Tough Mudder weeks 13-14

Not long left before the event now, as the 16 week training cycle comes to a close. This is the last set of workouts before the tapering and recovery process before the race, so week 14 brings in our heaviest workouts to push us as far as the training can go. Let’s look at the strength workout first:

Exercise Power development Week 13 Week 14
  Rest Time reps (sets) 1RM % reps (sets) 1RM %
Back Squat / Leg Press (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(4) 87.5% / 47.5% 3(2) / 5 (2) 80% / 40%
Pull ups (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(4) 87.5% / 47.5% 3(2) / 5 (2) 80% / 40%
Shoulder Press (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(4) 87.5% / 47.5% 3(2) / 5 (2) 80% / 40%
           
DB Bench Press 1mins 12 (4) 70.0% 12 (2) 70.0%
Tbar row / Low cable row 1mins 12 (4) 70.0% 12 (2) 70.0%
 Knee raise work 1 mins    

 

So we cap out the power training with an 87.5%/47.5% split for the full 4 sets, marking this as the toughest workout across the board. At this point the power developed in the legs and shoulders should allow you to develop much higher jumping power and quicker pull-ups.

The change to endurance sticks from the last session, with the focus being on the short distance burst lengths

Muscle Endurance Week 13 Week 14
  Time (sets) rest Time (sets) rest
Sprint 3mins 30s (4 sets) 10s 3mins 30s (4 sets) 10s
Inverted Kettle bell hold 45s 0s 45s 0s
Plank (on bosu if available) 90s 0s 90s 0s
Repeat x4 Repeat x4

 

16 rounds a session clocks in at out an hour and a quarters worth of running, covering half the tough Mudder distance in one session. The core strength is important here too, as building up that strength will improve performance across the board in the obstacle part of the race.

We reach out peak times here too, and over weeks 15-16 we’ll go through a 75% and 50% deload. The reason we do this is to guarantee that all the muscles have fully recovered before a race, with no damage before the event due to training. But training at a reduce load as opposed to stopping completely allows us to maintain our performance levels across the board. The result is you go into the race in top condition and fully refreshed away from training.

 

With regards to the long run, these sections times are:

115 minutes for week 13.

90 minutes for week 14.

As always, good luck, have fun.

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Tough Mudder weeks 11-12

Not long left before the event now, as the 16 week training cycle comes to a close. Weeks 11-12 bring in a peak workout for power training, and a change in style to the Endurance training to become race distance specific. From here to week 14 marks the last training month from here to the big race, with week’s 15-16 being a taper down to ensure a fully recovered athlete arrives on competition day.

Let’s look at the strength workout first:

Exercise Power development Week 11 Week 12
  Rest Time reps (sets) 1RM % reps (sets) 1RM %
Back Squat / Leg Press (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(4) 85% / 45% 3(2) / 5 (2) 80% / 40%
Pull ups (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(4) 85% / 45% 3(2) / 5 (2) 80% / 40%
Shoulder Press (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(4) 85% / 45% 3(2) / 5 (2) 80% / 40%
           
DB Bench Press 1mins 12 (4) 70.0% 12 (2) 70.0%
Tbar row / Low cable row 1mins 12 (4) 70.0% 12 (2) 70.0%
 Knee raise work 1 mins    

So not too much off the beaten track here, these sections have a standard peak and deload. The big marker here is that the 85%/45% 1RM lifts at week 11 that to this point will be you heaviest lifts for the maximum reps (the biggest in the whole training cycle is an 87.5%/47.5% lift in week 14)

The biggest change here goes to your endurance training, where the whole workout goes under a complete reconstruction. Here’s the circuit for the next few weeks:

Muscle Endurance Week 7 Week 8
  Time (sets) rest Time (sets) rest
Sprint 3mins 20s (4 sets) 10s 3mins 25s (4 sets) 10s
Inverted Kettle bell hold 45s 0s 45s 0s
Plank (on bosu if available) 90s 0s 90s 0s
Repeat x4 Repeat x4

So in this circuit, you start off with a 3 minute and 20s run, take a small 10 second break and then repeat that for 4 rounds before moving to the core/grip training section. You then repeat the whole thing a further 4 times (session clocks in around about an hour and 15 mins in total)

The reason for all that sprint time? 3 minutes 30 seconds ran at 11.25km/h covers 2/3 of a kilometre. That distance is roughly how much space there is between Tough Mudder obstacles. This training is giving you a taste of being able to hit those distances consistently at speed. Aim for anything over 11kph. The core/grip section is a low intensity active recovery, allowing you to catch your breath while you workout, ready for the next 4 sprints.

