These are the Tough Mudder obstacles that you will need to overcome to complete the race, with some hints on how to overcome them.
#1 Arctic Enema
Forget ice baths for post-workout muscle relaxation. There is a reason that the Artic Enema is first on the Tough Mudder Obstacles List. This frigid ice dumpster will shock your muscles into tense bricks.
But suck it up, poise, and dive into this arctic-temperature ice pool. Battle your way to the surface and swim through the chunks of ice under a huge wooden plank. Pull yourself out as fast as you can before hypothermia sets in.
Hint: Once on the other side, take a minute and warm up with a few jumping jacks or push-ups. Give your muscles a good rubdown before you take off. This is important because you don’t want to go into shock or push it too hard. There are many obstacles ahead, play it smart.
#2 Boa Constrictor
If you’re the least bit claustrophobic, beware. This obstacle challenges your mental capacity to wiggle through uncomfortably tight spaces. A series of connected pipes runs up a hill through freezing mud. You have to pull yourself along the tunnel walls to the end.
Hint: Your legs won’t really help you with this one. Instead, use your arms to reach ahead and pull downward squeezing your body through the pipe. Don’t make the mistake of trying to use your legs like most first-timers. This will only slow you down.
#3 Cliff Hanger
Cliff Hanger is impossible to do without your teammates. You climb together up a 40-foot “cliff” of very wet mud and dirt. Handholds and footholds are in short supply, if there are any at all.
If you try this alone, you’ll scramble upward 10 feet, and slide backward into a muddy pit below looking like a fool. Most Tough Mudders hit the slope together at a sprint, pushing and pulling each other up.
Hint: Take it easy. Link your hands together in a chain with your teammates. Edge up the slope slowly, step-by-step.
#4 Electric Shock Therapy
This obstacle, by far Tough Mudder’s most infamous, contrary to gossip, won’t kill you. None of the obstacles will, because they’re designed and maintained by adventure-specialist engineers. But Electric Shock Therapy will sear you with a white-hot blinding live wire.
Wires pulsing with as many as 10,000 electric volts dangle over a field of mud that you sprint through. While I have this listed #4 on the Tough Mudder Obstacles List, it probably the most feared.
Hint: Watch out for the bales of hay scattered in various locations on the field. Trip over one of these and you’ll gag on a mouthful of electrifying mud.
#5 Funky Monkey
Bet you loved monkey bars when you were a kid. These bars? Probably not so much. Greased with a mixture of butter and mud, the Funky Monkey bars are set up for failure.
Spaced a foot and a half apart, the bars sit at an upside-down “V” ascending for the first half and descending for the second. If your fingers can’t hold tight, you’ll plunge into an icy pool below.
Hint: If you keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and bicycle-kick your legs hard, you’ll be able to hold yourself up and might make it out alive. Your going to need lots of upper body strength, do pull ups to prepare.
#6 Dirty Ballerina
Shelve your pride and call on your inner ballerina for this one. Combining all elements of balance, agility and muscular control, launch yourself over four-foot wide mud pits. If you miss the other side, you’ll plunge face-first into a pit of mud and you’ll be at the mercy of your teammates to haul you out.
Hint: Engage your core and don’t over shoot your jump because some of the mud pits are spaced close together. Breathe deeply once, take a running leap and reach for the other side by bicycle-kicking your legs.
#7 Dong Dangler
This obstacle normally heads up the beginning of the cold-water obstacle section, ensuring you are soaked and freezing to the bone. Metal cables draped in a plastic sheet span the 70-foot distance, 10 feet above a freezing lake.
Cross the cables, but beware: if you fall into the lake you receive a penalty and have to stand shivering onshore for five minutes before continuing.
Hint: Swing your body on top of the cable and straddle the cable with one foot resting on the top. Lay your body face down and shimmy along the cable to the other end.
#8 Fire Walker
Another of the most infamous obstacles on the Tough Mudder Obstacles List and a postcard image for Tough Mudder, the Fire Walker is truly one of the most badass obstacles.
