Want some seriously solid advice? Train like you race. (But, there's a time and a place.)
This saying has been around longer than any of us have been involved in sports. If you want to perform well on the course, you have to train with the same kind of intensity. But have we taken this saying too literally?
Every Spartan knows how important metabolic conditioning is in OCR training. But a common misconception is that because Spartan Race blends cardio and strength, you have to train them both together... in the same workout, every time.
If you train strength along with cardio, you burn the candle at both ends. Basically, you end up not channeling your full strength capacity in your strength work, and likewise, you don't allow your cardiovascular system to work to its full threshold during cardio intervals. It can also mess with your recovery. (Think: why you wouldn't do two leg days in a row, because your muscles need time to heal and get stronger post workout.)
What is Race-Simulation Training & When Should I Use It?
The key is to train strength and cardio separately to maximize the potential of each system within your body. Race-simulation training is a form of metabolic conditioning and is exactly as it sounds. You target the specific fitness mechanisms needed to race. This includes the strength components that you will use on course, as well as the energy systems necessary to sustain your race performance.
Related: How to Get Ready for a Spartan Race
That said, it shouldn't be considered your strength OR your cardiovascular training; it should only be done for a maximum of 20 minutes after you have finished your main workout, or as a stand-alone workout outside of your strength and cardio training. In other words, it should be incorporated into your fitness regimen mindfully so you can optimize your performance overall, and ensure you are recovering appropriately. This means during pre-season and in-season training, you should include race-simulation training once a week leading up to your scheduled race—not in every workout.
Now that we've got that straight, here's our favorite workout for when you do incorporate race-simulation training. Because, it is, after all, about making the most of your efforts and crossing that finish line like a pro.
This race-simulation workout is a 15-Minute as-many-rounds-as-possible crusher. You'll be drilling the strength mechanics that are crucial in carrying weight, climbing obstacles, and running up a mountain. Each round includes a running segment for cardio.
This workout is NOT designed to replace your strength training or your cardio training. You can extend the length of this AMRAP as long as you’d like, or you can use it as a burnout following your strength or cardio training on any given day.
What You Need:
This workout calls for a kettlebell and a pull up bar. If you do not have either, fill a water jug and head to your local park. Versatility is key as a Spartan—get creative. (Bonus: this workout can be done at any playground, park or trail.) Ready to get race-ready?
Perform as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes.
5 Kettlebell Swings
5 Kettlebell Step-Ups
5 Kettlebell Cleans
5 Kettlebell Walking Lunges
5 Burpees to Jumping Pull-Ups
100 Meter Sprint