This week’s Maniac Monday workout combines a few unconventional elements and exercises to prepare you for some of those unpredictable mud running conditions.
A short disclaimer: I am not a certified personal trainer, ex-Marine, professional marathoner or anything close. I am a mud run enthusiast (maniac), who is highly engaged and interested in staying physically fit and living a healthy, happy lifestyle. You may wish to consult a professional prior to completing a Maniac Monday workout.
The beauty of a solid mud run is the unpredictability. You might find yourself running through a wooded trail, having to leap over and duck under logs, hoisting a fellow maniac over a wall or plunging uphill with a tire on your shoulder. The possibilities are endless, and while you might get a sneak peek of the course and obstacles, there’s really no way to tell how your body will respond until you’re actually “in the shit.”
This week’s Maniac Monday workout combines a few unconventional elements and exercises to prepare you for some of those unpredictable mud running conditions. Through the use of three cinder blocks, this workout provides a mega-tough leg, core, back and upper-body circuit that is sure to leave you feeling both punished and proud. This week’s workout: A Stroll Around the Block
Complete One Circuit For Time:
- 50 Elevated Burpee Push-ups
- 30 Elevated Clean Squat Press
- 50 Weighted Walking Lunges (25 each side)
- 30 Deep Squat Sumo Deadlifts
- Advanced variations: complete circuit twice, use weighted vest throughout, add 10 reps to each, run 1 mile before and/or after
Bare Essentials to Complete this Workout:
- 3 cinder blocks
- 1 heavy-duty backpack (with safety belt for back support)
- 10-20 lbs. of rocks, sand or dumbbells
Elevated Burpee Push-up: Burpees are fantastic for providing a total body workout for both strength and conditioning. The traditional burpee is performed as follows:
- Begin standing
- Lower yourself into a squat position touching your hands on the ground
- Jump/kick your feet back while dropping your body into a push-up
- Jump your feet back into the squat position and extend your arms
- Leap in the air and clap your hands behind your head
In this elevated burpee push-up, I sacrifice the leap at the end of each burpee, but add in an extra level of difficulty by hitting my first push-up on a pair of cinder blocks, then my burpee on the ground level.
Elevated Clean Squat Press: The standard clean squat press combines three excellent muscle-building exercises into one: the squat, the curl, and the shoulder press. The elevated clean squat press inserts a little mud run training action by forcing you to reach lower than your feet (as if you were reaching down to pull your friend out of a mud pit.) Two key focal points here: explosiveness and form.
To setup, spread two cinder blocks a little more than shoulder width apart, and place the third block between them at a perpendicular angle. Stand on the cinder blocks with your toes pointed straight ahead and settle down into a deep squat position. Be sure to keep your weight back on your heels and push your chest out slightly as you lower yourself down.
The basic movement is as follows: squat-curl-squat-press. To perform, squat down and grab a hold of the third block with your palms facing in toward one another. Use your legs to explode up from this deep squat position, curling the block up to your chest, and lowering into your second squat. Use your momentum to explode up and press the block over your head. In one movement, drop back down into your deep squat and rest the cinder block on the ground.
Tips: Be sure to keep your back flat and your chest slightly out. Concentrate on keeping your weight back on your heels. Focus on the momentum generated from your hip motion to perform the curl. Practice a few without the block. Efficiency will develop with practice.
Weighted Walking Lunges: Walking lunges train your muscles for everyday movements such as walking uphill or climbing stairs and provide a challenge to your sense of balance. By adding a little weight, the weighted walking lunge is a suitable mud run training exercise to prepare you for those obstacles where you will need to walk a long distance with a weight such as a log or tire.
There are several options to add weight to this exercise. You may wish to carry two dumbbells at your side or wear a weighted vest. I like to load up my pack with 10-20 lbs. and carry a cinder block at chest level. The combination of the pack and block counterbalance one another so that I can keep my back as perpendicular to the ground as possible. Caution: TOO MUCH WEIGHT WILL STRAIN YOUR BACK.
To perform, stand with your feet at about hip-width apart. Take a long step forward and plant your front foot on the ground. Drop down into a lunge, making sure that your knee does not go over your toes. Bend your front knee at a 90 degree angle. Step your feet together, then step forward into a lunge with your opposite leg. Exhale as you push-off the ground.
Tips: If you need to change directions during your set of walking lunges, don’t try to turn while lunging. Instead, stop and turn from the upright position. Focus on keeping your ankle, knee and hip at straight 90 degree angles. Your lunging knee should never exceed your toe line. Keep your shoulders back and your chest slightly out. Practice first with little or no weight.
Deep Squat Sumo Deadlift: The sumo deadlift is variation of the standard deadlift that works the inner thigh, lower back, glutes, core and quadriceps. This mud run training exercise combines the sumo deadlift with a deep squat for an ultimate workout that will help prepare your lower body for tumultuous mud running conditions.
To setup, spread two cinder blocks slightly wider than hip-width apart, and place the third block between them in an upright position. Stand on the cinder blocks with your toes pointed straight ahead, then slowly bend at the knees slightly and turn your feet out at 45 degree angles (like a sumo wrestler.)
To perform, stand above your block so that it is directly in front of your hips. Bend at the hips and knees as you would in a squat and grab hold of the cinder block. As you sit back, keep your head up, shoulders back, and tighten at the core. Keep your weight back on your heels and maintain a neutral back throughout the movement. Drive up through your heels, squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and press your hips forward. Exhale as you drive up. Lower the block into the starting position and repeat.
Tips: As you sit back you should imagine you are sitting into a chair. Do not use elevation when using kettle bells, barbell or standard weights.
Mud Run Maniac wants to know what you think! How do you prepare for the unpredictability of mud running? What other topics or exercises would you like to see featured in Maniac Monday Workouts? Please no spam-mongers. Happy mudding!