For many, many years, people have been running competitive races. Most of them take place on the street in the form of marathons, half marathons, 10k and 5k races. Apparently, that type of racing has gotten boring for some people, which has seen a rise in obstacle course races that last for miles. One of the most popular obstacle course races out there is the Tough Mudder, which was started by Will Dean and Guy Livingstone in 2010.

Later that year, they held the first Tough Mudder race as word spread and nearly 5,000 people showed up. The company grew quickly and dozens of races were being held across the United States and Tough Mudder turned into a brand. Now there are multiple races around the world and Tough Mudder has developed a culture that brings a lot of intense training. Training for the Tough Mudder race can be difficult, and there has been a workout plan developed to get you ready. Let’s take a look at the Tough Mudder training and see if it can get you in shape whether you are running a race or not.

The Tough Mudder Races

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Not every Tough Mudder race is going to be the same as there are multiple courses depending on your area. Here are the different types of courses that you could be getting yourself ready for:

Open Range – You can feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere with an open range course that usually doesn’t have many trees around. Instead, you are faced with waving fields and steep hills as you work your way back toward civilization.

Off-Road – The off-road course is usually muddy, cold and wet depending on where you are. Most of the obstacles in the off-road course are designed to get you dirty.

Arena – Arena courses center around, well, arenas. Most of the arena courses can be found on fairgrounds and include obstacles like running up and down bleachers with larger crowds watching you compete. It can be a bit intimidating, but it’s the most popular one out there.

Backwoods – Running a Tough Mudder course in rural areas usually means that a backwoods course is in play. This means having to leap over tree stumps and trying to find your way through a forest.

Muscle – Though the muscle courses aren’t as long as some of the others, they focus on using your power to get through the entire course. There’s also a lot of the muddy obstacles that you would find in the off-road course.

Mountain – This course is exactly what it sounds like as you have to face off against steep inclines and declines in high elevation areas. It’s not for the faint of heart as oxygen can be hard to come by.

No matter which course you are on, you will be facing a series of obstacles. Each course has their own unique obstacles, but there are a few signature obstacles that show up on every course. These include the Funky Monkey (monkey bars over cold water), Everest (a slicked up quarter pipe), Electroshock Therapy (wires over mud) and the unpleasant sounding Arctic Enema (jumping into an ice filled dumpster).

Courses are typically at least 10 miles long, with some going up to 12 miles. There is also the recently introduced Tough Mudder Half which lasts for five miles. If you’re feeling really crazy, there is also the Toughest Mudder, which is a 24 mile race that is broken down into eight hour spurts and is even broadcast on national television starting in 2017. However,that shouldn’t be your goal for now.

The Tough Mudder Beginner Workout

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So now that you know a little bit about what to expect from the actual race, first you have to get prepared to run. There are a couple of workouts that you can do to get prepared, starting with a workout for those that have been missing out on the gym lately. You should be doing four certain exercises and time yourself to see how long it takes to finish. For this, you will need to do:

  • 40 Squats
  • 30 Sit-ups
  • 20 Push-ups
  • 10 Pull-ups

The faster that you can do this workout, the better you will be prepared for the Tough Mudder. However, that’s the workout that you should be doing once per week to see your progress. As you lead into the race, here is what your full first week should look like:

Monday

  • Five Rounds of 25 Squats
  • Five Rounds of 25 Lunges
  • Five Rounds of 15 Jump Squats
  • Five Rounds of 15 Jump Lunges

Tuesday

  • Run 2 Miles

Wednesday

  • Rest

Thursday

  • Five Rounds of 10 Tuck Jumps
  • Five Rounds of 20 Squats
  • Five Rounds of 5 Dumbbell Thrusters
  • Five Rounds of Tabata Mountain Climbers

Friday

  • Run 2 Miles

Saturday

  • 10 Rounds of 10 Burpees
  • 10 Rounds of 10 Sit-ups
  • 10 Rounds of 10 Press-ups

Sunday

  • Rest

The workouts will continue like this as you go through the eight week program, getting more difficult throughout as you add more reps to your strength workouts and more miles to your running. Eventually, you will be running seven miles two times per week while also adding more strength conditioning and race-specific exercises.

The Tough Mudder Intermediate Workout

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If you are already exercising on a relatively frequent basis, there is another workout that will get you ready that you can jump right into created by trainer Matthew Daniele. It’s a four week plan that will get you race ready. Here is what the plan looks like:

Weeks One and Three

Monday – 10 Horizontal Squats, 20 Lateral Jump Squats, 10 Vertical Walks, 20 Burpees, 20 Push-up Plank Switches

Tuesday – Two Mile Run (0.5 Miles of Burpees, 0.5 Miles of Split Squats, 0.5 Miles of Diamond Pushups, 0.5 Miles of High Knees)

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – 30 Sets of Kettlebell Jumpsquats, Thrusters, Oblique Slams, Burpees, Swings, Around the Worlds, Box Jumps, Sit-ups, Split Squats and Push-ups

Friday – Three to Six Mile Run with Lightweight Dumbbell Burpees

Saturday – Walking Planks and Walking Lunges followed by Pull-ups, Jump Squats, Planks and Burpees Until Failure

Sunday – Rest

Weeks Two and Four

Monday – 30 Sets of Kettlebell Jumpsquats, Thrusters, Oblique Slams, Burpees, Swings, Around the Worlds, Box Jumps, Sit-ups, Split Squats and Push-ups

Tuesday – Two Mile Run (0.5 Miles of Burpees, 0.5 Miles of Split Squats, 0.5 Miles of Diamond Pushups, 0.5 Miles of High Knees)

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – 10 Horizontal Squats, 20 Lateral Jump Squats, 10 Vertical Walks, 20 Burpees, 20 Push-up Plank Switches

Friday – Five to Seven Mile Run with Box Jump Burpees

Saturday – Walking Planks and Walking Lunges followed by Pull-ups, Jump Squats, Planks and Burpees Until Failure

Sunday – Rest

The Murph

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No matter which workout plan you have been following, there is one workout you should be doing each month to track your progress. This workout is known as The Murph, and measures your time. For this workout, you have to run one mile, perform 100 pull-ups, then 200 push-ups and 300 air squats. Then, it’s finished up with another one mile run. The mile long runs are the bookends, but you can mix up the rest of the exercises however you want in between.

If you are able to finish all of these workouts under 30 minutes, then you qualify as elite status. Between 30 and 40 minutes is considered advanced. 40 to 70 minutes is intermediate while anything more than 70 is beginner status. Don’t expect to finish under 70 minutes the first time that you perform The Murph, as it takes a lot of work.

Summing it Up

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Even if you don’t make it to the Tough Mudder race at the end, training for one is going to help get you in great shape. The workout plan in preparation for the race is well varied and will help you build strength all over. Plenty of people that have started out on the Tough Mudder race as a beginner haven’t been in the best shape, but ended up getting hooked on beating their times and have gotten into tremendous shape.

Although the safety of the actual race has been brought into question by some people, the preparation is definitely healthy. A lot of people get motivation from seeing their numbers get better both on the scale and their performance during workouts, which should be enough to keep you going and improve those numbers.

There is also a lot of camaraderie in the Tough Mudder world, which helps to drive motivation for people. It can seem a little cult-like for outsiders (which is a common feeling that people have about CrossFit), it’s not much different than other motivational fitness groups. All in all, training for a Tough Mudder is going to be a great workout plan with a lot of added benefits.

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