Smash your OCR events with full body strength training
OCR events need more than running fitness – here’s how to ace the course by adding in full-body strength.
What are OCR events?
OCR events are billed as running races, but they’re far from a regular weekend 10K. OCR stands for Obstacle Course Races, so you won’t be running from start to finish line. Instead, you’ll be running (as best you can) from obstacle to obstacle.
Whether you’re about to do your first OCR or you’re a veteran of the sport, you’ll need full body strength to tackle the course. A training plan full of running just won’t cut it. You need to push, pull, crawl, climb and load your way to OCR-worthy strength!
Common obstacles in OCR events
If you’ve never done an OCR, you might be wondering exactly what to expect. Whilst every event is different, there are common obstacles you should prepare for.
Heavy carries – some OCR events involve loaded carries for distance, often involving sandbags or atlas-stone style balls
High walls – you can expect to scale at least one wall, either by taking a running leap or using ropes to go up and over
Hang work – how’s your grip? You’ll soon find out on the rig, rings, or monkey bar section of your OCR event
Crawls – mobility is a key factor in OCR success, as you’ll find yourself crawling through mud or water, or under cargo netting
Rope climbs – many OCRs challenge you to climb rope or rigging to get up and over to the next section of the course
Mud – OCR isn’t OCR unless you get muddy. Expect crawls or slides through mud and/or water.
How to train for OCR events
One of the most appealing things about OCR is that you can come to it from a variety of sporting backgrounds: running, gym, team sports, and calisthenics. But this accessibility can mean it’s tricky to train for. Should you do more running, or more strength work? Do you need to prep for the obstacles themselves? It is enough to just be really cardio fit?
The best way to train for an OCR event is to build up a decent endurance base, and ensure a high level of upper body strength. You should focus on pull, hang, and grip strength to get you over those obstacles with energy to spare.
Can functional training prepare you for an OCR event?
Functional training is an amazing way to approach OCR training. Functional workouts challenge your full body strength, balance, grip, and your ability to move in different directions under load.
Full body strength training for OCR events
When you’re training for obstacle course races, don’t make the mistake of doing too much running. It’s more important to focus on strength, agility, and mobility. Your general fitness will carry you through the endurance element of the race.
Think about splitting your training 50% strength, 25% mobility/agility, and 25% specific running. At the end of the day, if you’re not strong enough to get over the obstacles then all the running speed in the world won’t be able to help you!
11 best strength exercises for OCR events
The best strength exercises for OCR work on balance, offset carries, and full body functional strength. Here’s our top 11:
Pull ups – so you can pull your own weight up and over obstacles
Staggered pull ups – get used to doing pulls ups with a narrow, neutral grip and hands staggered
Weighted vest running – you’ll be glad you did it when your clothes are weighed down with mud!