Updated: Mar 5, 2019
As a personal trainer, I firmly believe in taking exceptional care of my clients. I treat every client as if they are earning a $1,000,000.00 salary for their athletic performance. What this means to me is making sure that we progress when the client is ready to progress and no sooner. I teach them and instruct them on how to take care of their bodies through foam rolling, stretching, proper movement, and proper exercise form and technique. The very best way to injury a client and lose them forever is to push them when they aren’t ready, and to progress them when they don’t have a solid foundation.
This is why I believe that everyone doing their first OCR (Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Savage Race, Terrain Race, Warrior Dash, etc.) should have a solid foundation in place. If you’ve never followed a consistent exercise, cardio, or strength program, your first race will be hard no matter what. But that doesn’t mean you can’t avoid injury and do better each following race.
Here are 5 exercises you should MASTER to help prevent injury:
1: Lateral Plank Walks
This dynamic movement helps to strengthen your core, arms, hip abductors, quads, shoulders, and much more. The goal is to strengthening as many muscles possible through full body dynamic movement.
Lunges are extremely important for developing stability in your entire lower body. When done properly you’ll get your glutes, hamstring complex, quads, hip flexors, calfs, and all of the smaller stabilizers working through movement. Strengthening the big muscle groups takes a lot of load off of the joints and strengthening the stabilizers means a smaller chance of injury occurring on race day.
3: Dead Hangs
If the last time you hung on monkey bars was when you were ten year old, this is important for you. Not everyone can do a full dead hang with their feet off the ground. If you need to, stand on a box and hang with as much weight being supported by your arms as you can manage. The most important part of this hang is the contraction of your scapula. You need to pull your shoulder blades down and in and try to hold that position. That will increase the strength of the muscles around the scapula which will dramatically help to stabilize the shoulder. There have been instances where racers have torn shoulder ligaments and even dislocated their shoulders at races, so we want to make sure that is unlikely to happen to you.
4: External Shoulder Rotation With a Band
Another very important exercise that follows the same idea as Dead Hangs. We want to strengthen the shoulder girdle so that tearing or pulling doesn’t occur while hanging during your race.
5: Medicine Ball Front Carry
The med ball carry increases overall strength. People tend to lean back when they carry something heavy in front of their body to counterbalance the weight. That’s not our goal though. We want you to stand upright and carry the medicine ball right in your mid chest region. Your core will have to work extremely hard. Your arms and back will also get stronger at the same time. Your lower spine will have much less pressure on it but the muscles in and around your lower back will become stronger during this exercise.
These five exercises mimic much of the movement patterns you’ll encounter at an OCR. Try them. Master them. When you get good at a certain weight, distance, rep number, or time, try increasing it marginally. Always find a way to get better even if it is a baby step at a time.
Joel Hayes (Article Author)