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Obstacle racing

6 obstacles you’ll find on your next obstacle course

Prepping for your next obstacle course? This list will give you the inside scoop on what to expect and how you can prepare for it.

So, you’ve signed up to your next challenge — an obstacle course — but now you’re scoping out the most common obstacles so you can learn how to tackle them before event day. Look no further. These are the 6 most common obstacles you’ll find.

1. Monkey bars

Do you remember monkey bar sessions? Spending your childhood swinging about on the monkey bars that appeared in every playground? Well now you can reenact your childhood memories as almost every obstacle course will have some form of monkey bars. Some courses opt for traditional monkey bars while others make it more challenging, perhaps being placed over water or on an incline.

To tackle this obstacle, try and wipe down your hands before you start swinging (this may not be possible if you’re already covered in mud), swing your legs to help with momentum and don’t rush it. Before event day you could practise with hanging on a pull up bar while in an active position, doing pull ups or just find your local monkey bars and practise on them.

2. Ice bath

This is a pure test of mental and physical grit. But that’s why you’re here?! Normally you’ll have to slide down into the ice bath and then wade through it and come out the other side. The shock of hitting the ice water is immense, but the satisfaction as you wade out the other side knowing you’ve just pushed your limits is enough.

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3. Army crawl

An army crawl tends to make an appearance in obstacle courses and the trick is to get low, stay low and go quickly. Normally they’ll come with a boat load of mud that you’re crawling through, so try and pick your path through it all. To prepare for these obstacles, core exercises help so add in planks and bear crawls to your training plan.

By @liesel.ogalvie via Instagram

4. Inverted walls

Inverted walls can range in height but are usually a high wall that is angled towards you and the difficulty is the hangover nature of them. A good tactic for tackling these is to hang from the top of the wall, and try and and hook your heel over the ledge. From here, you’ll need a combination of leg strength and upper body strength to roll yourself over the wall. Again for these types of obstacles working on your chin ups and pull ups will help on event day.

By @veecee_jay via Instagram

5. Ropes

Every obstacle course loves throwing in a rope challenge and these come in all forms. It could be a rope climb, where upper body and grip strength is required or a rope traverse, taking you over a pool of water. Either way it’s almost guaranteed to make an appearance. To help with these before event day, try adding hanging knee tucks to your training to work on your upper body and grip strength.

By @nicolastheflash via Instagram

6. Mud

Ok, this is not really an obstacle as such, but there will most likely be colossal quantities of the stuff at any obstacle course event. Not only to run through, but also covering you. Be prepared to be weighted down by mud throughout the event, but remember to enjoy it, it’s all part of the fun.

By @spartan40gogogo via Instagram

Ready for a new challenge? Check out obstacle course events near you below.


Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 18th, 2018 and updated on April 15th, 2021 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Born and raised in Scotland, Aidan is an avid trail-runner and wannabe cyclist. Having only got into endurance sports a couple of years ago, he loves the sense of adventure and freedom they provide.

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