Tough Mudder Training & Preparation – Tips for Your Workout

Tough Mudder Training Tips

Brace yourself for your ultimate Tough Mudder Workout – no time for excuses!

You are looking for the adventure of your life and are mentally ready to take on ice water, electroshocks and tons of mud?

Perfect – obviously there is a Mudder inside of you! 😀

But how do you prepare for such a madness like Tough Mudder?

How do you train best to not only be ready for 18 km of running but also for all the rank Tough Mudder obstacles?

If you only want to grab some information, you'll find an overview further down with tons of input to these and other questions.

But wouldn't it be way cooler to receive a workout plan, which is fitted to your individual fitness level and to have someone by your side during training who's already finished multiple Tough Mudders?

That's what we thought!

That's why we've put over half a year of work into a customisable Tough Mudder training program including video material and much more. Just for you.

The result: An absolutely premium coaching, which is actually unaffordable!

We love Tough Mudder and our supporters though and besides we are a bunch of crazy dudes anyway, that's why our whole Tough Mudder training program is 100% free. No Freemium or other marketing crap!

So, if you want to train like a real Mudder, then check out our “Unleash the Mudder within you!” training program!

Tough Mudder training program

Following up the promised input for everyone, who rather philosophises about mud than to jump into it 😉

Overview – What's the Tough Mudder training is all about

  1. Preparing for Tough Mudder – how much time do I need?
  2. How do I plan my strength workouts for Tough Mudder?
  3. How do I plan my endurance training for Tough Mudder?
  4. Making your body tough for Tough Mudder
  5. Summary

1. Preparing for Tough Mudder – how much time do I need?

Tough Mudder: no pain no gain

Theoretically, you could do Tough Mudder’s 10 to 12 miles without practicing. After all, you could simply amble the entire course and rely on your iron will.

In that case, you would get your legion headband, but you would be risking aching muscles at least, possibly even a serious injury. Needlessly damaging your health would definitely prevent you from having fun.

We from Mudder Guide call upon your sanity and your athletic ambition. After all, you want to finish Tough Mudder with your head held high, not crawling on your knees.

Therefore, your goal should be to attack Tough Mudder with a certain basic level of fitness. You don’t have to be a perfect athlete, as no one tracks your time or position.

It wouldn’t hurt you, however, to keep a serious attitude towards training and preparation.

Tough Mudder isn’t a walk in the park!

Cornerstones for your stress-free Tough Mudder preparation

Get ready for your Tough Mudder preparation

First of all, we want to establish how much time you need to prepare for Tough Mudder. Our goal is to make you conquer Tough Mudder somewhat confidently – not crawling and crying 😉

The following skill levels will give you a rough indication:

Your only contact with sport comes from watching it on TV. After walking the stairs, you have to catch your breath. Maybe you’re even a little overweight.

After running 2 miles, you need an oxygen tank. You can do neither 20 push-ups (women on the knees) nor one clean pull-up (women with a little help).

To survive Tough Mudder, you need to practice very intensely. You need an iron will and the willingness to change your habits.

If you give it all you got and make no excuses, 3-4 workouts a week will get you to the necessary level within 16 weeks.

You’ll start with workouts of 20-30 minutes and increase the time as your fitness level improves.

You’re not in the best shape, but you’re somewhat athletic.

Running 3 miles would exhaust you, but at moderate speed, you could do it. You can do at least 20 push-ups (women on the knees) and ideally at least one clean pull-up (women with a little help).

You still have a long way ahead of you. Ideally, you have at least 12 weeks to prepare with 3-4 workouts per week.

You can run 6-miles at a medium pace and you’re physically somewhat fit. You can do at least 40 push-ups (women on the knees) and at least 5 pull-ups with good technique (women with a little help).

You haven’t reached competition form quite yet, but you have a solid basic fitness. Train 3 times a week for 8 weeks, and you’ll be well prepared to attack Tough Mudder.

