WOD for Tuesday, 8.7.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

~By James Villepique CSCS & Hobie Call

Spartans, it’s good to see you again. We’ve got a terrific obstacle course preparatory training WOD your arms will never forget, and your grip will never forgive. Each exercise in the circuit is going to be working on your hands and forearms to some degree. They’re the mental focus muscle groups in this WOD. The real burn should be happening in the arms.

The other two areas that get engaged a fair amount are the shoulders and upper back muscles. Each exercise has an ideal work to rest ratio supplied, and tries to get the body ready for anything and everything a race or obstacle may demand from our arms. Grip is so important it isn’t even funny. There really is no other sensation quite like the pain of extremely fatigued hands before they give out. The muscle groups in the forearms and hands can grow a little bit, but hypertrophy isn’t the motive, endurance is.

If you’ve eaten a good meal, got some quality sleep under your belt, and are fully hydrated, go for 5 complete cycles with the prescribed W-T-R’s. Otherwise, make it at least 3. Go from one exercise to the next, use active recovery over staying still, and give each exercise everything you got!

Let’s do this…

(15 Reps Per Arm + 15 Seconds Rest)

Dumbbell Corkscrew w/ Single-arm Cuban Press - Spartans that constantly put their bodies through complex exercises, make normal movements simple in comparison.

At first this exercise feels awkward, but it causes muscles to get sore even trained athletes forget they have.

To begin, hold the dumbbell in your right hand, and as you squat carefully rotate the torso left. The left hand should reach behind the left leg during this part of the exercise. The dumbbell should come down across the body and stop just past and below the left knee. Don’t twist too far.

Then, as you push back up, twist to the right while bending the right arm to a 90 degree angle. Your elbow should be in line while you lead with the elbow and lift the arm.

Finally, once the forearm has gone vertical, engage the overhead press, and return to starting position. This is a solid exercise anyone can do anywhere that is a world away from traditional movements. Spartans know by now that it’s these types of complex exercises that train our brain for mastery on the course.

(5 Sets of 45 Seconds + 15 Seconds Rest)

Kettlebell Farmers Walks – This is one of the more popular exercises for strengthening the forearm, grip, and shoulders.

Farmers Walk type obstacles are popular, because it’s one of the safer ways to transport heavy weight. The body stays perfectly straight, and it’s not hard to breathe correctly.

You know why it’s called a Farmers walk right? Envision farmers of the days before tractors and automation with huge bulging shoulders and that should give you a good idea.

Carrying anything will work, but dumbbells or kettlebells work well. One modification that adds an extra layer of challenge is to hold two different sized weights. This causes more energy to be used in stabilizing the upper body.

When choosing which weight is right for you, shoot for one that will only allow you to stay in a Farmers Walk for about 30-70 seconds at a time before having to rest. Some people do things like shoulder shrugs, or slight torso twists, but the important thing is to keep the tension tight and excruciating.

There’s almost nothing better for training the forearm, and creating an iron grip for things like the monkey bars or wall climbing.


(15 Reps per Calf w/ T’s + 40 Seconds Rest)

Dumbbell T Raises on One Leg – I call these T raises because you’ll be raising the dumbbells until your upper body looks like a T. How many times in various races are you asked to stand and balance on the balls of your feet? Often.

First of all, the dumbbells should be much lighter than the ones used during Farmers Walks. Second, you don’t have to keep your palms facing inward the whole time, but that is the most low impact way to do it on the shoulder joints.

The point of the exercise is to mix calf raises, balancing on one leg, and the dumbbell T motion. To begin, do the calf and dumbbell raises separately, but then once you get used to the exercise and your internal balance adapts, combine them somehow into one fluid motion.

It’s totally ok to look up while doing the dumbbell raise and puff out the chest. The important thing is to not look down at whatever you’re stepping up onto for the calf raises and balancing act or your feet. After mastering this exercise, where all three movements mold into one thing, balancing on the course will be a cake walk.


(5 Sets x 40 Seconds and 25 Seconds Rest)

Timed Flexed Hangs – Now that the forearms have had some time to rest and recuperate, let’s put the focus back onto them with Timed Hangs. It really doesn’t matter what you hang from, just as long as you’re hanging, and there’s room to do them flexed.

Time Flexed Hangs are basically hanging, but with your chin above the bar, or around your hands. This is how they test the back strength and endurance of the Marines. For men, maintaining this stance for 15 seconds earns a passing grade on their physical fitness test, but holding for 70 seconds is concerned really good. It’s hard to keep it up for much longer than that once the lateral, abdominal, and arm muscles fatigue.

