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Escape’s winning formula for outdoor obstacle race success
Tough Mudder claims to be the ‘toughest event on the planet’ - and with 20 adrenaline-charged obstacles scattered across 10-12 miles of mud, it’s not hard to see why.
As one of the most talked about obstacle races in the world, an average of 10-15 thousand brave people take part in each event, which are held across the globe, from the UK to China.
What Escape loves about obstacle courses and Tough Mudder especially, is that it’s not a race against the clock but a team effort to cross the finish line united and victorious.
In this article we start by introducing you to the Escape team who are taking on the challenge this year, plus a look at the skills required to conquer the obstacles of the course and the training techniques you can adopt; whether you’re a personal trainer, a coach or a fitness fanatic.
Meet the team
In true Escape style, we have rounded up a group of 30 fearless employees to take on the exhilarating challenge later this month. Our troops plan to gather in Grantham (situated 90 miles north of London) to show the crowd what we are made of.
The team has been put together by of one of our Escape Master Trainers and ex professional Rugby Union player Darren Fox. Following his lead will be employees from various departments of the business who train hard together in The Escape (our product testing and training centre).
Introducing the three key obstacle race challenges
Before starting any training plan, it is important to understand the demands that are going to be put on your body. Whether you are training for a marathon or an obstacle race, you will need to adapt your plan accordingly.
Obstacle courses like Tough Mudder require participant’s muscular and endurance systems to be in tip top condition. A good starting point when training for obstacle races should include a mixture of running sessions, functional full body exercises that improve overall strength and high intensity cardio that will keep you going strong.
With this said, we will now delve into the three key challenges participants face during the race and how we have catered our training plan to suit.
Use our three-stage workout plan below as inspiration to improve your time on the day. We recommend four weeks of training if you’re in good shape and 8-13 weeks if you are a beginner.
Challenge 1: Endurance
As you probably know, Tough Mudder and other obstacle races will test your endurance levels to the max. Races combine multiple disciplines which challenge your various energy systems. To allow the working muscles to perform optimally at various levels of intensity, cardiovascular fitness is essential. A strong heart to pump blood around the body and efficient oxygen transfer from the lungs to the blood will help supply the muscles with the oxygen they require.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a very popular choice for athletes training for all kinds of events because it improves both their anaerobic and aerobic energy systems.
Most clubs offer HIIT classes, which last anything from 20-45 minutes. Try to complete 2-3 HIIT sessions per week – you’ll feel the benefits surprisingly quickly and have tons of fun along the way.
How the Escape team train:
Here at Escape we find that 30-minute bursts of HIIT prepare us for endurance distance events more than just running. Studies have lead us to believe that training with HIIT for as little as an hour a week will result in the same benefits as running for over three hours a week.
We use loads of great Escape equipment of course, such as the Quad Sled and Bulgarian Bag. However the team also use another fantastic tool that’s great for strengthening the cardiovascular system. As a new addition to The Escape, the Watt Bike is one of the fastest, most effective ways to improve performance, pushing your heart rate to the max.
Now, let’s look at one of our favourite HIIT workouts that get our pulses racing.
The Warrior Matrix: Three rounds of each exercise performed for 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest in-between.
- TRX: back row.
- Watt Bike (highest level you can).
- Bulgarian Bag
- Quad Sled push (weight optional).
- Battle Rope (single arm or double arm slams).
Challenge 2: Strength
The ability to lift and hold your own bodyweight is essential if you want to complete each obstacle without falling into the muddy water that lurks below.
The good news is that you don’t need to have access to gym equipment for this section of your training…
Don’t underestimate the benefits of bodyweight exercises. This can build lean muscle mass, increase resting metabolic rate and reduce joint and bone pain.
We recommend that you practice exercises such as press-ups, pull-ups and handstand push-ups (if you’re feeling strong). What else is going to prepare you for the revolving wheels of ‘Funky Monkey – The Revolution’?!
How the Escape team train:
Have a go at our ultimate bodyweight circuit four times a week and see if you can increase the time on each exercise as the days go on.
Bodyweight Bootcamp: Three rounds of each exercise performed for 30 seconds with 30 rest in-between.
- Mountain climbers.
- Jump squats.
- Alternating lunge jumps.
- Spider-man push-ups.
Challenge 3: Trail running
The ground you’ll be running on during any obstacle race will not be as friendly as that when running a marathon or on a track - the ground is uneven and scattered with rocks, mud and twigs. Participants should therefore prepare themselves for all-terrain running.
To tackle the demands of a race like Tough Mudder, trail running is recommended. Start by altering your usual route slightly by keeping off concrete as much as possible. Then look for additional, more challenging trails you can complete.
One of the benefits gained from trail running is the development of exceptional balance and core strength. This ultimately leads to a more explosive and powerful take off in every stride – very useful when you are faced with a 12 mile challenge.
How the Escape team train:
The Escape team fit in a 10km run 1-2 times per week. We find local trails that will challenge us to run on ground similar to that of Tough Mudder.
A simple Google search will give you options local to you. If all else fails, finding a local park will prepare you more than sticking to the path.
Fuelling your body for the challenge ahead
So, now you have an idea of the type of training that will enable you to conquer Tough Mudder, or any other obstacle race you may be thinking of entering. Fuelling up for the big day is important if you want to feel energised throughout the course.
Exercising on an empty stomach can lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue. If you are performing high intensity exercise your body needs energy to run efficiently.
For a vigorous obstacle race such as Tough Mudder, food should be consumed around three hours before your start time. Leaving this amount of time between eating and working out gives your body enough time to digest and absorb the food from your GI tract into your blood.
Don’t forget to have fun
So there you have it: your training plan for a successful Tough Mudder experience. With all of this in mind don’t forget to enjoy the day and work as a team to tackle some exciting obstacles. If you’re part of the Grantham event and see the Escape team along the way come and say hi!
Do you have the tools for our Warrior Matrix?
Prepare yourself, your team or your clients for an obstacle race with the help from the TRX, Corebag, Bulgarian Bag, Quad Sled, Bumper Plates, Slamball and Battle Rope.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on:
UK: +44 (0)1733 313 535
USA: +1 (614)-706-4462
Germany: +49 (0)2921 590 10 70