8 Exercises to Prepare for a Mud Run or Obstacle Race

Toeing the start line of an obstacle course race or mud run takes guts, a love of mud and specific prep work. Obstacle course racing has been increasing in popularity over the years and isn't going away anytime soon. With a mix of running, boot camp and sheer craziness, you have a bona fide challenge on your hands.

Unlike a traditional 5K or 10K, obstacle races demand strength, coordination, and the ability to drop and do 20 burpees at any point in the race. If you come from the traditional side of running, strength training may not have been part of your prep work for a race. For OCRs, however, it is a must: You will be climbing, carrying, jumping, crawling and likely helping a teammate (or stranger). Running an OCR requires a different mindset for which you have to prepare yourself accordingly.

Along with doing intervals, hill repeats and long runs, you need to hit the gym at least two times a week to get stronger. If you're just starting out, focus on the first four exercises on the below list. Keep the volume low (3 to 5 sets of 4 to 6 reps per exercise) and slowly increase the weight each week by 2.5 up to 10 pounds.

After you have built up your strength, start adding in conditioning work. Kettlebell swings, burpees, box jumps and sprints can be done by themselves or in a circuit where you group three or four exercises together. Circuits are a great way to step up your conditioning game and will help prepare you for the rigors of an OCR.

Don't be afraid of over-preparing for these types of races—the race can quickly become a long, intense and torturous experience if you aren't ready for it.

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