Survival of the Fittest: Tackling "The Washing Machine"
Obstacle races are all the rage in the UK. If you haven’t competed in one yourself yet, you’ve probably seen photos of your friends traipsing through knee-deep swamps, shinning up colossal 12-foot walls and sliding through icy water – often clad in ridiculous outfits and always caked in mud, from head to toe.
There are heaps of legendary obstacles scattered around Survival of the Fittest, Men's Health's 10k obstacle race series, but The Washing Machine clearly scoops the award as one of the more fun obstacles.
While there’s not as much athleticism involved as there is with the other obstacles, you do need powerful legs and arms to climb your way through the big container that’s filled with foam.
Exercises for Obstacle Course Races
Did you know? The physicality needed to crush an obstacle course imitates the functional, whole-body movements made by our ancestors many moons ago: natural movements like crawling, balancing, running, carrying and climbing.
Obstacle racing is the perfect amalgamation of strength and endurance in a competition. What’s more, contestants need fiery power, solidity not to mention psychological determination. So, it’s important to build speed and strength with obstacle training exercises prior to the event.
Prepare to tackle the “washing machine” with this scalable training plan that’s designed to boost power, strength, and mobility. Are you a survivor?
How to Tackle “the Washing Machine”
#1. Front Squat (targets quads, upper back and thighs)
👉 Place a barbell on a power rack at around shoulder height
👉 Take the power with an overhand grip at shoulder width and lift your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor
👉 Grasp the bar out of the rack, lying it on your fingertips. (Make sure your elbows are all the way up throughout the movement)
👉 Step back and place your feet at shoulder width making sure toes are turned out a little
👉 Keeping the arch in your lower back, squat as low as you can
#2. Monkey Arms (targets shoulders, triceps and biceps)
👉 Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet hip-width apart, with arms by sides
👉 Lift dumbbells up along sides of rib cage to armpits, making sure elbows point out to sides
👉 Lengthen arms out to sides, with palms facing down. Reverse motion back to the beginning
👉 Do 2 sets of 20 reps
#3. Plank Press (targets shoulders, back, triceps and abs)
👉 Position dumbbells at top of mat, then get into full push-up stance with arms shoulder-width apart and hands exactly beneath shoulders
👉 Walk feet out a little wider than shoulder-width
👉 Making sure your hips are level, raise right hand and grasp one dumbbell
👉 Push right elbow backwards at shoulder level, making sure arm is near to side. Palm should face down
👉 Stretch right arm forward
👉 Bring right elbow back to bent position and repeat
👉 Do 10 reps, switch sides and repeat. Do 2 sets
#4. Side Lunges with Weighted Arm Movements (targets glutes, hamstrings, quads, biceps, triceps and shoulders)
👉 In each hand, take some light dumbbells or weights
👉 From a standing position, lengthen a leg to one side, squat down low (making sure your body weight is in your heels), and retain the position for 2 to 3 seconds
👉 During this squat position, softly turn your core backward and forward or lift the weights above your head and back down to perform a shoulder raise
👉 Raise yourself back up to a standing position and repeat. Do 1 set of 50 reps
#5 Arms-High Partial Sit-Up (targets abs)
👉 Lie on your back, knees bent at 90 degrees, and lift your arms straight overhead, keeping them pointing up right through the exercise
👉 Sit up halfway, then gradually return to the floor. That's one rep