Spartan race preparation

Spartan is a race

I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in two of these unique evens in both the 14klm Spartan Super and now recently completed the 7klm Spartan Sprint. Both are catered to the same crowd and quite smartly linked together as a package to ultimately be called the ultimate Spartan. There is another longer 20klm + race that I’m yet to partake in appropriately called the Spartan Beast.

In addition I’ve run my own personal training team/groups over 3 tough mudder’s and have incurred more mud and  bruises on my body now that in my whole weigh training experience.

In order to properly prepare for these events one thing is clear. First and foremost this is a running event. Yes it’s referred to as an obstacle course for some. But be under no illusion. You have to run. And since it’s called a race. You have to run at pace.

Similar to a fun run you are provided with a race bib and more importantly a timing chip. That’s right. you will find out how you fared pretty much straight away, as on crossing the finish line you collect your participant medal, you free t-shirt, a beer (if you want one at 9am in the morning) and then check you race time.  This is a great way to establish who is superior with you mates and makes it fair to those who were starting out on a different wave time.

Quite competitive for some and a lot of fun for all.

Spartan preparation

So how do I get ready for this event I hear you ask? Number one in my opinion is to have a plan of what you are going to do and stick to it. You need to know what lies ahead and not just turn up on the day and have a crack! It’s all experience. You can even hire a trainer who has done it before and can get you  to the starting line ready to go , fit, strong and knowing what’s coming up.

Number one on the hit list is Running. You need to be able to run on uneven terrain, across cow paddocks (no cows at event) up dry creeks, down slippery slopes and generally anything that the great Australian bush throws at you. The only assistance you get is a marker leading you to the net obstacle.

Here’s a few of the obstacles I encountered and the suggested required preparation, the 5 are only my own most memorable obstacles you will be challenged to negotiate and get by. Should you choose not to try or unfortunately fail. You will be penalised 30 burpees. So either get accustomed in performing this wicked little exercise or do the right thing and get prepared. Either way, you are going to get it. (Insert evil laugh here)


  • Deadlifting the 55kg Deadball and walk – pretty much self explanatory , you get to the Deadball which is basically a flat plastic ball filled with 55kg for men folk and 35kg for the Spartan ladies. You pick it up and then have to carry it for distance and place it back to where you found it. Simple, not easy. This is where your Deadlift strength and bottom position of the squat comes into play.
  • The Sandbag carry – Again the weight of the equipment is 20-25 kg’s for the men and I believe 1o kg for the ladies. On my last Spartan event we had to carry the sandbag uphill around the tree on top of hill and return it back. On my second Spartan, we actually had to carry it down hill first and then back up. Same but different I reckon. Still the same effect. Add running to and from this obstacles and you start to appreciate what just happened. Learn how to shoulder a sandbag , work on shoulder stability and work your core.
  • Wall climb – This for me was simply out of the question, with a height of 174 cm and a bodyweight of 79kg and been old. I just dont have the get up and go to get my hand over the 2m+ wall from a run up – I wish! Solution. Quickly find a new buddy and ask for help. Don’t forget to offer hand in helping them, once the obstacles is complete run as you have paid the price and earned the right to continue alone. The wall climb basically required pulling strength and a bit of flexibility work to get the leg over. If you are no longer a spring chicken tread carefully as this is one of the common injuries in getting over the wall. A lack of hip & inner thigh flexibility.
  • Traversing the rope / rope climb – yeah I know I’ve put two items under rope. It’s because once you get accustomed to handling your bodyweight in the rope climb it stands to reason why you wouldn’t want to traverse along the rope from one end to another. ( it’s just fun)It was a safe obstacle during the sprint as the possible fall was only about 9 feet and you landed on an oversized pillow. Think jumping castle floor here! For some this one’s quite hard as from what I saw with a first timers and would be Spartans. Quite humbling when you don’t know how to move. The other rope option is the always troublesome rope climb. Never underestimate the power to pull yourself up. With and adequate level of pulling power and solid grip strength up you go it would seem. Remember once again you will most likely be running prior to tackling an obstacle so you will be tired, wet, have slippery hands and then need to get to the top to ring the bell to make it legit. (And pose for photo) The crowd that gathers here is always willing to provide you with a ready made cheer squad! We cover this in my facility in always having the rope handy for you to play with. So by the time you hit it at the event. It’s all been done before. So plan ahead.
  • Horizontal wall traverse – This one’s is my favourite as my kids have called It the ninja walk (as seen on ninja warrior program) it requires a great level of grip strength, great co ordination, solid core strength. With an understanding of having at least a basics 3 point contact at all times you can certainly negotiate this one well. Should you be carrying a little more girth than others that pushes you away from the wall, have poor coordination and really never worked you grip strength. I suggest you work on burpess.

The little wooden block that you both stand and hold on to is about 5-10 inches long and about 1-1/2 inched wid. Again watch out for slippery hands and shoes. How we train this at Clausefit is simple. Get you grip strength up and slowly transfer the weight onto the fingers. Along with rope pull ups should do the trick. The rest is just about being naturally co ordinate. Helps to be lean.  

Other obstacles to mention were the Balance Beams, Swimming the dam, Kettlebell on a rope, Spear throw, Tire pull on rope, Concrete block drag and the famous last one ,the Fire jump.

By now two things should be obvious. You are either fired up to give it a go yourself, or you have pulled your head back into its shell and retreated.  It’s this type of event.

Perhaps a friendlier fun run is in order for now. A long as you move you will do well. But don’t give up.

At Claudefit personal training the obstacle events like Spartan and tough Mudder are what some clients use to keep them motivated in reaching their goals. So if you are interested let us know. We are always keen to get others involved in joining the fun.

Go here for my Obstacle course event page.

Go here for my Conditioning options page.

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