– CLICK HERE to get more information about the “Unleash the Mudder within you!” training program! –

Tips for our tough ladies

Also women need training for Tough Mudder ;-)

As a woman, you can work with the above mentioned fitness level that fits your running ability. Should your arms be very weak, add 4 additional weeks to be safe.

In addition to your running, do circuit training. Then, you’ll definitively be fit enough to start at Tough Mudder!

Remember, though: You don’t need to be as strong as a man. You only need to be able to handle your own bodyweight!

I'm a hardcore athlete – is Tough Mudder the right challenge for me?

Right Mudders do push-ups while waiting

Tough Mudder is a challenge for everybody. You can vary the intensity of Tough Mudder by varying your speed.

Much like in the gym, where beginners might have trouble bench pressing 100 pounds while experienced athletes manage 200 pounds or more, after Tough Mudder everybody will be equally tired.

If you have too much energy during the run, you can spend your waiting time at obstacles worthy of a true Mudder – by doing push-ups! 😀

Tough Mudder training program

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2. How do I plan my strength workouts for Tough Mudder?

As mentioned before, you don't necessarily need to go to the gym to prepare for Tough Mudder.

You need to be able to handle your own bodyweight, create body tension, and have good coordination.

You can accomplish all of this by working out at home and in the park.

We'll tell you what to do and why: Which muscle groups you need, what you need them for, and how you can train them.

Let's start!

Lats (the muscle in the back that creates men's V-shape)

Working out: Well-trained lats are important for Tough Mudder obstacles such as Hanging' Tough.

At Tough Mudder, there are many obstacles where you have to pull yourself up. To master them, you need strong lats.

Don't worry about your biceps too much. While the biceps helps with pulling movements of any kind, it's only an auxiliary muscle that's chronically over-valued in the fitness world.

The biceps only accounts for one third of the arm size, and the back is the main source of power for pulling movements.

More importantly, when you train your back, you automatically train your biceps – even if you don't focus on it.

While preparing for Tough Mudder, pull-ups should be a regular part of your workouts.

Using an overhand grip (your palms point away from you), place your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart.

The overhand grip is very important. It helps to put the emphasis of the exercise on your back and your shoulders, both common weaknesses of Mudders.

With an underhand grip (your hands point towards you), on the other hand, you'll put the emphasis on the biceps. This doesn't help you at all – try climbing a wall with an underhand grip 😉

Pull-ups will help you overcome the toughest obstacles of Tough Mudder

For good technique, do pull-ups without momentum. After each repetition, go back to the starting position (maximum range of motion).

We know that the technique isn't easy (especially in the beginning), but don't worry: You can get better in a relatively short time.

Since women have a higher body fat percentage, this exercise is often harder for them. That's not chauvinistic, that's nature 😉

Man or woman – if you're having problems executing one pull-up with good form, tuck your legs and let a spotter support your movement by pushing your legs upwards – only as much as necessary, of course!

Sooner or later you'll be able to do a pull-up without help. From there, you can gradually improve.

If you don't own a chin-up bar, get one from our Mudder Stuff training equipment section.

You can attach these bar to the door frame, the ceiling, or the wall. Make sure to carefully check the article description, as each bar can only be used for one kind of attachment.

Triceps (back side of the upper arm)

Training: A well-trained triceps is important for Tough Mudder

After you climbed a wall at Tough Mudder, you have to push yourself up to overcome the last part of the obstacle. That's what you need strong triceps for!

When doing push-ups, the triceps works as an auxiliary muscle. If you lack the strength to complete some regular push-ups, start by doing push-ups on your knees (beginner push-ups).

Women can start their Tough Mudder training with beginner push-ups

To put a higher emphasis on your triceps, keep your hands close together while doing a push-up (diamond push-ups).

Another great exercise are dips.

Sit down on the edge of your bed, a bench, or something similar. Support your weight with your arms, move your butt slightly forward, and keep your legs straight (or slightly bent) while resting them on your heels.

Lower your body by only moving your arms. As soon as your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, stop lowering your body to prevent shoulder and elbow injuries. Push yourself up, back into the starting position.

