Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Category: "Obstacle"

Day 153 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Electroshock Therapy

The pinnacle obstacle at any Tough Mudder event. It is not the most physically demanding, but this one tests you mentally. Are you ready to get shocked?

Sprint through a field of live wires — some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock. Watch out for hay bales and deep mud, or you will face-plant into some electrifying mud. Some Mudders try to stealthily wind their way through the wires without getting shocked, while others barrel forward to get through as quickly as possible. Either way, you are guaranteed to get zapped with as much as 10,000 volts of electricity and it does NOT tickle. This is typically the last obstacle Mudders must overcome before they cross the finish line.

To be honest, I wasn't really sure what to expect with the "live" obstacles at Tough Mudder. I have been 'shocked' a few times in the past, when I have gotten my finger too close to a light socket or other similar misadventures, but nothing could prepare me for the sensation you get from Electroshock Therapy!

I wouldn't necessarily say that getting shocked like this 'hurts', at least not in the way getting kicked or punched does. It is unlike any other sensation I have felt before. At least when you are being punched or kicked, you usually see the object coming towards you and then striking you, and you have that external soreness localized to the spot you are struck.

In this case, when being shocked, it's almost as if you feel it from the inside, out. It's like having all of your muscles suddenly tense up at once. Your vision goes a bit blurry, and you feel like you're going to fall down...or maybe you do fall down.

(My experience with Electroshock Therapy can be seen starting at the 4:41 mark)

I wouldn't say there is anything you can do or train to prepare you for this obstacle, unless of course you want to go grab a cow fence (not recommended). Just come into the event mentally ready to do anything it takes to get you to that finish line!

Quote of the day:
"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."
~ Winston Churchill

Day 152 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Everest

Everest is arguably one of Tough Mudder's most notorious obstacles.

Snowboarders and skate boarders have the half-pipe. Mudders have a real obstacle: Everest. A quarter-pipe that you’ll have to sprint up and enlist the help of other Mudders to hurl you over this beastly summit. Everest is coated in mud and grease, a combination which will likely send you right back from where you came. Call upon other Mudders to catch you as you run up the quarter-pipe or work together to form a human chain so that you can scale someone’s shoulders to finally summit Everest.

I just want to put out a disclaimer now, that I am not deliberately trying to brag about my success in this event, just trying to give my readers perspective.

This obstacle, will no doubt give some folks trouble getting up. It requires a combination of speed, power, and upper body strength to conquer. I was able to make it up and over on my own, on my first try, but not everyone will have the same success.

(You can see me conquering Everest at the 4:24 mark of this video)

The difficult part about Everest, is that at Tough Mudder Toronto, this obstacles was placed near the end of the race. For those that competed in this event know that there were plenty of ski hills to climb, so by the time you got to Everest, your legs were shot...at least mine were. That is why you see me take a second to catch my breath before attempting this.

You need a bit of speed and lower body explosiveness (and timing) to get some momentum running up the quarter pipe, and jumping at the right time to get your hands on the ledge. For me personally, once I was able to get my hands on the ledge, I was able to pull myself up with little problem at all. Again, as I have said in previous blogs, my training helped me with an obstacle like this specifically as I used lower body plyometrics combined with upper body training (pull-ups/chinups).

To train for an event like this, make sure to include some lower body plyometrics to improve your 'springiness' and explosiveness so that you can not only generate some speed up the ramp, but to also get a good jump. Whether or not you are then able to pull yourself up will be dependant on your upper body strength and/or help from others.

Other factors involved here include the timing of this obstacle. If this comes soon after an obstacle where you get wet and muddy, then this may become significantly more difficult as you would then have to try and combat a lack of footing.

Quote of the day:
"Success does not consist in never making blunders, but in never making the same one a second time."
~ Josh Billings

Day 151 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Hold Your Wood

Hold Your Wood is a physically-demanding obstacle on the Tough Mudder course. Pretty simple though, pick up a piece of wood, on your own or with a friend, and carry it for a desired amount of time!

Make like a lumberjack and carry a heavy log through a section of the Tough Mudder course. If the course is flat, expect to be lugging your log for at least 1/2 mile. If the area is hilly or mountainous, get friendly with your wood because you’ll be hauling it up a steep and challenging ascent.

This obstacle requires total-body strength and conditioning as you are required to lug a heavy log around. You may be required to carry the log uphill, through water, through mud, etc. so some upper body strength, as well as core strength will by beneficial.

