The Army-Inspired Tough Mudder Workout

Tough Mudder Army workout

This post is sponsored by the U.S. Army Reserve

Last week, I told you guys all about my day training with the Army Reserve as part of their Tough Mudder partnership (if you missed the post, you can check it out here.

So today, as promised, we’ll be doing a workout to help get you prepared for a Tough Mudder race.

I’ll tell you right now, this workout will test your personal limits, so be prepared to collapse in a heap of exhaustion and sweat at the end of it (I certainly did). There will probably be times you’ll want to quit. But don’t underestimate yourself—you are indeed stronger and more capable than you think, and pushing yourself past your comfort zone is the best way to build up your mental and physical strength.

I know it won’t be possible for all of you, but I would encourage you to do this workout with a friend (or a group of friends). Because individuals are stronger as a team, and by working together and cheering each other on, you’ll be able to rise to any challenge.

Disclaimer: Always make sure to consult a physician before performing this or any exercise program. You can go here for a full disclaimer.

So in partnership with the Army Reserve, here is your Army-Inspired Tough Mudder Workout:

The Exercises

300 Meter Start & Stop Sprint

Tough Mudder Army workout

You and I both know there’s no getting around running in any sort of race.

But this is no marathon, and the running you’ll need to be doing involves quick sprints and powerful turns, not long slow jogs.

Set up two cones or other easily identifiable objects approximately 25 meters away from one another (about the length of a standard swimming pool). Sprint as fast as you can towards one cone, turning and getting as much power as you can to go back towards the starting cone. Repeat this six times for a total of 300 meters.

If you don’t have that much space, you can reduce the distance of the cones, but make sure to account for it in the number of turns you do.

Tough Mudder relevant obstacles: All of them!

Pull Ups

Tough Mudder Army workout

Without a doubt, you’ll definitely want to work on your pull up strength, since a lot of the Tough Mudder obstacles require you to pull yourself up and over some sort of barricade.

Get to a pull up bar, grab it with a pronated grip (palms facing away from you), then pull your chest up to the bar. Lower down and repeat. You’ve got this!

Tough Mudder relevant obstacles: Ladder to Hell, King of the Mountain, Balls to the Wall, King of the Swingers, Berlin Walls

Sandbag Weighted Step Ups

Tough Mudder Army workout

In order to successfully complete any Tough Mudder race, you’ll need strong, powerful legs.

Weighted step ups with an added sandbag will help you build strength and work on your stability at the same time (you can also use dumbbells, a kettlebell, or even a barbell, but the sandbag adds an extra element of instability).

Holding the sandbag on your shoulders, get in front of a plyo box, bench, stairs, or other sturdy elevated surface and step up. Stand, and lower back down. That’s one rep. The higher your stepping surface, the more difficult this exercise will be.

No sandbag? Grab a duffle bag or backpack and fill it with as much heavy stuff as you can handle. Alternatively, you can use a kettlebell, dumbbells, or a weighted barbell in place of the sandbag.

Tough Mudder relevant obstacles: King of the Mountain, Mud Mile, Hold Your Wood

Overhead Squats with a Sandbag

Tough Mudder Army workout

There’s no doubt that you’re going to need tremendously strong legs to get you through a Tough Mudder.

Overhead squats increase the difficulty of regular squats by forcing you to engage your core even more. Plus, they’re great for shoulder stability and will help you target any weaknesses you might have.

Get in a squat position with your feet about hip-width apart while holding a sandbag at your chest. Press the sandbag over your head and lock out your elbows as you tighten your core, squeeze your glutes, and pull your shoulder blades back. Lower down as far as you can, then press back up, keeping the sandbag raised above your head the entire time.

And remember, if you don’t have access to a sandbag, you can use any substitution mentioned above.

Tough Mudder relevant obstacles: King of the Mountain, Mud Mile, Hold Your Wood

Plank Get Ups

Tough Mudder Army workout

In any Tough Mudder race, there will be times you’ll need the strength to crawl for extended periods of time or push yourself up off of the ground.

To do that, you’ve got to make sure you have a strong core and upper body, and plank get ups will do the trick.

Get in a push up position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Push up through your shoulders, tighten your core and glute muscles, then lower down to your elbow on one side. Immediately follow on the other side so that you’re in an elbow plank position. Straighten one arm then the other until you’re back in the starting plank position. Switch starting arms and repeat.

To make this exercise even more challenging, try wearing a weight vest or the exercise with a sandbag (or heavy backpack) on your back.

Tough Mudder relevant obstacles: Birth Canal, Kiss of Mud, Mud Mile, Electroshock Therapy

The Workout

Ok you guys, get ready to work hard! This is going to be fun, really.

What you’ll need: Two cones (or other markers), a pull up bar, a plyo box (or other sturdy surface), and a sandbag (or bag filled with heavy stuff)

What you’ll be doing: Get a stopwatch, then set up your cones so that they’re 25 meters apart. Take a deep breath, then complete three rounds of the following exercises as fast as you can:

300 meter Sprints
10 Pull ups
20 sandbag weighted Step ups
10 Overhead Squats with a sandbag
15 Plank get ups

And don’t forget to give your workout buddies a big, sweaty hug when you’re all finished.

Scaling Options

If this workout looks too intimidating to you right now, don’t worry—you can always scale it to better fit your current fitness level. Here are some options to get started:

  • Complete one to two rounds to start instead of three
  • Perform jumping or banded pull ups rather than strict pull ups
  • Try the step ups weight-free
  • Use a lighter weight or PVC pipe for the overhead squats
  • Cut the number of plank get ups by 1/3 or 1/2

Even if you modify the workout, make sure to push yourself as hard as you can. It won’t be easy—but it will be worth it.

And make sure to go here to find an Army sponsored Tough Mudder race near you and connect with a soldier.

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