There is30 obstacles in a tough mudder and 16 sprints in a session. So over your 2 endurance sessions you cover more ground than in a tough mudder over the week, plus your long run.

With regards to the long run, these sections times are:

105 minutes for week 11.

15km test run week 12.

As always, good luck, have fun.

Tough Mudder Training, Weeks 9-10

Weeks 9-10 sees the continuing development in power, and further extends the endurance training to higher volumes, at this stage of training we are prepare to peak in performance, training remains fairly stable at this point

So let’s look into the endurance training first.

Muscle Endurance MEL Straight sets Week 7 Week 8
  Weight target Time (sets) rest Time (sets) rest
Sprint 5KM Pace 8 mins (1) 1 min 8 mins (1) 1 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM 8 mins (1) 1 min 8 mins (1) 1 min
Half Press ups BW 8 mins (2) 1 min 8 mins (2) 1 min
Sprint 5KM pace 8 mins (2) 1 min 8 mins (2) 1 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM 8 mins (2) 1 min 8 mins (2) 1 min
Lunges BW 8 mins (2) 1 min 8 mins (2) 1 min
  Total Session Time 84 84

Or for the 1 hour version:

Muscle Endurance MEL Circuit Week 7 Week 8
  Weight target Time (sets) rest Time (sets) rest
Sprint 5KM Pace 4mins (1) 1 min 4mins (1) 1 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM 4mins (1) 1 min 4mins (1) 1 min
Half Press ups BW 4mins (2) 1 min 4mins (2) 1 min
Sprint 5KM pace 4mins (2) 1 min 4mins (2) 1 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM 4mins (2) 1 min 4mins (2) 1 min
Lunges BW 4mins (2) 1 min 4mins (2) 1 min
  Total Session Time 50 50

At this stage it’s not uncommon to feel workout fatigue, after 8 weeks you can become bored of the same routines. So at this point I’d recommend changing some of the equipment around, maybe switching push ups for bench press, changing the band on the high rows for a barbell or swapping the direction on you lunges, just a few tweaks to help freshen up the workout.

One thing to note is the first two exercises now only have one set each, to allow for the extended sets and still accommodate the timeframe of 90 minutes/ 60 minutes.

Next we need to look as power training:

Exercise Power development Week 7 Week 8
  Rest Time reps (sets) 1RM % reps (sets) 1RM %
Back Squat / Leg Press (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(2) 80% / 40% 3(2) / 5 (3) 82.5% / 42.5%
Pull ups (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(2) 80% / 40% 3(2) / 5 (3) 82.5% / 42.5%
Shoulder Press (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(2) 80% / 40% 3(2) / 5 (3) 82.5% / 42.5%
           
DB Bench Press 1mins 12 (2) 70.0% 12 (3) 70.0%
Tbar row / Low cable row 1mins 12 (2) 70.0% 12 (3) 70.0%
 Knee raise work 1 mins    

We’re still using the two phase routine explained in the last blog, with the loading phase and the stimulus phase.

The key point to the start of this fortnight is the fact that week 9 is a deload, you may have noticed this a few times through the strength and power cycles. After a high intensity and volume week we use a reload to refresh the nervous system. We then take a moderate intensity phase afterwards, but with the high intensity phase’s load, so we can then allowing us to increase the load in the next phase.

This process is called step loading, as opposed to linear loading and despite the deload week you can see similar rates of advancement as a linear pattern due to the larger jumps you can take with recovery, as well as a greatly reduced risk on injury through adequate recovery of muscle and CNS structures.

