How to train and prepare for a Spartan Race. Step by Step

Spartan Race

train and prepare spartan race
In Ancient Greece, the Spartans were worshipped for their physical and mental strength. The soldiers’ life began in their infancy; weak babies had no place in the military training. At the age of 7 boys were put into Agoge, a rigorous training regime which shaped them into fearless, skilful warriors. Their test of endurance involved flogging, an assessment of boys’ bravery and pain resilience.

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Nowadays the ancient Spartan army serves as an inspiration to men and women looking to improve their physical and mental fitness. The Spartan Race was created to test just that: “Spartans aren’t soft. They overcome obstacles. And yes, Spartans burpee”.

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Spartan Trainning 30 days to get ready for your Spartan Race

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What is a Spartan Race?

Known as the world’s best obstacle course, Spartan Race is a series of events, taking place around the World, from the USA, Canada and Europe to Australia and South Korea. The races vary in their length and difficulty, ranging from 3+ miles to marathon distances.

Spartan Race is also a philosophy, a community, a training regime and nutrition program. It was founded by Joe De Sena, a world-class adventure racer, with a mission to create a challenging, but enjoyable outdoor event any active person can take part in.  

What obstacles does the Spartan Race have?

climb spartan race obstacles

A Spartan workout plan should include a lot more than running. Besides already mentioned running, or walking, obstacle racing includes various barriers competitors have to cope with.
From strength exercises (atlas carry, bucket brigade, Hercules hoist, tire drag) and calisthenics events (rope and climbs, wall jumps) to adrenaline-like challenges which consist of barbed wire crawl or fire jumps.

Am I fit enough to finish a Spartan Race?

Spartans prove their fitness through actions, not words. Any active person, who can embrace the latter and is not afraid to get dirty, can prepare for a Spartan Race. Your obstacle course experience will be much more enjoyable if you have a certain level of physical fitness; you regularly do sports such as running, fitness, crossfit, hiking, calisthenics, etc.

Spartan Race offers several different levels and distances you can choose from based on your mental and physical capabilities. So how do you train and prepare for a Spartan Race?

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Choose a goal: Spartan Race types

There are several types of Spartan Race you can choose from. Most of them vary in the distance and numbers of obstacles.

Spartan sprint is the shortest. The distance is usually 3+ miles, which actually means it can also extends up to 5+ miles. The Spartan Sprint delivers over 20 different obstacles. This race is appropriate for rookies, people who haven’t experienced obstacles racing before.  

Spartan Super is an 8+ mile course with over 25 obstacles. If you find the Sprint distance too short, Super is a good test before you head on to greater lengths.

Spartan Beast is, as the name suggest, a more challenging version of the race. With 12+ miles and 30+ obstacles, the race is appropriate for seasoned Spartans. Apart from the longer distance and the obstacles, the terrain is carefully chosen to make the race even more challenging.  

Spartan Trifeca is a series of all three races above. After you collect medals from the Sprint, Super and the Beast, in one calendar year, you become a member of Trifeca tribe.

Stadium Series are sprint races for Spartans who prefer to stay clean. Those races have no muddy terrain apart from the football stadium. Spartan Honor Series are races held at America’s military bases.

Besides the typical Spartan Races, the company offers even more adventures and gruelling obstacle races – the endurance events. Spartan Ultra Beast is not your average competition. There are certain terms you have to accept before signing up for this event.

The distance is a two-time Beast: 26+ miles, which means 41.8 kilometres and resembles the classic marathon distance. The race holds over 60 obstacles. As the name suggest, the course is appropriate for extreme level athletes only. A special kind of discomfort is Spartan Agoge, a 60-hour event.

If you prefer racing with a support of your friends, you’ll might like Hurricane Heat, a team based event. The more difficult version of this event lasts for 12 hours.

What equipment do I need?

You will get wet and dirty, but for shorter distances, any sportswear will do good. Choose a more resilient material, so your clothes don’t get ripped right away. Gloves, even the cheap ones for gardening, will come in handy for hand protection.

When it comes to footwear, pick the shoes for terrain or cross-country running which offer a good grip and stable heel.

spartan race

How to train and prepare for a Spartan Race?

Spartan Races are predominately endurance events, but that does not mean you should train nothing but running. To be more efficient in the latter and be able to overcome the obstacles, having a certain level of strength and muscle mass is essential. Spartan training should be a mix of endurance, strength, coordination and agility. While physiological attributes are definitely important, a love for outdoors and a desire to embrace the discomfort, such as dirt, moisture and the weather changes, matter even more. 

Your Spartan Race preps should be versatile. If you are doing crossfit and your program includes running sessions you are on a good way to easily finish the Spartan Sprint/Super.

Try fartlek and cross-country running

Running is important, but make sure you leave the city and do the training outdoors, in the woods, fields or even in the mountains, on a natural terrain such as dirt, sand or grass. One great form of training is fartlek, a mix of speed and slow pace running, usually done in a cross-country style. If possible, find a mountain and also do a longer hike once a week.

Find local trim trails

Trim trail is a great way to experience a glimpse of obstacle racing. Besides running, trim trails offer a series of stations with rigs, pull up bars, jumping obstacles, balance beams and more.

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Get creative outdoors

While going to a nearby forest, look for bigger stones and tree trunks which you can use as an odd object carry training. Pick them up and perform interval (uphill) sprints.

Do not neglect strength training

Pay a visit to the gym at least twice a week and perform basic strength exercise; squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, pull ups, push ups, dips, etc. Add unilateral exercise such as one legged deadlifts, dumbbell rows and kettlebell snatches. Your body will feel, and perform, much better on a versatile training regime than on running-only workout plan.

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Get comfortable with versatile movements

Besides running and lifting, Spartan Race includes movements such a climbing, hanging, pushing and pulling/dragging. Try primal movement training as well as calisthenics. From time to time, visit a rock climbing and bouldering gym.

Do burpees

You simply can’t avoid doing burpees. Add them to your fartlek or outdoor training, or perform set of 50-100 after strength session.

No matter what you do or how do you prepare for a Spartan Race, don’t neglect recovery, rest, flexibility training and nutrition. “A successful Spartan is also a healthy Spartan.

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Polona Fonda

Written by Polona Fonda Polona has been working in sports media for almost a decade. She is a former editor of the biggest European online magazine on functional fitness with expertise in graphic and interactive communication. Business aside, Polona is also a former competitive alpine skier with a passion for weightlifting, crossfit and outdoor sports.


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