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Tough Mudder Training Plan (2019)

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So, you’ve taken the plunge and signed up to a Tough Mudder event? Or perhaps you were forced (nicely) into it by a friend and are now looking for some advice on where to begin training? Either way, there’s no denying it will be tough (hence the name!), but with proper preparation, you will be ready to tackle it head on!

In this article we’ve devised our very own Tough Mudder training plan for each of the Tough Mudder Challenge events from Tough Mudder 5k through to Tough Mudder Full, to help you fully prepare in the best way possible for your event. (If you’re participating in a Race Series event we’re going to assume you already know what you’re doing when it comes to training for a Tough Mudder!)

So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it!

NB: Check with your doctor or fitness professional before beginning your training programme, and for tailored advice and guidance throughout your plan, especially if you develop any injuries.

 

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Key Training Areas

Whichever event you are participating in, whether it's the 5k, the Half or the Full, there are some key areas in which to focus your training. 

Of course, the two most obvious are upper body strength and running ability. These are probably the most crucial areas to work on in the run up to your Tough Mudder event. But there are other areas you shouldn't neglect, for example core work and grip strength. Good grip strength will definitely come in handy across those monkey bars! 

We have included mini training plans throughout this article designed specifically to help you tackle each obstacle with confidence! Firstly though, we have included running plans for each of the 3 Tough Mudder events, and this is what you’ll find in the first section. In the second section, we’ve included a range of exercises to help you work on your muscular strength for a variety of the Tough Mudder obstacles that you’re likely to encounter!

Additionally, working on your muscular strength will not only help you over the obstacles, but it will also help improve your running form. Muscular strength training helps to reinforce your alignment and maintain the correct posture. Additionally, stronger muscles provide greater support for your joints, meaning less strain on your knees and hips. This in turn reduces your chance of injury. Therefore, it’s important not just to focus on the running section of this training guide, but to also read and work through the muscular strength section too. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started...

Tough Mudder Training Plan - 5K

In this section, you can find a training plan to help you work towards the Tough Mudder 5k route. We’ve included a training plans here that will help you to work towards running a 5k. We’ve worked on a timescale of 9 weeks, but if you’ve got more time to train (or less!), just adjust the workouts accordingly to make it fit your time schedule. 

How to train for a 5k - 5k Training Plan

One of the most common 5k training plans out there is the Couch to 5K plan. Designed to help beginners build up to running a 5k in just a couple of weeks, it is one of the most effective plans out there if you’re looking to run the 3.1 mile distance. The plan we’ve put together below closely follows the Couch to 5k training plan, to help you get the best results possible.

This Couch to 5K plan is recommended by the NHS and is split over 9 weeks. Each week, you should do 3 runs. If you have less time to train, you can do extra runs during the week to get the full 9 week programme in. Finish each of your runs with a slow 5 minute walk to cool down, and follow that with some gentle stretching. 

Week 1 - Start with a brisk walk for 5 minutes to warm up your body. You will then do a 20 minute run, alternating between 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking.

Week 2 - Again begin with a brisk walk for 5 minutes to warm up your body. This weeks runs will be a total of 20 minutes, alternating with 90 seconds of running and 2 minutes of walking.

Week 3 - 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm up. Follow this with 2 repetitions of 90 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, and then 3 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking.

Week 4 - Begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 3 minutes of running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running, 2 and a half minutes of walking, 3 minutes running, 90 seconds of walking, 5 minutes running.

Week 5 - This week, each of the 3 runs are slightly different. 
Run 1: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running.
Run 2: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 8 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 8 minutes running.
Run 3: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 20 minutes running, with no walking.

Week 6 - This week also consists of 3 different runs.
Run 1: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 8 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running.
Run 2: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 10 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 10 minutes running
Run 3: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 25 minutes with no walking.

Week 7 - From here onwards, there are no walking intervals and the aim from here onwards is to get used to running for solid blocks of time. For the runs in Week 7, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 25 minutes of running.

Week 8 - For the runs in Week 8, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 28 minutes of running. Focus on your pacing here, try not to go too fast to ensure that you can keep up the run for the whole 28 minutes without stopping to walk. 