Tough Mudder training: You can do dips on a bench or on the bed

From now on, push-ups and dips should be a staple in your workout!

Shoulder muscles and grip strength

Don't forget to work out your shoulders for Tough Mudder!

Many Mudders fail at obstacles such as Funky Monkey 2.0 or Hangin' Tough because they're lacking the necessary shoulder and grip strength.

At Funky Monkey 2.0, you have to hold your entire body weight while hanging from bars, at Hangin' Tough you're hanging from rings.

If you lack the necessary shoulder and grip strength, you'll quickly fall into the water at both obstacles.

While pull-ups primarily strengthen your lats, they also train your shoulder muscles and your grip strength.

Work out: Hang on the bar and improve your grip muscles

To further strengthen your shoulders, you could do exercises such as front raises and side raises, but we recommend staying with a more practice oriented workout.

Hanging from a bar, try to hold on as long as you can, or swing from A to B on a keep-fit trail.

That way, you can be sure to master these two dreaded obstacles confidently and dry.

Abs

Well-trained abs will help you at Tough Mudder

Well-trained abs aren't just impressive at the beach, they can also make Tough Mudder a lot easier for you 😉

While jogging, your abs will absorb a lot of the strain, prevent you from getting cramps, etc.

Your abs are an essential part of almost any movement, even though you might not always feel that.

Try doing a few push-ups when your abs are aching and you'll know what we're talking about – it's almost impossible!

Your core muscles are an important component of any movement that requires body tension. Therefore, you should make them a key emphasis of your workouts.

There's an almost endless number of exercises for abs: Crunches (sit-ups) in all their variations or planks, for example.

Planks train your abs effectively

In any exercise, make sure to keep your body tension at all times.

When you raise or lower your body too far, you can relax the different muscle groups during the exercise.

That's exactly what you're trying to avoid when training your abs!

Execute each movement slowly and watch your breathing. While doing a crunch, for example, you should inhale on the way up and exhale on the way down.

50 well-executed crunches are far more effective than 100 bad ones!

Workout: Strong abs make Tough Mudder easier

Tough Mudder training program

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3. How do I plan my endurance training for Tough Mudder?

Creating basic endurance

Endurance training is important for Tough Mudder

If you're lacking strength, you might fall into the water at some obstacles, you might have to rely on other Mudders to help you out, etc.

If you're lacking the necessary endurance, however, you'll have a tough time even making it to the finish line!

Therefore, endurance workouts should be an important part of your preparation.

You don't necessarily have to get your basic conditioning from jogging. Running is a matter of taste. Some love it, some think it's dreary and boring.

You can go swimming, burn off energy with spinning or aerobic, go inline skating, jump rope, etc.

Nonetheless, during the last weeks before Tough Mudder, you can't avoid jogging completely.

Your body has to adjust to the new demands of jogging. Not even a treadmill can do that.

Do it right, and your ligaments and tendons will thank you!

Interval training is the key to success for Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is an interval run from start to finish

Always remember: Tough Mudder isn't a normal run. When we first started training, we often ran 12 miles nonstop. Afterwards, we had to admit that this didn't help us much.

During a Tough Mudder, you'll permanently walk up and down hills, you'll be stuck in mud thigh-deep, and you'll have to wait at obstacles. Therefore, you won't be able to keep a constant pace!

Tough Mudder features a tough course where a constant running speed is impossible

Once you've acquired basic endurance, start doing interval training in the woods.

Alternate between faster and slower runs, and occasionally stop for a few push-ups, jumping-jacks, and similar exercises.

Sometimes, you'll feel like you can keep going for quite some time, but after you've taken a quick break, your muscles cramp and you're done.

To make sure that doesn't happen during Tough Mudder, accustom your muscles and ligaments to the alternating load.

Read more about interval runs in this interesting article.

Get tough for Tough Mudder with hill sprints

Mountain runs are a good training method to improve your endurance

Hill sprints should be a significant part of your Tough Mudder workouts, too. They don't have to be too long. A few short, hard sprints will do the trick.

