Why consider building 6 CrossFit moves into your training? For one, Spartan and CrossFit are kissing cousins. If you’re a dedicated in a CrossFit box, chances are you’ll be a kick-ass Spartan—with a little added endurance work, perhaps.
“CrossFit pulls most forms of exercise together—dumbbells, barbells, rowing, running, gymnastics,” says Andrew Yaun, Ph.D., a Spartan SGX instructor and obstacle specialist and CrossFit-certified trainer based in Fairfield, Connecticut. “Because of this, a CrossFitter will have solid general strength and will be better prepared for most of the obstacles in a Spartan Race.” (Most. Not necessarily all.)
During a typical week of WODs, you’re pretty much guaranteed to hit upon most of these 6 CrossFit moves. Each will improve your racing performance and make you the master of all obstacles.
Missing a few in your programming rotation? Do the suggested mini-WOD, either as a stand-alone workout or after training to burn off the rest of your gas and ratchet up those Spartan skills.
Exercise 1: Rope Climb
Spartan races have lots of ropes—some you climb straight up, some you traverse horizontally, some you pull. Practicing rope climbs improves total upper-body power, allowing you to maneuver your own bodyweight better and faster, says Yaun. They will also develops grip strength, which is key for nearly all Spartan obstacles.
6-minute EMOM: alternate between these two moves, starting at the top of every minute
– Minute 1: 30-second Airdyne bike sprint
– Minute 2: As many rope climbs as you can do in a minute
Exercise 2: Deadlift
Having a strong posterior chain is imperative for powering up hills with speed, as well as for lifting and transporting objects up, over, and through obstacles. Deadlifts also forge a back of steel, which comes in handy during a brutal uphill Bucket Brigade and for doing tire flips, says Yaun.
Do three rounds as quickly as possible without rest.
– 10 touch-and-go deadlifts
– 8 wall balls
Exercise 3: Farmer’s Carry
Picking something up and lugging it from point A to point B is one of the most primal human movement patterns. And though you might curse them at the time, carries train you for obstacles like the Bucket Brigade and the Atlas Stone Carry—two of the most sinister obstacles on the Spartan course.
Alternate between these two exercises, without resting, for 10 minutes.
– 200-meter kettlebell farmer’s carry
– 10 burpees
Exercise 4: Toes to Bar
To get over walls, climb ropes, and kick the bell on certain obstacles, your core must be strong enough to lift your feet over your head quickly. Toes-to-bar is perfect for that. It also develops vice-like grip strength for the Hercules Hoist, all species of monkey bars, and even the Bucket Brigade, which will set your forearms on fire, says Yaun.
Alternate between these two exercises, without resting, for 8 minutes. Do them as an ascending ladder—start with one rep and then add a rep on every round.
– Toes to bar
Exercise 5: Burpee
There are no shortcuts. “Making yourself burpee-proof is important in case you miss an obstacle,” says Yaun. (Damn that Spear Throw!) Regularly kissing the dirt for 30 properly executed reps should be a staple in your training. Burpees also train your body to work as a whole, improving agility and coordination.
10-minute EMOM: alternate between these two moves, starting at the top of every minute
– Minute 1: 10 burpees
– Minute 2: 30 double-unders
Exercise 6: Box Jump
Plyometric moves like box jumps train explosive power, which you need to leap over things like the Fire Jump, climb walls, and vault over hurdles. Developing your hops also improves ankle stability, says Yaun, and improves agility and reactivity—all necessary evils when navigating the notoriously uneven Spartan terrain.
Alternate between these three exercises, without resting. Do them as an ascending ladder—start with one rep, add a rep with every round, and stop after seven.
– Box jump
Bonus: One Spartan Move That Will Make You a Better CrossFitter
“The most important thing lacking in a CrossFitter’s program—if he or she wants to race Spartan—is elevation and mountain training,” says Yaun, who competed in the 2010 CrossFit Games.
No access to the Andes? No problem. Endurance and incline work on a treadmill can work in a pinch.
“Perform skills under fatigue, such as doing 30 burpees then a rope climb,” says Yaun. “And train outside—regardless of the weather.” Becoming impervious to the elements is key on race day, which can throw sleet, torrential rain or blazing heat at you, depending on the season and location.
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