With winter upon us, training at home is going to have to be the option when the thought of leaving the house for a run or to head to the gym in the cold is not appealing to you. Below are ten simple but effective exercises that can be performed anywhere and arranged into circuits to make sure you’re still prepared for obstacle racing throughout the season.
The classic move, you can’t get any simpler for such an effective exercise than this. If these aren’t already a staple of your routine then get them in there now. A great move you can perform anywhere for building functional strength.
Effective for: Crawling under cargo nets or through muddy areas.
Workout: Spiderman Pushups – Beginning in the pushup position, as you lower yourself bring your right knee outside your body towards your right elbow, then lower back as you push yourself back up. Repeat with your left knee on the next rep. When you get really good try the Sally Up and Sally Down Workout
Like the pushup, this is a classic move that should be a mainstay in your workout routine. The squat is possibly the greatest lower body strength building exercise, this is a versatile move that will improve leg strength, hip mobility and all round performance.
Effective for: Jumping onto hay bales and platforms, hills or any obstacle in your way.
Workout: Tuck jumps – Squat down as low as you can go, explode up so your feet leave the ground then tuck your knees into your chest. Land softly with knees bent slightly, squat down low and repeat! Remember to keep your head up. Go for at least 3 sets of 10.
Performing lunges will help your legs get used to working individually and equally, which is naturally useful for runners. Lunges, when performed correctly will improve hip mobility, balance and core strength.
Effective for: Improving running speed & technique.
Workout: Jumping lunges- Step forward with your right foot into a deep lunge, explode up and switch your feet positions, so you end up landing in a deep lunge with your left foot forward. Repeat!
For building core stability and strength, this isometric exercise is rivalled by few. Get into a press up position but resting on your forearms rather than hands. Quite simply holding this position for 1 minute, 2 minutes or until failure is a challenge for anybody while strengthening stabilising muscles in the core, shoulders, neck, and legs.
Effective for: Crawling, swimming overall stability.
Workout: Alternating leg lifts – Try lifting one leg (kept straight) off the ground for 10 or 15 seconds during your hold. Be sure to repeat with the other leg. If this becomes easy, try raising alternate arms as well.
An effective way to hit the upper back – by looping a towel around a door handle or strong pole/railing this will enable you to pull yourself up – giving your upper back and forearms a killer workout.
Effective for: Rope climbing
Workout: One handed rows – Quite simple really – grip your towel with one hand and pull yourself up while keeping your body straight. See how long your forearms last!
Hitting the obliques is crucial for running form to prevent too much rotation and wasted energy. This exercise will hit all the main muscles in the abdominal area to ensure a rock solid core.
Effective for: Improving running technique and core strength.
Workout: Lie on your back, raise your legs and simply use the legs as if your were riding a bicycle. Aim for a minute. Finding these too easy? Sit on a Bosu ball or wobble board, lie back to engage your abs and perform the movement while keeping your balance.
As an obstacle racer you are going to be lifting yourself up over platforms, walls, hay bales, trees or anything that is thrown in your way. Being able to lift your own bodyweight is key to getting past these quickly and efficiently so your arm and shoulder strength is going to make a difference to your speed here. In the home use two chairs either side of you to perform the dips.
Effective for: Lifting yourself onto any raised obstacles, crawling.
Workout: Dip & leg raise – As you lower yourself into the dip, raise your right leg (keeping it straight) and lower it as you push yourself back up. Repeat with alternating legs for the duration of the set.
The glute raise enables you to work both the knee and hip extension functions of the hamstrings while also working the entire length of the erector spinae muscles. Giving focus to muscles on the posterior chain will be hugely beneficial in improving running speed as well as overall muscle balance.
Effective for: Preventing back and knee injuries, running speed, hip mobility.
Workout: Cross-leg raise – In the glute raise starting position, cross your right leg over so that the lower shin is resting on your left knee. Keeping your right leg pushed away from your body, thrust your hips up to the ceiling and lower slowly for one rep. Be sure to perform equal amounts on both sides so work on hip mobility and fire up your glutes.
Here we go, the burpee is one for those who want to build power in their whole body while getting a great cardio blast. This exercise will get your body used to working the upper body, core and lower body together, which you should know by now is a must for obstacle racing. This is a notoriously tough exercise which is exactly why they should be added into your routine.
Effective for: Getting up from the floor quickly, running power/speed, Spartan Race punishments.
Workout: Pushup burpees – for bonus points on your sets of burpees, at the lowest part of the movement add in a pushup so you really are starting from the ground. Why not turn the top part of your burpees into tuck jumps as well?
Just because it is cold outside and you are training at home doesn’t mean you can neglect your cardio! Performing any of the above exercise at a high intensity with minimal rest will give you a good cardio workout but for that little extra there are plenty of exercises – from jumping jacks to simply running on the spot – that can be performed in the comfort of your own home.
Effective for: Building endurance, running speed & technique.
Try this: Cardio pyramid – set a timer for 30 second repeats and perform in this order; jumping jacks, high knees, kickbacks/bum kicks, mountain climbers, jump rope (if you don’t have one – pretend), mountain climbers, kickbacks/bum kicks, high knees, jumping jacks. Repeat as often as you like.
For a real test of stamina – try Tabata Intervals.
Written by me: Keith Fairburn
Personal Trainer, Sports Therapist, S&C Coach.
Ninja Warrior Semi-Finalist, Obstacle Racer, Salming Running Ambassador.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written in this post or want to get in touch, contact me.