How to train for a Spartan Race (when I don’t like running)?

Aktualisiert: Aug 10


You’re thinking about doing Spartan Races but don’t know how to train correctly? Especially since you don’t have the time or the enthusiasm to do long distance running?

The good news: even for my Spartan Ultra Beast which was a grueling 50km+ and for me 12h+ event I haven’t done a lot of running while training for it. However, I made it to the finish line and my stamina was quite remarkable. My client Eva on the picture did her first Spartan Races this year in Munich and Berlin and finished both successfully with outstanding performance on the obstacles. When she crossed the finish line in Berlin her thoughts were: „That’s all? Really?“

We are collaborating on training and nutrition since late November 2018, measuring her body composition and updating her training on a monthly basis.

'How did her training for the Spartan events look like?'


To crush the obstacles and also to protect your joints and bones from the impacts of the race building decent levels of strength is necessary. The further ahead of the event the more you can focus on building strength since building strength takes a lot longer than building stamina.

In Eva’s case we absolutely hammered on the basics. We focused on building a good squat (by now she can squat more than her own bodyweight), a good bench press and strong hip mainly with variations of the deadlift. Most important though, we’ve improved her chin-up a lot. This exercise has a huge carryover as a lot of obstacles require overhead (pulling-)strength. Since we started working together her chin-ups went from 0 to 7 chin-ups. That helped a lot with rope climbing, monkey bars, reverse walls etc. In Berlin her only burpee penalty was a missed spear throw. All the other, physically and technically demanding, obstacles she conquered successfully.


Let’s face it. Spartan Races are endurance events and the main part is trail running. Doing only strength training won’t cut it (I tried that before…). Interesting enough, steady state long distance running won’t be enough either (I tried that as well). From my own experience and also training clients it doesn’t have too much of a carryover to the races. Since it's more a stop and go event alternating running and obstacles, plus, hills are often part of the scenery a lot of lactic acid is in the game.

'For me and clients that I prepared for their first races, interval type conditioning helped a lot.'

I prefer a blend of shorter and longer hill dashes and, for obvious reasons, lots of burpees. A secret weapon with a lot of ‘bang for your buck’, I found here, is boxing. Boxing helped me building crazy stamina with a surprising carryover to running and was my main source of conditioning getting ready for my Spartan Ultra.

Here’s one of Eva’s gym training plans closer to her second Spartan Race:

Lower Body

  • A Deadlift, mid grip: 3x3 5050 120s

  • B Deadlift, mid grip: 3x5 3010 120s

  • C Lying Leg Curl, unilat., ne, dorsifl.: 4x6-8 4010 120s

Upper Body

  • A1 DB-bench: 4x4-6 4010 90s

  • A2 Bentover row, unilat, on bench: 4x4-6 3011 90s

  • B1 85° DB-shoulder press: 3x6-8 4010 90s

  • B2 85° DB-curls, ne: 3x6-8 4010 90s

  • C Chin-ups, close, ne, Challenge set:: 1xmax. 2010 -

  • D Burpees: 1x100 X0X0 -

On top of that she also did intervals in nature and worked on obstacle specific skills. Strength and conditioning build the basis for success in obstacle course racing but on top you also have a skill-part. Climbing ropes, various monkey bars etc. are very technical and of course it helps practicing those when you have the possibility to do so. It works – without saying that proper nutrition, good body composition and the mind play key roles as well, but this article’s scope is the training part and I hope I could give you some good insights on that theme.

If you want to learn more and are interested in doing Spartan Races just send me a message and I will get back to you. :)

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