You’ll run through a trench of kerosene-soaked straw, blazing in four-foot high flames licking around your feet and legs and behind. Get out quickly, and don’t look back. Watch out for wet straw underfoot, sometimes kerosene makes the floor slippery.
Hint: Train by building up your lung capacity with explosive aerobic exercise. Do 100-yard sprints in sets of 5 on a local football field. This way, when you’re mid smoke-cloud, you’ll have the capacity to hold your breath and avoid inhaling nasty carcinogens.
Climbing Everest is much more than riding your average skate or snow park half-pipe. This quarter-pipe requires you to sprint up, launching your body to Tough Mudder teammates at the top. And here’s hoping they catch you. If not, you’ll slide down the slippery wooden side coated in mud and grease.
Hint: The trick is getting the first person up Everest, so he can help pull others up. To do this, form a human chain linking your bodies shoulder to shoulder in a pyramid, with a few people on shoulders. Then a small, strong volunteer can scale everyone’s shoulders to the top.
#10 Hangin’ Tough
Hangin’ Tough is every gymnast’s dream, and every regular athlete’s nightmare. Similar to the Funky Monkey, you swing eight feet above cold water, grabbing greased rings.
Start standing on the wooden platform, grab your first ring, and proceed across 25 feet. Should you fall into the water, you receive a penalty of a five-minute wait time on shore before continuing.
Hint: Don’t try to rush through Hangin’ Tough. With each grip you’ll have a few seconds to think and plan your next good swing to the next ring before your fingers give way to the grease. Instead, take your time and look ahead. Use those precious seconds wisely. Here again, upper body strength is important, along with a good pair of gloves.
#11 Hold Your Wood
If ever there’s a time to flex your muscles, it’s now. In Hold Your Wood, you literally have to haul a heavy, beastly log up and down a set of slippery hills without falling. Not only will your back and shoulders hate you, but you’ll also have to engage your core and walk with calculated precision to avoid falling.
Hint: Train as many Mudders do for Hold Your Wood—it’s simple. Chop down a tree and saw off a big hunk of it. First walk and run slowly. Get used to the weight and feel of the wood. Then, find a good hill, and sprint up and down. Best practiced after a heavy rainfall for the full effect. Raw strength is needed here, so weight lifting will help out.
#12 Mud Mile
True to its name, Mud Mile is a mud run, but really only lasts a quarter mile. However, after just a fraction of the distance, you’ll be ready for it to end. Wade and run through a series of waist deep water pits about 15 yards wide.
A five-foot wall separates each pit that’s necessary to scale to reach the next pit. Be careful of the uneven, muddy bottom with hidden random holes and drop offs. At the end crawl through a short section of mud before reaching a dry trail.
Hint: Before you tackle Mud Mile, take a second and tie your shoes extra tight. You’ll be glad you did. Suction forces from the friction of the mud and the wrenching of your foot through it threaten to suck your shoe right off.
#13 Spider’s Web
A literal roadblock on the trail, Spider’s Web consists of a taught steel cable strung 15 feet above the ground between two trees. Rope cargo drapes over the steel cable creating a free dangling spider-web-like net.
Climb to the top, using all muscle groups to stabilize you since the net sways back and forth. Once at the top, swing your legs over the top and climb down the other side.
Hint: Climb this one with teammates. If you time it right, you send the first person over. Then time it right so once they get over the top, the second person starts climbing. With two people climbing up and down opposite sides of the net, this applies even pressure and lessens the sway.
#14 Trench Warfare
Similar to fighting in the trenches in war, this military style obstacle is not set up for the weak minded. Claustrophobic people, this is set up to trap you. Drop into a mud pit and squeeze into a hole two feet wide.
Inside the nearly pitch black tunnel, crawl 30 feet through mud, hook a sharp left for ten feet, a sharp right for ten feet, and you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel. Literally.
Hint: Crawl through the tunnel in a human chain because it’s much easier to navigate in a group. Stick together to calm nervous claustrophobic teammates.
