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Are Your Muscles Ready for the Mixed Demands of OCR?

athletics, All

Are Your Muscles Ready for the Mixed Demands of OCR?

December 9, 2017

Picture an Olympic sprinter. The image in your mind probably includes tree trunk legs and large, chiseled arms. Now picture an Olympic distance runner. Skinny legs and protruding scapulas. Totally different, right? There is no way the distance runner would come anywhere close to competing in a 100 meter sprint, but the sprinter also has no shot if the race is a 10K because of how they’ve trained their muscles- their muscle fibers to be more exact.

There are actually three types of muscle fibers in our body. All do different things well.
  1. Let’s start with fast twitch fibers. These are the ones responsible for big muscles, which are required for explosive movements like jumping or picking up heavy objects. These are the biggest, but require the most energy to move, which means you can’t use them too long before lactic acid builds up and you have to stop.
  2. Next up are the intermediate twitch fibers. These, as their name would imply, are muscle fibers that are right in between slow twitch and fast twitch in terms of their capabilities. They aren’t quite as strong as fast twitch, but will help give you a final burst of strength when you need it. They aren’t quite as efficient as slow twitch fibers, but take less energy to move than regular fast twitch fibers.
  3. The third and final type is slow twitch fibers. These muscle fibers are perfect for relatively slow and sustained movements like long distance running or low intensity repetitive exercise like cycling. Slow twitch fibers will never get as big as the fast twitch fibers (which is why our distance runner will never look like our sprinter), but they use far less energy and thus endure for far longer periods of time.

One of the my favorite things about Spartan, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Battlefrog and the other OCRs is that you have to train each type of muscle fiber to perform well. You need a lot of endurance, so training your slow twitch fibers to sustain movement is necessary. When you come up against a wall to jump, monkey bars to swing across, or a rope to climb, you’ll be calling on your fast twitch fibers. The intermediate twitch fibers serve as a transition between the two. To train your slow twitch, pick endurance exercises like extended runs, bike rides and swimming. I’ll leave it to our endurance expert, Jodie to give you more specifics on how much and how often you should be training for endurance. To get your fast twitch fibers in peak condition before your next race, add these exercises into your strength training regimen two or three times per week.

Goblet Squats

Kettlebell Start AngleGrab a kettlebell or dumbbell and hold it with both hands so it touches your chest. With your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, lower yourself by taking a deep breath, brace your core while simultaneously hinging your hips back and bending your knees (kinda like you were sitting on a toilet).

Keep your chest upright during the whole move. Push yourself back up to a standing position. That’s one rep.

  • Do 3 sets with a weight that you can hold for 10-12 reps. If you feel like you can do more when you get to your 12th rep, then you need to get a heavier weight.
  • Reps 1-5 will activate your fast twitch muscle fibers. Reps 6-12 will activate your intermediate twitch fibers.
  • This move will help you flip tires, jump over walls, climb ropes, carry heavy buckets and run up hills.

Pull Ups

Grab a pull up bar with both hands, using an overhand grip with your arms straight and shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up so that your chin is even with the bar. Lower yourself back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.

  • Do 3 sets of as many reps as you can do until you get to muscle failure. Try to work your way up to doing 12 in a row. You’re a badass if you get to 20 in row.
  • If you’re not strong enough to do one rep yet, you can usually find an assisted pull up machine in most gyms. If you don’t have one at your gym, a heavy rubber band looped around the bar at the top and your feet at the bottom will assist you.
  • Reps 1-5 will activate your fast twitch muscle fibers. Reps 6-12 will activate your intermediate twitch fibers.
  • This move will help you on traverse walls, rope climbs, climbing over high walls, monkey bars and multi-rigs.

Deadlifts

Deadlift Side Half WayWith your feet flat beneath a bar, squat down and grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width overhand grip. Pull your shoulders back while keeping your back straight and pick up the bar until you’re standing upright with the bar waist-high with your and legs fully extended. It helps to visualize pushing your feet into the ground while standing up. Lower the weight back to the floor with the reverse movement. That’s one rep.

  • Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps. If you feel like you can do more when you get to your 12th rep, then you need to get a heavier weight.
  • Reps 1-5 will activate your fast twitch muscle fibers. Reps 6-12 will activate your intermediate twitch fibers.
  • This move will help you through just about every obstacle on the course because it strengthens your entire posterior chain.

    Interested in more articles about endurance, strength and nutrition specifically for obstacle course racing athletes? Check out www.humanoctane.com/abetterfasteryou

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