Quote of the day:
"What the mind can conceive, it can achieve!"
~ Napoleon Hill

Day 150 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Greased Lightning

Greased Lightning is definitely one of the more 'fun' obstacles on the course, unless of course the climate you are competing in is cold, then you may not want to be sliding into ice cold water.

Have some fun sliding down this massive slippery slope into a frigid, muddy pool of water at the bottom. On some courses, Greased Lightning is built on a snowy hill making for some literally cold-ass Mudders. Inflatable inner-tubes and pool toys are welcome! Real Mudders go head first.

There is not a whole lot to this obstacle. Essentially it is a large slip and slide for adults! Tough Mudder Toronto participants were lucky enough to have this obstacle towards the end of the course. I remember getting really excited when I saw it, as the race was held in August, so I was pretty hot towards the end, so it was nice to be able to dunk in some water to cool off.

There really is nothing you can do to prepare for this event, unless you wish to set up a large slip and slide in your backyard to get used to sliding into a pool of water!

Quote of the day:
"Stop thinking about what could go wrong and think about what could go right!"
~ Unknown

Day 149 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Log Jammin'

Tough Mudder Toronto had this event titled as "Log Jammin'", although the Tough Mudder website has it listed as "Log Bog Jog". Either way, this obstacle may surprise a few people with its difficulty.

Jump over and crawl under large logs strewn across the course. This may not sound very difficult, but with fatigued muscles and logs placed at varying heights, the Log Bog Jog has proven to be a challenge for Mudders. To prepare for this obstacle, find a bunch of fallen trees to scale & crawl underneath. If you don’t have an abundance of fallen trees nearby to train with, belly-bombers (also known as burpees) will suffice.
Although this is not the most physically demanding obstacle on the course, some folks may still have troubles getting up and over some of these logs.

The obstacle is designed to be a somewhat structured pile of logs where you must either climb up and over, under, or even through. There are arrows on the logs pointing you in the direction the organizers wish for you to travel.

This obstacle was towards the end of the Toronto course, so I was actually fairly winded and ready for a break. I made my way through the logs with virtually no problem, but it definitely took some extra effort to get up and over some of these log piles.

To train for this event, I would recommend some total-body strength training as you will need leg, core, and upper body strength to get through this one. You should be fine completing it on your own, but a helping hand here or there never hurts!

Quote of the day:
"Success as I see it, is a result, not a goal."
~ Gustave Flaubert

Day 146 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Electric Eel

I can honestly say, there is nothing that can really prepare you for the "live" obstacles at Tough Mudder...unless you have been electrocuted before that is!

Mudders frequently forget about this obstacle since they’re so focused on Electroshock Therapy – but they shouldn’t. Slide on your belly through frigid water or, even worse, a layer of ice and beware of the shocks overhead. Should you try to crawl on your knees, you’ll be smacked with live wires and your body will compulsively contort. Be sure to protect your head, otherwise you might experience what Big Mudder calls a brain reboot.

I personally found Electric Eel to be just as bad/crazy, if not more crazy than Electroshock Therapy. I felt like at least with Electroshock Therapy, if you feel yourself getting zapped, you can try and get the hell out of there faster. On the other hand, Electric Eel forces you to slowly slide along your belly under these live wires, so it is a much 'slower' experience!

When I ran the Tough Mudder Toronto event, this obstacle was not a pool of ice water, rather just a pool of water. To be honest, I think I would've actually preferred ice water, as it may have taken my mind away from the zapping a bit.

When you approach this obstacle, you have to climb into the water, on your belly, and pull yourself under these rows of live wires through the water. I think I must've hit a live wire from every single row, as I got zapped at least 6 or 7 times on this obstacle. Hopefully the folks watching weren't too disappointed with the language spewing from my mouth...

There really isn't anything in particular you can do to train for this event, unless of course you wish to go pee on a cow fence or something. But seriously, this is one of the obstacles on the course to test your mental grit. Sure, the shocks feel 'weird', but I wouldn't necessarily say they are painful, at least not painful in the same way it would feel getting kicked in the face.

The sensation you get is unlike anything I have ever experienced. You just get this instant 'pulse' from your inside, out. Actually, the very first shock I received, I remember thinking, "Oh, so that's what that feels like!"

Jump in the water and embrace the electricity, you'll feel like one badass tough guy/girl once you are done!