Week 9 - For the final week, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 30 minutes of running.

Following week 9, if you can now run for 30 minutes without any walking periods, you should be able to comfortably run a 5k! Remember to run at your own pace so you’re able to sustain the run throughout, don’t rush and most importantly, have fun!

Tough Mudder Half Training Plan 

This section is all about the Half. Tough Mudder Half is a course of approximately 5 miles, so it’s just short of 10k. We’ve put together a 3 month training plan to help you train towards running this distance. Again, as mentioned above, if you have longer than 3 months to train, or a little less time, just adjust the training plans accordingly - if you have more time, you have the luxury of progressing a little more slowly, or doing less sessions per week. If you have less than 3 months, you can combine some workouts to shorten the training plan to fit your schedule.

(Ultimately though, be aware that you don’t want to over train or push yourself too hard. If you’re running short on time, it may be that you have to go into the event a little less prepared than you’d like. But don’t worry - it’s all about having fun and you can take it down to a walk at any point if needed. There’s also the option to bypass obstacles if you want to.)

So, let’s not waste any more time and get right into it!

Running 5 miles…

To a running novice, 5 miles may sound like a long distance. But, if we look at it in kilometres, it’s actually less than a 10k. 5 miles is approximately 8k. Below, we’ve included a training plan to help you smash this distance!

For the first 9 weeks, the plan will follow the Couch to 5K plan that we outlined earlier (scroll back up to read it!) Then for the remaining 3 weeks, follow the schedule below (warning - it’s about to get serious! Take it at a suitable pace for you, and repeat any weeks if needed before progressing onto the next one.):

Week 10 - Start with a brisk 5 minute walk to warm up. 
Run 1 is a 50-minute workout. Run 30 minutes, then walk three minutes, then run 15 minutes.
Run 2: Run 35 minutes, then walk three minutes and then run 10 minutes.
Run 3: 40 minute run.

Week 11 - Run 1: Brisk 5 minute warm up walk. Run 35 minutes, then walk three minutes and then run 10 minutes.
Run 2: Warm up with a brisk 5 minute walk, then run for 40 minutes.
Run 3: Run 30 minutes, then walk five minutes, then run 20 minutes.

Week 12 - As normal, start each run with a brisk 5 minute walk to warm up your body.
Run 1: Run 40 minutes.
Run 2: Run 45 minutes.
Run 3: Run 35 minutes, then walk for 5 minutes, followed by a 10 minute run.

Don’t forget to finish each run with a cool down and stretch session. Upon completing Week 12 of this programme, you should be able to comfortably run 5 miles at a steady pace.

Tough Mudder Training Plan - Full

This final section is focused on the Tough Mudder Full, a course of roughly 8-10 miles. Tough! We’ve included a running plan for those who already have a good base fitness level, as well as a mini “Beginner’s Guide” section for complete beginners. The plan for the Full event is a Tough Mudder 3 month training plan. 

As we mentioned in the Half section, you can walk at any point during Tough Mudder, and you have the option to bypass obstacles you don’t feel comfortable with. But don’t let this make you lazy - the more efficiently you train and the more work you put in in the lead up to the event, the easier you will find it!

Tough Mudder Training Plan for Beginner’s

If you are at a beginner level and cannot yet run 5k comfortably, we would suggest starting to prepare for a Full Tough Mudder around 6 months before the event. First of all, we recommend following the 9 week Couch to 5k Plan above. We then recommend repeating week 9 before progressing onto weeks 10, 11 and 12 outlined above in the Tough Mudder Half section. Repeat week 12, and then progress onto the 3 month Tough Mudder training plan below, starting at week 3. If you feel like you need to repeat a week before progressing, feel free to do so at any point.

Tough Mudder Full - 3 Month Tough Mudder Training Plan

Want to run 10 miles in 3 months? We’ve got you. Below is our Tough Mudder training plan to get you running 10 miles in just 3 months. This plan assumes that you can comfortably run 5k, so we recommend only starting this training schedule if this is the case. (Although, if you can run 5k albeit uncomfortably, you can start this plan and just slightly reduce the distances/increase the recovery periods.) If you cannot yet run 5k, check out the Beginner’s section above before progressing onto the below training plan. 

