5 Spartan Race Training Mistakes You Need To Avoid

Avoid These 5 Spartan Race Training Mistakes…

Have you been training for a Spartan Race? Are you sure you know what you’re doing?

Truth is, there’s no black and white with Spartan Race training. There’s just a whole lot of grey.

Part is because Spartan Race is still evolving. It’s only been around since 2010. So the “training” aspect of obstacle course racing is still a mystery for many participants.

Being a certified fitness professional for nearly a decade, I decided to jump into this whole Spartan Race training endeavor and provide my knowledge in physiology and practical programming to help Spartan Racers of any level.

From the first time Spartan Racer to the OCR World Championship competitor, I’ve had the privilege of playing a role in performances ranging from all types of fitness levels.

Along the way I’ve picked up some Spartan Race training mistakes you need to avoid.

Sometimes the most helpful information is to tell you what NOT to do so you can continue doing the things that will make you successful come race day.

So if your goal is to dominate a Spartan Race… To not only complete the course, but cross the finish line with your pride and body physically in tact, then keep reading.

If you’re okay with going out there and “winging it”, I wish you good-luck and an AROO!

I’m telling you, avoid these 5 Spartan Race training mistakes and you’ll be ready come race day.

1. You’re Running Way Too Much

I get it.

You’re afraid of the running distance of a Spartan. I’d be lying if I said it was easy. It’s not your average jog around the park. But you already know that I’m sure…

I’ve seen a common trend with my Spartan Race training clients when they first reach out to me. About 99% have a fear of completing the race in it’s entirety. So they spend hours of their week running.

And while tons of unnecessary hours are spent running, the Spartan trainee is missing out on spartan race trainingvaluable strength training and practical obstacle simulation drills that will help them finish a Spartan near the front of the pack.

I remember a group of 5 clients of mine who 100% committed to completing an obstacle course race in only 6 weeks. They hadn’t been active in years but when I mentioned the challenge to them there was a reluctant and fearful “yes”. None the less, is was a yes.

I had each of them share their fears with me about the race. The greatest fear? You guessed it. Finishing the entire race. Having enough juice to cross the finish line.

They were surprised when the training system I gave them only had one day of distance running and workouts lasting no more than 24 minutes…

They probably all thought I was setting them up to fail. However on race day, they were pleasantly surprised with the results. I personally watched each one of them run through the finish line of their very first obstacle course race. They weren’t the same people they were 6-weeks before we started. And they accomplished something they thought was impossible.

They followed this training program to the “T”. And the results were insane.

One of my clients even lost 22 lbs. in the 6-weeks. Crazy, I know. But the guy had the heart of a lion and committed to crossing the finish line in 6-weeks. I’m hoping to catch a race with him sometime this year.

Point is. We spent less time focusing on running and more time hammering out some body strengthening and obstacle simulating training sessions. The end result. Victory.


2. Neglecting Upper Body Strength

Piggy-backing off the “you’re running too much” mistake. You’re not training your upper body enough.

As you know… one failed obstacle = 30 unpleasant burpees.

Spartan Race training rope climbAnd for you with the weak upper body, this is not good news. I’m not saying this to scare you but to empower you with direction for your training so you can cross the finish line with your head held high.

A few Spartan Race obstacles to note: Rope climb, wall climb, Atlas stone carry, and bucket carry… all obstacles which require an insane amount of upper body endurance and strength.

You won’t be able to get by any of these obstacles without being able to pull or press yourself up. Major muscle groups like your back and shoulders will be called on for massive action. Even the most over-looked muscles like your biceps, triceps, and forearms (which we’ll get into later) will require a serious amount of attention.

What are you doing to grow your upper body strength right now? Are you preparing for some of Spartan’s toughest obstacles? If not, it’s burpee time.

Some helpful movements include: Push-ups, Pull-ups, Pike Push-ups, Bodyweight Bicep Curls, and Dips… just to name a few.


3. Not Practicing Burpees

Burpees… you can’t practice them enough.

Truth is, the more burpees you add to your Spartan Race training the better. It’s important your body gets acclimated to this intense exercise, just incase you fail an obstacle during your race.

I’ll tell you the truth. Burpees are never fun. But they can get easier over time and the more you practice them the better you discover how to efficiently perform the movement to conserve as much energy as possible.

The burpee-zone does’t have to be a complete energy dump, does it? The answer is no. However, you need to put in the burpee practice for this move to not drain you on race day.

There’s one more key reason I prescribe burpees for my Spartan Race training clients. It’s the ultimate full-body, plyometric exercise.

Between the push-up off the ground, into a catapulting squat jump-like movement… you’re working your body strength from head to toe and tackling your vertical leap training and body coordination training all in one. The burpee is one of those rare “all-in-one” movements where you kill multiple tasks in one movement.

And hey, it get’s your cardiovascular system running high which is fantastic for fat burning if you’re one of those racers who needs to drop a few pounds before race day.

4. Winging The “Skill” Obstacles

There’s a few Spartan Race obstacles that are like burpee magnets. You’ll see the burpee-zone flooded with racers on these obstacles.

OMQ-Beast-Mode-Spartan-Spear-ThrowOne of the most failed Spartan Race obstacles is the spear throw. You only get one shot. Launch a spear from 10-yards away and strike a bail of hay. Think you can do it?

If you haven’t practiced this obstacle, I highly recommend setting up a cardboard box or tire on top of a garbage can, (which will be harder than the actual hay bail itself) and practice throwing a homemade spear from 10-yards away.

I’ll make a recommendation per a story from one of my clients. Don’t practice your spear throws near any glass tables or windows. Sometimes you may miss the target by a few yards and find yourself paying for another house fixture.


5. Commit, Commit, Commit…

What separates my Spartan Race training clients from any clients I’ve worked with in the past is their dedication to commit to a plan.

I’ve worked with individuals who just wanted to cross the finish line of their first race and competitors competing in OCR World Championships and all attitudes have been the same. They will do whatever it takes to complete their goal.

They commit. There’s no surrender.

Sure. There’s fear. There’s questions at times… “can I do this?”

“Joe, do you think I’ll be ready?”

Despite the questions and the fear of failing they train hard and eventually they accomplish their goal on race day.

If you can commit to a plan and see it through to race day… failure is not in your future.

So I’ll ask… do you have a plan and are you sticking to it?

Are you just going to “wing-it” on race day or will you step up to the finish line and conquer the course?

The choice is yours. You can start by avoiding these 5 Spartan Race training mistakes.

If you’re lost and fearful of finishing your next Spartan Race then commit to this plan and come out on top of the world!








Joe LoGalbo is an obstacle race trainer for racers of all levels - elite and beginners. He is also the creator of the revolutionary Obstacle Race Training systems: Obstacle Overtake System, Obstacle Insanity Program, Obstacle Beast Program, and The Short Course Crushers Program. Joe is passionately providing the OCR community with expert training and nutrition articles and videos daily.

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