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Getting ready for the Tough Mudder, or any other sort of obstacle adventure race shouldn’t be underestimated. Whilst it is true that anyone with reasonable levels of fitness can make it around what is often not a timed course, there is a good chance that you may be running against some guys that look like they may spend a lot of time watching themselves in the mirror. You don’t want to end up looking like the guy from the Mister Muscle adverts so here’s how to get into shape for the macho-run fest.

Arctic Enema obstacle at the Tough Mudder London North 4th May 2013

Actually, a good overall level of fitness, coupled with some strength training is always a good idea no matter what event you’re taking on. Building muscle strength throughout the body particularly helps with varied nature of racing across obstacles. As is often the case in these things, there is a fairly high chance that after signing-up for the muddy-suffer-fest that is the Tough Mudder, you went out and completely forgot to train for the race. Well have no fear- we too have been there. And therefore let us introduce the idea of Crossfit.

For this short series of articles, we’ve employed fitness instructor Chris Dear to put together a straightforward 3 week training program that should see any potential Tough Mudder right.

The programme is very much a Crossfit styled plan.  The programme is designed to make an athlete improve their skills in the 10 physical skills that encompass what fitness is.  These 10 skills are;

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance - The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
  2. Stamina - The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
  3. Strength - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
  4. Flexibility - the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
  5. Power - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  6. Speed - The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
  7. Coordination - The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  8. Agility - The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  9. Balance - The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
  10. Accuracy - The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

The Tough Mudder includes a lot of these attributes in its challenges, so I thought it important to design the programme around this.  However, as the event does include a lot of running, I have biased the programming to that of running, whilst including functional movements such as Thrusters and Burpees to improve the athletes ability to move weight and himself.

The three week programme is constantly varied, the only time a workout is repeated is to test the athletes performance and to check progress is being made in their fitness. The event will constantly challenge the athlete so It is an important attribute to the athlete to be ready for any physical challenge that may pop up.  The events at the "Tough Mudder" are public yes, but changes in weather, how busy the event is with other athletes and the new terrain the athlete would not be used to, having the ability to adapt could prove extremely useful.

Intensity is key in the programme.  All the metabolic conditioning workouts are timed, and push the athlete to work as fast as they can.  Intensity is the key to making the body fitter, if the body is not overloaded, then it will have no reason to adapt.

Before taking to this type of high intensity programming I recommend you consult your GP.  I would also strongly recommend seeing a Crossfit specialist to learn the unique movements in this programme so you can perform them safely and efficiently.

So, with the formalities out of the way let's get cracking.