Week 1 - Begin with the workouts from week 9 from the Couch to 5k Plan. Here’s a brief refresher: start with a brisk 5 minute warm up walk, then follow this with 30 minutes of running. The next 3 weeks repeat weeks 10, 11 and 12 from the Half plan.

Week 2 - Start with a brisk 5 minute walk to warm up. 
Run 1 is a 50-minute workout. Run for 30 minutes, then walk two minutes, then run 15 minutes.
Run 2: Run 35 minutes, then walk three minutes and then run 10 minutes.
Run 3: 40 minute run.

Week 3 - Run 1: Brisk 5 minute warm up walk. Run 35 minutes, then walk three minutes and then run 10 minutes.
Run 2: Warm up with a brisk 5 minute walk, then run for 40 minutes.
Run 3: Brisk 5 minute warm up walk. Run 30 minutes, then walk five minutes, then run 20 minutes.

Week 4 - As normal, start each run with a brisk 5 minute walk to warm up your body.
Run 1: Run 40 minutes.
Run 2: Run 45 minutes.
Run 3: Run 35 minutes, then walk for 5 minutes, followed by a 10 minute run.

From this point onwards, the Tough Mudder training plan works in distances rather than timings. This will allow you to reach the 10 mile distance without placing emphasis on the timing. Take it at your own pace and try to run the distances without stopping. If you do need to take a break, don’t stop moving! Take it down to a walk, and try not to walk for more than 3 minutes. Each week is still based on 3 runs per week.

Week 5 - Run 4 miles, run 3 miles, run 5 miles.

Week 6 - Run 4 miles, run 3 miles, run 6 miles.

Week 7 - Run 4 miles for the first run of the week. For the 2nd run, run 3 miles, then for the 3rd run this week, run 7 miles.

Week 8 - Run 3 miles for the first run, 3 miles for the 2nd, then 5 miles for the 3rd run of the week.

Week 9 - For the first run this week, run 5 miles. For the 2nd run, run 3 miles. For the 3rd, run 8 miles.

Week 10 - Start each run with a 5 minute warm up walk.
Run 1: Run 5 miles.
Run 2: Run 3 miles.
Run 3: Run 9 miles.

Week 11 - Begin each run with a brisk 5 minute walk.
Run 1: Run 5 miles.
Run 2: Run 3 miles.
Run 3: Run 6 miles. 

Week 12 - Warm up before each run with a brisk 5 minute walk.
Run 1: Run 3 miles. 
Run 2: Run 3 miles.
Run 3: Run 2 miles.

Don’t forget to warm up before each run, and cool down and stretch post run.

Tough Mudder Training Plan: Strength Training - The Obstacles

Now you can run, but that’s only half the battle! The next section of this article for Tough Mudder Training Plan includes a selection of exercises that you can mix and match into a programme to suit your needs. We’ve grouped the exercises by obstacles. For example, we’ve included upper body exercises with Funky Monkey and Hero Walls, and lower body exercises under obstacles such as Texas Hold Em and Augustus Gloop. Of course, all obstacles will require both upper and lower body strength, this is just a general, simplified guide based on the dominant muscle group each obstacle would use.

It is up to you how to combine these exercises, whether you do upper body and lower body as separate sessions, or combine upper and lower within one session. However, you should include a strength training session or 2 each week along with your running training, and have one or two rest days per week. We’ve also included a section of ab exercises at the end which you should try to incorporate into your routine. Good core strength is the basis of overall strength, and will also help improve your posture and running technique. 

AMRAP and EMOM

If you’re short on time, we suggest combining a selection of these exercises into an AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible). This is where you set a time limit, for example 8 minutes, and try to do as many rounds of the exercises as possible within this time. An example of an AMRAP would be: 10 push-ups, 20 mountain climbers and 10 squats. You should complete all reps of push-ups, all reps of mountain climbers and then all reps of squats, then repeat as many times as you can within the time limit.

