These Are the 5 Best Mud Run Exercises

When you are training for a mud race, compound exercises are more effective and efficient than exercises that isolate muscles, because they work several muscle groups at the same time, they burn more calories and more closely mimic the movements you will have to perform on an obstacle course. A strength-building routine built primarily on machines will also not get you the results that you want, because machines limit you to a single plane of motion, which is not a natural scenario that you will ever find in the real world. Thus push-ups, for example, are going to be much more effective than the chest press machine at your gym, because moving your body through a 3D space requires more muscles than moving it across the two-dimensional plane that the machine creates.


Mud runs often feature obstacles like wall climbs and rope climbs where you have to OCR Pull-upspull yourself up. The good news is that for most of these obstacles  you also get to use your legs to some extent, so don’t fret if you don’t quite have your pull-ups yet. If you do already have them, make sure to include wide grip, narrow grip, and reverse grip (chin-ups) to make sure you’re targeting different muscle groups. To increase the intensity and keep promoting muscle growth, do weighted pull-ups either by holding a barbell with your feet or by chaining weights to Weight Belt.

If you can’t do pull-ups, you can build the strength you need through horizontal pull-ups, jumping pull-ups, or by using a Pull Up Band to assist you.



Push-ups are another excellent exercise that will develop functional strength to help you conquer obstacles that require you to push yourself onto some kind of platform or up from the ground after crawling.  Remember to keep your body straight, keep your butt down and lower your chest all the way down to get the most out of this exercise.  Just as with the pull-ups, the distance between your hands will affect which muscles get more of the workload.  When your hands are at a wide distance apart, you primarily target your chest.  When they are close together, you will rely more on your triceps (the muscle in the back of your arm).  Alter your hand position to maximize development of all muscles.


Dips are another great way to develop muscles in your arms and in your chest.  The easiest form of the dip uses a bench or chair with your legs parallel to the floor.  Sit next to the bench with your legs straightened, and push your self up until your arms are straightened.  To make this variation harder, put your feet up on a second bench or a stability ball. The most challenging form of a dip is done on a set of parallel bars or a dip station at a gym.  (Assisted pull-up machines almost always have bars so that you can do an assisted dip, as well).  Start with your arms fully extended, and then lower your body as your elbows flare out to the side.  The position of your body will alter the muscle groups that you target in this exercise slightly.  Leaning forward will target chest muscles more, and keeping your body straight will target your triceps.


Whether you are climbing up on something or getting out of a mud pit, most obstacles require powerful leg strength. Squats are one of the most powerful leg exercises because they target all of your leg muscles.  There are many variations of this exercise, but the most basic form is the body-weight squat where you start with your feet at shoulder-width stance.  Squat down with a flat back until your knees are at a 90-degree angle. You can increase the intensity of this exercise by holding dumbbells, barbells or other heavy objects. You can also widen or narrow your stance to target muscles differently. To increase the intensity and work on your balance, try a  one-legged squat by resting one leg behind you on a bench or chair.


Many obstacles require climbing, and this exercise mimics the climbing motion and develops the explosive leg strength you will need to get you up and over obstacles quickly and easily.  You can use a variety of things to step up on, depending on where you are: a big step, a chair, a weight-lifting bench or a boulder.  The higher the object is, the more difficult this exercise will be.  Place your right foot on top of the surface and step up.  Your left foot does not need to touch the top.  Once you have stepped completely up, lower yourself back down.  Tap your left foot on the ground, and the repeat.  Do as many as you can and then repeat with your left leg.

Now how do you put all these exercises together into an effective workout?

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