IILi

week sets 1RM% rep Volume (1RM%*reps*sets)
1 3 80 3 720
2 3 82.5 3 742.5
3 3 85 3 765
4 3 87.5 3 787.5
5 3 90 3 810
6 3 92.5 3 832.5

IIsi

week sets 1RM% rep Volume (1RM%*reps*sets)
1 3 80 3 720
2 4 82.5 3 990
3 2 80 3 480
4 3 82.5 3 742.5
5 4 85 3 1020
6 2 80 3 480

Running times and distances for this week are

Long Run (mins)   10KM 90

As always, good luck and have fun.

Tough Mudder Training, Weeks 7-8

Weeks 7-8 begin a big shift in training, with the first steps in converting all the maximum strength we’ve built into speed and power. It also has the first overhaul to the endurance training, changing it from circuit training to series of sets.

So let’s look into the endurance training first.

Muscle Endurance MEL Straight sets Week 7 Week 8
Weight target Time (sets) rest Time (sets) rest
Sprint 5KM Pace 6 mins (2) 1 min 6 mins (2) 1 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM 6 mins (2) 1 min 6 mins (2) 1 min
Half Press ups BW 6 mins (2) 1 min 6 mins (2) 1 min
Sprint 5KM pace 6 mins (2) 1 min 6 mins (2) 1 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM 6 mins (2) 1 min 6 mins (2) 1 min
Lunges BW 6 mins (2) 1 min 6 mins (2) 1 min
Total Session Time 84 84

Or for the 1 hour version:

Muscle Endurance MEL Circuit Week 7 Week 8
Weight target Time (sets) rest Time (sets) rest
Sprint 5KM Pace 3mins 15s (2) 1 min 3mins 15s (2) 1 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM (Orange) 3mins 15s (2) 1 min 3mins 15s (2) 1 min
Half Press ups BW 3mins 15s (2) 1 min 3mins 15s (2) 1 min
Sprint 5KM pace 3mins 15s (2) 1 min 3mins 15s (2) 1 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM 3mins 15s (2) 1 min 3mins 15s (2) 1 min
Lunges BW 3mins 15s (2) 1 min 3mins 15s (2) 1 min
Total Session Time 50 50

So the first big change is that you no longer change exercises after the first timer, instead you take 60 seconds of rest and the repeat the exercise for the number of sets (in this case 2.) This allows us to stretch into longer training times and tougher sets. Without the circuit to break up the muscle groups and allow rest for the unused muscles, the lactic acid load is considerably higher, so to compensate the total time is dropped to initially. This will later ramp back up to 10 minutes per a set.

Next we need to look as power training:

Now to understand this part you have to understand the difference between maximum strength and maximum power. Maximum strength is the highest possible weight that can be lifted in one movement, power is the maximum amount that can be lifted at maximum speed. The difference in weight is quite a bit, as excessive load reduce the amount of speed that an object can be projected.

So with that in mind, let’s look at the training:

Exercise Power development Week 7 Week 8
Rest Time reps (sets) 1RM % reps (sets) 1RM %
Back Squat / Leg Press (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(3) 80% / 40% 3(2) / 5 (4) 82.5% / 42.5%
Pull ups (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(3) 80% / 40% 3(2) / 5 (4) 82.5% / 42.5%
Shoulder Press (Main) 2 mins 3(2) / 5(3) 80% / 40% 3(2) / 5 (4) 82.5% / 42.5%
DB Bench Press 1mins 12 (3) 70.0% 12 (4) 70.0%
Tbar row / Low cable row 1mins 12 (3) 70.0% 12 (4) 70.0%
Knee raise work 1 mins

So the workout has 2 phases per an exercise now, at least for the main lifts. The first phase is a loading phase, where you can use the heavy lifts to prime the nervous system. The second phase is the explosive phase, where the load is reduced and the aim is to move it as quickly as possible. This phase has a specific tempo 0-2-3. This means you lift as fast possible, hold the top of the lift for 2 seconds then lower yourself down for 3 seconds.

The reason for the loading phase is to prime the neuromuscular system, by loading up the nervous system for a heavy load, it primes all the motor units of the muscle to fire anticipating a similarly heavy lift on the next set. This is where we bring in phase 2 of the lift. We reduce the load, but the nervous system is primed for a heavy load and fires maximally. This releases the excess energy as a speed, allowing the body to adapt to the new lower load in a power capacity.

