Obstacle course raceshave dramatically increased in popularity in recent years, in large part thanks to the global success of Tough Mudder. But they’re not just an alternative challenge for hardened fitness fiends – they’re also a first major event for irregular exercisers who have little interest in tackling the traditional physical tests of half marathons, marathons or cycling sportives.

If you’re a beginner you may be wondering how to prepare for a Tough Mudder, an event that requires you to run almost a half marathon while overcoming more than 20 obstacles. Well, wonder no more: here’s a beginner-friendly eight-week training plan that will get you to the start line in peak condition.

RECOMMENDED: How To Tackle Tough Mudder’s Brand New Obstacles For 2017

Before you begin training it’s worth evaluating your current fitness strengths and weaknesses because a Tough Mudder is a test of both strength and endurance. If you’re more of a runner or cyclist, you might have decent cardio fitness but lack the strength required to get past the obstacles. Conversely, if you’re a weights room regular, you might need to focus on building your stamina. To ensure you complete (and enjoy) the race, tailor the plan slightly to improve your all-round fitness if necessary.

Another aspect of obstacle course races to consider in your training is the very cold water and ice you’re likely to encounter. To give your body an idea of the shock in store, try alternating 30-second blasts of warm and cold water in your post-workout shower. It’s not a lot of fun, but it’s better to be prepared than experience the freezing water for the first time on race day.

Read on for our complete eight-week obstacle course training plan.

Tough Mudder Training Plan

“This programme combines endurance and strength training to mimic the challenges you’ll face on race day,” says personal trainer Glenn Higgins, founder of Glenn Higgins Fitness. “Run and train outside where you can or you’ll get a shock on the day.”

Keep following the workout and you should see your scores improve as race day gets closer. But don’t forget that Tough Mudder is not just a physical challenge – our guide to staying mentally strong will help you stay the course.

Most of the moves require no kit, but you will need dumbbells, a medicine ball and a kettlebell. When doing moves with weights, choose a weight that make it challenging but possible to complete all the sets. If it starts to get easier, increase the weight.

Exercise Guide

You’ll be tackling all of the following exercises and more in Higgins’s training plan, so make sure you know how to do them.

Squat: From a standing position bend your knees to lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your back as straight as possible. Then stand back up.

Jump squat: Do a regular squat then explode off the ground, straightening your body and throwing your hands above your head. Land softly with knees slightly bent, then go straight into the next rep.

Lunge: Start in a standing position. Take a big step forward on one leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent at a 90° angle. Then push back up to the starting position.

Jump lunge: Perform a regular lunge but instead of standing back up to the starting position, push up powerfully so you leave the ground. Switch your legs around in mid-air so that you land in a lunge position on the opposite leg.

Press-up: Get into position your hands and toes, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows to lower your upper body close to the ground, then push back up.

Burpee: From a standing position drop down so your hands are on the floor just in front of your feet. Then kick your legs back so you’re in a press-up position, before jumping your feet back towards your hands. Finish by exploding into the air and throwing your hands above your head.

Sit-up: Lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Brace your core and curl your upper body up towards your knees. Then lower it again slowly.

V-sit: Lie on the floor with your upper body and legs raised slightly off the ground. Then bend your legs and bring your knees up while also raising your upper body. Your knees should almost touch your chest. Then lower your torso and legs back to the start.

Dumbbell thruster: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and curl them up to your shoulders. This is your starting position. Lower into a squat then push back up to standing and simultaneously raise the dumbbells above your head with straight arms. Bring them back down to your shoulders and repeat.

Tuck jump: From a standing position, drop into a shallow squat then explode off the ground. Jump as high as possible and bring your knees up to your chest. Land softly.

Mountain climber: Start in a press-up position. Bring one knee up towards your chest, keeping your core braced. Then lower it and bring the other knee up. Repeat at a fast pace.

Kettlebell swing: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Grasp a kettlebell in both hands with palms facing towards you. Push it through your legs, then swing the bell forwards and up to shoulder height with your arms straight. Bring the weight down in a controlled manner until it passes between your legs, then swing it up again.

Squat thrust: From a press-up position, jump your feet forward so they land with your knees below your pecs. Then jump back again.

Squat thrust to broad jump: Start in a standing position before dropping down into a press-up position and jumping your feet forward. Then stand up again and explode into a long standing jump forward, landing on both feet at the same time.

