Has the Tough Mudder Funky Monkey defeated each and every one of your experienced monkey bar strategies? Or maybe you’re a newbie mud runner who’s heard that those greased-up monkey bars are just about impossible to conquer. I know the feeling…I too hit the mud several times before finally dominating this childish, yet intimidating event. Here’s how I finally made it across:
Some of the Tough Mudder obstacles require brain over brawn.
5. Pull-ups, pull-ups and more pull-ups. The Tough Mudder Funky Monkey obstacle is built on an A-frame, which means the bars go up, then come back down. While you can always head out to your local playground and monkey around, a more effective method is to pull yourself up, repeatedly. Practice your pull-ups at the beginning and end of every workout, preferably the front-facing type where you pull your chest to the bar. Throughout the course of your day, if you see something pull-up worthy like a strong tree branch, a beam, or a low-hanging basketball rim, hit it like you own it and grind out a set or two. Nail down about 12 to 15 of these (unassisted) and your chances of making it across will multiply.
4. Towel exercises. The key to obstacles that require you to grip something for a long period of time is to, duh, increase your grip strength. A creative and effective spin on regular pull-ups is to grab your gym towel and toss it over the pull-up bar. Do your reps by grabbing the ends of your towel and not only will you get the results of the pull-up exercise, but you’ll also be working that hand and grip strength to the max. Grip strength will pay dividends on the Tough Mudder Funky Monkey especially as you get closer to the end of the bars. Other exercises where you can use towels to work on your grip include: dead lifts, walking with kettle bells and lat pull-downs. Be creative!
3. Use your reach! Some of the Tough Mudder obstacles require brain over brawn. The Funky Monkey sort of falls into gray area. While you’ll definitely need some strength and training to get past this one, a little smarts will go a long way. Once its your turn to go, don’t reach for the first bar. Instead, reach for the furthest bar you can grab (which is usually the second, but may be the third for taller-folk!) Reaching for the furthest bar will do two things: 1) it will get you that much closer to the finish 2) it will give you the necessary momentum to swing to the next bar. Skipping the first bar will help you establish a rhythmic pace that may be the difference maker in getting you to the other side.
2. Give yourself room. Some Tough Mudder obstacles are best conquered by a spontaneous leap or frenetic sprint. The Funky Monkey is not one of them. Instead of rushing to the bars immediately behind the mudder in front of you, set yourself up with ample monkey bar distance (about half-way up the A-frame). Don’t be the unfortunate mudder who does everything right to make it to the down-slope of Funky Monkey only to be bested by a lingering contestant who can’t decide whether to reach for the next bar or plunge to the chilly mud below.
1. Keep moving. This tip applies more to the delay you will endure as you line up for the Funky Monkey, one of the most log-jammed obstacles at Tough Mudder. While you will inevitably be forced to wait several minutes before you finally get a crack at the adult-sized monkey bars, be sure to keep your blood pumping with a few sets of jumping jacks, jogging in place, shadow boxing, or whatever else you can think of to keep your teeth from chattering and your mind on the prize. Whether your Tough Mudder event is held on a frigid winter morning or a hot summer afternoon, it is important not to lose that perseverance and momentum that you’ve been relying on to get you through the day. While you’re at it, don’t waste time figuring out whether you should keep your gloves on or not. Trust me, it doesn’t make a difference. All materials, including bare skin, are no match for the greased up mud bars. Either way, the key is to keep moving…so give your hands or gloves a good wipe on your buddy’s t-shirt and hit the bars!
Good luck mudders!
Mud Run Maniac wants to know what you think!
If you’re an experienced mudder, how have you defeated or been defeated by the Funky Monkey? First-timers, what strategies/training do you plan to use? Do you find this list of tips helpful? Leave your thoughts below.