Eventually the nervous system becomes trained to respond with more power to all loads, meaning that you can jump, crawl sprint and lift fellow mudders faster.

The running times for his week are

Long Run (mins) 70 80

Week 8 is a peak week, with the shift in Endurance training taking a tougher toll as you still adapt to it and the highest training pattern

As always, good luck and have fun.

Tough Mudder Training, Weeks 5-6.

Weeks 5-6 of this setup are tough, it is when we reach the peak of our strength training and one of two peaks in our endurance training.

Firstly let’s look at the Endurance workout

Muscle Endurance MEL Circuit Week 5 Week 6
  Weight target Circuits duration Circuits duration
Press ups / Half Press ups BW 2 10 min 2 10 min
Sprint / Mountain Climbers 5KM pace 10 min 10 min
Band High rows 30% 1RM 10 min 10 min
alternating DB Lunges BW 10 min 10 min
Rest   2 mins 2 mins
  Total Session Time 84 84

 

As always you can change the times down to 6 minutes if you want to fit this workout into an hour session instead of 90 minutes.

The key feature change on this on is the fact that there’s now only 4 exercises in a circuit, with no repetition of any exercise in a circuit. All moves have equal timings at his stage, and ten minutes is hard work. When you start endurance training it takes about 2 minutes of repetitions for the effects of lactic acid build up (acidosis) to develop. Even with a month of training in hand, muscular burn and fatigue develops within the first 4. With that in mind, holding out for 10 minutes retrains the muscle not just to withstand the effects, but become more efficient at recovery even while still actively moving.

Looking at the exercise selection, push ups are a tough endurance challenge. I chose these in the endurance phase as opposed to the strength phase as in OCRs there’s generally not a lot of heavy pushing (which would include this movement in the strength training) but there is a lot of crawling. When your legs are exhausted from running, being able to push up and drag yourself by upper body alone will give yourself a big advantage. Particularly in the fan favorite challenge “birth canal”

Related image

Next stage is the strength training. Here we hit both a Peak week and a recovery.

Exercise MxS straight sets Week 5 Week 6
  Rest Time reps (sets) 1RM % reps (sets) 1RM %
Front Squat (Main) 2 mins  3 (4) 85.0% 2 (2) 80.0%
Pull ups (Main) 2 mins  3 (4) 85.0% 2 (2) 80.0%
Shoulder Press (Main) 2 mins  3 (4) 85.0% 2 (2) 80.0%
           
DB Bench Press 1 mins 10 (4) 72.50% 10 (2) 70.0%
 Low cable row 1 mins 10 (4) 72.50% 10 (2) 70.0%
Hanging Knee raises 1 mins 16(4) 16(2)

 

Week 5 is a tough week, with both a peak endurance and strength cycle lining up at the same time, this is supposed to be a testing point. A real chance to show off your training before we start the next 7 weeks of phase 2.

I’ve been asked why I’ve chosen the cable row instead of a barbell row. Both are excellent back a pulling strength builders, and the barbell back row is arguably the better of the two. But in an OCR you’re going to be pulling a rope, and a low cable row gets you far more used to the correct positioning, with your body facing the weight as opposed to being directly over the top of it.

Running wise, week 5 continues as usual with a 50 minute run. It’s week 6 that brings an important check point, a test 5KM run that should be done at your fastest pace. From that test you can work out your running pace for the next set of endurance workouts.

 

After week 6 we change phase 2, the endurance workout gets a bit of an overhaul but the strength training begins its conversion into power training.

Good luck and have fun.

Training for Tough Mudder, weeks 3-4.

 

If you missed week one and 2 you can check them out here.

