How to Prepare for Tough Mudder


Don’t get fooled into thinking Tough Mudder is like every other mud run that comes into town. It is one of the original sufferfest series, and TM has mastered the art of pushing you out of your comfort zone and into the muddy yet helping hands of complete strangers. That’s right. There will be friends to help you throughout the course, but showing up prepared will empower you to be a giver - not just a taker. Here are 5 TOUGH TIPS that will help you master Tough Mudder like a muddy rock star!

      1. Team Up
      2. Move More
      3. Strengthen Your Core
      4. Build Your Grip 
      5. Get Uncomfortable

Let’s break these down into a workable action plan that you can put into motion today!


We get it. You’re a tough bad-A who doesn’t need anyone’s help. First, that may not be entirely true. Second, even if you can go it alone, that doesn’t mean you should. While some races are all about personal achievement, Tough Mudder values and promotes teamwork and camaraderie unlike any other obstacle course race. So, get with the program, and make some friends in the process. 


Your first Tough Mudder teammate is Tough Mudder itself. From their in-depth obstacle exposés to their always entertaining IG posts, these guys are hell-bent on keeping you informed and motivated. Treat your ears to the No Excuses Podcast for an added kick in the mudhole, and contact the Tough Mudder Zendesk with your not so frequently asked questions. 


Your fellow mudders can be your lifeline both on and off the course. Want to know how bag check works? Ask a mudder. Curious where to eat after your race? Ask a mudder. There are several Tough Mudder-themed Facebook Groups that are eager to accept, inform, and support you any way they can. Just read the descriptions to find out which ones are right for you.


While teaming up with Tough Mudder and the TM Community is helpful leading up to your event, let’s talk about the actual race. No matter how you slice it, Tough Mudder is just more fun when you have a team or partner. Especially if it’s your first time. The Hero Carry obstacle, for instance, is a no go without a bro. Sure, swapping piggyback rides with a complete stranger is fun in its own unique way, but that’s just one of the many obstacles that you cannot complete on your own. Training for the race with a longtime pal and then completing the shared experience together is super special. 


Some people sign-up for the muddy fun not realizing how physical Tough Mudder really is. You will be running, climbing, crawling, and swinging like Tarzan. If you don’t already have an active lifestyle, there’s a good chance you’ll have to use muscles that don’t get used very often. A rigid body translates to fatigue during the race and soreness afterwards. So, let’s be proactive and pledge to move more everyday starting today. 

If you’re not already working out, you probably have your reasons. Maybe you’re recovering from an injury. Perhaps you don’t have the time. Whatever the reason, take time to evaluate whether your wordy explanation is really a lame excuse. In the meantime, figure out how to use your body more during everyday life. That can include parking further away so that you get a few extra steps to and from your car. Bypass the elevator to take the stairs. Substitute one of your TV nights with dancing like a fool around the house. These are great ways to get the heartrate up and your body more flexible, but don’t stop there. Tough Tips 3 and 4 focus on specific strengths that will prove crucial on race day.  


Core strength is spoken about a lot in most fitness programs, but at Tough Mudder, a strong back, stable pelvis, and flexible hips are immeasurably important. That’s because many of the obstacles involve balance, full-body extension, and unusual contortion. Above all else, your core strength will be challenged in two distinct ways.


We’ve already talked about Tough Mudder’s ethos of teamwork and camaraderie. More times than not, you will be the beneficiary. However, sometimes you will need to be the giver who has to carry your own weight and more. The aforementioned Hero Carry is nothing compared to becoming the base layer of Pyramid Scheme as other mudders climb you like a tree… or giving others a much needed boost over Berlin Walls.  


Core strength doesn’t just refer to a solid upper torso; it affects the associated limbs too. For instance, even if you’re able to run up the wall and grasp the outreached hands extended down from atop Everest, you need to be able to help pull yourself up. This is another area where core strength is a must. 

Traditional core exercises may include forearm planks, rucking, crunches and rope climbs just to name a few. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a pool, we also highly recommend repeat Pool Exits. At least that’s what we’re calling them.

