You can prepare for the Tough Mudder with only 8 simple exercises. You don’t need a gym for any of them either. Of course if you want the discipline then go for it. The important thing is that you actually do them regularly for Tough Mudder preparation.
Exercise can be broken down into three basic categories: pushing, pulling, and hip extension (squatting, jumping and running). Fitness begins with learning good form for these essential exercises and then adding weight and difficulty to build strength. Doing these exercises using good form with five pounds, is better then doing them poorly with 100 pounds.
So lets get to it, for some of the exercises that are harder to explain I put a YouTube video to show the technique.
#1 The Humble Push-Up
Push ups use a variety of muscles, in particular your arms, shoulders, chest, and back – that are key for almost all Tough Mudder obstacles. The humble push-up beats the bench press for developing this strength because the push-up doesn’t take your back and legs out of the exercise.
- Start in a plank position, while holding your back straight.
- Stabilize the shoulder joints by pulling shoulder blades down toward your heels.
- Place hands so that when you drop, your nipples line up with the base of your palms. Lower your body until your chest touches the floor.
#2 Overhead Press
We rarely lift any weight overhead while sitting down, normally it will be done standing up. So if your needing to lift weight like in the “Hold Your Wood” obstacle your going to be able to do this. Standing presses are the way to get you the strength you need. Use kettlebells or dumbbells instead of barbells because they let the shoulder joint find its own way through a safe range of motion and not get locked into a position.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, spine held straight up and down(no arching the back).
- Raise one weight at a time, allowing the hand and wrist to rotate as you push upward.
#3 Pull Up and Chin UpsWhether rock climbing, swimming or getting yourself over the Berlin Wall in your next Tough Mudder, vertical pulling motions are one of the most basic things we will do with our arms.
Both pull-ups and chin-ups work the entire upper body as a unit, while chins ups use the biceps more, pull-ups emphasize upper back and triceps.
- Start with your hands about shoulder-width apart for chin-ups, a bit wider for pull-ups.
- Stabilize shoulder blades.
- Lift yourself until your chin is above the bar and lower yourself till your arms are straight for each rep.
#4 The RowWe pull on things all the time, being able to do this effectively is really going to prepare you for the Funky Monkey and Hanging Tough obstacles. There is no better way to prepare for these obstacles than adjustable fitness straps. Hung from any doorway or even tree branch, the straps allow for a more efficient row than other methods because of the way they demand head-to-heel core stability.
- Stabilize your spine by using your core, without arching or sagging; stabilize your shoulders.
- Pull upward until your hands come even with your chest.
- Lower your body till your arms are straight while keeping your back straight the entire time.
#5 The Squat
Maybe the most basic of human movements, sitting down and getting back up, or lifting objects off the ground. There is no better way to prepare than squats. However, form is extremely important in preventing injuries, so start without using any weights to develop a full range of motion before adding weight using dumbbells.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than your shoulders, toes pointed about 30 degrees away from straight ahead and your chest up and butt back. Weight should be on your heels, not your toes.
- Squat by pushing your butt backward, not by bending your knees forward.
- Your knees should track directly over top of your feet, never caving inward or outward.
- Lower-self till your thighs are parallel to the floor while keeping your weight on your heels and your back straight.
#6 Kettlebell SwingAlmost every Tough Mudder Obstacle depends on power in one form of another, whether its sprinting or overcoming Everest. The kettlebell swing is almost the perfect foundation exercise because of its simplicity and giving you explosive power.
- Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder width and your toes pointed slightly outward. Hang the kettlebell between your legs.
- Lock your shoulders by pulling the shoulder blades down toward your feet.
- Bend at the hips to push your butt backward while the kettlebell hangs loose in front.
- Snap hips forward. Don’t pull up the bell with your arms; stand up explosively and let it fly up on its own. But control is everything, and the bell should reach only eye level.
- On the backswing, let arms come flat against your torso with the bell between your legs.
#7 Dead Lift
The strength in hip extension comes from your posterior chain, a string of muscles that run from your hamstrings up through your glutes and into your lower back. No Exercise trains the posterior better at the same time protecting your lower back against the lumbar pain so typical as we get older.
Again kettlebells make the perfect tool because even the light ones, like a 20-pounder to get the exercise down, have handles that are high enough off the ground that you don’t have to bend over completely to pick them up.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing outward 30 degrees, kettlebell on the floor between your feet, centered one inch in front of your shins. Weight should be on your heels, never the toes.
- Your spine should be straight, with shins perpendicular to the floor while you move your butt backward, bending at the hips. Once you can reach the kettlebell handles this way without hunching forward in your lumbar spine, grab the handle with both hands.
- Drive upward by forcing your hips forward but not by pulling up with your hands.
#8 The Walking LungeWhile it may be hard to believe but research indicates that that knee pain nearly always begins with weak hips and specifically the stabilizer muscles that align the upper leg, from the hip all the way down into your knees. Walking lunges a kind of exaggerated striding motion will build solid leg joints for many of Tough Mudders obstacles.
For the walking lunge, simply take one big step forward, plant your foot, and bend your forward knee 90 degrees while bringing the rear knee low enough to almost touch the floor. Repeat with the your other foot. As you get stronger add weight using dumbbells.
- Plant your lead foot far enough forward that so that as you lower into each lunge your shin bone of your other leg remains nearly perpendicular to the floor and the kneecap never extends over your foot.
- Dont rock back and forth with your upper body remain upright using good posture and your abdominal muscles to keep your spine straight.
If you can master these basic preparation exercises you are going to find the Tough Mudder obstacles much easier to overcome. Good Luck!
Here is a complete guide to Tough Mudder Workout Equipment.