So, picking up from the last post, here’s this week’s workout lists:

Week three
Type Exercise Reps Sets Weight rest time
Primary Front Squat 5/4/3/2/2 3 warm ups / 2 working 60/65/70/80% of  1 Rep max 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Primary Pull ups 5/4/3/2/2 3 warm ups / 2 working 60/65/70/80% of  1 Rep max (including body weight) 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Primary Shoulder Press 5/4/3/2/2 3 warm ups / 2 working 60/65/70/80% of  1 Rep max 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
           
Accessory DB Bench Press 10 2 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute
Accessory Back Row 10 2 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute
Accessory Knee Raises 16 2 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute

 

Week four
Type Exercise Reps Sets Weight rest time
Primary Front Squat 5/4/3/3/3 2 warm ups / 3 working 67.5/72.5/82.5% of  1 Rep max 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Primary Pull ups 5/4/3/3/3 2 warm ups / 3 working 67.5/72.5/82.5% of  1 Rep max (including body weight) 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Primary Shoulder Press 5/4/3/3/3 2 warm ups / 3 working 67.5/72.5/82.5% of  1 Rep max 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
           
Accessory DB Bench Press 10 3 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute
Accessory Back Row 10 3 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute
Accessory Knee Raises 16 3 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute

 

Week 3 is a low intensity week, coming in after the heavier week two workouts and alongside weeks 3 & 4’s higher intensity endurance work; this keeps the pace from being too overwhelming early on. Week four picks up the intensity again and carries on the strength building buy increasing the amount of working sets.

Looking more specifically at exercise selection, I chose the front squat as one of primary moves for the lower body for a very important reason. Jumping power and carrying strength:

south-west

Take a look at the picture there and note the guys closest to us, now look at the leg position on a front squat:

front-squat-bottom-position

If you are on the bottom of the stack, you’re not just going to be able to shoulder press your buddy up. You’ll need some leg power to hold up the weight and drive them upwards; a solid front squat position sets you up to be the ultimate springboard for your teammates. Coupled with some jumping power to get you up there as well and you are you’ve got it made. Then it’s your buddies turn to be the spring board on the next wall so your legs can recover a bit.
Endurance wise the workout look like this:

Muscle Endurance Week 3 Week 4
  Weight target Circuits Duration Circuits Duration
Sprints +5KM Pace Only circuit 1 7 mins Only circuit 1 7 mins
Band High rows 30% 1RM Only circuit 2 7 mins Only circuit 2 7 mins
Press ups / Half Press ups BW 2 7 mins 2 7 mins
Sprint +5KM pace 7 mins 7 mins
Band High rows 30% 1RM 7 mins 7 mins
Alternating Lunges BW 7 mins 7 mins
Rest   2 mins 2 mins
  Total Session Time 72 72

 

Or like this for an hour’s session:

Muscle Endurance MEL Circuit Week 1 Week 2
  Weight target Circuits duration Circuits duration
Sprint 5KM Pace Only circuit 1 4:30 mins Only circuit 1 4:30 mins
Band High rows 30% 1RM (Orange) Only circuit 2 4:30 mins Only circuit 2 4:30 mins
Press ups / Half Press ups BW 2 4:30 mins 2 4:30 mins
Sprint 5KM pace 4:30 mins 4:30 mins
Band High rows 30% 1RM 4:30 mins 4:30 mins
Alternating Lunges BW 4:30 mins 4:30 mins
Rest   2 mins 2 mins
  Total Session Time 49 49

 

So on this phase, we drop down a circuit, but also lose a rest period. On top of that each exercise now lasts 7 minutes, but you only do 5 exercises a circuit instead of 6 (alternating an additional sprint or high row between circuits 1 & 2). This is to maintain the hour and a half training slot.

This is a big jump for endurance and no means an easy task, particularly with the lunges. But lunges are massively important in a tough Mudder set up as, unsurprisingly, you’ll wade through a lot of thick mud and the ability to fully drive your legs without burn out is massive.

This week’s long runs are:

Week 1 Week 2
40 minute run 45 minute run

And that covers weeks 3 and 4! Next two weeks gives us our testing weeks, with the heaviest weight session to date, the final part of the endurance circuits and a 5km running pace test all in one. It’s going to be a big one!

Good luck, and most importantly, have fun.

Honey and Soy Sauce Pork Belly Slices

Ingredients (for 2-3 people)

  • 4 Pork Belly Slices
  • 2 Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Mangetout
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon Chilli Flakes
  • 1Teapooon Salt
  • Coconut Oil

IMG-20180405-WA0007

Super Lean it!

