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Upper Body Circuit Training for Spartan Competitors

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Upper Body Circuit Training for Spartan Competitors

The Ultimate Racing Challenge

Spartan, tough mudder, dirty dash, mud run and true grit are all versions of the hugely popular event also known as the obstacle course race (OCR). Competing in an OCR requires multiple athletic skills including speed, mobility, strength, power and endurance. Incorporate this upper body circuit training workout as part of your regular training to prepare for the climbing and crawling obstacles.

This circuit training program will improve your upper body and core strength, as well as your cardio capacity. Use lighter weights than you would normally use for pure strength training. Remember, you are trying to finish each set as quickly as possible without stopping. Run through the entire workout without stopping, then rest for three minutes before starting again. Try to get through the circuit three times. At first you may have to take a quick break or two between exercises to catch your breath. Do not worry! As your endurance improves you will be able to go longer before taking a break.

Inverted Row

You can perform this exercise using a racked barbell or any horizontal bar set a few feet above the ground. The higher the level of the bar, the easier the row. Perform 12 reps and move to the next exercise in the circuit.

  1. Sit under the bar and grip it about shoulder width apart.
  2. Keeping your arms straight, lift your butt to straighten your body.
  3. Position yourself so your chest is directly below the bar.
  4. Bend your arms and pull your chest towards the bar.
  5. Straighten your arms back to the starting position.
  6. Keep your core engaged so your butt does not sag.

Advanced version: Instead of hanging from a horizontal bar, grip the handles of a TRX®  suspension trainer.

Barbell Burpee

If you cannot complete a particular obstacle during an OCR, you will be required to do a set of burpees before being allowed to continue on the course. This training version omits the vertical leap and uses a barbell to focus on strengthening your arms, shoulders and core. Start with a 15 or 20 pound barbell and increase the weight as you get stronger. Perform 12 reps and move on.

  1. Start with the barbell on the floor just in front of your feet.
  2. Squat down and grip the barbell with your hands shoulder width apart.
  3. Perform a squat thrust–jump and push both feet behind you, and straighten your body into a pushup position.
  4. Do a pushup over the barbell.
  5. Jump and bring both feet back to the squatting position.
  6. Stand up and lift the barbell up to your chest.
  7. Press the barbell overhead until your arms are straight.
  8. Strongly engage your shoulders, core and glutes as you perform the overhead press; do not arch your back.
  9. Squat down and bring the barbell down to the floor.

Advanced version: Use a pair of dumbbells instead of a barbell. Keep the dumbbells racked at chest level as you stand up and then jump up. Be sure to absorb the landing by bending your knees and ankles. After you land, press the dumbbells into the overhead position.

Hand-Over-Hand Sled Pull

This exercise requires a weighted sled and battle rope. Tie one end of the rope to the front of the sled and lay the rope out in a straight line. Start by loading the sled with about half of your body weight. Complete three reps before moving to the next exercise.

  1. Stand at the free end of the rope (not attached to the sled) with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Pick up the rope with both hands and get into a low squat.
  3. Stay in a low squat and pull the sled toward you by reaching hand-over-hand along the rope.
  4. Keep your chest up and do not let the sled pull you forward; do not stand up while pulling.
  5. When you have pulled the sled all the way to you, grab the free end of the rope.
  6. Run back to the starting position so the rope is straight again.

Advanced version: When you have pulled the sled all the way to you, drop the free end of the rope. Put both hands on the front handles of the sled and push it back to the starting position so the rope is straight again.

Bosu® Pushup

Performing pushups on an unstable surface, such as a Bosu trainer, works the stabilizer muscles of your core, shoulders and arms. Complete 12 reps, then take a well-deserved rest before starting the circuit again!

  1. Start by grasping the hard plastic base of the Bosu so the soft side is down, resting on the floor.
  2. Get into a plank position with a nice straight back.
  3. Bend your arms and lower your chest to the Bosu base.
  4. Straighten your arms back to the starting position.
  5. Keep your core and glutes engaged; do not let your hips bounce or sway.

Advanced version: Turn these into plyometric pushups by pushing explosively when you straighten your arms. Try to push the Bosu completely off the floor.



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