TOTW: Practice Scaling

The eastern water dragon has much in common with the mud run maniac. He can be found in forests, grasslands, woodlands and urban-area park lands. He spends most of his free time near rivers, creeks, or lakes and is so well-adapted to water and muck that he can remain submerged in the stuff for over an hour. Aside from his obvious lizard qualities, the eastern water dragon trumps maniacs of mud in one major category…scaling, and I’m not talking about his seasonal skin shedding. The eastern water dragon has the very natural ability to climb trees and scale tall objects. His long claws act as the perfect climbing tool, while his years of adaptability have made him an expert in this field.

To get proficient at yanking ourselves up and over a wall, fence, cargo net or atop a platform or hill, it comes down to one thing – practice.

Enter the Dragon.

water dragon practice scales

For the mud run maniac, scaling may not come so easy. We lack the claws and frankly, we’re a lot heavier. To get proficient at yanking ourselves up and over a wall, fence, cargo net or atop a platform or hill, it comes down to one thing – practice. So the mud run training mantra continues…simulate your conditions. Get used to the art of climbing and practice scaling.

TOTW: Practice Scaling

When it comes to scaling, focus on your hand placement and be sure to get a good grip before you start to pull yourself up. Foot placement is just as important and you might find that bulky running sneakers may hinder your ability to climb. Minimalist shoes really make scaling a bit easier (and more fun!)

To practice:

  1. Find a park, field, tennis court, etc. that has a decent-sized fence.
  2. Reach high and grab a hold of the fence.
  3. Climb up by placing your hands and feet in the holes in the fence.
  4. After you reach the top, carefully climb back down.
  5. Leap off when you are a safe distance from the ground and repeat.


  • Practice scaling with a mud run partner who can spot you as you climb.
  • Inspect your practice fence for structural integrity. Do not practice scaling on flimsy fence.
  • Fences are often sharp, sticky, rusty – you name it – so be sure to wear gloves.
  • It’s easier to scale a fence in a crouched position, rather than a fully extended one.
  • Don’t try to hop over to the other side on your first try; instead, get comfortable scaling up and down on one side of the fence.
  • Use extreme caution as you approach the top of the fence, as many will have sharp edges at the top.
  • Avoid “scaling” in the evening, as you may look suspicious and/or startle onlookers.

Mud Run Maniac wants to know what you think!

How do you practice scaling? Would you rather scale a wall or fence on your own or with the assistance of a fellow mud runner? What other topics or exercises would you like to see featured in TOTW? Please no spam-mongers. Happy mudding!

Meet the Author

Mud Run Maniac
Mud Run Maniac

I'm the proud owner of, specializing in mud run training and tips! The mud run community is growing fast and I’ve made it my responsibility to keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest mud running topics.

2 comments… add one
  • Kevin Apr 24, 2012, 9:05 pm

    Nice article, I have been running mud runs for 3 years now and the walls are my weakest obstacle. Training on a chain link fence hasn’t helped me much because the walls in the races are always 8-9 ft. solid wooden walls (some with a toe bar) most without. In most of my races the walls were covered with mud on the lower parts and on the top so it made running and jumping up and hanging on to the top very difficult.
    My practice for these hellish obstacles includes; vertical leap, pull ups and hand grip exercises. That you can do without the wall, but if you really want to practice you might have to build your own.

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Apr 24, 2012, 9:54 pm

      Hi Kevin,
      Thank you for checking out the blog and replying to this article. I always appreciate the feedback. You’re definitely right in the sense that scaling chain-link fences doesn’t exactly prepare you for some of the flat walls like those at Tough Mudder. I find it helpful to practice “climbing” or scaling in general. I’ll climb walls, fences, ropes, trees, etc…and like you said pull-ups, specifically wide-grip on a thick beam or bar helps incredibly. At the outdoor bar where I work during the summer months, there’s a bunch of thick header beams that I can get a double benefit by first jumping up to them, then performing some wide-grip pull-ups. I find that doing exercises like this really helps, especially if its not practical to build 8 foot walls in your backyard. 🙂

      The other thing to remember is that there’s no shame in helping each other over walls. I find the best way is to put my back against the wall with my knee out and my thigh positioned like a step. The person can then push off my thigh to reach the top. Sometimes, they will also step on my shoulder to get that final push over the top of the wall. I enjoy the teamwork approach as much as I like running, leaping and pulling myself over the wall by myself. It’s rewarding and fun either way!

      Best of luck in your next mud run Kevin!

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