Want to make this super lean? Swap the pork belly for chicken breasts and cut the potatoes out to lower carbs and lower fat this meal.

Prepare the marinade for the pork. Place the honey, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, ginger, chilli flakes, and salt in a bowl and mix together. Add the pork belly slices and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees (fan oven). Place the pork belly slices on a baking tray and pop in the oven. Make sure to pour any of that tasty marinade on the slices! Leave the pork for approx. 1 hour so it goes nice and crispy. I’d recommend checking on it every 20 minutes.

Peel and boil the potatoes. Once cooked mash them with a little bit of milk for some added luxury.

Melt some coconut oil in a pan and add the green beans and mange tout once hot. Stir fry the veg for about 2 minutes making sure that you don’t overcook them making the vegetables mushy.

Remove the pork belly from the oven and plate up with the mash and veg.

The soy sauce and honey marinade really makes this dish special as the sweetness of the honey cut through the saltiness of the soy sauce. If you fancy more kick add some fresh red chilli when plating the meal up!

Training for Tough Mudder, Weeks 1-2.

I did my first Tough Mudder last year and within an hour of finishing it, I’d booked my second. It’s a tough physical and mental challenge but has incredibly social feel to it from the festival like stalls out front to the team spirit cemented through the race.

But it does require a bit of preparation; you can’t just turn up and ease your way though a half marathon length obstacle course. So over the next 16 weeks I’m going to go through my training for Tough Mudder.

So I keep myself in good general fitness, but 16 weeks out is when I begin to train specifically for the race, preparing specifically for the challenges of the race.

So my workout is split into two strength workouts, two endurance workouts and one long run with my week looking like this:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Strength Training Endurance Training Rest Strength Training Endurance Training Rest Long Run

So let’s look into the strength training:

Week one
Type Exercise Reps Sets Weight rest time
Primary Front Squat 5/4/3/3/3 2 warm ups / 3 working 65/70/80% of  1 Rep max 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Primary Pull ups 5/4/3/3/3 2 warm ups / 3 working 65/70/80% of  1 Rep max (including body weight) 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Primary Shoulder Press 5/4/3/3/3 2 warm ups / 3 working 65/70/80% of  1 Rep max 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Accessory DB Bench Press 10 3 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute
Accessory Back Row 10 3 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute
Accessory Knee Raises 16 3 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute

 

Week Two
Type Exercise Reps Sets Weight rest time
Primary Front Squat 4/3/3/3/3 1 warm ups / 4 working 72.5/82.5% of  1 Rep max 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Primary Pull ups 4/3/3/3/3 1 warm ups / 4 working 72.5/82.5% of  1 Rep max (including body weight) 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Primary Shoulder Press 4/3/3/3/3 1 warm ups / 4 working 72.5/82.5% of  1 Rep max 1 minute 30 -2 minutes
Accessory DB Bench Press 10 4 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute
Accessory Back Row 10 4 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute
Accessory Knee Raises 18 4 working 70% of  1 Rep max 30 seconds – 1 minute

So the workout is split into 3 primary movements and 3 accessory movements, the Primary movements are exercises that relate directly to the obstacles that you would face. I’ll go into my choices in more detail in later articles.

Accessory exercises help balance out the workout, and provide extra training to muscle groups that would support your primary movements.

As a rule, I always do 5 sets of a primary exercise and at this point you should always feel like you should be able to do 1 to 2 more reps at the end of a set. This will change as we go though the season, working towards peak strength.

Endurance wise the workout look like this:

Muscle Endurance Week 1 Week 2
Weight target Circuits Duration Circuits Duration
Sprints +5KM Pace 3 4 mins 3 4 mins
Band High rows 30% 1RM 4 mins 4 mins
Press ups / Half Press ups BW 4 mins 4 mins
Sprint +5KM pace 4 mins 4 mins
Band High rows 30% 1RM 4 mins 4 mins
alternating DB Lunges BW 4 mins 4 mins
Rest 2 mins 2 mins
Total Session Time 76 76

So the point of this phase is to build up your muscles ability to withstand lactic acid, or simply how long your muscles can last before they start to burn. Again exercises are chosen to be specific to the challenges provided by the course and split into Primary and accessory moves. The key here is light and lots of repetitions.