Box jump: Stand in front of a 50cm-high box. Lower into a quarter squat, then jump up so you land on the box with both feet. Aim for as soft a landing as possible. Then jump back down.

Medicine ball slam: Stand holding a medicine ball in both hands. Lift it over your head until your arms are straight, then slam it down to the ground as hard as you can.

Bear crawl: Crawl around on your hands and feet without letting any other part of the body touch the ground.

Pull-up: Grab a bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing away from you. Fully extend your arms, then pull up until your chin is above the bar. Then lower slowly.

Week 1

Monday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest after each round

  • 25 bodyweight squats
  • 25 bodyweight lunges
  • 15 jump squats
  • 15 jump lunges

Tuesday Run 2 miles (3.22km)

Wednesday Rest

Thursday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 5 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 tuck jumps
  • 20 squats
  • Tabata mountain climbers: 8 rounds, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds’ rest

Friday Run 2 miles (3.22km)

Saturday 10 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 press-ups
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 sit-ups

Sunday Rest

Week 2

Monday 8-12 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 20 kettlebell swings
  • 10 squat thrusts
  • 10 box jumps

Tuesday Run 3 miles (4.83km)

Wednesday Rest

Thursday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 tuck jumps
  • 10 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 ball slams
  • 10 box jumps

Friday Run 3 miles (4.83km)

Saturday 10 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 squats
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 sit-ups

Sunday Rest

Week 3

Monday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 squat thrust to broad jumps
  • 50m bear crawl
  • 15 press-ups
  • 20 V-sits

Tuesday Run 3 miles (4.83km) with a 3kg weight in a rucksack

Wednesday Rest

Thursday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 5 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 tuck jumps
  • 15 lunges
  • 20 squats

Friday Run 3 miles (4.83km) with a 3kg weight in a rucksack

Saturday Run up a hill carrying a 4-6kg weight in a rucksack. Run for 90 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. 8-12 rounds.

Sunday Rest

Week 4

Monday 8-12 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • Tabata burpees: 8 rounds, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds’ rest
  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 press-ups
  • 15 jump squats

Tuesday Run 4 miles (6.44km). Every half a mile (805m) do 15 burpees

Wednesday Rest

Thursday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 tuck jumps
  • 10 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 ball slams
  • 10 box jumps

Friday Run 4 miles (6.44km). Every half a mile (805m) do 15 burpees

Saturday 5-8 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 press-ups
  • 10 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 burpees
  • Tabata mountain climbers: 8 rounds, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds’ rest

Sunday Rest

Week 5

Monday 5-8 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 press-ups
  • 10 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 burpees
  • Tabata mountain climbers: 8 rounds, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest

Tuesday Run 5 miles (8.05km) run with a 4kg weight in a rucksack

Wednesday Rest

Thursday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 5 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 tuck jumps
  • 15 lunges
  • 20 squats

Friday Run 5 miles (8.05km) run with a 4kg weight in a rucksack

Saturday Run up a hill, carrying a 4-6kg weight in a rucksack. Run for 90 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. 8-12 rounds.

Sunday Rest

Week 6

Monday 8-12 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 20 kettlebell swings
  • 10 squat thrusts
  • 10 box jumps

Tuesday Run 6 miles (9.65km). Every mile (1.61km) do 15 press-ups

Wednesday Rest

Thursday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 tuck jumps
  • 10 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 ball slams
  • 10 box jumps

Friday Run 6 miles (9.65km). Every mile (1.61km) do 15 press-ups

Saturday 5-8 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 press-ups
  • 10 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 burpees

Sunday Rest

Week 7

Monday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 10 pull-ups
  • 20 press-ups
  • 30 squats

Tuesday Run 7 miles (11.27km)

Wednesday Rest

Thursday 5 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • 5 dumbbell thrusters
  • 10 tuck jumps
  • 15 lunges
  • 20 squats

Friday Run 7 miles (11.27km)

Saturday Run up a hill, carrying a 4-6kg weight in a rucksack. Run for 90 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. 8-12 rounds.

Sunday Rest

Week 8 (Race week)

Monday 8-12 rounds, 60 seconds’ rest

  • Tabata burpees: 8 rounds, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds’ rest
  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 press-ups
  • 15 jump squats

Tuesday Run 4 miles (6.44km)

Wednesday Rest

Thursday Rest

Friday Rest

Saturday Triumphantly race your first Tough Mudder

Sunday Party/research when the next Tough Mudder is

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