that our guts are getting heavier and our postures are getting worse, all of which leads to pain, injury, injury-potential, and younger and younger people saying “i am too old for that”.

Bottom line, let’s get weight bearing, get moving, and impose demands on our body that are new and different. Here’s a good way to start:


Cover 1 mile for time carrying a sand bag, dumbbell, or bucket full of sand/rocks.


Dead Bug, 50 reps

Bear Crawl, 100ft

Step Ups, 2 minutes loaded one minute per side.

Rest 1 minute, Repeat 3-5 times, then:

Match your previous 1 mile time from the warm up.

Dead Bug: Lying on your back with your arms and legs stretched straight up and down, simultaneously attempt to bring your right elbow and left knee together. Return to start position and repeat on the opposing side.

Bear Crawl: Begin in a baby’s crawl position, lift the knees 1-2″ and maintain this posture as you walk in a coordinated left arm / right leg and vice versa sequence for 30-60ft

Tags: ,

Burpee Equivalents:  Understanding Junk Food in terms of Your Favorite Exercise

by Dr. Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, & Spartan Coach

Occasionally we slip up with our diets and sneak in some junk calories. When we do, we have to pay the price…In Burpees!  At Spartan Coaching HQ we have been conducting research to quantify energy expenditure during the Burpee exercise.  Here is what we found:


Calories (kcals)

burpees for 130lb individual

burpees for 180lb individual

1 large French Fries




1 IPA beer




1 Slice of Dominos Peperoni Pizza




1 8 ounce Ted’s Bison Cheesburger




1 scoop of Ben Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream




1 12” Roast beef sub from Subway




1 Cola soft drink




1 Fried Calamari Appetizer




1 Plain Bagel




1 Slice of Cheescake




1 Egg McMuffin Sandwich




1 Cadbury Creme Egg





First we calculated the amount of work being performed during the Burpee. We calculated work as:

-  Work (w) = force (f) x distance (d)
-  f = weight of the individual in kilograms
-  d = distance from the floor to the maximal height of the head during the jump in meters.


Male Athlete A:

-  Height: 71 inches (1.80 meters)

-  Weight:  180 lbs ( 81.8 kg)

-  Average Vertical jump during 5 minute Burpee test:   5 in. ( .12 m)

-  Total vertical displacement from the floor to maximal jump height:  1.92 m (height plus jump height)
-  work = 81.8 x 1.92
-  work  = 157 kg/m
-  Given:  1kcal = 426.4 kg/m
-  Thus, 0.368 kcals of mechanical work per Burpee

External mechanical work or the work that is being performed does not equal the amount of work that is being produce internally, humans aren’t 100% efficient.  Efficiency during running and cycling is about 25%, thus for the body to perform 25 kcals of external work, it must produces 100 kcals of energy internally. That means that the body has to produce 1.47 kcals of internal energy to produce 0.368 kcals of external mechanical work per Burpee repetition.

We can also calculate energy production during the Burpee exercise by measuring oxygen consumption with metabolic cart.  We had several athletes perform the Burpee exercise at a constant rate for 3 minutes while wearing a portable metabolic measuring system that continuously measured oxygen consumption.  The average Burpee rate was 10 Burpee repetitions per minute and average oxygen consumption during the last minute of exercise was 35 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml O2/kg/min). We found the measured oxygen cost of a single Burpee repetition to be 3.5 ml O2/kg/Burpee.

To convert oxygen cost to energy expenditure we did the following:

Example same athlete as above:

-  Total oxygen consumed during a single Burpee is calculated as the product of body weight (kg) and O2 cost in ml/kg/.min
-  81.8 kg X 3.5 ml O2/kg/Burpee =  286 mlO2/Burpee or .286 liters (l) of O2/Burpee.
-  One liter of oxygen is equivalent to about 5 kcals.
-  0.286 l O2 X 5 kcals/l  = 1.43 kcals/Burpee.

As you can see , there is good agreement between the 2 methods (1.47 and 1.43 kcals/Burpee respectively).

Founders Breakfast Stout is one of my favorite beers. If this athlete had 2 beers at 250 kcals per beer he would need to perform 349 Burpees to burn off those calories.

2 slices of Domino’s pizza = 600 kcals or 419 burpees

Pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough = 980 kcals or 685 burpees.

Use the chart below to figure out your Burpee equivalent of junk food calories.

Energy Expenditure During the Burpee Exercise (kcals/Burpee)

Body Weight (lbs.)











kcals per Burpee











Example –  for a 140 lb person:

2 slices of Domino’s pizza = 600 kcals

600kcals/ 1.11 kcal per Burpee = 540 burpees

You can have your cake and eat it too, but be ready to pay in Burpees!


Tags: ,

Variations on the Long Run

by Jason Jaksetic

Once a week I plan on performing a long run.  Doing this for awhile now, I’ve come to refer to this weekly activity as the long run.

The long run, once completed, become’s my long run for the week.

What is a/the/my long run?  The long run is the run workout I do once a week that focuses on building my aerobic capacities through prolonged exposure to aerobic conditioning.  Depending on where I am in my fitness, and in my racing season, this could be anything from a 45 minute road run to a 5-hour trail adventure.