The big Primary move here is the short sprints between movements, as this is the closest match to Tough Mudder. The biggest misconception is that Tough Mudder is similar to a straight half marathon, leaving people to overly focus on distance running. In truth it’s a series of medium distance running bursts punctuated with obstacles and rest stops, giving you time to recover. So if you train to withstand fast, quick bursts with active recovery you’ll fair much better.

These workouts are long, but if you want to modify them for an hour’s workout you can set it up like this:

Muscle Endurance Week 1 Week 2
Weight target Circuits duration Circuits duration
Sprint 5KM Pace 3 2 mins 30 3 2 mins 30
Band High rows 30% 1RM 2 mins 30 2 mins 30
Press ups / Half Press ups BW 2 mins 30 2 mins 30
Sprint 5KM pace 2 mins 30 2 mins 30
Band High rows 30% 1RM 2 mins 30 2 mins 30
alternating DB Lunges BW 2 mins 30 2 mins 30
Rest 2 mins 2 mins
Total Session Time 49 49

You’ll still develop muscle endurance, though obviously not as much as someone who has trained for longer time frames.

And then to the long run.

You still need some long distance capacity, so over the course of the next 16 weeks we’ll also add a slow along run. Starting at shorter distances and building up towards 2 hour runs.

Week 1 and 2 look like:

Week 1 Week 2
25 minute run 35 minute run

 

And that is your basic tool kit for your first two weeks of Tough Mudder training; I’ll get into the specifics as we go along this series, as well as modifications to the workouts to improve your abilities.

Good luck, and most importantly, have fun.

 

“I’m new to this, where should I start with interval training?”

So maybe you are brand new to the gym, or this is the first time you’ve had to worry about losing weight or taking care of your cardiovascular health, either way you’ve found yourself asking the question in the title. Maybe you took up a boot camp or Tabata class and was put off feeling it was far too advanced for you, maybe it even made you feel ill. It’s okay, we’ve got your back.

This is a guide for the brand new to interval training, and starts off assuming that cardio is pretty ropey at best. It’s an easy start but by the time you are finished you’ll be able to keep pace with the best of the bootcamps and leaner, fitter and healthier than ever.

So what is interval training?

Interval training is defined as periods of high intensity exercise followed by a low intensity / recovery period. It’s been known to produce a number of health benefits over its cardio rival, steady state exercise.

Firstly, due to the intensity it burns more calories per a minute than a steady state run of the same length, and has greater EPOC (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, the state in which your body burns more calories than usual performing regular tasks) by almost two hours. It increases your VO2 max, which is a universal indicator of fitness in athletes, and it’s time efficient, with a good workout requiring usually less than 20 minutes.

High intensity and low intensity exercise.

There’s two key stages to an interval session, first is the high intensity section. In this stage you perform your chosen exercise with as much effort as possible. The aim here is to really work up a solid sweat and to be exhausted as you finish.

The second stage is the recovery, or low intensity stage. There’s two types of recovery, active and full. The recovery you choose depends on the length of the low intensity section and the difficulty of you your chosen exercise. Active recovery means that you carry on with your exercise but at a reduced pace (aim for around 50 – 60% or your maximum effort). Full recovery means that you stop completely and rest allowing for you to recover completely during the recovery interval.

How often?

Due to the intensity of the workout, you don’t want to perform Hiit more than 3 times a week and where possible you want to aim for 24 hours recovery between each session, you’re going to be working pretty hard, so it can be easy to overdo it. Sessions should last 20 – 30 minutes long at most.

Below is an 8 stage guide to intervals, starting a complete beginner all the way to more advanced timings. Each workout takes around 18-20 minutes and should always have a warm up before and a warm down and stretch afterwards.