Another option is to combine exercises to create an EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute). This means that you complete a certain amount of reps of an exercise each minute, on the minute. If you complete the reps in 30 seconds, this means you get 30 seconds to rest until you begin the next exercise on the next minute. The quicker you complete the reps, the longer rest time you get. An example of a 12 minute EMOM kettlebell workout would be: 20 kettlebell swings, 20 goblet squats, 30 walking lunges (15 each leg). Start the timer and complete 20 kettlebell swings, and rest for any remaining time. When the timer hits minute 1, perform 20 goblet squats. Rest for any remaining time, then when the timer hits minute 2, perform 30 walking lunges. Rest for the remaining time, then on minute 3 begin again with 20 kettlebell swings.

Feel free to use the above example in your training! If you find that you have lots of time to rest, increase the difficulty by upping the reps or choosing a heavier kettlebell. If you find that you are struggling to complete all the reps within a minute, lower the number of reps or select a lighter kettlebell. 

The Obstacles

If you have a little more time to complete a Tough Mudder training plan, we recommend combining some of the exercises below into a regular training session. You can always add a short AMRAP to the end of your session - this could work particularly well with a short ab circuit.

You don’t need to join a gym specially to access weights for these exercises, you can use tins of beans, bottles of water or bags of sugar! If you are adding weight, to improve muscular strength, you should choose a weight that challenges you on your last few reps, and aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps. To work on muscular endurance, select a lighter weight and aim for between 12 and 20 reps. Ideally, you should work on both strength and endurance in preparation for your Tough Mudder event.

Dominant Muscle Groups - Upper Body

Kiss of Mud 2.0, Funky Monkey, Block Ness Monster, Leap of Faith, Hero Walls

Examples of exercises: Shoulder press, Chest press, Bench press, Pull-ups, Press-ups, Tricep dips, Bicep curls

Body weight: Most of the exercises above can be performed solely with body weight, except bench press

Dominant Muscle Groups - Lower Body

Hero Carry, Augustus Gloop, Texas Hold Em

Examples of exercises: Squats, Lunges, Calf raises, Deadlifts, Glute bridges, Leg curls and extensions

Body weight: You can make your squats and lunges bodyweight, or perform squat jumps and plyo lunges for an added challenge. Other body weight lower body exercises include: Donkey kicks, Side-lying leg raises, Wall sit

All Rounders 

Mudderhorn, Everest, Pyramid Scheme

As we’ve mentioned, the majority of obstacles at a Tough Mudder event will require both upper body, lower body and abdominal strength. However, some obstacles are upper body dominant and some lower body dominant. The obstacles above require all muscle groups where neither is dominant, so this section covers examples of full body and ab exercises.

Examples of exercises: Plank, Side plank, Reverse plank, Back extensions, Superman, Leg raises, Russian twists (either body weight, or holding a weight in your hands as you twist), Sit ups or crunches, Mountain climbers, Plank shoulder taps, Commandos, Burpees, Bird dogs

Have fun mixing and matching the exercises above throughout your training sessions. We would suggest one upper body workout and one lower body workout per week, alongside your running schedule. We also recommend finishing each session with a short bodyweight full body or abs circuit to ensure you’re hitting all muscle groups. Check out YouTube for some inspiration, as there’s an abundance of workout videos that you can follow along in real time. There’s also the Tough Mudder Training Plan section on their website, which provides free training content for each event!

To conclude...

So, there we have it. Hopefully this article proved useful for you, and can get you started with your Tough Mudder training plan! If you're a fitness fanatic and would love to postively impact peoples lifes as your career then why not try your hand at becoming a personal trainer by completing OriGym's Internationally recognised Fitness Instructing and Personal Training course or expand your knowledge of nutrition with OriGym's Level 4 Nutrition Course by submitting an enquiry below or downloading our prospectus.

All images from toughmudder.co.uk.

 

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Written by Hannah Oxborough

Fitness Professional & Blogger

Hannah is qualified in Exercise to Music and is passionate about fitness and discovering alternative ways to make exercise as fun as possible. She enjoys aerobics and Zumba classes, and taking part in obstacle mud runs for charity. In her spare time she loves reading, practicing her Spanish and walking her miniature schnauzer, Stella.