Kill Your Next Spartan Race With This Spartan Race Workout Plan

Get Spartan-Level Fit With Spartan SGX

Spartan Race
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According to a 2014 State of the Sport press release from USA Running, the growth of non-traditional running events, including obstacle course races, adventure races, and themed races, surpassed the record-setting participation in half marathons and full marathons by roughly 1.5 million participants with a whopping 4 million runners taking part in such non-traditional events.

To put this another way, while running as a whole continues to grow in popularity across the board, participation in non-traditional running events hasn't just grown, it's exploded.


While there are various race types that fall under the umbrella of "non-traditional" running events, the main subcategories—themed races and obstacle races —are actually quite different. Themed races tend to be shorter distances—typically 5 kilometers—and focus on fun rather than competition. As many as 60-percent of participants who engage in a themed race have never completed a race prior to taking part.

The Growing Competition in Obstacle Course Racing

On the other hand, Obstacle course races (OCRs), are highly competitive events. They have a militaristic mentality that encourages participants to push their physical boundaries—climbing cargo nets, jumping into mud pits, and crawling under webs of barbed wire—all while aiming to complete a race ranging from three to 26 miles.

These races aren't for the faint of heart, but they're perfect for anyone who thrives on competition. In fact, there's even an OCR World Championship that brings together the best OCR athletes from all race series and competitions who want to prove they're the best of the best.


Of all the OCRs around, the most popular and competitive include Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and the Warrior Dash. These three race series, as well as a slew of other up-and-coming events, are all considered "qualifying races" to enter the OCR World Championships. Qualifying takes serious training and requires a rigorous workout regimen that helps competitors achieve the "diverse and well-developed motor skills and physical capacities," required of OCR athletes, as according to Nicole Mullins, the author of the 2012 paper, "Obstacle Course Challenges: History, Popularity, Performance Demands, Effective Training, and Course Design." 

OCR Training for a Beginner

The good news is, you don't have to undergo an hours-per-day workout routine to prepare for your first OCR. In fact, even though the races, as a whole, are becoming more competitive, they're actually quite accessible to beginners. Shorter distances and the option to opt out of difficult obstacles mean that almost anyone can participate assuming they follow a reasonable and consistent training program leading up to the event. The challenge is knowing what this type of training program should consist of. Because OCRs aren't traditional running events, athletes should follow more comprehensive strength and cardio routines that incorporate body weight training and interval work.

In summer 2015, the Reebok Spartan Race launched an obstacle race training experience taught by Spartan's official SGX coaches called SpartanFIT. SpartanFIT, while designed for Spartan races, is actually an effective way to train for practically any OCR event. It introduces participants to the types of obstacles they can expect to face during a race, and teaches them how to develop the strength and endurance necessary to complete an OCR. 

While it's always a good idea to work directly with a coach or trainer leading up to a big event, if you're looking for a few workouts or extra guidance to help get you started, you're in luck.

 Spartan SGX Training Director Joe DiStefano, BS, CSCS, SGX, prepared a "getting started" Spartan SGX plan that takes about 20 minutes per day, three days a week, not including the endurance training days. It's a great way to start preparing for your first OCR event, Spartan or otherwise. 

OCR and Spartan Race Workout Plan for Beginners

Weeks 1 and 2: 3 days per week, plus walk at least 3,000 steps every day

Theme: Establishing fundamental levels of output

Workout: Perform 4 rounds of:

  • High Plank Hold, 30 seconds (keep your abs, quads, and butt tight with your body parallel to the ground)
  • Walking Rest, 30 seconds

Weeks 3 and 4: 3 days per week, plus 3,000 daily steps, and one endurance day

Theme: Accumulating high quality, total output in minimal time

Workout: Break up the reps and movements as you wish to finish the workout in the least amount of time possible:

  • Bear Crawl, 50 yards
  • Reverse Lunges, 50 reps per leg
  • High Plank Hold, accumulate three total minutes of hold time

Also, complete an endurance hiking day of 60 or more minutes hiking in nature

Weeks 5 and 6: 3 days per week, plus 5,000 daily steps, and two endurance days

Theme: Taking training to the next level

Workout: Repeat the movements twice, completing them as fast as possible, then rest two minutes. Repeat three times:

  • Push-Ups, 5 reps
  • Bear Crawl, 15 yards
  • Reverse Bear Crawl, 15 yards
  • Walking Lunges, 30 yards
  • Burpees, 5 reps

Also, complete two endurance days:

  • Hiking day: 90 or more minutes on your feet hiking in nature
  • Running day: 3 miles completed as fast as possible



Mullins, N., Obstacle Course Challenges: History, Popularity, Performance Demands, Effective Training, and Course Design. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online. 2012, Vol. 15, Number 2..

Running USA. 2014 State of the Sport - Part 1: Non-Traditional Running Events. April, 2014.