Quote of the day:
"What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog."
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Day 144 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Funky Monkey

Remember playing on the monkey bars as a kid? Well, it's time to bring out your inner child, because Funky Monkey is here!

Sure monkey bars were easy when you were 5 years old, but you’ll need to hold on extra tight to these. Some have been greased with our finest mixture of mud and butter and if you slip you’ll fall into an icy pond below. Bars are spaced 1.5 feet apart and you will be on an incline upward for the first half of the Monkey and then descending downward for the second portion. Seasoned Mudders keep their arms bent at a 90-degree angle and bicycle-kick their legs to gain momentum.
The explanation above sums things up fairly well. You need to climb your way along the monkey bars, on an incline for the first half of the obstacle, then a decline the second half.

Some folks may find the bars slippery, especially if this obstacle comes soon enough after a muddy one. Having said that, I didn't really have any problems getting through this one at all.

Upper body strength, along with a good amount of core strength are the keys here. If you can, practice your pullups and chinups to build some upper body and grip strength. If you can't do pullups, that isn't necessarily a deal-breaker here, but I would work on your grip strength by doing exercises like "Farmer's Walks"as well as practice some monkey bar work at your local playground.

Also, if you feel like you may fall from the bars while doing this obstacle, have your wits about you, you do not want to land funny in the pool below. I overheard some folks talking about the broken/sprained ankles that occurred from folks landing funny in the water.

Quote of the day:
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great makes you feel that you, too, can become great."
~ Mark Twain

Day 143 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Boa Constrictor

Boa Constrictor in my opinion is one of the least physically-demanding obstacles on the course, but that does not mean that it does not require a bit of strategy.

If you don’t like small spaces, this obstacle will be a challenge for you. Crawl through a series of pipes that force you on a downhill into some freezing mud, then a slippery uphill to the other side. Your legs will be useless in the narrow confines of the Boa, so use your arms to pull yourself through this obstacle. There really is light at the end of the tunnel.

The description sums things up fairly well. The obstacle is set up to get your wet and muddy. First, you slide down a narrow tube (go head first). As you exit the tube, you enter a pool of muddy water. Now the temperature of this water will be entirely dependent on the climate you are competing in (obviously).

I ran the Tough Mudder Toronto event which took place in August, so the water was quite warm. If you are participating in New Jersey in October, however, you may be entering some pretty cold water!

Once you enter the water, you will want to keep you head and body low, as you will have barb wire directly above you. This forces you to stay low in the water and get nice and dirty!

The toughest part of this obstacle, in my opinion, is the tube leading up and out of the water. The inside of the tubes are smooth. So, trying to climb up the inside of a smooth tube while you are wet and muddy makes for a challenging time.

For most folks, I am going to guess that you will not be able to get on all-fours, due to the narrow tube, so you will have to try and get your grip the best you can and pull yourself up with your upper body. I would be completely guessing here, but I would say the incline to climb inside the tube would be about 15-20 degrees.

To train for this event, and similar to other obstacles in Tough Mudder, you will need a good combination of core and upper body strength.

Quote of the day:
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
~ Winston Churchill

Day 138 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Walk the Plank

To be honest, there is not a whole lot to Walk the Plank. You climb up to a platform, approximately 15' above the water below, and jump!

Test your fear of heights and cold all in one with our 15+ feet high jump into freezing water. Mudders like to display their fancy diving skills (or belly-flops) at this obstacle. Don’t spend too much time pondering your leap – Marines at the top of the platform will chew you out, or worse, push you into the freezing depths below.

You can chalk this obstacle up to something that is in a Tough Mudder event to test your mental grit/toughness. While other obstacles test your stamina and physical strength, there are also obstacles like this one that do something that may, or may not, push you out of your comfort zone.

I will admit that I am not a big fan of heights, so the jump looked much higher once I actually got up onto this platform. However, as said previously, this is something that is there to test my mental toughness and I felt proud when I just went ahead and jumped.

Once you're in the water, you will have a swim ahead of yourself, the length of which will be entirely dependent on the event you are at. The pool created for Tough Mudder Toronto's Walk the Plank was man-made, so there was a not a long swim whatsoever. If you check out photos from various Tough Mudder events, however, you will see that a lengthier swim may be required.

Quote of the day:
"Difficulties mastered are opportunities won."
~ Winston Churchill

Day 136 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Trench Warfare

Put your claustrophobia and fear of the dark aside, because it's time for Trench Warfare!

