You may have heard of obstacle course racing, or OCR, for short: a sport in which you complete a designated course by overcoming various obstacles, often military inspired.
Whether you’re thinking of trying your hand at it or are on your tenth course, here’s what Shrek, Under Armour brand ambassador, coach at Ritual gym and Battle Bay Extreme Race Director, has to say to help you get in your best shape.
1. Start running
Yes, there’s no way around it. With any OCR, there’s bound to be some form of running involved – prepare your body and train for this by planning a run of 3-5km at least twice a week. This will help you build some basic cardiovascular endurance and get you race ready.
2. Get rucking
Rucking, you ask? It’s essentially walking with a loaded backpack. This is a great alternative to running as it improves your cardiovascular endurance and works on your strength and posture as well. Keep the distance short for a start and progressively increase the intensity as your get stronger, either by adding distance or load carry.
3. Back to basics: bodyweight exercises
The bread and butter of strength training, especially for those of us who lack access to a gym. This can be done at any fitness corner or even in the comfort of your own bedroom. For some quick ideas, here’s a simple list of bodyweight exercises that you can perform: pushups, pullups, dips, squats, lunges, situps, mountain climbers and burpees.
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4. Grip strength is everything
Grip, grip, grip – I can never emphasise this aspect enough. No matter the course, you will encounter obstacles that demand not only upper body strength, but also grip strength. Some simple ways to train for this include doing dead hangs and farmers carries.
5. Develop a strong posterior
This refers to muscles in the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Building up muscles in these areas not only increases your strength, but also increases your power and explosiveness – as well as a firm butt! Some exercises for a sexy back: glute bridges, deadlifts and kettlebell swings. Plus a movement pattern that seems to be neglected by many: the hip pull or hip hinge.
6. Animal movements
Some would categorise these as a form of bodyweight exercises. They’re not wrong, since you do need only your body weight to perform these movements. But I choose to separate them in light of these being an underrated form of exercise. It’s actually a great full body workout and even works on your coordination. If you’re wondering how to perform these movements, simply search for a video of a bear. Watch how the bear moves – then move like it!
7. Keep it hybrid!
Make it a habit to mix things up from day to day with your training. OCR is a physically demanding sport – while you don’t have to be an expert in all the different aspects of fitness, it cetainly helps a lot if you have the basics of the stuff mentioned above. And of course: have some fun while you’re at it!