7 Best Bodyweight Exercises For Spartan Racing
What are the “best of the best” exercises for Spartan Racing?
I get this question several times from clients or curious Spartan spectators just a click away from signing up for their first race.
And I love getting asked because it means they are serious about getting in the best shape of their lives to conquer a Spartan Race. And I know that’s why you’re here too.
One of the perks of Spartan Race training opposed to CrossFit or powerlifting… You DO NOT need any gym equipment. So forget the gym membership if you thought it was necessary.
All you need is 100% willpower and 100% body weight. You got both?
I’ll be honest… this is my shortened list of the best bodyweight exercises for Spartan Racing. Most movements you’ve probably never tried before.
So the first several weeks of adding in these exercises you’ll feel incredibly sore. But hey, you’re a Spartan. You’ve got more toughness than 98% of the population.
Really, I wanted to add 23 MORE exercises to this list but I’d rather have you focus on these 7 first.
So let’s get started.
7 of the Best Bodyweight Exercises to make you a Dominant Spartan Racer.
1 Tuck Jump
If there is any exercise comparable to the burpee, this is it.
Tuck jumps are a powerful plyometric (jump training) exercise for building raw strength and power in your lower body. At the same time, you’re developing functional skills for Spartan’s toughest obstacles.
The wall climb being one.
It’s one of Spartan’s toughest obstacles for many of racers. So if the wall climb seems intimidating or has given you difficulty in the past, don’t be discouraged. You’ll overcome the wall with more training and practice.
Keep reading further down this page. There’s more exercises that will increase your vertical leap and make you an all-around more dominant Spartan Racer.
2. Walking Plank
Forget your traditional planks. This movement is going to fire-up your core and build upper and lower body stabilization and strength. It’s the perfect movement for making your mud crawls more energy efficient and speedy on race day.
I’ll warn you. The walking plank is going to tire your shoulders and triceps. Not just your abs. Yet when you’re training for a Spartan Race you want your exercises to recruit as many muscles as possible. After all, in a Spartan Race, no obstacle is going to challenge just one body part. Keep this in mind with your workout selections.
With that said, you’ll turn your planks into a full body blitz with this movement. You’ll be happy you did come race day. Your shoulders and arms will feel stronger and your core will be tight and you’ll power-through several tough obstacles with ease. There’s several more challenging plank variations in The Obstacle Overtake System that will take your strength to another level. If you want to build a functionally strong body capable of Spartan Race domination then read this letter.
3. Frog Jump Burpee
I always get a kick after adding some “flare” to my Spartan Race clients’ workouts. This is one of those exercises most love to hate. Frog jumps matched with burpees. The ultimate combination for extreme fat burn and functional strength building.
To make the most out of this exercise (not that it’s not hard enough), you want to give each repetition 100% effort. What I mean is…
When performing the frog jump, leap as far as you can forward. Hold nothing back. The frog jump is an opportunity to build strong, muscular legs and improve on your horizontal and vertical leap.
For your burpees, be sure to lower your chest all the way to the ground before jumping up as high in the air as you can. This is important. Avoid those “energy conserving” burpees as much as you can during training. You know, the one’s where you’re barely jumping off the ground. Instead, jump as high as you can with each burpee. Come race day, do all the energy-conserving burpees you’d like.
4. Dead Hang
How many minutes do you spend exercising your grip? Squeezing a stress ball at your office desk doesn’t count…
Surprisingly, your grip strength will be the most tested of all muscle groups. Yet most people don’t train their grip. Probably because they don’t know where to start. Yet I’ll tell you, between climbing ropes, heavy bucket carries, wall traversing, and the Atlas carry, you’ll discover very quickly if you’ve trained your grip enough.
The dead hang, although simple and even downright boring at times, is going to be one of the most beneficial exercises come race day. Don’t skip it.
5. Single-Leg Squat
This movement builds balance and strength. Two skills you’ll need as you pace through a Spartan Race course. We’ve talked plenty about lower body strength, but what about balance? Is it really all that important? Of course it is.
Most Spartan Race’s will test your balance in one way or another. So you want to be ready. Whether it’s jumping from one log top to the next or walking across a wooden beam, you don’t want to “fail” these obstacles. Why? Because who really wants to suffer 30 penalty burpees on what should be one of your easiest obstacles, right?
Don’t be that racer. Save yourself the burpees and improve your balance with the single leg squat.
6. Underhand Pull-up – Partial Pull-up
The underhand pull-up, if I had to choose, is the best pull-up variation for building strength in the
back and the bicep muscles… two essentials for dominating the Spartan Race rope climb. Most often, racers think standard pull-ups are the best option. However, traditional pull-ups focus on the back and rear deltoids. Not much bicep is included.
The underhand pull-up will challenge your back and biceps. The biceps being one of the “big movers” during the 20 ft. Spartan Race rope climb. Your biceps being a naturally smaller muscle group, they will be the first to tire. And once they tire, you won’t be able to hold on much longer. Hopefully by that point you aren’t too high up in the air and you can land softly.
7. Plank Up-Down
Another incredible plank variation that will do more than build a strong core. Start from plank position. One at a time, place your hand flat on the floor in front of you, finishing in the upward push-up position. Repeating this movement through a “timed set” is challenging for your core, shoulders, chest, and triceps.
My recommendation. Adding 10 burpees in before starting this movement so you can jolt up your heart rate and make this exercise even more challenging.
These exercises alone are essential movements to focus your Spartan Racing workout plan around. It’s a full upper and lower body sequence that will test your strength and build functional skills for overcoming obstacles come race day.