The one way to modify and maximize efficiency is to change the stance your hands are gripping with. Stagger your hands, go wide stance, close-grip, or even single-arm to mix things up. Finally, instead of letting go and dropping when you know you can’t hold on much longer, slowly lower yourself down with your arms.


(2 Sets x 15 reps w/ No Rest between Reps)

Weighted Full-body Stand-ups – This exercise is a little tricky, but perfect for ambitious Spartans who want to have masterful control of their bodies in space at all times.

This exercise is about using the weight and your body to propel yourself from lying on your back to standing in one full-body motion. The plate in your hands keeps working on your grip and forearms, every part of the core is engaged, and

In most cases, 45lb plates are perfect for men, and 25lb plates are perfect for women. Start on your back holding the weight with both hands above the chest. Then, bring the weight backwards a bit and then swing it forward letting your body follow the momentum until you’re on your feet again.

As soon as you’re standing, do a plate press and then get back into position as soon as possible. Try to complete as many as possible within two minutes and then set the bar for the following cycles there.

Nicely played Spartan! After the first cycle how did your hands and forearm feel? Did you notice how much the shoulders came into play? The body is seamless, but with the application of exercise and mental focus, we can conquer anything. The grip should not be neglected, but all too often it is, along with the forearms. This WOD can be revisited anytime if you’re after something that will definitely build strength endurance in them.

It’s a good idea to invest a little time into learning a few forearm stretches, as well as a couple for the hands. If they cramp up, then it means you did a good job. The Spartan community wants to know about it though! Make sure to leave a comment and include any tips you have for treating these muscle groups after such a hardcore WOD. Additionally, share some of the experiences you’ve had in the race or on the course that made you aware of how important grip and forearm strength endurance is.

Keep Going!

James Villepigue & Hobie Call


8 Responses

  1. avatar

    Just to clarify, the following statement is not entirely accurate, “Time Flexed Hangs are basically hanging, but with your chin above the bar, or around your hands. This is how they test the back strength and endurance of the Marines. For men, maintaining this stance for 15 seconds earns a passing grade on their physical fitness test, but holding for 70 seconds is concerned really good.”

    According to MARINE CORPS ORDER P6100.12 W/CH 1(http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%20P6100.12%20W%20CH%201.pdf) the flex arm hang is the PFT measure for Female Marines and pull ups are the PFT measure used for Male Marines. The men are not measured by flexed hangs. In the linked document you will find the scoring tables for males and females in Appendix G [page 111-113]. A perfect score for men is 20 pullups.

    This is not to debate the strength or anything about male versus female. This is merely a correction to a portion of the story above regarding the Marines fitness test.

    • avatar

      Day 12Breakfast: 7:002 Strips Turkey Bacon2 Eggs + 2 Egg Whites1 tsp. Coconut OilWOD: 9:00 at home on my own kids were home sick today. I push myself haderr at the gym and it’s not as much fun at home by myself!Snack: 10:002 Pumpkin MuffinsCoconut WaterLunch: 1:00Turkey Chili w/Sliced AvocadoSnack: 4:00Plantain ChipsCoconut WaterDinner:SaladAcorn Squash w/Coconut Butter and CinnamonTurkey Burger w/ Lettuce Wrap, Tomato, Red OnionSnack:Apple2 Tbsp. Almond Butter

  2. avatar

    The flexed arm hang is not something that the male Marines do. The flexed arm hang is part of the females physical fitness test. You do have the seconds right as to what they pertain to, but the wrong gender.

  3. avatar

    Missed this WOD because I had to go and pick up mother in law from Albany. But I am up to 60 Burpees with my 10.5lb weighted vest.

    Do Burpees

    Spartan Hurricane

  4. avatar

    Thanks for the correction, fellas. No matter what, the results speak for themselves.



  5. avatar

    I had to do this WOD instead of the plank every hour. Not that I could not do it but I am not sure how it would look getting out of my cruiser and holding a plank in the middle of a u-turn. It would have looked great probably. But did this one instead and it was tough.. The hang holds were the toughest barely did 3 sets.. I love it though, WOD every single day with 10.5lb weighted vest, who could ask for more…

    Do Burpees (up to 70) every morning with weighted vest…

    Spartan Hurricane

    • avatar

      Thanks Mark for posting. I’d never done hang holds before and these def were the most challenging for me. Wish I’d read your post before doing the WOD as I would have finished my third set (completed 2.5). Kinda thought it was a personal deficiency :) Goes to show the power of the mind when completing tasks. Overall, great workout, as always!

  6. avatar

    Well done, James. Looks like a good one.

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