Although quintessential in obstacle course races, monkey bars are one of those obstacles only the minority complete successfully. Most people struggle to even attempt monkey bars.

That’s going from absolutely no upper body strength to being in the top 15% of females by strength

For months now, Helena has been working on her upper body strength and she’s doubled her strength. That’s going from absolutely no upper body strength to being in the top 15% of females by strength (not exaggerating).

On monkey bars she can now move along the bar laterally, which is one of the best ways to exercise for grip and strength required to complete this obstacle. I would prescribe this type of minimal workout to any OCR beginner for a few reasons: it’s simple enough to follow and it doesn’t contain fatigue-inducing movements or movements which stunt CNS recovery (such as the infamous bro curls and alike).

Excited to try it out?


The protocol for this week’s main workout of the week looks like this:

You will need: a wide pullup bar or proper monkey bars as well as TRX bands.

  • Part 1. Move laterally along the bar (sideways), back and forth until your grip gives out and you physically can’t do it anymore. In Helena’s case that’s around 10 repetitions on a 5-metre bar. Once this becomes easy as a piece of cake, start moving forward from bar to bar like you would on the monkey bars obstacle. You’ll see you’ll be able to do it just like the strong folk in races.
  • Part 2. Train with TRX bands. Grab your TRX bands and then lower your body so it’s as close to being horizontal to the ground as possible (the smaller the angle of your body against the ground, the harder this exercise will be), then pull yourself up so that your chest reaches the TRX band. You should be keeping the core tight and engaged throughout without using your legs to pull yourself up. Beginners should do 5 x 5 to build strength, intermediate athletes can push for 4 x 8 or more repetitions. The point is to not dip into unnecessary hypertrophy (muscle-building) and to instead focus purely on strength gain.


Finish off either with more pulling exercises, or a short (15-25 min) tempo run (85-90% HRM).

Here’s Helena dominating part 2 of this workout:

Simple as that. Are you going to do it?

Share this with your friends, who are also on their journeys to getting stronger.

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