Spartan Race Training: Week 1

There is one word you must become comfortable with to dominate the Spartan Race. Almost everything else is negotiable, but not this.  

Burpees.

If you can perform burpees safely, efficiently and repeatedly, you’ll complete the Spartan Race with flying colors. Period.

Many of our Team Relentless racers stress about one obstacle or another – ropes, monkey bars and spear throws to name a few – however, there is an all-important Spartan Race rule that can’t be overlooked. If you cannot or choose not to complete an obstacle, step to the side and complete 30 burpees. Once you master burpees, all obstacle stress disappears.

There's a cliché out there that goes something like this: You overestimate what you can accomplish in 1 day. You severely underestimate what you can accomplish in [insert longer frame of time].

For example, I wrote an article entitled How 52 Push-ups Becomes 22,344which takes you through a daily journey of what begins with 52 push-ups and ultimately accumulates to over 20,000. The takeaway lesson is that smart, manageable, and consistently progressing volume produces big results over time.

I promise - promise! - that you can accomplish more than you think in the next 9+ weeks.

Let's take that push-up example and run with it. Your Spartan preparation starts right here and right now with a burpee progression. This is a unique workout and the only one that runs in the background of your entire race build-up.

Defining a week as Thursday-to-Wednesday, you have 9 full weeks until race day.  Complete the following:

  • Week One: 5 burpees per day
  • Week Two: 15 burpees per day
  • Week Three: 20 burpees per day
  • Week Four: 25 burpees per day
  • Week Five: 30 burpees per day
  • Week Six: 35 burpees per day
  • Week Seven: 40 burpees per day
  • Week Eight: 45 burpees per day
  • Week Nine: 50 burpees per day
  • Thursday - Race Day: No burpees (rest)

Burpee progression rules:

  1. Complete your daily allotment 5 out of 7 days of each week. No burpees on your two off days. Choose your off days based on your schedule and what is most convenient.
  2. Always, always, always complete your burpees safely. No excuses for poor form. Here's an instructional video.
  3. Start your burpees when you're warm – after you've taken a walk, climbed stairs, etc. – or incorporate them into a workout.
  4. Break your burpee count into manageable sets. This won't be an issue when you are at 5, but when you progress to higher counts, chunk them down. Take all the rest you need between sets.
  5. Don't max out. Maxing a set (going until you can't anymore) produces extra soreness and is more likely to result in poor form. Again, keep your counts manageable.
  6. Have fun. Maybe this sounds silly to some, but this progression (1) prepares you for an awesome race experience and (2) changes your body in the process. Connect the experience of the burpees – even when they get tough – to those two end goals.

That's it Team! Burpee it up and meet us back here next week for step two.

Roger Dickerman is co-owner of Relentless Fitness.

Every Thursday leading up to the Spartan Race on November 14, Roger will be submitting exclusive posts to Philly.com specifically tailored to get you ready for the obstacle course at Citizen's Bank Park. If you’d like to become part of the team, or just want to help donate to the nonprofit they're supporting (Steve’s Club), you can get more information here.

Our Team Relentless philosophy is simple: Think bigger on behalf of yourself and others. No matter what route you choose – whether it's solely using these Philly.com workouts to better your health, training and racing alongside Relentless, or funding a Steve's Club teenager – it's all good. Get involved, and stay relentless! 


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