Founded by the insanely vision-driven Joe De Sena, Spartan Race is notably one of the toughest and most challenging races on the planet. It earns this title mainly due to its notorious 30 burpee-penalty, given for each failed obstacle. The Spartan Race, however, is as demanding as any other race because the not only are the obstacles ever-changing, but so is the unpredictable, naturally rugged, terrain. So how can a newcomer considering one of these races find out if they are fit enough to take part in the toughest of them all?
There are three simple ways to assess your current fitness state, which we will outline below. These tests should give you a good idea of whether you’re fit enough for a Spartan race and where you still need to improve:
1. The Spartan SGX 5-minute burpee test
The Spartan Group Training (Spartan SGX) bases its race-ready fitness test on burpees, of course. The simple test requires a participant to do as many burpees as possible in 5 minutes. We usually recommend this test to the new joiners on our team, as it gives them a good benchmark to help set new goals and constantly assess improvement.
2. Are you ready to run?
Most obstacle races are still a runner’s game, which means running is a key for good performance and should be part of your training. Ask yourself the following questions to assess your current status:
If this is your first Spartan race, the sprint: In this case can you run the 3 miles at ease?
If you are planning to be competitive: can you run sub-6minute miles for the whole race?
Here’s a mini circuit you can do to improve your cardio performance and also overcome running plateaus.
3. The strength test
A golden rule in this case is – the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy your Spartan race
It doesn’t matter whether you can benchpress 200lbs with ease. The question is – can you do a pull-up? What about 5 or 10 in a row?
Starting athletes of both sexes find it extremely hard to build up enough strength to perform any pulling actions such as swinging through monkey bars, traversing wall walks, doing rope climbs, and so on. This is a prevalent issue, and it usually acts as a confidence inhibitor. It often leads to burpee penalties.
We would suggest maintaining all the push-based actions, such as pushups and bench presses, but to also work on pull. Pull actions include rows, deadlifts and pull-ups (you can start training for these just by doing negative pullups), for example. The benchmark in this case would be to have a go at the following: rope climbing, traverse walls, monkey bars and hercules hoist movements. If you are able to do these, you are ready.
These fitness tests can generally be applied to any obstacle or mud race, especially if you’ve never done one before. Do remember however, that there is no golden benchmark, which will 100% lead to you finishing the race. The golden rule in this case is – the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the race.