#15 Walk the Plank
Walk the Plank tests your fear of heights and cold water as you stride out on a piece of wood positioned 15 feet above a pool of chilly water. First, climb 15 feet up a steep wooden structure.
Make your way along the wooden side rail and stabilize yourself. The quicker you jump, the quicker you’ll be out of the wind. You probably won’t touch the bottom, but you’ll be submerged for a good three seconds. Once afloat, get your bearings and swim 50 yards across the lake to continue one.
Hint: Some people actually wear thin wetsuits under their clothes for this one. Some also wear headlamps, which would hopefully survive a jump like this and be useful in tunnel and low-light obstacles.
#16 Tired Yet?
Bringing in some of the biggest rubber tires around, Tough Mudder laid out a field of tired you have to tiptoe your feet through carefully. Climb a small, five-foot hill of rubber tires and cross the 40-foot tire field. This is a good obstacle to take your time and catch your breath, but run with caution because unevenly spaced tires sit at uneven heights so you’ll trip up.
Hint: When you’re running through Tired Yet?, use your core and pull your legs and knees high into your chest to ensure full clearance of the tires. I like using a rowing machine to prepare for this event.
#17 Hale Bay Pyramid
One of Tough Mudder’s “easiest” obstacles (if you can even call it that) is the Hay Bale Pyramid. A six-to-seven-story pyramid of bales of hay stacked on top of each other.
To scale the first bale, you have to run and jump, burying your hands in straw and pulling yourself upwards. But we only say “easy” because Hay Bale Pyramid is mud-free, ice-free, and shock-free. Don’t count it out.
Hint: Straw hurts and it’ll scratch you raw. Grab gently when you’re reaching for the next bale if you can. Work in pairs to hoist and pull each other up.
#18 Twinkle Toes
This slippery log bridge running over an icy pond will definitely keep you on your toes. Tread lightly and carefully—this obstacle isn’t one to blast through.
Chances are Tough Mudder officials will put this obstacle right after one that strips you of all energy. This obstacle demands strength and stamina, sure, but it’ll push you to the limits of balance and agility as well.
Hint: Breathe yoga-style, expanding your diaphragm to full capacity. This will slow your heart rate and put you in a solid mental state to tackle Twinkle Toes.
#19 Berlin Walls
Perhaps one of Mudder’s toughest obstacles, the Berlin Walls are near impossible to scale without teammate help. 12-foot wooden walls are again strategically placed when you’re mentally and physically drained. When you come to this colossal roadblock, you’ll no doubt need a boost from your teammates to reach the top. Camaraderie is key here.
Hint: First, quickly push two or three teammates to the top. Then, remaining teammates can push each other up, as teammates at the top pull them up.
The final teammate takes a running start and launches his body upward, grabbing the hands as teammates at the top hoist him up. Here again upper body strength is critical, do lots of pull ups.
#20 Electric Eel
This obstacle works your abs raw. Slide on your belly through a freezing pool of blue water (no mud this time, thankfully). Electric shocks and live wires dangle overhead.
Go any higher than knee height and live wires will singe your skin sending electricity volts—not so high as to do any real harm—that’ll wake you up and stand your hair on end. And ironically enough, if you manage to avoid the shocks, this obstacle can feel like a refreshing swim.
Hint: Use your core oblique muscles. Move side to side through the water like an eel as you avoid the shocks. Don’t look up.
Please see this article on recommend workout equipment that will get you prepared for Tough Mudder. You need solid upper body strength along with cardio if your going to finish.
Best Gear For Tough Mudder
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If you are really serious about doing a Tough Mudder, or any other type of “Mud Run” the training program I recommend is the P90X. It has gotten me into the best shape of my life. The program was created by fitness expert Tony Horton, frequent author for Men’s Health.
It is designed to get you into peak fitness in a short period of time using “Interval Workouts”, which have been proven the most effective way to lose weight and get into phenomenal shape. Its a complete program of workouts and how to eat for the most effective results and have you scaling the “Berlin Wall“, running the “Mude Mile” and crossing the “Funky Money“.
If you follow this training plan you should be ready for the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race or Warrior Dash!
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