Whether you’re progressing over mounds in the Mud Mile or propelling yourself up and over The Block Ness Monster, the muscles you use most throughout Tough Mudder are the exact ones you use when exiting a pool without a ladder (e.g., lats, delts, triceps, etc.). Doing multiple reps of pulling/pushing yourself out of the pool and jumping back in will help condition your body and better prepare you for what’s in store.


Of course, these are just some of our favorite exercises for those looking to add a little core work to their race day prep. For mudders looking for a complete and transformative workout plan, we recommend GEAR UP! Mudgear’s 12-Week OCR Training and Fitness Guide. It was designed with obstacle course racing enthusiasts in mind. GEAR UP! is a way to get lean and strong while developing key muscle groups essential for Tough Mudder domination. 


While grip strength isn’t a priority in most sports, it is vital to successfully completing some of Tough Mudder’s most technical obstacles like Gauntlet, Well Swung, and Funky Monkey. Even Texas Hold’em will require both you and your partner to maintain a firm handhold while shimmying across rotating platforms.

A good grip isn’t just important for Tough Mudder. For years, it has become more and more a priority throughout obstacle course racing. Lucky for you MudGear has some solid advice for developing what Morris Brossette (aka, Coach Mo) calls a Gorilla Grip. Grip strength is also a major theme throughout GEAR UP! Mudgear’s 12-Week OCR Training and Fitness Guide. It’s never going to get easier to get race-ready. Start your transformation today! 


This final tip is a form of reverse mental warfare. Tough Mudder is notorious for torturing participants with a few obstacles that are more mental than physical. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel them. OH, YOU’LL FEEL THEM! However, the physical discomfort of Arctic Enema, Cry Baby, and the legendary Electroshock Therapy, doesn’t come close to the distracting mental toll these obstacles take on their victims. Our suggestion is to get comfortable being uncomfortable.


Sometimes participants show up convinced they’re going to rock the course only to be sidelined by one glaring problem. There’s mud everywhere, and that’s not how they trained. You, on the other hand, can go that extra mile in your preparation. Throw some mud on it. See what it’s like to run in mud, climb a muddy wall, or try to cross muddy monkey bars. It’s never easy, but practicing in advance can give you an advantage. 


Do you have trouble functioning when you’re cold? That’s alright. Depending on what time of year you race, there’s a good chance that you will only face one or two cold obstacles. However, if you have trouble bouncing back from a cold water plunge, you might want to start addressing that ASAP. Start getting accustomed to the occasional ice bath. You might learn to love it! 


Okay. There’s no delicate way to say this. Your “friends” at Tough Mudder are going to shock the sh*t out of you during Electroshock Therapy, Electric Eel, or both. It’s part of the Tough Mudder initiation. We’ve all done it. In fact, there are tons of videos on YouTube showing mudders getting hit repeatedly with 10,000 volts discharged from hanging electrodes. DON’T WATCH THEM! It will only psyche you out. Just trust us that the majority of people in those videos are smiling from ear to ear.

While our legal department won’t let us encourage you to touch an electric fence or tase your teammates in preparation for the race, we will encourage you to shock your senses. Expose yourself to something safe but extreme. Whether that’s eating your first ghost pepper or going bungee jumping, find something that’s safe, but way out of your comfort zone. Then, go for it (did we mention keep it safe?). Doing so will help build that mental grit that says, no matter how bad things get, this too shall pass.  


Let’s wrap things up with a reminder that Tough Mudder is first and foremost about having fun through teamwork, personal challenges, and of course, mud... lots and lots of mud. The advice in this article is simply meant to help you show up a little more prepared in order to better enjoy every minute of the Tough Mudder experience. So, borrowing from Tough Mudder’s mantra, when was the last time you did something for the first time? When this next adventure is all said and done, there’s a good chance that the unleashed mudder in you will be coming back for more. When you do, MudGear will be here and happy to keep you going! 


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