T Nation

Advice from Veterans, Prep for Spartan Race?


Hello all. I had a very important question for you pros out there that has been getting to me for about a month now. Let me give you a little background. I was an athlete in high school, played just about all sports, but am now a sophomore college and had to give up sports because of the time constraints of my major. I have continued to lift and do cardio throughout the past years and am in pretty good shape (decent strength, good endurance, still a little fat around the midline).

I recently became very interested in Spartan races and am planning on doing one next summer. With this came an urge to train differently, but beyond that I realized I want my fitness to go to the next level. My question for you all is about a possible program I could start? I want something that will push me a harder and take me to a new level of fitness. I would love to gain some serious strength, maybe some lean muscle, improve endurance, and honestly be able to compete like a freak athlete.

I have not been able to find a program that combines weight training with cardio and such in a fashion that seems like it could push me to that level. Any suggestions or advice would be helpful and I would also like to add that even though I have trained for a while, I am still fairly new to the online fitness world.


Something along these lines?

You need to be able to run, jump, climb, and crawl well. So you need a decent level of strength but also (!) specific endurance for these activities (well, except for jumping - you just need to be able to jump with power and precision).

Honestly, you’ve been at it for some time; ideally, you should know what you need to do. One more thing: no program on earth will take you to the next level. That part is up to you and can be done with any program that isn’t retarded.


[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
One more thing: no program on earth will take you to the next level. That part is up to you and can be done with any program that isn’t retarded.[/quote]

[quote]bsurber4 wrote:
I recently became very interested in Spartan races and am planning on doing one next summer.[/quote]
Perfect, so circle the date on the calendar, send in your sign up sheet, and pay the entrance fees today if you can. Your goal has now been set in concrete. Backtrack and figure out exactly how long you have until the race (let’s say just under a full year). You can then break down that timeline into smaller chunks, prioritizing certain attributes along the way.

For example, you might take a few months to increase simple strength and power, then some time to drop fat (which you said you’re carrying and totally won’t help during the race), then work on conditioning/speed/strength endurance, then transition into “sport specific” work related to the obstacles as the race gets closer.

Basically, instead of trying to improve everything all at once from now until the race, you have plenty of time to focus on certain aspects while still gradually building it all along the way. It’s plain old boring periodization and it’s not in vogue now, but it still works.


Look into Tactical Barbell and the newly released Tactical Barbell II. TB is focused on strength and TBII around conditioning. The strength program is designed to be used alongside a conditioning routine (not necessarily TBII), and is aimed at people in the military, LE, martial arts, marathon runners, etc.

There are a few different templates and exercise clusters based on your goals and what other activities you do (e.g. martial arts training, roadwork, etc). A triathlete or martial artist might pick the 2 day a week program to supplement their sports without interfering with recovery, whereas a sedentary office worker can use a 3 or 4 day program.

I don’t know about the Spartan Race, but I have done 2 Tough Mudders. They are not too challenging (unless you’re aiming to get a good time), even with zero training. I didn’t train for either and did next to no physical activity at all. Running the full 20km was the hardest part, and only a few of the obstacles were challenging. I think the Spartan Race is pretty similar so you shouldn’t have any problems.


I do a Beast or two a year and really the only thing I think someone needs is the ability to run a couple miles farther that the listed distance without stopping. Lots of hills and break for obstacles but generally speed is not needed at all unless you’re really hardcore.

Strength wise the ability to pull yourself over a 10’ wall and being able to climb a rope about covers it. If you can climb without your legs you’ll be strong enough and have a strong enough grip to regular climb while fatiuged and no a wet rope.


I wrote a pretty long post in a previous thread about a Tough Mudder (which I believe is pretty similar to a Spartan Race), and the skills that I think would translate especially well.

Really, the running is not terribly difficult because you rarely run for a prolonged stretch without an obstacle. I saw plenty of unfit people that managed to slog their way to the finish. However, if you are going for a good time, skills like rope/rock climbing, pull-ups, ability to do odd stuff like monkey bars, balance beams, etc will be key. There isn’t really one way to train for this. Imagine a slightly easier Ninja Warrior course with about a quarter-to-half mile between the obstacles.