5 Tips to help you complete your first obstacle race

With obstacle runs being in vogue at the moment (and rightly so, they are great fun!), knowing how to train for them so that you can have a good crack at all of the obstacles and make it through the distance without injury can be a challenge. 

With a huge range of races available from 5km – 40miles the amount of training and style will need to differ significantly. 

In a typical running event, being able to cover the distance is obviously essential as well as ensuring that the joints are conditioned and strong enough to last without injury. 

Obstacle racing adds another layer to this as you need to be able to run, hang, swim and climb all whilst running the distance. 

This means that your training programme has to ensure that you’re fit enough to complete the distance and have healthy, strong joints to prevent injury and manage all of the obstacles! 

Here are my top 5 tips to include in your training for a successful obstacle race:

1. Get the miles under your belt on and off road – make sure that you have the relevant fitness complete the distance. Most of the obstacle runs are off road, so try to get at least some of your running completed off road. The uneven terrain will challenge the joints and your balance more, building up strength and reducing your risk of injury. 

2. Hang tough – train to develop the best grip strength that you can hold and swing with your own bodyweight. Our bulletprooof body programming contains sessions such as ‘hang time’ to specifically develop grip and shoulder strength. 

( I have included an example session below for you to try as an example)

3. Bulletproof your joints. Ensuring that you have healthy, strong joints so that you can complete all of the hanging and climbing elements of a race is essential to getting the most out of the experience. To prepare for this, a great place to start is by taking your joints through their full range of motion daily. For an example of a joint mobility routine, check out THIS VIDEO

4. Develop good stability and strength through the ankles and hips. As you will be running a good distance (from 5k to 20miles+) you need to make sure that you have good running mechanics and aren’t going to end up injuring yourself by running with poor technique or lacking strength in the ankles and hips to cope with the off-road conditions. 

Make sure that you include lots of single leg work in your training programmes (such as lunges and step ups), and train with bare feet  when squatting or deadlifting (this will enable you to develop a strong base of support and balance. 

5. Improve your pulling and pushing strength 

The will be many obstacles such as high walls that will require you to be able to pull yourself up and over the top. Most of these races are team-orientated and people will help you over, but it’s always best to be able to do as much of the work yourself and give the rest of your teammates a hand! 

Exercises such as pull-ups, rows and pulldowns will all be beneficial in helping with this, as will press ups and dips to help you push yourself over obstacles and climb out of the inevitable water stages.

If you have all of this in place, you will be pretty well set up for anything that the course can throw at you and can enjoy the experience knowing that you will come out the other side tired, but having had great Fun along the way! 

For more information about race preparation or to enquire about the Bulletproof Body online programmes to help you prepare yourself for anything, 

e-mail: info@simplesessions.co.uk 

For more session examples, check out @simple.sessions on Instagram.


The Hang time session is Below: 

Warm up: CS-10 joint preparation routine (VIDEO) 

1A. Chest to bar pull up x 5 reps (regress to band assisted chin ups as needed) 

1B. Press ups x10 ( regress to chest elevated press ups as needed, or Press ups on knees) 

Perform A+B back to back for 10 Minutes working every minute on the minute (or as many rounds as you can in  10 minutes) 

2A. Active hang -> dead hang x max time up to 60s 

2B. Commando Plank 45s 

       5 rounds working every 2 minutes on the minute

3A. Hanging Knee Raise x 5 reps

3B. Bodyweight row x 5 reps 

 12 minutes, working Every minute on the Minute (EMOM)

ENJOY! If you have any questions about this blog or the session, please feel free to e-mail or DM me on Instagram or Facebook! 

James Lee

Head Coach – Simple Sessions LTD 

Bulletproof your body – Shoulder extension (Part 2)

Following on from my first article regarding shoulder extension and bodyweight movements, this follow up, including some more advanced exercises using the gymnastic rings, bands and stick/barbell drills is a good way to progress and improve your movement vocabulary.

Shoulder extension (increasing the angle of the joint past 90 degrees) is a hugely neglected range in 90% of the population. This ranges from children right through to the elderly, where it is probably the most important to maintain, reducing the risk of injury and resulting in a healthy body as a whole.

Extension can occur in the overhead range, laterally (out to the side) and posteriorly (behind you) in the case of the shoulder, due to the large range of motion about this joint.

In order to maintain good shoulder health, it is important that we maintain mobility and work to develop strength through the full range of motion. This is especially important if we want to progress on to more complex bodyweight exercises such as gymnastic ring work and olympic lifts as, without a good level of active and passive mobility, injury will likely result.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that because they are fairly strong, they will be able to jump straight into advanced exercises, such as ‘german hangs’ or ‘skin-the-cats’, as they look impressive and your ego tells you “I think I can do that!”. Unfortunately, the result is often  damage to the bicep tendons or joint capsule and a long road to recovery.

