Congratulations, you've registered for an Obstacle Course Race! Now it's time to put in the work and start training!  For best results, give yourself a solid 6-8 week of training before your race date. I have developed 5 step OCR specific process to take you from where you are to where you want to be; the finish line.

Step One: Improve your cardio base. 

Create a running regimen based on the distance of your upcoming race.  Hal Higdon, a world renown runner, and author have a training program to fit almost any distance.  Most of his programs will have you running 3x/week, and his programs last for 8-10 weeks.  Depending on your current abilities, you may need to adjust the regimen so that you have time to address all areas of your OCR training. Be sure to add hill training and interval training into your program as well.  You can research running programs here:

Step Two: Grip Strength

Exercise One/Gripper:

Grab a stress ball or invest in a hand gripper. Squeeze with full force until your hand is in a tight fist.  Complete five sets of 10 reps on each hand.

Exercise Two/Bar Hangs: 

Go to your local park or find a pull-up bar at the gym.

  • Level One: Hang with both hands on the bar until failure.  Complete five times.
  • Level Two: Warm up with a double arm hang until failure and then move into single arm hangs until failure, five times on each arm.
  • Level Three/ Pronated to Supinated Grip: Warm up with double hand hang, and single arm hangs until failure (1 time each). Move to pronated grip (hands facing away from you) to a supinated grip (hands facing towards you) without coming off the bar.  Complete until failure for five sets.
  • Level Four: Without coming off the bar, perform double hand hang for 5 seconds, move to 5 seconds of a single arm hang on each arm, and finish with pronated to supinated grip changes until failure. Complete five rounds.

Step Three:  Heavy Carries


Exercise One/ Farmers Carry: Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells. Walk as far as you can and stop when you are fatigued. Perform five carries to failure.

Exercise Two/ Sandbag Carry: You can purchase a sandbag/wreckbag, or you can fill a large duffle bag up until it weighs 40-50lbs.

  • Level One: Place the bag over your shoulders and practice walking 2-5 minutes at a time.
  • Level Two: Walk for 3 minutes and then add three rounds of 30 seconds of walking lunges. Repeat twice.
  • Level Three: Walk for 2 minutes, add three rounds of 30 seconds of walking lunges and finish with four rounds of short hill climbs.

Exercise Three/ Bucket Carry: 

  • Level One: Fill a 5-gallon bucket with sand or rocks. Bear hug the bucket and practice walking until failure. Repeat five times.
  • Level Two: Warm up with a 2-minute bucket carry. Next, perform five rounds of short hill climbs.

Step Four: Flexibility, balance and ankle stability

Exercise One/Bosu Lunges Complete 2×12(on each leg) of traditional and reverse lunges off the bosu (add weights or load shoulders with a sandbag for more difficulty).

Exercise Two/Up and Overs off Bosu: Place one foot on the bosu, split squat off the side. Step up and switch to opposite split squat.  Complete 4×30 seconds.

Exercise Three/ Yoga Flow: Complete the following flow 1-2 times. Hold each pose for 10-12 breaths.

Step Five: Put it all together


Here is a sample program. As always, listen to your body and make adjustments based on your strength and weaknesses. Running distances and time dedicated to running should be determined by your current fitness level and race distance.

*All sandbag exercises can also be completed with weights*

Day One:

Distance run. Balance Work.  Yoga flow.

Day Two:

Basic upper body workout (sample below). Grip strength work.

  1. Sandbag  Overhead Press: 3×12
  2. Burpees: 20
  3. Lat Pull Down: 2×10 overhand grip/2×10 reverse grip
  4. Burpees: 20
  5. Sandbag Chest Press: 3×12
  6. Burpees: 20
  7. Bicep Drag Curl: 3×10
  8. Burpees: 20
  9. Sandbag Skull Crusher: 3×12

Day Three:

Hill interval run. Basic lower body workout (sample below).

  1. Sandbag back squat: 3×15
  2. Burpees: 20
  3. Banded Lateral walks: 3×10/ea leg
  4. Burpees: 20
  5. Stability ball hamstring curls: 3×15
  6. Burpees: 20
  7. Calf raises off step: 4×20
  8. Burpees: 20
  9. Sandbag RDL to reverse lunge

Day Four:

1 mile run. Heavy carries. 1 mile run. Grip work.  1 mile run. Balance work. 1/2 mile run. Yoga Flow.

(Optional) Day Five: 

Crosstraining Day (group fitness/spin/swim, etc.)


Enjoy the process and have fun while you train!  I highly recommend training with a friend or joining an existing team.  The best thing about obstacle course racing is the community!  Once you find your tribe, you will be hooked!


GOOD LUCK and I'll see you at the finish line!



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