If you want to know more about hill sprints, enjoy this article from runnersworld.com!

The secret to toughness is a diversified workout!

During the first weeks, take predominantly jogs in the woods and throw in the occasional interval or hill sprint at the end of your preparation. Then you'll get tough quickly.

Follow these tips, and you'll be in great shape to attack Tough Mudder. Have fun working out!

Tough Mudder training program

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4. Making your body tough for Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder: Faces full of fear are common at Arctic Enema 2.0

Even for trained athletes, Tough Mudder is a new challenge. Not only does your body have to handle the athletic stress, it constantly has to adapt to new conditions.

Especially repeatedly jumping into cold water can be tricky.

When you’ve just climbed out of the ice water of Arctic Enema 2.0 and your lungs are about to burst, you should focus on getting dry quickly and not losing too much body heat.

In low temperatures, this might not be that easy!

In a separate chapter, we from Mudder Guide will present you with special running shoes that are perfect for Tough Mudder and similar obstacle races.

Even though this equipment will help you dry up significantly faster than regular sport apparel, one fact remains: Your body constantly has to adapt to new conditions!

How to prepare for Tough Mudder's Arctic Enema 2.0, etc.

Tough Mudder: Prepare for Arctic Enema 2.0 by showering cold or alternating between cold and warm water

While preparing for Tough Mudder, you should make sure to regularly challenge your body with changing temperatures.

Showering cold or alternating between cold and warm water can help you prepare.

Still not convinced? Read here about five surprising benefits of cold showers!

If you're afraid of cold water, at least regularly go to the sauna. Make good use of the cold water pool, it's the perfect preparation for the Arctic Enema 2.0.

You can also get tough during your running training: Go running for half an hour when it's raining cats and dogs. Take off your wet cloths and take a hot shower when you're finished, and you won't get sick.

During your runs, use large puddles and mud as opportunities to prepare for Tough Mudder: Run straight through them, not around them!

Don't mind running through knee-deep water in full gear, even if people will think you're weird. After that, wet feet won't stop you at any obstacle course.

If you buy good running shoes, which are specifically designed for Tough Mudder and similar races, your feet will dry up quickly.

Michael shows you how real Mudders train 😀

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5. Summary

Top 10 training tips for Tough Mudder

Here are the key facts for your Tough Mudder training and preparation:

  1. If you want to be well prepared for Tough Mudder, you need 8-16 weeks of training if you work out 3-4 times a week. If your focus is just on surviving Tough Mudder, then you can take it a bit easier.
  2. As a woman you don't have to panic if you are not as strong as the Incredible Hulk. Just don't forget our strength exercises and in case of an obstacle emergency be sure that the men will help you.
  3. For Tough Mudder you only need to handle your own body weight, therefore it's not necessary to lift weights during your preparation. Instead, pull-ups, push-ups and dips should be a crucial part of your workout because there are a lot of obstacles where you need to push or pull yourself over in some kind of way.
  4. Good core strength helps you with many Tough Mudder obstacles. Get your abs in shape.
  5. To get a basic endurance level it's not necessary for you to go running all the time. But jogging is crucial in the last weeks of your preparation to get your  muscles and ligaments used to the workload.
  6. As soon as you have a basic endurance level, you should put interval training into your workout. It will help you to get an impression of what it's like at the real event, because at Tough Mudder it's not possible to run at a constant speed.
  7. The hills at Tough Mudder can be very steep. Prepare yourself with hill sprints.
  8. Tough Mudder is also a challenge for your immune system. Get tough for obstacles like Arctic Enema 2.0 by alternating between cold and warm water or go to the sauna and take a cold shower afterwards.
  9. If it's raining cats and dogs, it's the best weather to do your workout outside. Don't avoid large puddles or knee-deep water.
  10. If you're looking for the perfect preparation and motivation, register for our 100% free Tough Mudder training program!

You know what to do now! Get your ass off the couch and unleash the Mudder within you! 😀

Tough Mudder training program

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