Following on from part 1 – top 5 bodyweight exercises, we are now going to explore bodyweight and barbell exercises that can be used for improving the range of motion and beginning to develop more active mobility now that we have built passive mobility using the exercises in part 1.

Resistance band – shoulder dislocates  

This drill is very effective to use as part of your movement preparation and warm up, as well as an active rest between sets. This exercise is best performed once you have established a full range of motion about the shoulder as if you suffer from any for of impingement this may aggravate the issue. This can also be included in daily movement practice to improve the range of the shoulder gradually in all populations.


  1. Standing, take a light resistance band to begin with and hold it shoulder width apart. Keep glutes and core active so that all movement comes from the shoulders.
  2. Raise the arms straight overhead and behind, so that the band finishes resting on the glutes

3. Pause briefly, feeling the stretch, before repeating on the opposite side.

4. Perform 5-10 reps/side of each variant, or work for time, depending on your preference and current mobility level.


View the movement video here: https://youtu.be/EgkjhkWomTs

German Hang Pull ins -> German Hang 

This is a more focused stretch than the dislocated despite being a very similar movement. If you can perform dislocates smoothly and without pain, then this is the next step as you can begin to build strength through the end range of movement here when we are able to safely progress this to a full german hang (and then on to skin the cat’ which we will cover in a minute)


  1. Take hold of the gymnastic rings/TRX with straight arms and allow the arms to move overhead (you should feel a stretch in the lats/shoulder here). Keeping the glutes and core tight to avoid stress through the lumbar spine (lower back)
  2. From here, keeping the arms straight, bring the arms around, allowing the shoulders to roll forwards until that arms are behind you in a deep stretch position
  3. Keeping your feet on the floor, allow yourself to sink into the stretch as far is as comfortable and hold for 5-10s

4. From here, pull yourself back out to the start position by reversing the movement.

5. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps.

6. Once you are comfortable with this movement and sitting in a deep stretch or 10-15s is manageable, begin to take more and more weight through the arms until your feet leave the floor and you are in a full hang.

This hang position is called a German Hang, it is excellent for improving passive range of motion through the shoulder and also improving joint strength through all of the soft tissues

Be aware for any pain in this position, especially down the bicep. If you feel a sharp pain at all, stop and regress the movement. Due to the deep stretch in the bicep that this position provides, if you aren’t ready to hang, injury can result.

Remember to keep breathing and relax into the stretch with each exhale.

View Movement Video here: https://youtu.be/2Gk5tpPsIas

Active Barbell Shoulder Extension  

This exercise is challenging and is a test, not only of shoulder extension, but also of active range of motion, i.e. The range that you can control. The movement is designed to develop strength through the range of motion over time.


  1. Begin with a stick/light bar
  2. Whilst standing, hold the stick with arms relaxed behind the body, palms facing forwards and as close to shoulder width as possible.
  3. From here keep the torso upright, squeeze the shoulder blades together and. Try to raise the bar up behind you as high as possible. (The aim is a 90 degree angle from the body)
  4. Hold here for 5s, then lower under control and repeat for 5 reps.
  5. Once you can complete 3 sets of 5 reps with this hold, its time to increase the weight on the bar slightly.

View the movement video here: https://youtu.be/ExFWR4F2MHA

Skin The Cat 

Another bodyweight exercise. This is more of a dynamic stretch/joint strengthening exercise due to the increased load through the joints as we move through the movement. This exercise whilst excellent for developing control and strength through the full range of motion of the shoulder, also requires the need for a strong core and  good grip strength. (If you are looking for a structured programme to help you to develop these – enquire about my Bulletproof Body online training by e-mailing info@simplesessions.co.uk)


  1. Begin by hanging below the rings in an active hang (straight arms, with scapula depressed)
  2. Perform a knee raise/ toes to bar movement whilst simultaneously pulling the hands towards the hips (pull with the lats) in order to pull the knees through the arms.
  3. Once you are in the inverted position, keep pulling through until you end up in the German Hang position, control this movement by keeping tension through the arms and chest.
  4. Pause here and then pull back through to return to a full hang position (begin at a height where you can touch your feet to the floor if needed)
  5.       Try incorporating these exercises into your current training and see how they help to improve your shoulder health, mobility and strength once you have developed sufficiently with the exercises in shoulder extension part. These can be excellent as part of skill block or to add into a core routine.