Built for Training: Ace an Adventure Race—Overcome the Obstacles

And we’re back with the second installment in our Built for Training Video Series: Powered by Gillette. (If you missed last week’s video check it out here.) This week we headed to the only permanent Spartan course in the world, located in Canton, MA at Reebok Headquarters, where we met up with Joe DeSena, the co-founder of the Spartan Race. DeSena showed MF editor Mike Simone how to face down—and totally crush—the toughest obstacles on the course.

Whether you’re flipping logs, dodging barbed wire, or traversing a mud pit, the main thing to remember is that confidence is key. Most people find it hard to visualize actually climbing over a wall or jumping through fire since that’s not something they do in everyday life, but if you’ve trained well and stay focused you absolutely can. Here, DeSena’s expert tips for overcoming the toughest obstacles:

  • Wall Climbs
    Getting over the wall is about transitioning from a forward movement (running) to a lateral movement (jumping). To make that transition seamless and successful it’s critical to hit the wall with your lead foot and explode up as quickly as possible.
  • Balance Beam
    Pick a spot on the beam several steps ahead of you to focus on and then move quickly and aggressively. If you slow down or try to overthink the task, you’ll mentally (and physically) trip yourself up.
  • Hercules Hoist
    Grab as high up the rope as you can, and then sit down into the movement. It’s much easier to pull the weight using your own bodyweight as a level rather than just pulling with your arms and exhausting your upper body strength. Sit back and you’ll do less work with greater results.
  • Traverse Wall
    The wall is meant to simulate rock climbing. The key is to go feet first—move your feet to the next two footholds first, and then reset your hand placement.
  • Object Carry
    Stand tall and upright as you walk—this will center the weight so you’re evenly distributing the load throughout your entire body and not just relying on your forearms and shoulders. When you begin to tire while carrying the item, vary your strides from quick and short steps to slower, longer steps, or vice versa.
  • Sled Pull
    Position the weight low and focus on using the power in your quads and hamstrings to pull rather than using your arms and upper body. Then lean forward as you pull.
  • Crawl
    Tuck your arms in and roll underneath.
  • Log Flips
    Bend your knees and sit back, then explode with your hips to generate the most amount of power.
  • Tarzan Swings
    Timing is key for this one. Try to get into a rhythm and use the momentum of the swing to propel yourself forward. And make sure to grab the next rope ahead of you while you’re at the peak of your swing.

Check back next week for the third and final installment—Insider Tips from Real Life Racers.

To learn more about Joe DeSena and find out why he credits so much of his success to fitness read this.

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