Stage work rest rounds Work:Rest Rest type Exercise example
1 0:20 1:20 11 1:4 active Spin bikes
0:20 1:20 11 1:4 active Rowing machine
0:20 1:20 11 1:4 active Cross trainer
2 0:30 1:45 8 1:3.5 active Rowing machine
0:30 1:45 8 1:3.5 active Spin bikes
0:30 1:45 8 1:3.5 active Cross trainer
3 0:40 2:00 7 1:3 active Rowing machine
0:40 2:00 7 1:3 active Spin bikes
0:40 2:00 7 1:3 active Cross trainer
4 0:10 0:25 31 1:2.5 full Medicine ball slams
0:10 0:25 31 1:2.5 full Squat jumps
0:10 0:25 31 1:2.5 full Sparring/Boxing
5 0:15 0:30 24 1:2 full Medicine ball slams
0:15 0:30 24 1:2 full Squat jumps
0:15 0:30 24 1:2 full Sparring/Boxing
6 0:20 0:30 22 1:1.5 full Medicine ball slams
0:20 0:30 22 1:1.5 full Squat jumps
0:20 0:30 22 1:1.5 full Sparring/Boxing
7 0:20 0:20 27 1:1 full Medicine ball slams
0:20 0:20 27 1:1 full Squat jumps
0:40 0:20 18 2:1 Full Sparring/Boxing
8 0:40 0:20 18 2:1 full Medicine ball slams
1:00 0:30 12 2:1 active Treadmill Runs
1:00 0:30 12 2:1 active Spin Bikes

 

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Training movements, not muscles. 

A search online quickly shows that clearly body part training is the way to go, with limitless options for Chest days, Leg days and Bicep and Triceps workouts. These are great if you are bodybuilder, but what if you have goals beyond the purely aesthetic, is a dedicated arm day actually any use to any other athlete, or your average Joe, for that matter?

If you’re not a bodybuilder, is there a better way?

The truth of the matter is that we aren’t all completion fitness models, most of us have busy lives out of the gym that means we don’t have the time to devote to individual muscles with such care and attention a bodybuilder provides. If you have a physical job, or just want to move more comfortably, training that relates to natural movements would benefit you so much more as it mimics everyday actions just taken to the extremes of weight training, which in turn instills you with the confidence to handle tough everyday challenges. Muscle will still grow and develop too, so don’t worry about losing too much of the aesthetic side of this training too.

So what do you get from training movements, and what movements should you be looking at?

Functional movements are movements you do every day, without realising; Lifting, pulling, squatting and bending from the hips for example. The difference is outside of a gym you are rarely pushed beyond limits (lifting a bean can overhead into a high shelf is not the same calibre as heavy dumbbell shoulder press) but stress testing your body inside a gym means that you can move unfazed in everyday life. Your muscles were made to work together and function training represents just that.

You get more of a workout for your time too, by training more muscles in one motion you can save time that would usually be spent on isolation. You also get is a body that is more in proportion; your body was designed to work with muscles together, so it makes sense that should all grow together too.

With that in mind, here’s a list of some basic functional movements, the muscles they relate to and some example exercises

Movement Muscles Description of movement Examples
Horizontal Push Chest, shoulders, triceps. A movement where a weight if moved forward away from the chest. Bench press, chest press machine, push ups.
Horizontal Pull Trapezius, rear deltoids, biceps A movement where a weight if moved inwards towards the chest. Back row machine, bent over barbell row, TRX rows.
Vertical Push Shoulders and triceps A movement where a weight is moved from shoulder height to overhead. Shoulder press, shoulder press machine.
Vertical Pull Lats, shoulders and biceps A movement where a weight or bar is pulled from overhead to shoulder height Lat pulldown, pull ups..
Squat based Quads, glutes and abdominals Movements where hips mover vertically up and down. Squats, goblet squats, leg press.
Hinge based Hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals and lower back Movements where the hips movements horizontally. Deadlifts, RDL, stiff leg deadlifts.
Stabilization abdominals Any movement where your body is forced to a steady position in an unbalanced state. Planks, Hollow holds, Support holds, dead bugs.
Trunk Rotation abdominals Any exercise that involves twisting at the waist and not the hips. Bicycle crunches, Russian twists, Cross crunches

 

So if you are strapped for time or training for anything other than pure aesthetics, consider rearranging your workouts into with movements, not muscles.

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