This military-style obstacle requires Mudders to crawl through narrow, dark, muddy trenches. Watch out for rocks, obstructions, and the occasional splash of muddy water from the Mudder crawling ahead. We advise all Mudders to move quickly through this obstacle to reduce the risk of contracting gangrene or trench foot. These trenches will test the stamina and mental grit of all Mudders, especially those who fear dark, confined spaces.

The Trench Warfare at Tough Mudder Toronto was dry. I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Good because you don't have to crawl through mud. Bad because my knees got pretty scraped during this crawl. I will admit that I am a tiny bit claustrophobic, so when I reached the start of these tunnels and looked inside, only to see nothing but black, it stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds. But, that is the whole point of doing an event like this, you put your fears aside and just go for it!

I am 5'11" tall, around 175lbs, and I found the tunnels to be pretty cramped. I would say I was able to crawl on my hands and knees for 80% of the tunnel, then the other 20% was an army crawl. For those guys/girls out there who are larger than me, this may be a tight fit.

Similar to Kiss of Mud, you are going to want to work on your plank work so that you can move quite well while being close to the ground. Other than that, there is not a whole lot to this obstacle, just dive in and enjoy!

Quote of the day:
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
- Benjamin Franklin

Day 135 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Spider's Web

Have you ever climbed a cargo net/rope ladder/climbing rope that hasn't been attached to the ground? If you have, you know that it is a completely different ballgame than if it is attached. That is the focus of Spider's Web.

Crawl like a spider up and over a cargo net suspended between two trees – keep a good grip or you will fall into a tangled web (er, cargo net) below! The net is fastened with tension at the top only, leaving the bottom of the net loose and unsteady. Teamwork has proven to be very helpful for successfully completing this obstacle. Mudders will pull the bottom of the net towards the ground to create tension so their teammates can climb with balance and control.

By the time I reached this obstacle at Tough Mudder Toronto, I was the only one there. There was a few people who were out ahead of me, yet I had distanced myself a fair ways from runners behind me, so I was attacking this obstacle all on my own.

As the description above explains, the cargo net is hung from a big thick cable at the top, but loose at the bottom. Since there is a lack of tension throughout the net, it makes climbing it a much bigger challenge!

I would have to admit that I am glad I had some good total-body strength here, as you will need to a lot of it to coordinate yourself up and over this cargo net. What I found helpful going up, was that I tried to keep my body hugged as close to the net as possible. I used my legs to drive my momentum upwards, while using my arms, back, and core strength to keep my body upright, and close to the net.

Once I was able to reach the main cable at the top, I grabbed it and used it as a focal point to get myself over. Again, this is when my upper body strength helped by pulling myself up and over the upper cable. I basically hung on to the cable as tight as I could as I got my body up and over, as you can't really rely on support coming down the other side of the net since it is swinging free.

Climbing down the other side of the net was quite simple. The toughest part was definitely getting your body over the top of the net as it swings free. Once I reached the bottom, there were a couple women approaching the obstacle, so I helped them the best I could by pulling down on the net, creating tension and coaching them over. After all, a lot of the Tough Mudder philosophy is teamwork, HOO-RAH!

Quote of the day:
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
- Robert Brault

Day 132 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Mud Mile

There seems to be a slight discrepancy in what obstacle I actually competed in at Tough Mudder Toronto. The differences? Not a whole lot, but allow me to explain. The obstacle on the Tough Mudder course map, not to mention the sign leading up to the obstacle on the course had it titled as "Mud Mile".

Slosh through up to a mile of waist-deep sludge as you try not to lose your shoes in the mud. Balance and coordination are required if you want to make it through this obstacle without face-planting… but what’s the fun in that? Real Mudders eat mud for breakfast. On some courses, Mudders will encounter obstructions throughout Mud Mile that require them to fully submerge in the mud to slosh onward.

By reading the descriptions, however, it turns out, the obstacle in question at Tough Mudder Toronto was actually more similar to "Dirty Ballerina".

So again, what is the big difference? Not a whole lot, either way, you are trudging through mud. To be honest, I have a bit of a fear for sinking sand, or in this case, sinking mud, so I was glad to see that the obstacle as actually more similar to "Dirty Ballerina".

As you see in the description, there are 4-foot wide 'trenches' dug out, and your goal is to leap over a series of them. However, I ran the 9:30am heat on Sunday morning, so there was already 14k+ people who clamoured through this obstacle the day before. So, instead of nice, square, dug-out trenches, the obstacle was more of a series of muddy mounds that had been worn down and rounded off from all of the folks the day before.