The term “long” is in reference to the duration of the workout relative to my other runs of the week, whether measured in distance or time.  For example, if running 25 miles in a week, through workouts of 5, 5, and 15 miles in length, the 15 mile run would be ‘the long run’. If I were running 57 miles in a week, and breaking it down into 5 workouts of 5, 10, 10, 12, and 20 miles, the 20 mile run would be ‘the long run’.

Running long is the theme.  Here are some variations to keep your training fresh from week to week so that you don’t burn out or dread this looming day on your calendar.  Besides, your body will benefit from the different ways you can push your aerobic and anaerobic systems with a long run.

Variations with Time and Space

Think distance, forget about time:  This is a great long run for when you have a particular run course you want to enjoy.  Leave the watch behind.  You will be finished when the miles are run.  There is no rush.  And there’s no reason to slow down either.  Just enjoy the run each step of the way.

Think time, forget about distance:  When traveling this is my ‘go to’ for the long run.  If I am in a new area and know I have the next 90 minutes free, I’ll pick an interesting looking direction and run for 45 minutes, before turning around and running back the way I came.  The goal is to maximize each minute.

Forget about time and distance.  Too often we are slaves to both our watches and our regular routes.  Keep it simple:   Start running.  Run.  Stop running.  Resume normally scheduled life.


Variations with Tempo

Start Stong:  After a solid warm up, throw down your first 3-5 miles at race pace.  Then pull in the reigns and ease up into a conversation pace for the rest of your run.

Finish Strong:  After warming up, ease into the first 3 quarters of your run at conversation pace.  Stay loose.  Then, with 3-4 miles to go, drop the hammer.  Negative splits.

Track Intervals at end.  Doing this ensures you will be above a great deal of the competition.  Try and find a long run route that wraps up at a running track.  Running fast on tired legs is different than running fast on fresh legs.  Get some practice running fast at the end of your run by doing some ½ to 1-mile repeats to wrap up your run.  Recover 1–2 minutes between each interval by keeping it to a light jog or even walk.


Variations with Strength Building

Carry a sandbag:  Great for building stabilizers.

Wear a weight vest:  Be sure to be gentle on your joints.

Do 10 burpees every mile:  Simulate the race day experience of mixing up lots of strength building burpees into your running.


Regardless, of how you want to approach a long run, be flexible and keep an open mind.  Your long run might be determined by how much time you can free up that day.  That’s cool.  Make every second out there count!


For more details on training for long distance, check out this blog by Dr. Jeff Godin, of Spartan Coaches.

Tags: ,

by Carrie Adams

We’re back with another installment of some of our biggest stories of 2012!  Not surprisingly, many of our top 10 blog posts dealt with, what else, training and nutrition!  Spartans commit to a healthy way of living and it was clear that our community was paying attention and getting it done.

Some of our biggest blog posts of the year were centered around how to get fit and how to eat right.  In addition to providing resources on our blog, at Spartan HQ, we are trying to make it even easier to get these tips delivered to you, so if you want our daily WOD delivered directly to your inbox for FREE, click HERE.

Here are our three biggest training posts of 2012!

Breaking down the Warm-Up: As our own Spartan Coach manager Jeff Godin, Ph.D. CSCS always says, “Always start your workout with a warm-up.” Although flexibility and unrestricted movement may be important for long term injury prevention, static stretching and flexibility exercises are not an important part of a warm-up. Stretching moves a joint through its full range of motion, however it does this passively and does very little to increase the temperature of muscle. The warm-up should be active and move the joints through their full range of motion. The warm-up progresses from low intensity towards high intensity. For some, the warm-up may actually have them gassed by the end. The benefits of a warm-up include; increased tissue temperature, tissue compliance, energy metabolism, movement efficiency and reduced tissue stiffness. The warm-up can also be used to reinforce fundamental movement mechanics related to speed and agility. The warm-up should emphasize proper foot placement to promote acceleration and prevent deceleration.  Read the rest of the post by clicking HERE.

Spartan Ab 300:  In this post, Dr. Jeff gives a great ab workout for the ages!  300 reps never felt so good!  Click HERE for the full workout and breakdown.

Buck Furpee Day:  The burpee is quintessentially Spartan in that there is nothing wasted in the activity.   It carries with it efficiency,  and, therefore, concentrated effectiveness.  When you train, focus on training – don’t over-complicate things.  When in doubt, do burpees.  How did Buck Furpee Day go down?  Click HERE and find out.

Spartan Race Nutrition:

It should come as no surprise that training, while a critical piece of the Spartan equation, it isn’t everything.  You need the right fuel to get that Spartan body and keep moving!   Whether your goals are to lose weight, get lean, or perform better, nutrition has to be a part of your plan.  And if you’re not sure where to start and you want some help from the Spartan team, we have good news!  Just like our daily WOD’s we offer FREE daily Food tips and recipes as well.  Simply click HERE to get signed up for yours!

Eat to Live: Spartan Performance Nutrition: Not sure what to eat the night before a race?  This popular blog post solves that problem with ease!  Our own Spartan Champion and Chick Rose-Marie Jarry provides her favorite recipe for a pre-race trio.

Click HERE for the full recipe.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,