In today’s issue of the Globe and Mail, I was asked to critique the workout of a gentleman training for the Tough Mudder race coming up in August in my home city of Toronto.
You can check out that article HERE…
Monique Savin, the columnist who wrote the piece, did a great job of condensing the gist of the advice that I gave Mr. Clint Kingsbury, the Technical Director of Wrestling Canada.
Here is the extended (and more in-depth version) of my advice to Mr. Kingsbury…
Based on my basic knowledge of the Tough Mudder races, it’s more about mental toughness than anything else. That said, it will be of benefit to Mr. Kingsbury to be prepared not only from a cardiovascular standpoint, but a strength standpoint as well.
For strength, based on the obstacles of the race, I’d suggest Mr. Kingsbury incorporate a lot of grip intensive work. Exercises like pull-ups or chin-ups mixing various grips and using different implements to perform them is important (i.e. do them on a standard bar one day, then use gymnastics rings and then , if he has access to it, attempt to climb a rope). This will assist in his ability to scale a wall using a rope or swing across water on monkey bars.
I’d also suggest that Mr. Kingsbury perform mainly bodyweight only exercises like push-ups, dips, bodyweight squats (both 1 and 2 legged), inverted rows, planks, bridges and side planks. The Tough Mudder races are all about how you are able to handle your bodyweight in space and so being able to master his bodyweight doing various forms of movements will be key in his preparation.
From a cardiovascular standpoint, it’s important to recognize that although a Tough Mudder Course is 18km long, he doesn’t need to be able to run 18km straight. He should treat his cardio workouts more like interval training in that between every run, his “running” muscles will get a break and he’ll have to perform some type of physical feat involving both his upper and lower body. My suggestion for cardio would be hill training interspersed with some bodyweight training exercises like the ones I mentioned above.
That is, find a big hill (I like Riverdale Park in Toronto) and after a good warm-up, SPRINT up the hill. When you get to the top, perform 20-30 push-ups, then walk back down. When you get to the bottom, hold a plank for 1 minute. Repeat this 5-8 times and you can slowly increase that number as the weeks go by in preparation for the race. Two to 3 weeks prior to the race, start tapering off the amount of hills that you do to make sure you’re fresh for race day.
My biggest concern, especially from a health standpoint for Mr. Kingsbury, are the amount of plyometrics that he’s doing. With an impact of 2-3 times his bodyweight each time he lands, I’m afraid that if he continues with that kind of volume he’s going to need that second knee surgery sooner than later. I would limit his plyometrics to sets of 3-5 GOOD QUALITY jumps emphasizing getting as much height in his jump to develop power, but by no means jumping to the point of fatigue.
If power endurance is the reason Mr. Kingsbury is doing the high volume plyometrics, then a much safer alternative – and one that I highly suggest Mr. Kingsbury incorporate into his workout routine – would be high rep kettlebell swings. That is holding a kettlebell with one or 2 hands, hingeing at your hips and explosively thrusting your hips and swinging the bell for high reps. This will not only develop explosive jumping power in his hips and lower body, but will help develop abdominal endurance and work his grip (as mentioned above) all in one exercise.
Nutritionally, Mr. Kingsbury’s diet seems quite solid. If anything, I would add more protein to his first meal of the day like eggs or a protein shake and then limit his starchy carbohydrates – like bread, rice and pasta – to either 2 hours before or 1 hour after his workout window.
Post workout, I’m not a huge fan of “energy drinks” or traditional sports drinks. i would suggest that Mr. Kingsbury try to keep his diet as natural as possible and so I’m a big fan of coconut water.
I wish Clint all the best for his tough Mudder Race!
Good Luck, sir! Way to represent the mid-30-somethings!
Chris Lopez, RKC