How to Train for a Tough Mudder Style Obstacle Race

Races like Tough Mudder, Warrior Challenge, True Grit and Spartan are booming in Australia. Their accessibility to beginner runners and the challenge they pose to more experienced runners means everyone can get something from them.

Because these are events are a relatively new phenomenon, finding a training plan to prepare can be a little difficult. You will need to improve your stamina and cardiovascular output while boosting strength and conditioning to tackle the obstacles.

If you are looking for an excuse to motivate yourself to lose some weight, training for these types of obstacle races are a great way to get in shape. The training hinges on strength and circuit work, perfect for shedding any extra gut.



The races involve lots of stopping and starting, so going for a run at a consistent pace won’t necessarily help you improve your performance in an obstacle course. Interval training and running sprints of different intervals and lengths is a much better way of simulating what the course will entail.

However, interval training will get your body used to resting between hard sprints. You don’t want to let your body get used to resting at these times. In these types of races, you will be tackling an obstacle in between running sections. In your training, in between sprints, it would be better to incorporate a jogging rest.

In between sprints, if you lighten the pace and jog instead of resting, your body will become accustomed to recovering while moving. It will also become adapted to sprinting again, despite still not being 100% recovered from the last set of sprinting. This will simulate the conditions of the obstacle course, where you will have to start sprinting, despite being tired from completing the last obstacle.


In terms of preparing for the obstacles, the best thing you can do is prepare your body to hit a strength workout while it is fatigued from running. If you are new to this, circuits using your own bodyweight is the perfect way to start out.

Something like this:

  • 20 x body weight squats
  • 10 x push-ups
  • 20 x burpees
  • Jog 1km

Repeating this circuit three times is a good place to start.

As you build muscle, or if you are used to strength and conditioning training, adding medicine balls and kettlebells will help prepare for the types of obstacles you might face.

Do the bodyweight circuit mentioned above once, then add:

  • 10 x medicine ball throws
  • 10 x medicine ball oblique twists
  • 10 x medicine ball V-ups
  • Jog 1km

Repeat the whole circuit from top to bottom twice.

These circuit blend aerobic training with specific strength movements, much like you will come up against in Tough Mudder or other obstacle races.

Your weekly training plan will look something like this:

  • Monday – Interval training (around five miles in total, sprinting one mile then 800m jogging, then sprinting one mile, then 800m jogging, and so on)
  • Tuesday – Circuits
  • Wednesday – Light run, preferably on trails to prepare for the uneven surface
  • Thursday – Interval Training
  • Friday – Circuits
  • Saturday – Trail run 12-16 kilometres
  • Sunday – Rest

This should prepare you for everything you will face in the race and will probably be a welcome break from your usual running training or strength workouts. Remember, they are supposed to be fun. Enjoy it! And good luck!


Anthony Hill

When you put together the sum total of my 30 years of bodybuilding training, the contests, the vast array of diets I have experimented (tortured) myself with as well as the experiences I have been through with various training partners in the gyms I have trained in all over the world, it’s been a great ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to do lots of personal training for private clients alongside my day job. For a few years during my 30’s, I moved to Asia and worked as the Fitness Manager and head personal trainer at one of Thailand’s leading gyms in Bangkok. Learn More

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