Obstacle Course Racing: How to Train & Succeed

Obstacle course racing (OCR) is taking the world by storm and the sports popularity is catching on like wildfire. What’s the appeal? It requires the best of both ‘fitness’ worlds: strength and endurance. Not much of a runner? That’s quite alright. There are strength testing obstacles along the way to give you a competitive advantage. Not as strong as you’d like to be? Don’t worry, if you can run you’ll be more than competitive with others in the field. The range of athletes OCR draws covers the full spectrum of participants: distance runners, weightlifters, hikers, bikers, and fitness enthusiasts looking for a new challenge. And WHAT a challenge OCR is!


Obstacle Race TrainingThe first thing people realize when they compete in their first OCR is that these races are no joke. The physical demand of running while simultaneously conquering strength-blasting obstacles catches people by surprise. I often hear “…that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done’” by first-time participants. The odd thing? They can’t wait to do it again. Something about the event hits people just right: the challenge, the excitement, the comradery with other athletes, and the general energy these events instill in you. Point being? OCR is cool. Really cool! Thus why it’s growing so quickly. The next question? How do you prepare for such events?


My personal quest is to qualify and compete in the Spartan Race World Championships in Lake Tahoe in October. Spartan racing takes place all over the world and is known for their punishing obstacles, lots of mud, and challenging terrain. To compete with the best in the world (or at any OCR) you need to be prepared by working both avenues OCR requires: strength and endurance. If you can work on the combination of both, you’ll no doubt set yourself up for success when you toe the starting line. Here are the key components of OCR training:


1) Run. You’ll want to build up your run endurance.

2) Strength. You’ll want to be strong enough to take on the obstacles

3) Grip Strength. Many of the obstacles require carrying objects, climbing rope, traversing ‘rigs’ and holding your own body weight. Grip strength is imperative.


With the above components in mind we want to make sure to work on all three of the things mentioned above. Here is an example of weekly breakdown of workouts.


M- Strength work (upper body, core, and grip strength focus)

T- Run (medium distance)

W- Interval Run day (HARD interval workout for the week)

R- Strength work (upper & lower body)

F- OCR Workout (combining carries, lifts, burpees, climbs, etc amidst a circuit style running workout)

S- Run (medium distance)

S- Long Run

unnamed-7In total you’re looking at 4 running-only days, 2 strength days, and 1 day that combines both (the OCR workout). This balanced schedule will improve your aerobic capacity, strength, and adjust your body to the endurance/strength combination during your weekly OCR workout. There are numerous specific workouts to follow through this weekly format but the most important thing to remember is that preparing for both the endurance and strength components OCR demands is the key to success.


If you’re looking to challenge yourself to an OCR event and aren’t sure of the right program for you I am absolutely here to help. OCR workouts, strength, and endurance training are all included in my personal training packages and online coaching services. Don’t hesitate to reach out on my contact page for more information!


8 Questions WOMEN NEED Answers to when it comes to WEIGHT TRAINING



Why is weight training so important for women?

Weight training is important for 3 main reasons. 1) Strong is sexy. The best way to get long, lean, defined muscles is to hit the weights. Any woman you’ve looked at and thought to yourself “she has nice arms”, or “look at her figure”… probably weight trains. 2) Weight training boosts your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories per day your body burns at rest. That’s right, adding a few pounds of muscle helps your body shed fat easier. And, you can get away with eating a bit more each day without gaining fat- not a bad deal, right? 3) The prevention of osteoporosis. I know, you’re 20 or 30 and thinking you don’t need to worry about it. Well, you do! Keeping up on weight bearing activities like weight training significantly increases your bone density. Thus, building up your resistance to osteoporosis developing in the future.

Is it true that I will get “bulky” if I lift heavy?

No. Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ve probably seen some huge, ripped, muscular woman on the cover of some obnoxious fitness magazine that has scared you away from the weight room. Want to know how she got that way? Heavy lifting twice a day for HOURS on end, taking every supplement in the book, and secretly aspiring to be a man. She also probably (and freakishly) decided to supplement with testosterone or other hormone enhancers to grow big muscles. Seeing you’re a woman, you don’t have enough testosterone in your body to build very much bulk. And, if you were to bulk up, it would take a heck of a lot more than a few weight-training sessions a week. Weight training will only help your muscles show through better, not bulk up.




How frequently should I incorporate resistance training into my exercise routine for maximum results?

I recommend women weight train 2-3 times per week. If you’re going for the long, sexy, lean look that’s all you need. Spend your other days at the gym running or doing another type of cardio to stay lean.

Which is more important for fat loss – cardio or weights?

Both. Weights boost your resting metabolism, and cardio burns calories. The combination is deadly for turning your body into a calorie-burning machine? Want even faster results? Eat clean.

How do I know what the right weight/rep combination is for me, in order to see results?

I imagine your goal is to tone up, not bulk up (which I already mentioned is near impossible for the average woman). With that in mind, I always recommend testing yourself with the amount of weight you use. Press your luck a bit and leave the 5 pounders on the rack. Doing 3 sets of most exercises should be enough- looking to fail around the 10 to 12 repetition range. That’s right, failure is a good thing when it comes to weight training.





What is the best pre-workout meal to have before lifting weights?

Keep it healthy and simple. A piece of fruit (banana, apple, etc.) is enough to get your blood sugar up, but not too many calories to offset the caloric burn you’re about to create in the gym. Also, tea or coffee can really amp you up for an effective gym session.

What is the best routine or exercise for defined abs?

Let’s be honest, abs are made in the kitchen. Abs won’t show through if they are covered in fat. So make sure you’re being smart about what you’re putting in your mouth. But, if we are going to talk specifics, variation is key. Doing the same exercises everyday will lead to you hitting a plateau. Variation will keep your body guessing and the results coming. Also, that hard to reach ‘lower belly button’ area can be best reached with any exercise in which your legs are extended. Here are my favorites:


1) Leg Raises (hanging or back on the ground, hands under butt)


2) Ball Passes (on your back, passing pilates ball back and forth from feet to hands)


3) Side Plank Pikes (hold side plank, pop hip up, squeeze oblique, repeat)


4) Front Plank Pikes (Hold front plank, pop butt in the air, back to starting position, repeat)

What is the best routine or exercise for a toned tush?

The list is endless, but here are my favorites:


1) Walking Lunges (simple but very effective)


2) Bridges (Laying on your back, set a weight on your pelvis. Push pelvis up as high as you can while squeezing your booty, repeat)


3) Deep Squats (get down to 90 degrees or less, this is when your butt REALLY engages)