This made it essentially impossible to leap over each trench. Instead, I climbed up and over each mound separating the trenches. The trenches were full of water and mud, so I ended up getting quite muddy by the end of this obstacle.

Because this turned into more of a climbing event, rather than a 'leaping' event for me, total-body strength was definitely required to get in and out of multiple trenches. Each trench, I would say ended up being well over 7-8 feet wide at the widest points, and at least 4 or 5 feet deep. It took a bit of patience and coordination (and strength) to climb out of each trench, as they trenches were deep, and the slopes were muddy.

In summary, you may want to change your strategy on this obstacle depending on when you are timed to run the course. If you are one of the first heats on the first day of competition, you may be able to get away with 'leaping' over each trench. If, however, you race later in the day on day 1, or race at all on day 2, this may become more of a climbing obstacle rather than trying to jump over each trench.

Quote of the day:
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
- Pablo Picasso

Day 130 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Hangin' Tough

I found Hangin' Tough, as well as its close relative Funky Monkey, to be two of the most 'fun' obstacles on the course. Hangin' Tough is one of those obstacles that I felt my upper body training really helped me complete with no problems at all.

Swing Tarzan-style across a series of hanging rings suspended over a pool of ice-cold water. Rings are placed 4 to 6 feet apart. It is important to maintain momentum and coordination while swinging across this series of rings. A strong grip and precise coordination are required to complete this obstacle successfully.

There are a number of factors that fell into place to allow me to complete this obstacle problem-free. Yes, my intense training that involved extensive upper body work (resistance training including lots of pullups) helped me swing from one side of this obstacle to the other, but there were other factors that helped as well, including a bit of luck!

I heard that some of the rings may have been greased up, making them extremely difficult to keep a grip on. Not only that, but this obstacle came almost immediately after Cliff Hanger so it was entirely possible that the rings could become wet and muddy. 

Fortunately for me, I was part of the very first heat on Sunday morning, and I also tried to get out to a fast start, so there were not too many people in front of me leading into this obstacle. That may have also improved my chances of getting from one side of the obstacle to the other without taking the plunge!

To train for this obstacle, you could of course set up some swinging rings in your backyard, but most people probably don't have that kind of disposable income. If you have a gymnastics background, that would definitely help. But how about this idea? Head on over to a local playground, and see if there are any monkey bars or rings there that you could practice on. Better yet, plan a running route that goes through/near said playground, so you can run there, and swing away, unleashing your inner Tarzan!

I practiced a bit on some monkey bars close to where I live, but most of my training for this obstacle was done by the pull-up/chinup training I included in my regimen. That also allowed me to improve my grip strength, which can help tremendously here.

Quote of the day:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
~ Wayne Gretzky

Day 129 - Tough Mudder Tactics: Cliff Hanger

The Tough Mudder obstacle Cliff Hanger has to be one of the most varied obstacles one may encounter on their course. What I mean by this, is that how large and/or difficult this obstacle is, is entirely dependent on the natural geography and location of the event you compete in.

Cliff Hanger is an obstacle all about teamwork and camaraderie: a 40+ foot cliff of slippery mud angled at 45-degrees. The Cliff always begins with good intenions: a muddy sprint up onto the slope and transitions into a crawl with handholds and footholds in short supply. Beware if you attempt this obstacle alone, your futile verticle scramble will likely turn into an uncontrolled slide back down into the mudpit below. Successful Mudders will form a chain link of fellow participants slowly inching up the slope. If you want to train for Cliff Hanger you should find the biggest hill near your house, measure it, then drive until you get to a hill twice as steep.

Training for an obstacle such as this will also therefore vary depending on the event. Tough Mudder Toronto took place at a ski resort, but luckily enough, Cliff Hanger was not situated on a ski hill, or else things may have been much more difficult than what they were.

I guess you could practice climbing up muddy hills, but unless you know the entire layout of the venue you will be competing at, this obstacle will probably have you approaching it blind.

I personally found this obstacle (or lack thereof) to be one of the easiest on the course that I ran (Toronto). It was a pretty small hill, with pretty decent foot and hand placements to traverse. It was a bit slippery, but did not take me long to get up, and I certainly didn't need teamwork. As I said though, this could be vastly different based on where you compete.

Quote of the day:
"Success often comes to those who have the aptitude to see way down the road."
~ Laing Burns Jr.